In the heart of the Grande Île in Strasbourg, a UNESCO world heritage site, the Strasbourg Christmas market is one of the oldest in Europe. Strasbourg, the birthplace of Christmas celebrations, invites you on a true sensory journey. Christmas traditions have been rooted in the customs of Alsatians since 16th century. For four centuries now, the emblematic Christmas market has been working its magic in the European Christmas capital. The city was in a fairytale atmosphere with over 300 wooden chalets, spread around different squares, everywhere there are fresh surprises waiting to be discovered.
Strasbourg is a popular tourist destination for its famous and rich Christmas decorations. Every year, Christmas markets delight the hearts of visitors all over the world. From the fairy-like lights to the delicious aromas, let yourself be carried away by the city’s warm atmosphere, marvel and wander around the 300 wooden chalets set up in the city’s historic centre. With its majestic Great Christmas Tree sporting a dress of lights, and its countless illuminated streets, the Capital of Christmas takes you into an enchanted and richly decorated city that will enthral young and old.
The Christmas market is the oldest in France, and one of the oldest in Europe. Strasbourg is, throughout the month of December, one of the most lights of Europe. Come and experience an authentic Alsatian Christmas, filled with magic and traditions from bygone days. It is also the ideal occasion to visit Strasbourg’s Grande Île, the particular charm of which peaks during this period of winter festivity.
A real fairy tale atmosphere, which enchants all visitors. The atmosphere that reigns in the city is unique. The streets are adorned with their most beautiful finery, the windows sparkle, the smells of cinnamon and spices evoke childhood memories, Christmas carols resound in the depths of the churches. The whole city is transformed into an enchanting setting.
Alsatians have always had these Christmas traditions, since November, they get together as a family to prepare the end of year celebrations as well as their famous bredeles, small shortbreads of all shapes and sizes. Some make their own Advent wreath, others prepare the crib, the fir tree with its garlands, mulled wine or gingerbread. Even today, all these traditions are still part of Alsatian life until December 24.
“Strasbourg, capital of Christmas” is exceptionally renowned. Every year, close to two million visitors flock to the Alsatian capital to experience its enchanting market. Its large Christmas tree, pretty wooden chalets, spicy smells, choirboys’ songs, magical Christmas decorations and illuminations attract thousands of people to Alsace at this time of year. For over a month, Strasbourg is imbued with a festive, spiritual ambiance with few parallels anywhere else in Europe.
Strasbourg is the capital of the Grand-Est region of France and is most widely known for hosting a number of important European institutions. In history, Germany and France have alternated sovereignty over Strasbourg many times, so this city has the characteristics of both Germany and France, the fusion and collision of the two cultures has shaped its unique style. Strasbourg belonged to the Rhine area whose Christmas traditions were very strong with the famous St Nicholas’ Day.
The city is chiefly known for its sandstone Gothic Cathedral with its famous astronomical clock, and for its medieval cityscape of Rhineland black and white timber-framed buildings, particularly in the Petite France district or Gerberviertel (“tanners’ district”) alongside the Ill and in the streets and squares surrounding the cathedral, where the renowned Maison Kammerzell stands out.
The Cathedral’s celebrated splendour, during Advent, admire magnificent 17th-century tapestries telling the tale of the Virgin Mary’s life, as well as a monumental nativity scene that’s 18 metres long. To get a fresh perspective, you can also go up to the platform of the Cathedral. After climbing up the 330 steps, you’ll be rewarded by a breathtaking view of the markets and the urban landscape.
And to see the city from yet another point of view, we also recommend taking a tour boat ride. From the water, the architecture and decorations are even more stunning. The canal bridges criss-cross, along the way are old houses with brown roofs and black wooden slats on the outer walls. The flowers on the window sills are swaying in the wind. The occasional cruise ship slides over the water, sparkling, full of harmony and romance. Strasbourg has many exquisite and beautiful bridges, the most fascinating is the medieval covered bridge composed of three bridges and four ancient towers.
As Christmas approaches, Strasbourg gets decked out in all its finery. As night draws in, the magic begins to work across the city. Thousands of Christmas lights and decorations sparkle and twinkle to create a bewitching atmosphere in the Alsatian capital. Taste the famous mulled wine or Alsatian cider, or a good hot apple juice, many activities on site, a Ferris wheel, an ice rink, rides and horse-drawn carriage rides with a magnificent fireworks display overwhelm you in the magical magic of Christmas.
The Christmas Market is spread across more than ten sites, all located within the Grande Île district. There are 13 Christmas markets spread out across the Old Town (the so-called Grande Île). The most famous Christmas markets in Strasbourg are at Place de la Cathédrale, Place Kléber, Place Gutenberg, Place Broglie and Place du Château. In addition to this, you’ll find several smaller ones, all located on the Grande Île.
The beautiful historical centre was the first city centre to be classified entirely as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The buildings here are mostly medieval wooden truss houses and Baroque sandstone buildings. This area has a large number of exquisite buildings from the Middle Ages. When you stroll through the winding alleys of the old town, you can see the charming Gothic cathedral and Green style brick and wooden cottages, and feel the unique charm of the world cultural heritage.
For the four weeks of the Christmas Market, as soon as the night falls, the city lights up with magnificent illuminations that add magic to the air. The big Christmas tree on Place Kléber Square is the most enchanting of all. This majestic, beautifully decorated tree stands proud and impressive, at thirty metres high. A symbol of an Alsatian tradition that goes back five centuries, it is the ambassador of a city bathed in light.
On Place Broglie, at the base of the Opera House, on this square where the carefully trimmed plane trees are lined up in perfect rows, you’ll find one of the historical sites of the Christmas Market. The Christkindelsmärik (market of the baby Jesus) has been held here since 1570. This “little bit” of market is unique. Here, you’ll find exceptionally rich Christmas decoration stands, as well as the traditional mulled wine, with its sweet scents of cinnamon, cloves and citrus.
Discover the magic of Christmas in Strasbourg where the whole town gets taken over by all things Christmassy. Shop windows are transformed into winter wonderlands and the streets are decorated with twinkling lights and festive garlands. Strasbourg Christmas market is the perfect destination for a bit of Christmas shopping. The Christmas markets in Strasbourg spreads out across the centre of the town, focused around Cathedral square and Place Broglie where hundreds of stalls sell ornaments, toys, food and mulled wine to keep you warm as you browse.
Take one last stroll along the Promenade aux Étoiles (a star-studded walk) and enjoy the heritage of Strasbourg, made even more beautiful by the shimmering Christmas lights. From Pont du Corbeau (Raven Bridge) to St. Guillaume bridge, 400 stars fill with the spirit of Christmas.
The historical Petite France district with a unique, magical ambiance thanks to the subtly decorated half-timbered houses, beautifully reflected in the canal, and, in Louise Weiss and Suzanne Lacore Squares, you’ll find the Advent Village. In this festive village, you’ll get to discover the traditions of Christmas in Alsace, see a show, or taste the products of the “Irréductibles petits producteurs d’Alsace”
Next, make your way to the “Off” Christmas Market on Place Grimmeissen. At this local, socially aware market, about thirty stalls, staffed by players of the social and solidarity-based economy. The charming Christmas markets on the squares of Place Benjamin Zix and Place Saint-Thomas. At lunchtime, you can grab a bite to eat at one of the many stalls; a great way to try some of the delicious Christmas Market specialities not to be missed!
Place Kléber, where the Village du Partage (Village of Sharing) is spread out around the Great Christmas Tree. At 5 o’clock, the Great Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, set to music, on Place Kléber. It’s always spectacular and moving. The historic market “Christkindelsmärik” is considered the heart and soul of the Christmas experience in Strasbourg. Admire the facade of City Hall, beautifully adorned with festive decorations honoring the characters of the history of the Christkindelsmärik.
Christkindelsmärik market – The oldest and most historical Christmas market in Strasbourg, dating back to 1570, can be found at Place Broglie and around the cathedral (Place de la Cathédrale). This Christmas market is the most popular and traditional Christmas market in Strasbourg and can get very busy due to its international acclaim. Here you’ll find the best food markets, selling fresh pretzels, spaetzle, knack sausage and crepes and craftsmen demonstrate their skills and sell their wares.
Alsace market – Located on a cosy street at Place des Meuniers, this market is organised by small local producers from Alsace. Dedicated to delicious local products, from craft beer and local wines to truffles and award-winning Bredele cookies. The market is mostly food but if you want to find unique Christmas gifts for your loved ones, head to this wonderful Christmas market in Strasbourg.
OFF Christmas Market – Located at Place Grimmeisen you’ll find a very different type of Christmas market in Strasbourg. Focused on sustainability, here you’ll find a unique selection of gifts being sold from repurposed shipping containers. From recycled gifts and fairtrade products to DIY gift-making activities, this is the place you can experience Christmas from a new angle through mindful responsible consumption. You’ll find great music events such as a Soup Kitchen Disco and musical brunches, and you will hear lots of live jazz and funk music while you browse.
Strasbourg offers everyone the emotion of being transported in the Christmas magic. As Christmas draws near, Strasbourg dons all its finery. From Pont du Corbeau up to Pont Saint-Guillaume, close to 400 stars hanging here and there and enhance the rich historical and architectural heritage of Strasbourg. The streets, houses, bridges, church facades and most beautiful monuments are clothed in light and offer everyone the emotion of being transported in the Christmas magic. Discover the many illuminated decorations produced by Vitrines de Strasbourg in partnership with the City of Strasbourg. The air, water and land are all lit up to create a unique atmosphere.
Towering over Place Kléber, the Great Christmas Tree is the iconic symbol of Strasbourg Capitale de Noël. It shimmers majestically in an enchanted setting and appears like a dream of a starry night. For this 2022 event, its decorations revisit some of our ancestral traditions with a modern twist. It is decorated with rough wood shapes, light and airy white spheres and red baubles.
At the pont du Corbeau, you reach rue du Vieux-Marché-aux-Poissons. Go through the Gate of lights and enter the magical world of Strasbourg Capitale de Noël. Christmas baubles with surprise decorations edged with red fringes will guide your steps towards the Great Christmas Tree. At the intersection of rue Mercière lead you to the Place de la Cathédrale. On rue des Tonneliers, look up and admire the illuminated suspended barrels, a few steps away is the Blue Tree and the giant manneles of rue des Hallebardes, and rue de la Mésange with its giant forest. On Grand’Rue, notice the giant chandelier and its magical decorations. After the twinkling stars of the Petite France, make your way towards rue du 22 Novembre and place des Halles to see other illuminations.
The Big Christmas Tree – This 30-metre-high tree, carefully selected in the Vosges Mountains, is the greatest symbol of Strasbourg, Capital of Christmas. The decorations chosen in 2022 revisit some of our ancestral traditions – with a modern twist. The raw wooden decorations, accompanied by round red and white ornaments. For even more magic, come at 5 pm to see the lighting of the Christmas tree.
Rue des Orfèvres – It’s definitely one of Strasbourg’s most photographed streets at Christmastime. It sparkles everywhere! You’ll gaze in awe at every beautifully decorated facade on this street. The narrow adjacent streets are worth a look, too.
The Gate of Lights – With its giant sign reading “Strasbourg, Capital of Christmas” and the giant round lighted ornaments, arriving at the Christmas Market through the Gate of Lights is like entering a fairy tale! The Gate of Lights is on Rue du Vieux Marché aux Poissons, near the Historical Museum.
Place Benjamin Zix Square – This square, with its little Christmas market, has a cosy feel to it. Thanks to its ideal location in the Petite France, you can wander around the narrow streets of Strasbourg’s most iconic quarter.
Rue du Maroquin – This street, lined with lots of restaurants, rather elegant illuminations along with bold, creative facades.
Rue Mercière – The rest of the year, this street, which ends at the Cathedral, is already incredibly charming. Add delicate, glowing angels and the atmosphere of Christmas.
Quai des Bateliers – For a quiet stroll, far from the hustle and bustle of the markets, head for the Quai des Bateliers. You’ll enjoy the star-studded walk illuminated with dozens of twinkling stars, offering stunning views of the Cathedral and the market on the terrace of the Palais Rohan.
Discover the excellence of the craftsmen present in Strasbourg, from the stalls brimming with gourmet delights and exceptional items that symbolize Christmas in Alsace. There are many such traditions linked to craftsmanship know-how. Decoration, fine foods, original gifts, and more. Strasbourg, Capital of Christmas celebrates the work of these local producers who work in harmony with the terroir and their materials. For many years, Strasbourg has enjoyed the Ville et Métiers d’Art (Arts and Crafts City) label, which rewards endeavours to preserve, showcase and promote the sometimes centuries-old know-how of artisan trade associations and artistic craftsmanship.
The region’s designers and artisans are behind the decorations that light up the city, sheltered by the stalls. Their hands shape what creates the magic and charm of Christmas: wooden toys made in Alsace in one place, pottery from Soufflenheim and Betschdorf in another, craft beers here, Advent wreaths over there and Christmas baubles made of glass blown at the International Glass Art Center in Meisenthal, etc.
The Christmas flea market organized by Strasbourg’s second-hand market traders association (ABFNS), this flea market is held in the large hall of the L’Aubette building on Place Kléber. You will find a host of antique and second-hand dealers who will be displaying antique items and works of art for sale, ranging from Alsatian painting and pottery to furniture, along with design, vintage, old linen and tableware items, providing a diverse selection. Offering a delight for the eyes and the excitement of unearthing a real gem, you will find ideas for authentic gifts.
The Alsatian federation of crafts (Frémaa) highlights the talent and expertise of some sixty craftsmen and women with an utterly charming pop-up store where those with an eye for unique items can find distinctive hand-made gifts. Ceramicists, glass-makers, cabinetmakers, jewellery and fashion designers reveal their latest collections.
Aland of tradition, Alsace celebrates Christmas with enthusiasm. In addition to Strasbourg, many villages and cities hold their own Christmas markets, most often in absolutely enchanting settings. Christmas is where Strasbourg’s cuisine really come into its own. Heavy, warming food is perfect for this time of year and the sugar hit will keep your energy high for hours of shopping in the different markets.
As soon as you get to the Christmas markets, you’ll notice that lots of chalets offer savoury and sweet treats, each one more tempting than the last. Indulge in a crêpe, a waffle or an Alsatian speciality. Street food to try from the stands: Bretzels – soft, bready pretzels; Bredeles – delicious little spiced biscuits in the shape of stars; Knacks – sausages of all sizes and descriptions; Pain d’epices – ginger bread – like a more subtle, firmer version of ginger cake; Vin chaud – mulled wine perfumed with spices and fruit…
Alsatian cuisine, the cuisine of the Alsace region of France, incorporates Germanic culinary traditions and is marked by the use of pork in various forms. The region is also known for its wine and beer. Alsatian food is synonymous with conviviality, the dishes are substantial and served in generous portions and it has one of the richest regional kitchens.
Winstubs are the first ambassadors of generous Alsatian cuisine. Most are in Strasbourg, in the historical quarters. With their typically Alsatian decor, they’ve all had illustrious patrons grace their tables. They serve delicious, authentic specialities, perfectly paired with the best wines of the region.
The fine white wines of Alsace have acquired a reputation that now extends well beyond France’s borders. Alsace produces high quality wines, thanks to its grands crus, small terroirs and a great variety of grapes. And many winemakers have now begun producing organic and natural wines, too. The Alsace Wine Route will take you on an exciting adventure as it winds its way through the beautiful Vosges foothills. Wine lovers will discover some wonderful wines as they explore the route, including some surprising reds.