Christmas in Alsace feels like stepping into a fairy-tale realm, with its charming timber-framed houses adorned with twinkling lights and decorations.
What sets Alsace apart is its unique blend of German and French traditions, making the Christmas markets here a distinct experience.
In this guide, I detail the standout Alsace Christmas Market destinations, confirmed 2023 dates, traditions, and specialties at each location.
Alsace Christmas Market 2023
In a region situated at the crossroads of Germany and France, the Christmas markets in Alsace blend elements of both cultures.
Strasbourg, the region’s capital, is often dubbed the “Capital of Christmas”, with its expansive market spreading across several city squares, while Colmar offers a series of themed markets, each having its own distinct character.
Smaller towns like Mulhouse, Riquewihr, and Eguisheim showcase markets that reflect their individual histories and traditions.
For instance, Mulhouse adorns its market with a different fabric each year, paying homage to its textile industry legacy, while Eguisheim, a circular village, provides a unique market path that spirals towards its central square.
While each market has its unique charm, all of them exhibit the region’s iconic half-timbered houses, adorned with lights and festive decorations, and are a showcase for the region’s traditional crafts, foods, and wines.
In this guide, I’ve curated a list of the best Alsace Christmas markets to visit in 2023.
Strasbourg Christmas Market – Known locally as Christkindelsmärik, Strasbourg’s Christmas Market is the oldest in France, with a history dating back to 1570.
The centrepiece of the celebrations is the towering Great Christmas Tree in Place Kléber, standing at an impressive 30 metres and known as one of Europe’s tallest decorated natural Christmas trees.
As you wander around the historic Grande Île district, you’ll discover over 300 wooden chalets offering handmade toys, artisan gifts, and traditional Alsatian treats like bredele biscuits and renowned mulled wine.
Each corner of the city, from the canals lined with half-timbered houses to the grand squares, exudes a unique charm during this festive period.
To ensure you’re well-prepared for your visit, I recommend reading my guide to Strasbourg Christmas Market, where you’ll find essential details like confirmed 2023 dates and opening times.
If accommodation is on your mind, check out my guide on where to stay in Strasbourg for the Christmas Market, which features a selection of hotels suited to various budgets and conveniently located near the festivities.
Colmar Christmas Market – Colmar is often referred to as a French-style Little Venice. This small city is renowned for its picturesque half-timbered houses, romantic canals, and cobblestone lanes, all of which form the backdrop for its enchanting Christmas Market.
As you wander through the pedestrianised town centre, you’ll encounter architectural marvels dating from the Middle Ages to the 19th century, all illuminated for the celebrations.
The town holds six distinctive markets, including the unique ‘Children’s Land’ in the park, where young visitors are enthralled by traditional wooden toys and an old-fashioned carousel.
In the heart of the historic centre, the various markets, such as those at Place des Dominicains and Place Jeanne d’Arc, showcase regional delicacies and crafts, making your visit to Colmar a rich tapestry of Alsatian culture and Christmas spirit.
Before heading to the enchanting town of Colmar, I recommend you check out my guide to Colmar Christmas Market, ensuring you’re equipped with essential details such as confirmed dates and opening times.
And if you’re pondering where to lay your head after a day of festive exploration, my guide to hotels near Colmar Christmas Market provides a selection of conveniently situated accommodations to suit all financial plans.
Mulhouse Christmas Market – At Christmastime, Mulhouse showcases its unique heritage in cloth making and fabric printing, transforming the city centre with radiant colours and patterns for a distinctive atmosphere.
This tradition of draping facades with a special fabric, unique to each year and rooted in the essence of an Alsatian Christmas, sets Mulhouse apart.
As you explore the Christmas market situated on Place de la Réunion, the presence of this vibrant fabric is undeniable, especially with its central role in the festive decorations around Saint-Etienne church.
In the heart of Mulhouse’s historic centre, this market offers traditional Alsatian festivities and introduces you to the speciality of the Christmas cloth, from which local artisans craft myriad items, making perfect, exclusive gifts.
To help you plan your visit, I’ve compiled a guide on the Mulhouse Christmas Market, detailing essential information like 2023 dates and opening times.
Kaysersberg Christmas Market – During Advent, Kaysersberg immerses itself in the traditions of an Alsatian Christmas, with festive lights illuminating its timber-framed houses and cobblestone streets, filling the air with the scent of pine and Christmas treats.
The town, renowned for its iconic Kaysersberg Castle, presents a Christmas market that prioritises age-old Advent traditions, ensuring your visit encapsulates the true Christmas spirit.
As you navigate the alleys, you’ll encounter wooden chalets nestled amidst a historic 17th-century backdrop, showcasing handpicked craftspeople and their distinct creations.
To ensure your trip to the Alsace region is well-informed, I recommend reading my guide to Kaysersberg Christmas Market, which provides essential details such as dates and opening times. This will assist you in seamlessly planning your visit to one of the region’s most enchanting markets.
Riquewihr Christmas Market – Nestled amidst vineyards and enclosed by ancient walls, Riquewihr stands as a testament to Alsatian charm and heritage, especially during Christmas.
This beautiful village, famed for its medieval architecture, immerses itself in the Christmas spirit; its half-timbered façades adorned with exquisite decorations, while festive ornaments replace the usual floral displays of summer.
As you wander through Riquewihr, the Christmas market entices with stalls brimming with handicrafts, enticing the senses with the aroma of traditional treats like spice bread, bretzels, and hot chestnuts.
To plan your visit, I recommend you look into my guide to Riquewihr Christmas Market, which details essential information including dates and opening times. This will assist you in seamlessly integrating this magical market into your travel plans.
Best Christmas Markets in Alsace
While the markets I’ve highlighted are among the best in Alsace, there are many other Christmas markets in the region that deserve a visit. I suggest you explore these additional locations to enrich your Alsace experience.
Eguisheim Christmas Market – Surrounded by vineyards, the Christmas market in Eguisheim provides an authentic Alsatian experience. You’ll encounter a blend of tradition and charm, with stalls showcasing local crafts and festive treats. It’s a spot that truly captures the essence of a genuine Alsace Christmas.
Haguenau Christmas Market – Haguenau is known for its distinct Christmas market embodying Alsatian traditions’ spirit. As you wander through, you’ll find a variety of stalls displaying handcrafted items and local delicacies. The atmosphere, illuminated by festive lights, ensures an authentic and warm festive experience.
Obernai Christmas Market – As one of Alsace’s charming towns, Obernai hosts a Christmas market that radiates authenticity. You’ll encounter artisans showcasing their crafts alongside stalls filled with regional specialties. The blend of traditional sounds and scents envelops visitors, providing a genuine Alsatian festive experience.
To broaden your horizons beyond Alsace, I recommend you read my European Christmas Market guide, detailing top locations for a European Christmas holiday in 2023.
Additionally, for a focus on France specifically, my French Christmas Market guide provides insight into the top market destinations within the country this year.
Christmas in Alsace
While many Christmas markets across Europe offer familiar treats and trinkets, Alsace stands out with its unique regional specialities. Here’s a selection of distinct offerings to entice your senses and evoke the festive spirit of an Alsatian Christmas:
Bretzel: Not to be confused with the pretzels you might find elsewhere, the Alsatian bretzel is a soft, doughy delight, often sprinkled with coarse salt. These twisty treats are a staple at the Christmas markets, making them a must-try when wandering the stalls.
Kougelhopf: A distinctive Alsatian cake, kougelhopf features a blend of raisins, almonds, and cherry brandy. Shaped in a circular bundt form, this delicious treat embodies the region’s culinary traditions.
Choucroute: Renowned in Alsace, choucroute is a tantalising dish made from fermented cabbage and various meats. While more common as a main meal, smaller portions can occasionally be found at Christmas market stalls for you to savour.
Vin Chaud d’Alsace: While mulled wine is a common sight at Christmas markets, vin chaud d’Alsace sets itself apart with a unique blend of spices and regional wines, ensuring a warming experience like no other.
Flammekueche: A thin-crust pizza of sorts, flammekueche is topped with crème fraîche, onions, and lardons. Its crispy edges and delicious toppings make it a popular choice among market-goers.
Spätzle: These soft egg noodles are often paired with cheese or served as a side dish. Rich in texture and flavour, spätzle showcases the rustic culinary heritage of Alsace.
Manalas: Shaped like little men, these delightful brioche buns are often studded with raisins and enjoyed during the Saint Nicholas festivities in early December.
Alsatian pottery: Unique to the region, Alsatian pottery features vibrant colours and intricate designs. These pieces serve as both functional kitchenware and beautiful mementos of your visit.
Handcrafted ornaments: Alsatian Christmas markets pride themselves on artisanal, handcrafted ornaments, often made from wood or glass. Each piece tells a story of the region’s rich craftsmanship and history.
Pain d’épices: A form of gingerbread, Alsace’s version stands out with its mix of honey, aniseed, and other spices. Moulded into various shapes and designs, it’s both a treat for the eyes and the palate.
Schnapps: Distilled in the region, Alsatian schnapps is a clear fruit brandy. Available in various flavours, it offers a spirited taste of the region’s rich agricultural offerings.
Indulging in these specialities, you’ll truly appreciate the uniqueness of Alsatian Christmas markets and the deep-rooted traditions they represent.
Responsible Travel in Alsace
Visiting Alsace during Christmas is magical, but let’s ensure our travels respect both the environment and local culture. Here’s how you can make a positive impact:
Eco-friendly accommodation: When searching for a place to stay, opt for hotels in Alsace that champion green practices. Many establishments in the region have begun to shift towards renewable energy sources, be it solar panels or wind turbines. Prioritising such accommodations not only reduces your carbon footprint but also supports businesses that value sustainability.
Mindful eating at Christmas markets: Alsace’s Christmas markets are known for their sumptuous offerings. However, it’s easy to over-order, leading to food waste. Try to order modestly, and if you’re unsure about portion sizes, enquire before making your choices. Sharing dishes with travel companions can also help reduce waste while allowing everyone to sample a wider variety of foods.
Ethical consumption: While buying numerous souvenirs is tempting, consider purchasing only items you truly love or have a use for. For instance, select one handcrafted ornament from a local artisan instead of buying multiple decorative items. This supports the local economy and reduces the environmental impact of producing and transporting goods.
Sustainable diets: Alsatian cuisine is diverse and often locally sourced. Look for dishes that use seasonal and local ingredients. For example, opt for a flammekueche made with locally produced crème fraîche and onions. Embracing such dishes reduces transportation-related emissions and offers a genuine taste of the region.
Sustainable transport: Alsace is well-connected with efficient public transport options like trains and buses. Instead of renting a car, consider travelling by these means or, better yet, exploring cities like Strasbourg or Colmar on foot or by bike. This way, you’ll experience the true charm of the region while reducing your environmental impact.
By adopting these practices, you can enjoy the festive spirit of Alsace responsibly, ensuring the region remains enchanting for years to come.
Absolutely! Alsace is renowned for its enchanting Christmas markets, with towns like Strasbourg, Colmar, and Mulhouse hosting some of France’s most famous festive stalls.
Strasbourg holds the title for the largest Christmas market in Alsace, often referred to as “Capitale de Noël” or the “Capital of Christmas”.
The Christmas markets in Alsace are scheduled to open from 25th November 2023 to 6th January 2024. Read our dedicated city guides to find opening dates for each Christmas market.
Winter in Alsace is cold and sometimes snowy. December temperatures typically range from 0°C to 6°C, so it’s wise to bring warm clothing, especially if you plan on spending evenings at outdoor market stalls.
Yes, Alsace, particularly its Christmas markets, attracts a large number of visitors during the festive season. If you want to avoid the largest crowds, consider visiting on weekdays or early December.
For a comprehensive guide to winter destinations and planning your trip to Alsace, I recommend you explore Visit Alsace. It’s the official website for the region, providing insightful destination guides and valuable trip-planning tips. You’ll find details on the top spots to visit during the colder months and much more to ensure a seamless experience.
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Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research.