One of Europe’s truly magical winter destinations, Colmar Christmas Market takes over this historic old town from late November until late December.
Fairy lights cover many of the street trees, the famous half-timbered buildings are festively decorated, and almost every square is lined with Christmas stalls and wooden chalets.
In this guide, I share the confirmed dates for 2023, opening times and what you can expect to experience in Colmar at Christmas.
The Christmas market is Colmar is a sparkling series of events taking place in the heart of Alsace. Strolling through the market, you’ll find charming, half-timbered houses draped in festive lights and the aroma of traditional Alsatian cuisine wafting through the air.
Colmar Christmas Market 2023
One of the oldest markets in Europe, it holds its own with six distinct markets, each with a unique character and assortment of handmade crafts, regional specialities and festive decorations.
Colmar outshines many other markets with its ‘Children’s Land’ in the park, a magical space filled with enchanting wooden toys, sweet treats and an old-fashioned carousel, creating an unforgettable festive experience for young visitors.
The illuminated streets, coupled with the picturesque Petite Venise district, turn the city into a real-life winter wonderland, making a visit to Colmar’s Christmas Market a truly enchanting affair.
Given the compact nature of the historic centre, it’s quite feasible to explore all the markets in a single day. Alternatively, you could spread out your visits over your Christmas break, allowing you to soak in the festive atmosphere at a leisurely pace.
Dates and Location
Colmar Christmas Market dates: 23rd November to 29th December 2023.
Locations: The city of Colmar is home to six unique Christmas markets, each offering a different slice of festive cheer:
Dominican Church Christmas Market: Place des Dominicains – You’ll discover 60 Christmas huts, brimming with twinkling decorations, pristine Christmas trees and a huge variet of festive snacks.
Gourmet Christmas Market: Place de la Cathédrale – Putting a spotlight on Alsatian culinary artisans. It’s a paradise for foodies and lovers of local produce..
Traditional Christmas Market: Place Jeanne d’Arc – An Alsatian village Christmas market. The specialities here include charcuterie, wine, brandy, Christmas cakes and that holiday essential, gingerbread.
Schwendi Fountain Christmas Market: Place de l’Ancienne Douane – About 50 huts encircle the fountain and extend along the river, offering a wide range of festive goods.
Children’s Christmas Market: La Petite Venise – Caters specially to the younger visitors. Children’s faces light up at the sight of handmade toys, a chance to meet Santa Claus and fun rides.
Craft Market: The Koïfhus – Where local craftsmanship comes alive. Here, ceramists, potters, glassmakers, cabinetmakers, woodcarvers, hatters, jewelers and other artisans showcase their skills and wares.
Opening times: Monday to Thursday: 11am to 7pm. Friday to Sunday: 10am to 8pm.
Christmas Day: Open from 11am to 8pm.
Admission: Free, no tickets required.
Christmas lights: Yes, from late November.
Santa: Yes, at the Children’s Christmas Market at La Petite Venise.
Ice skating: No.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten free: Yes, but limited.
Pet-friendly: Yes, but not recommended during busy periods.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion. There is no vehicle access in the city centre during the opening of the Christmas markets.
Reason to visit: An age-old tradition with a unique twist. Six distinct markets in one city. Gourmet treats from Alsatian culinary artisans.
Recommended tour: A day tour of Colmar and nearby Medieval villages.
Specialities: Flammenkueche. Baeckeoffe. Kouglof. Munster cheese. Christmas bredle cookies. Spiced Alsatian Christmas beer. Foie gras. Choucroute.
Travel tip: Hop on the train and visit nearby Alsatian destinations such as Strasbourg and Riquewihr or extend your trip with a visit to Basel’s Christmas market, which is only 45 minutes away in Switzerland.
Where to stay: James Boutique Hotel is my favourite place to stay in Colmar.
Hotels near Colmar Christmas Market
While there are many hotels in the historic old town, I recommend only a handful. If you’re not careful, you could end up staying in an old room with dated furniture and poor service.
I’ve been fortunate to have visited Colmar on two occasions and think the James Boutique Hotel is one of the best places to stay.
Read my full guide to hotels near Colmar Christmas Market where I list the best and most convenient hotels and apartments suitable for a range of budgets.
Location of Colmar Christmas Market
Christmas in Colmar
Alsatian Specialties in Colmar
Food is part of Alsace’s rich cultural heritage. Here are some local Christmas specialties that are worth trying.
Baeckeoffe: This Alsatian delight finds its origin in a slow-cooked casserole. You’ll find lamb, beef and pork marinated in white wine and juniper berries, layered with potatoes and onions, and then baked in a sealed terracotta pot. The result is a hearty, succulent dish perfect for the chilly winter months.
Choucroute Garnie: You might come across this iconic Alsatian dish in Colmar. It’s essentially sauerkraut cooked in white wine and juniper berries, generously garnished with different cuts of pork, sausages and sometimes even potatoes. Every bite is a mix of tangy, savoury, and smoky flavours.
Flammekueche: Known outside Alsace as ‘tarte flambée’, flammekueche is a thin-crust pizza topped with crème fraîche, onions, and lardons. Variations of this dish include cheese, mushrooms or other seasonal vegetables, making it a versatile choice for both vegetarians and meat lovers.
Kouglof: No Alsatian meal is complete without a slice of kouglof. It’s a yeasted cake baked in a distinctive circular bundt mould and usually contains raisins, almonds and cherry brandy. You might enjoy it as a breakfast pastry, a dessert, or a snack with your afternoon tea.
Munster Cheese: A soft, washed-rind cheese with a strong aroma and a surprisingly subtle taste, Munster is one of Alsace’s culinary pride. While it’s often enjoyed on its own, it’s also used in various recipes, including salads, gratins, and tarts.
Spätzle: These soft egg noodles have a distinctive texture, somewhere between a dumpling and pasta. They are frequently served as a side dish with meat and can also be dressed up with cheese (käsespätzle) for a delicious vegetarian main.
Bredle: When the Christmas season comes around, Alsatian kitchens fill up with the scent of baking bredle. These small, biscuit-like cookies come in various shapes and flavours, including aniseed, ginger, and hazelnut.
Berewecke: This fruit and nut bread is another vegetarian-friendly speciality that shines during Christmas. It’s a dense, sweet loaf made from dried fruits (like pears and figs), nuts, and spices, often served sliced as a dessert or snack.
Pretzels: An undeniable symbol of Alsace, pretzels are twisted bread products with a distinctive chewy texture and a golden-brown crust. Salted pretzels are the classic choice, but you’ll also find them topped with seeds, cheese, or even sweet ingredients like cinnamon and sugar.
Vin Chaud: There’s no better way to keep warm as you stroll through the markets than with a cup of vin chaud in hand. Mulled wine is heated and infused with a mix of spices and citrus fruits, resulting in a comforting, aromatic drink that perfectly complements the festive atmosphere.
Roasted Chestnuts: The smell of roasted chestnuts often wafts through the crisp winter air at Colmar’s Christmas markets. Served hot, these sweet, nutty treats are perfect for munching on as you browse the stalls.
Pain d’Epices: Pain d’Epices, or gingerbread, is a holiday staple in Alsace. The richly spiced, honey-infused bread is enjoyed on its own, used in desserts or even as a base for foie gras. You’ll find beautifully decorated gingerbread men and houses among the offerings.
Tarte au Fromage Blanc: This light, fluffy cheesecake is a sweet treat that shouldn’t be missed. The cheese in question is fromage blanc, which lends the cake its delicate flavour and airy texture.
International snacks: Beyond Alsatian delicacies, you’ll also find a selection of international snacks at the markets. Belgian waffles, Dutch stroopwafels, German bratwurst and Polish pierogi are just a few examples, ensuring there’s something to satisfy every palate.
Marrons Glacés: These candied chestnuts are a sweet delight originating from southern France, but they have also found their place in the Alsace Christmas markets. Glazed in sugar syrup, these treats are the perfect blend of sweet, nutty and slightly earthy flavours.
What to Buy
Pottery from Soufflenheim: Soufflenheim, a village in Alsace, is renowned for its pottery, and you’ll find an array of these intricately designed pieces at the market. Designs range from utilitarian kitchenware to more decorative items, all bearing the distinctive, brightly coloured glazes for which the region is known.
Alsatian Linens and Textiles: Colmar’s markets feature stalls selling locally-made linens and textiles, including tablecloths, napkins, and aprons. Many of these pieces are hand-embroidered and feature traditional Alsatian motifs, making them a lovely gift.
Alsace Wine: As one of France’s premier wine regions, Alsace produces a variety of distinctive wines, many of which are available at the Christmas market. You might choose a crisp Riesling, a subtly sweet Gewürztraminer, or a bottle of Crémant d’Alsace, the region’s sparkling wine.
Local Art: Colmar is rich in artistic heritage, and this is reflected in the variety of local art available at the market. Original paintings, prints and sculptures, often inspired by the region’s landscapes and history, make unique souvenirs.
Handcrafted Christmas Ornaments: Consider purchasing some handcrafted Christmas ornaments for a festive memento of your visit. Crafted from wood, glass, or pottery, these ornaments often feature traditional Alsatian designs.
Traditional Gingerbread Moulds: Gingerbread is a holiday staple in Alsace, and the traditional wooden moulds used to shape these treats are a unique gift idea. Often displaying intricate carvings, these moulds can serve as a functional baking tool or a decorative piece.
Alsatian Spices: Pick up a sachet or two of traditional Alsatian spices to bring a taste of the region back home. Spices like star anise, cinnamon, and nutmeg are frequently used in Alsatian cuisine, particularly in festive dishes.
Other typical Christmas Market gifts: Of course, you’ll also find the usual array of Christmas market goods, including handmade soaps, candles, toys, jewellery, and more. Whatever your taste or budget, you’re sure to find something that catches your eye.
Things to do in Colmar in Winter
Winter truly brings out a magical charm in Colmar and throughout the Alsace region. As temperatures drop, the city wraps itself in a cosy blanket of warmth emanating from vibrant street decorations and the buzzing activity of its six Christmas markets.
The canals, embellished with their own festive adornments, enhance the city’s enchanting aura. Whenever the weather takes a colder turn, the inviting warmth of local cafes serving hot chocolate, strudel and many Alsatian specialties.
Nestled within Colmar’s heart is Little Venice, a picture-perfect quarter renowned for its canals lined with vibrant, half-timbered houses. This iconic area is one you may recognise from pictures, its beauty capturing the imagination of visitors worldwide.
Adjacent to Little Venice, the historic Fishmonger’s District bridges the gap to the Tanneurs District. It was traditionally inhabited by professional fishermen, a fact commemorated in its name. A fire in 1706 may have claimed many original structures, but meticulous restoration in the 1980s restored the district’s charm.
For those seeking a taste of local flavours, Colmar is dotted with artisan shops selling regional specialties. The city’s famed covered Market Hall is a one-stop destination for a wide array of local produce. Here, you can shop for charcuterie, cheese, baked goods, Alsatian wine, and cider to savour on the spot or take away.
While the city’s many museums offer year-round interest, they serve as a perfect refuge during inclement weather. The Unterlinden Museum, Maison des Têtes, Maison Pfister and the Chocolate Museum are among Colmar’s top choices for cultural exploration.
To ensure your trip around France is brimming with festive spirit, I encourage you to explore my detailed guide to the French Christmas markets, a resource designed to help you plan a perfect Christmas journey.
Or add a day trip to your itinerary with this Alsace Christmas Market guide for 2023.
If you have any questions or comments about visiting the Colmar Xmas market in 2023 or visiting Colmar in winter more generally, please leave a comment below. We are experienced travellers who are happy to help where we can, or you can get more information from the Alsace Christmas website.
Sustainable Travel in Alsace
When visiting the Christmas markets, keeping sustainability in mind is important. A few simple actions can make all the difference to the environment and the local community in Colmar.
- Opt for walking or cycling: Colmar, much like Strasbourg, is a city that’s easily navigable on foot or by bike. Ditch the car and take in the city’s Christmas charm by walking or hiring a bike. You’ll be reducing your carbon footprint and the city’s air pollution levels whilst also enjoying the Christmas lights, decorations and atmosphere from a much closer perspective.
- Support local producers at markets: At the Christmas market in Colmar, make it a priority to buy from local producers and artisans. This helps sustain local communities, reduces transport emissions from imported goods and allows you to enjoy authentic Alsatian goods and produce.
- Choose accommodations with renewable energy sources: There are a number of accommodations in Colmar that use renewable energy sources for heating and electricity. When booking, consider those that prioritise sustainable energy sources.
- Mind your food waste: When sampling the delicious food offerings at the Christmas market, only order what you can eat. Any leftovers should be composted where possible, and remember to bring your own reusable containers, utensils and cups to avoid single-use plastics.
- Eat sustainably: Opt for plant-based or vegetarian meals where possible, as these generally require fewer resources to produce than meat and dairy products. Colmar’s Christmas market and local restaurants have a variety of vegetarian options, allowing you to enjoy Alsatian cuisine in a more sustainable way.
- Take the train: If you’re travelling to or from other cities in France or Europe, consider the train instead of flying or driving. It’s a more sustainable travel option and gives you a chance to appreciate the beautiful countryside en route.
The Colmar Christmas Market is not confined to one location but is spread across six distinctive sites throughout the city: the Dominican Church, Gourmet Christmas Market at Place de la Cathédrale, Traditional Christmas Market at Place Jeanne d’Arc, Schwendi Fountain Christmas Market at Place de l’Ancienne Douane, Children’s Christmas Market at La Petite Venise and the Craft Market at The Koïfhus.
You could see all 6 of Colmar’s Christmas markets in one day as they are located within a short distance of each other. However, three days would give you time to explore the city and try the incredible cuisine.
Absolutely! Colmar is particularly enchanting in the winter, with its Christmas markets, charming old town, festive decorations and cosy atmosphere. It’s a fantastic place to explore and immerse yourself in Alsatian culture.
The Colmar Christmas markets are open Monday to Thursday: 11am to 7pm. Friday to Sunday: 10am to 8pm.
The Christmas markets in Colmar are open from 11am to 8pm on Christmas Day.
Winter in Colmar is usually cold, with temperatures ranging from -1°C to 5°C. Snowfall is possible but not guaranteed. Despite the chilly weather, the festive atmosphere and beautiful Christmas lights more than make up for it.
Colmar has several indoor attractions to visit on rainy or cold days. These include the Unterlinden Museum, Maison des Têtes, Maison Pfister and the Chocolate Museum. In addition, you could also spend some time in Colmar’s covered market hall or enjoy a warm drink in one of the many cosy cafes.
There’s a Children’s Christmas Market in La Petite Venise specifically designed for kids. Here they can enjoy a variety of attractions like picking out handmade toys, meeting Santa Claus and going on rides.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Colmar, France. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.