Winter visits to St Gallen paint a picture of frost-kissed cobblestones and warmth emanating from cosy light displays. The St Gallen Christmas Market forms the heart of the city during this season, with an array of interesting stalls presenting a blend of local crafts and gastronomic specialties.
In this article, I share essential details, including the 2023 dates, opening times and where to see the 700 stars that illuminate the city during Advent.
St Gallen Christmas Market 2023
The Christmas market in St Gallen, known locally as Weihnachtsmarkt, brings the festive spirit alive amid the twinkling cityscape.
The Christmas stalls are a pretty sight where you’ll find ornate Swiss crafts, fresh gingerbread and traditional mulled wine.
With its baroque architecture, the illuminated Cathedral of St Gallen makes for a beautiful backdrop to the festivities.
Dates and Location
St Gallen Christmas Market dates: 30th November to 24th December 2023.
City of Stars: 30th November 2023 to 6th January 2024.
Location: Waaghaus, Bohl and Marktgasse.
Opening times: Monday to Friday: 11am to 7pm. Saturday and Sunday: 11am to 6pm. Christmas Eve: 10am to 4pm.
Food stalls: Monday to Friday: 11am to 8:30pm. Thursday: Until 10pm. Saturday: 11am to 7:30pm. Sunday: 11am to 7pm. Christmas Eve: 10am to 4pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Admission: Free, no tickets required.
Childcare: Wednesday and Saturday: 1:30pm to 5pm, at Waaghaus.
St Gallen Christmas paper: Available at the tourist information centre.
Ice skating: No.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten-free: Yes, but limited.
Pet-friendly: Yes, but not recommended.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: A UNESCO World Heritage Site providing a historical backdrop; Swiss craftsmanship on display; regional culinary specialties.
Specialities: St Gallen bratwurst; biberli gingerbread; rösti; Swiss fondue; raclette; spiced mulled wine; schüblig sausages.
Where to stay: Hotel Walhalla is a popular hotel, 8-minutes from the Christmas market.
Hotels near St Gallen Christmas Market
Positioned in the city centre, the neighbourhood around Marktplatz proves to be an ideal place for your stay during the Christmas season, given its proximity to the festive hub of St Gallen.
It’s teeming with lively streets, charming local boutiques, and a handful of the city’s renowned eateries.
To maximise your festive experience, Hotel Walhalla is highly recommended, thanks to its excellent ratings and its enviable location, just a stone’s throw from the Christmas market at Waaghaus.
For a complete round-up of the most popular and best Christmas markets in Switzerland, make sure to explore my detailed guide, which I’ve designed to help you the perfect Swiss itinerary.
Location of St Gallen Christmas Market
Christmas in St Gallen
Christmas Specialties in St Gallen
St Gallen Bratwurst: Originating from the region, St Gallen Bratwurst is a sausage primarily made from veal. The meat is finely ground, combined with milk, mace, and nutmeg, and then stuffed into a casing. It’s traditionally grilled and served with Bürli, a Swiss bread roll.
Biberli: A St Gallen speciality, Biberli is a type of gingerbread filled with a sweet almond paste. The dough is typically embossed with various designs, and the finished product, with its blend of sweet and spicy flavours, is a delightful festive treat.
Rösti: A simple yet beloved Swiss dish, Rösti consists of thinly grated potatoes pan-fried until crispy. Originally a breakfast dish for farmers, it is now enjoyed throughout the day. Variations can include onions, cheese, or even apples for a sweet twist, providing a vegetarian option.
Fondue: Nothing says Swiss cuisine quite like Fondue. A pot of melted cheese, typically a mixture of Gruyère and Emmental, is kept warm over a small flame. Participants dip pieces of bread into the cheese using long-stemmed forks. Although most associated with mountainous regions, it’s a hearty winter treat appreciated all over Switzerland.
Raclette: Another cheesy delight, Raclette, is traditionally a semi-hard cheese wheel melted on one side. The melted part is scraped off onto boiled potatoes, pickles, and onions. Traditionally, it’s a social dining experience, with the Raclette grill set up in the middle of the table so everyone can cook their own.
Schüblig: A variety of sausage that’s usually served during festive occasions, Schüblig is made of beef, bacon, and sometimes veal. It’s distinctive for its larger size and is generally served with hot mustard.
Zopf Bread: Made from braided strands of dough enriched with milk and eggs, Zopf bread is a common sight on Swiss tables during holidays. This buttery loaf is slightly sweet, dense, and perfect for sopping up the last bits of fondue or raclette.
Lebkuchen: This traditional Swiss gingerbread is slightly different from its German counterpart. Lebkuchen is less sweet and more heavily spiced, providing a fragrant end to a Christmas meal. It can be found in many shapes and sizes, often decorated with almonds and candied peel for added texture.
Food and Drinks at the Christmas Market
Gluhwein: People huddle around the stalls serving gluhwein or mulled wine as the temperature drops. This warm, spiced wine is a staple at Christmas markets and provides a cosy contrast to the chilly weather. It often contains a mix of red wine, various mulling spices, and sometimes citrus peel.
Swiss Chocolates: Switzerland’s love affair with chocolate is well-known, and the Christmas market in St Gallen is no exception. Stalls are laden with beautifully packaged Swiss chocolates in a variety of flavours and styles. Dark, milk, white, filled chocolates and even hand-painted artisan creations vie for attention, making these stalls a chocoholic’s paradise.
Chestnuts: Roasted chestnuts are a quintessential Christmas market snack. Vendors roast these in large pans, filling the air with a unique, comforting aroma. The chestnuts are cooked until they’re tender and slightly sweet, offering a warming, portable snack as you wander the market.
Pretzels: Pretzels, or ‘Brezeln’, are often found in Christmas markets across Europe. In St Gallen, you’ll find these twisted knots of bread in a variety of flavours, from classic salted to cheese-stuffed. They’re the perfect grab-and-go snack while you browse the market.
Apfelküchlein: These Swiss apple fritters are a popular snack at the Christmas market. Slices of apple are dipped in batter, deep-fried until golden and often served dusted with icing sugar. These sweet, warm treats are especially comforting on a cold winter’s day.
Sausage and sauerkraut: In true Swiss fashion, many stalls at the St Gallen Christmas Market serve different types of sausages with a side of sauerkraut. From the thinner, spicier cervelat to the beefier landjäger, these hearty meats and tangy fermented cabbage make for a satisfying meal.
Hot Chocolate: As you would expect from a country known for its chocolate, the hot chocolate in St Gallen is rich and indulgent. Often topped with a dollop of whipped cream, this warm beverage is a favourite among young and old visitors.
Flammkuchen: A dish hailing from the French-German border, Flammkuchen is also a popular choice at the Christmas market. This thin, crispy flatbread is typically topped with cream, onions, and bacon, although many vegetarian versions are also available.
What to Buy
St Gallen Embroidery: St Gallen has a long-standing tradition of producing high-quality embroidery, known for its detailed craftsmanship and elegant designs. You’ll find embroidered tablecloths, handkerchiefs, and clothing items, amongst other intricate pieces, making for a beautiful and unique gift.
Swiss Lace: Delicate and sophisticated, Swiss lace is another textile product available at the St Gallen Christmas Market. Renowned for its quality, it’s used in a variety of items, including doilies, table runners, and clothing. A piece of this intricately worked fabric can serve as a special keepsake or gift.
Appenzeller Cheese: This hard cow’s milk cheese is produced in the Appenzell region near St Gallen. Known for its distinctive herbal brine, the cheese is available in various maturities, each providing a unique flavour profile. Cheese lovers would undoubtedly appreciate this regional delicacy.
Swiss Watches: While perhaps an extravagant gift, Swiss watches represent a centuries-old tradition of precision and craftsmanship. The St Gallen Christmas Market stalls present a range of options, from affordable quartz watches to high-end mechanical timepieces.
Wooden Toys: True to Swiss tradition, many stalls feature charming, handcrafted wooden toys. These range from simple puzzles to intricate music boxes, showcasing Swiss woodworking’s fine art. Such toys serve as a delightful gift for children and a cherished memento of your visit.
Handcrafted Ornaments: The St Gallen Weihnachtsmarkt is a treasure trove of unique handcrafted ornaments. From intricately carved wooden figurines to delicate glass baubles, these decorations add a touch of Swiss charm to any Christmas tree.
Swiss Honey Products: Several vendors at the market sell local honey products made from bees that have foraged on the surrounding Swiss flora. Besides jars of honey, you can also find beeswax candles, honey soaps, and lip balms, all harnessing the natural properties of Swiss honey.
Lebkuchen Cookies: Not just a sweet treat, these beautifully decorated gingerbread cookies are also a popular gift at the Christmas Market. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, often iced with festive messages or images, making for a tasty souvenir.
For comprehensive information to aid your visit to the city, I recommend turning to My Switzerland for their overview of things to do in the city and region.
Sustainable Christmas Tips
Many of us are increasingly concerned about climate change and sustainability. Here are a few tips on how we can travel more responsibly in St Gallen at Christmas.
Use Public Transport: St Gallen has an excellent public transport system, making it easy to get around without a car. The trolleybus system, in particular, is one of the oldest and most expensive in the country, and it provides a cleaner alternative to driving.
Eat Locally and Seasonally: To support sustainable diets, opt for foods that are grown locally and are in season. Many vendors at the St Gallen Christmas Market source their produce locally, reducing the carbon footprint associated with transporting food and supporting local farmers.
Avoid Food Waste: Be mindful of portion sizes when buying food at the market to prevent unnecessary waste. In St Gallen, you’ll often find smaller serving sizes available, which can help in reducing the amount of uneaten food that ends up in the bin.
Ethical Consumption: Pay attention to the source and production methods of the products you buy. Many stalls at the Christmas market in St Gallen and elsewhere in Switzerland sell handcrafted items made by local artisans. Purchasing these supports local businesses and promotes ethical consumption, as artisan crafts usually have a lower environmental impact than mass-produced goods.
Support Renewable Energy: Consider staying at accommodations that use renewable energy sources. . By choosing such accommodations, you’re supporting the growth of renewable energy in the region.
Bring Reusable Bags and Containers: When shopping at the Christmas market, bring your own reusable bags and containers for carrying goods and leftover food. This simple act can significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste generated from your visit.
Explore on Foot or By Bike: St Gallen is a compact city, perfect for exploring on foot or by bike. Not only does this allow you to discover hidden gems around the city, but it also reduces your carbon footprint by limiting the use of motorised transport.
The St Gallen Christmas Market typically runs from 30th November to 24th December 2023.
The St Gallen Christmas Market takes place in Waaghaus, Bohl and Marktgasse, with the main attractions located around the Market Square and surrounding streets.
The merchandise market stalls open Monday to Friday: 11am to 7pm. Saturday and Sunday: 11am to 6pm. Christmas Eve: 10am to 4pm. Food stalls: Monday to Friday: 11am to 8:30pm. Thursday: Until 10pm. Saturday: 11am to 7:30pm. Sunday: 11am to 7pm. Christmas Eve: 10am to 4pm.
Absolutely, winter adds a magical charm to the city, with snow-capped buildings and festive lights illuminating the streets. Besides the Christmas market, St Gallen’s rich history, world-class textile museum, and nearby hiking trails provide plenty of opportunities for exploration.
Winter in St Gallen is quite cold, with temperatures typically ranging between -1 to 4 degrees celsius. Snowfall is common, making for beautiful winter scenes.
Yes, there are a number of excellent hotels located near the market. Hotel Walhalla, in particular, is highly rated and situated within walking distance of the Christmas market.
Yes, the Christmas market in St Gallen is a family-friendly event. Typically, several stalls sell toys and various festive activities that children can enjoy.
You’ll find many local food specialities at the market, including Raclette, Fondue, Glühwein, and Lebkuchen cookies. The market also showcases local crafts and products such as St Gallen embroidery and Swiss lace.
If you would like to leave a review of St Gallen Xmas Market, comment below.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in St Gallen, Switzerland. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.