Strasbourg, capital of Christmas

This year, the magic of the Christmas market will take over Strasbourg from November, 27th.

Christmas, like nowhere else

“Strasbourg, capital of Christmas” is exceptionally renowned. Every year, close to two million visitors flock to the Alsatian capital to experience its enchanting market. For over a month, Strasbourg is imbued with a festive, spiritual ambiance with few parallels anywhere else in Europe.

The holiday spirit in Strasbourg is truly unique. The city is decked out for the festive season, the houses are beautifully decorated… and, at dusk, the magic starts to happen. The city is a wonder to behold. Amidst the twinkling lights, the cathedral stands tall, in all its glory.

One of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe

In the Middle Ages around 6 December, the “St. Klausenmarkt” (Market of Saint Nicholas) would be held around the cathedral, and presents would be distributed to children.

When Strasbourg became a Protestant city in the 16th century, the Market of St Nicholas was abolished, because it involved the veneration of saints. It was replaced that same year by the “Christkindelsmärik” (the Market of Baby Jesus), held for a few days before Christmas right outside the cathedral.

In 1830, it was transferred to Place Kléber, and then in 1870 to Place Broglie, where it’s been held ever since.

In the 1990s, the Market fanned out across the city. Currently, over 300 chalets are set up on various squares in the Grande Ile district.

Since 1570, the Strasbourg Christmas Market has been turning the city into a winter wonderland. With its four centuries of tradition, it’s the oldest Christmas market in France, and one of the oldest in Europe!

A city alive with twinkling lights

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 windows light up, and the streets and squares, all connected by a network of shimmering lights, give off festive scents amid sparkling décors.

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.

The historical Christkindelsmärik

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. Don’t miss it!

A season full of meaning

During the Christmas market, the glowing lights and enchantment are outdoors, but Strasbourg is also a cosy and inviting place to be indoors. All the places of worship – Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox – are open to the public. Concerts, sing-alongs, exhibitions and more are held in churches.

The holiday season also provides the opportunity of admiring the magnificent tapestries at the cathedral, one of the finest tapestry collections in France. Made at Richelieu’s request for Louis XIII, these 14 pieces, telling the tale of the Virgin Mary’s life, were initially intended for the choir of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Since 1739, they’ve been among the treasures of Strasbourg’s cathedral. These marvels are a must-see, especially since they’re only displayed from Advent to Epiphany.

Various events are also held outdoors throughout the city. Much of the time, the audience is encouraged to join in.

All these intense, warm moments of sharing bring that extra festive touch to “Strasbourg, Capital of Christmas”.

Stay up to date with the programme!

Alsace at Christmastime

A land 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. The markets in Ribeauvillé, Riquewihr, Kaysersberg, Colmar, Eguisheim, Mulhouse, Obernai and Haguenau are among the most visited. These warm and cosy -and increasingly popular- markets showcase local know-how in a way that is respectful of ancestral customs.
Discover Christmas in Alsace.

An environmentally responsible stay in Strasbourg, the Capital of Christmas

Are you thinking about the environmental impact of your stay? Here are some tips to help you plan your trip and have a wonderful experience:

  • schedule your stay on weekdays, to enjoy the peace and quiet of the city’s squares and streets
  • take the train to come here; the station in Strasbourg is just a 10 minute walk from the city centre
  • if you’re driving, we recommend parking in the Park & Ride facilities of the CTS network (public transport system)
  • once you’re here, get around by taking public transport, walking and riding a bike.

The City of Strasbourg, which is organising the event, is also working behind the scenes to reduce the city’s energy consumption and recycle organic waste.
Discover everything that’s being done to make this a sustainable holiday season.

@Cedric Schell

Get ready for your Christmas Market stay!

Once you’ve booked a place to stay and chosen how you’ll get to Strasbourg, all you need to do is pack your bag. To make the most of the Strasbourg Christmas Market, we recommend that you pack:
what you’ll need to stay warm: a warm jacket, a big scarf, gloves, a winter hat and warm socks. You’ll want to bundle up, because, in December, it can get really cold in Strasbourg!
good shoes: the best way to visit the Christmas Market is on foot. Pack comfortable shoes, because you might be doing quite a bit of walking.
– a telephone or a camera, to capture your best moments!

But don’t forget to leave some room in your suitcase so you can bring a few souvenirs home with you: some Christmas decorations, or some yummy Alsatian treats!

Strasbourg Christmas market abroad

Since 2009, the Strasbourg Christmas Market has been exported.
To capitalize on the success of the “Strasbourg, capital of Christmas” operation and to share this unique ancestral tradition across borders, the Strasbourg Tourist Office is working on the establishment of Christmas markets in major capitals in the world.
Each destination is carefully selected according to several criteria.