Strasbourg at Christmas

Strasbourg at Christmas

Updated On: February 27, 2024 by   Ahmed SamirAhmed Samir

As the air turns crisp and the days grow shorter, Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace in northeastern France, transforms into a mesmerizing winter wonderland. Known as the “Capital of Christmas,” Strasbourg boasts one of Europe’s most enchanting and picturesque Strasbourg Christmas markets. With its charming timber-framed houses, sparkling lights, and the scent of mulled wine wafting through the air, Strasbourg at Christmas is a destination that promises to warm your heart and ignite your festive spirit.

In this article, we will explore the magic of Strasbourg at Christmas season, from its rich history to the modern traditions that make it a must-visit destination for holiday enthusiasts.

Strasbourg at Christmas

The History of Strasbourg’s Christmas Market

Strasbourg at Christmas

Strasbourg’s love affair with Christmas dates back to 1570 when the city hosted its first Christkindelsmärik or Christ Child Market. This historic market was conceived by Johannes Honer, a local councilman, and featured a modest collection of stalls selling decorations, gifts, and seasonal treats. The tradition quickly caught on and became integral to Strasbourg’s identity.

Over the centuries, Strasbourg’s Christmas market evolved and expanded, becoming a magnificent spectacle attracting millions of visitors worldwide each year. The market is in the heart of the city’s historic district, centred around Strasbourg Cathedral, a stunning Gothic masterpiece that adds to the market’s enchantment.

The Market’s Layout

The Strasbourg Christmas market is divided into several themed sections, each with a unique charm. The main market area, located around the cathedral, is a bustling hub of activity. You’ll find many stalls that offer handcrafted gifts, ornaments, and seasonal delicacies here.

One of the most captivating aspects of the Strasbourg Christmas market is its emphasis on traditional craftsmanship. Artisans from the region and beyond gather to showcase their skills, offering visitors an opportunity to purchase one-of-a-kind, handcrafted gifts. The market is a treasure trove of unique and beautiful items, from delicate porcelain figurines to intricate wooden toys.

The Place Gutenberg section of the market is home to a delightful ice skating rink, perfect for visitors of all ages to glide gracefully across the ice while surrounded by the market’s festive atmosphere. Nearby, the ice sculpture exhibition showcases incredible frozen works of art that never fail to amaze.

A Gastronomic Delight

One of the highlights of the Strasbourg Christmas market is undoubtedly the gastronomic offerings. The market is a haven for food enthusiasts, with a wide range of mouthwatering treats to tempt your taste buds.

Traditional Alsatian cuisine takes centre stage, with classics such as choucroute (sauerkraut with sausages and other meats) and bretzels (pretzels) being crowd favourites. For those with a sweet tooth, try kouglof, a delicious Alsatian cake, or flammekueche, a thin, crispy pizza-like tart topped with cream, onions, and bacon.

The pièce de résistance, however, is the mulled wine, or vin chaud. Served piping hot and fragrant with spices, it’s the perfect drink to warm you up on a chilly winter day as you explore the market.

Decorations and Lights

Strasbourg’s Christmas market is renowned for its stunning decorations and dazzling light displays. The city’s historic buildings, adorned with thousands of twinkling lights, create a magical backdrop for the festivities. The enormous Christmas tree in Place Kléber, beautifully decorated and illuminated, symbolises holiday cheer and goodwill.

Wandering through the market in the evening, with the cathedral illuminated in the background and the aroma of roasted chestnuts in the air, is a sensory delight that encapsulates the very essence of Christmas magic.

Strasbourg at Christmas Traditions

Strasbourg’s Christmas market is not just a place to shop and dine; it’s a living testament to the traditions and customs of the season. The Christkindelsmärik is more than just a market; it’s an immersive experience that transports visitors back in time.

One of the most cherished traditions is the arrival of the Christkind, a symbolic figure who represents the spirit of Christmas. Dressed in a golden robe with a crown of stars, the Christkind opens the market each year, signalling the official start of the festive season. Children eagerly await her arrival, and she can be seen wandering through the market, spreading joy and goodwill.

Another beloved tradition is the Advent calendar, which comes to life on the façade of Strasbourg Cathedral. Each evening, a new window is unveiled, accompanied by a light and sound show that tells a story related to Christmas. This enchanting spectacle draws crowds to the cathedral square and adds to the city’s festive atmosphere.

Entertainment and Activities

Beyond the shopping and dining opportunities, Strasbourg’s Christmas market offers a wide range of entertainment and activities for visitors of all ages. Musical performances, choirs, and street performers fill the air with festive melodies, creating a joyful ambience that is impossible to resist.

Children are exceptionally well catered to, with a dedicated area offering rides on a vintage carousel, a miniature train, and a charming petting zoo. Santa Claus is often in the market, ready to listen to children’s Christmas wishes and pose for photos.

Exploring Beyond the Market

While the Christmas market is undoubtedly the star attraction, Strasbourg offers much more to explore during the holiday season. The city’s historic district is a labyrinth of narrow streets and picturesque squares, all adorned with festive decorations and lights.

A visit to Strasbourg would only be complete with a cathedral tour. Its stunning architecture and intricate stained glass windows are even more breathtaking when illuminated by the soft glow of Christmas lights. You can also climb the cathedral’s tower for panoramic city views, a particularly magical experience at dusk.

Strasbourg’s museums and galleries remain open for those interested in history and culture during the holiday season. The Alsatian Museum, Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, and Palais Rohan are just a few of the cultural gems waiting to be explored.

Enchanting Christmas Escapes Near Strasbourg: Festive Attractions and Charming Villages

Strasbourg is famous for its enchanting Christmas market and serves as a gateway to several charming and festive attractions in the Alsace region of France and nearby areas in Germany. If you’re visiting Strasbourg during Christmas, here are some delightful attractions and destinations to explore in the vicinity:

Colmar, France
  1. Colmar: Colmar, often called “Little Venice” due to its picturesque canals, is a short train ride from Strasbourg. Its Christmas market is renowned for its romantic atmosphere and beautifully decorated stalls. Take advantage of the stunning Unterlinden Museum and the historic Old Town with its half-timbered houses.
  2. Riquewihr: This medieval village is a true gem, especially during the holiday season. Known for its well-preserved architecture and charming streets, Riquewihr is a festive wonderland with Christmas decorations adorning every corner. Sample local wines and shop for artisanal gifts.
  3. Kaysersberg: Another Alsatian village worth visiting, Kaysersberg is famous for its charming Old Town and hilltop castle. The village comes alive during Christmas with twinkling lights and festive decorations, creating a magical atmosphere.
  4. Obernai: Just a short drive from Strasbourg, Obernai offers a quaint Christmas market with a medieval backdrop. Explore its historic streets, visit the Church of Saint-Pierre-et-Paul, and enjoy the festive ambience.
  5. Europa-Park: Located in Rust, Germany, Europa-Park is one of Europe’s largest and most renowned theme parks. During Christmas, the park is transformed into a winter wonderland with thousands of twinkling lights, themed attractions, and seasonal entertainment.
  6. Heidelberg: A bit further from Strasbourg but still accessible by train, Heidelberg is a picturesque city with a historic castle overlooking the Neckar River. Its Christmas market in the Old Town is known for its beautiful setting and traditional holiday treats.
  7. Baden-Baden: This German spa town is famous for its thermal baths and upscale shopping. It hosts a delightful Christmas market focusing on arts, crafts, and culinary delights during Christmas.
  8. Freiburg: In Germany’s Black Forest region, Freiburg’s Christmas market is a delightful mix of tradition and modernity. Explore the medieval Old Town, visit the Freiburg Minster, and enjoy the festive atmosphere.
  9. The Black Forest: If you have more time, consider taking a scenic drive through the Black Forest region. It’s stunning year-round and especially enchanting during the winter months with its snow-covered landscapes and charming villages.
  10. The Rhine River: Take a relaxing cruise along the Rhine River to admire the picturesque villages, castles, and vineyards that line its banks. Many river cruises offer extraordinary Christmas-themed journeys during the holiday season.

These attractions near Strasbourg offer diverse experiences, from charming medieval villages to bustling cities with festive markets. Exploring the region during Christmas immerses you in Alsace’s decadent holiday traditions, enchanting beauty, and surrounding areas.


Strasbourg at Christmas is a destination that captures the essence of the holiday spirit. From its rich history and enchanting traditions to its gastronomic delights and mesmerizing decorations, the city offers an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages. Whether shopping for unique gifts, savouring Alsatian cuisine or simply soaking in the festive atmosphere, Strasbourg’s Christmas market is a magical winter wonderland that will warm your heart and create cherished memories that last a lifetime. Make it a point to experience this captivating holiday destination, and you’ll discover why Strasbourg truly deserves its title as the “Capital of Christmas.”


How can I get to Strasbourg during the Christmas season?

Strasbourg is well-connected by train, with regular services from major European cities. The city also has its international airport, Strasbourg Airport (SXB), which offers flights from various European destinations.

What are the must-try foods at the Strasbourg Christmas market?

You must try regional specialties such as choucroute (sauerkraut with sausages and meats), bretzels (pretzels), flammekueche (thin tart), and kouglof (Alsatian cake). Remember to enjoy a cup of mulled wine or hot chocolate.

What are the main attractions to visit in the city besides the Christmas market?

In addition to the market, you can explore Strasbourg’s historic Old Town and discover museums like the Alsatian Museum and Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.