Christmas In Alsace: 5 Ideas For An Unforgettable Stay
If you are lucky enough to be in the Bas-Rhin or Haut-Rhin in December, make the most of your stay in the Grand Est to spend an unforgettable Christmas and New Year! We have selected for you 5 things to do on the spot to live a magical Christmas.
1- Walk around the Christmas markets
The first thing to do at Christmas in Alsace is to go around the Christmas markets! Sure, it's not the most original idea, but it's a tradition that has been a must for centuries in this part of France.
Start with the very famous Strasbourg Christmas market which has been around since the 16th century.
And if you've loved the atmosphere of this market and want to keep the momentum going, head to Ribeauvillé to enjoy the medieval architecture and half-timbered houses.
This postcard setting serves as the backdrop for a wonderful Christmas market, but only on weekends!
Other must-see Christmas markets in the area are:
- the market of Riquewihr a village with an exceptional heritage
- the Kaysersberg market (only open on weekends) which offers Alsatian specialties and beautiful local crafts like wooden toys and blown glass Christmas decorations
- the market in Colmar, a city with an even more magical atmosphere when it is illuminated
- the market in Eguisheim, a town that also has the Villes et Villages de Noël label.
2- Meet Saint-Nicolas
In Alsace, Saint Nicolas is (almost) more important than Santa Claus!
That's why another must-do for Christmas in Alsace is to go and meet this famous character who distributes sweets to good children.
You'll probably come across him at Alsatian Christmas markets, accompanied by Père Fouettard (who comes to punish disobedient children) and Christkindel (the Christ Child often embodied by a young girl dressed in white).
Find out beforehand for the dates of the parades that punctuate December in the region. One of the events not to be missed is the December 6 parade in Sélestat.
In a less traditional but more sporty version, know that in Munster Saint-Nicolas abseils down from the roof of the church, accompanied by his Zwarikalas, the elves of the valley!
3- Admire the illuminations in Strasbourg
Strasbourg, which claims the title of Christmas Capital, is particularly magical throughout the Advent season.
The city is then adorned with festive lights that create a fairytale atmosphere, especially in the famous quartier de la Petite France famous for its canals, narrow streets and half-timbered houses.
To fully experience the enchantment of the Christmas illuminations in Strasbourg:
- go for a walk in the rue des Orfèvres and on the place Gutenberg
- admire the Baccarat crystal chandeliers in the rue des Hallebardes
- go under the Gate of Lights at the level of the Bridge of Crows. You will have stars in your eyes!
4- Savour the sweetness of an Alsatian Christmas
A Christmas in Alsace would not be perfect without the numerous gourmet specialties typical of the region.
Take advantage of your stay to eat gingerbread and drink mulled wine on the markets!
Whether you prefer savoury or sweet, you're sure to find a treat to your taste as Alsace is the land of pretzels and bredeles, the traditional Christmas cookies.
To learn more about these specialties, you can visit a museum called la Fabrique à Bretzels in Gundershoffen and then head to the Bredele Boutique in Roeschwoog. This specialty store also has an online shop at: https://bredele.boutique/
5- Perpetuating Christmas traditions at Haut-Koenigsbourg castle
Finally, if you're looking for an original outing idea to celebrate Christmas in Alsace, head to the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle!
This castle-fort located in Orschwiller is the most famous monument in the region. During the festive season, it hosts many animations and is adorned with Christmas decorations.
This year, the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle celebrates Christmas from November 28, 2021 to January 6, 2022 and invites you to discover the history of this festival and the local traditions over the centuries.
At the castle, there are no garlands of lights! The Christmas trees are decorated with apples and hosts as in the Middle Ages.
This year, the temporary exhibition is devoted to festive tableware, with earthenware and porcelain from the 1900s and pewter pottery from the 15th and 17th centuries.
You can also discover the medieval kitchen and enjoy numerous activities such as workshops for families, storytelling and thematic or theatrical tours.