November 25, 2015

Festive lights light up Strasbourg Cathedral

Winter in France’s Alsace region is unique. An Alsatian winter celebrates culture, food and fun in a quintessentially French way, and each year visitors flock to this part of the country to catch the festive feeling. There’s plenty going on, so take a look at our guide to the best events happening in Alsace this winter.

Strasbourg Christmas Market

Perhaps the most popular event happening in Alsace at this time is Strasbourg’s Christmas market. Originally known as the Christkindelsmärik, the fabulous Christmas market is undoubtedly the main event, but there are plenty of other things going on alongside it. The scale of this market has grown over the years and it’s considered to be one of the biggest markets in Europe, attracting over two million visitors each year, so it’s well worth a visit if you’re in the festive mood.

Held each year beside the stunning Strasbourg Cathedral, the event has been running since 1570, making it the oldest Christmas market in Europe. Tour Strasbourg’s historical centre with a glass of mulled wine in one hand and some fresh gingerbread in the other, following the impressive festive lights as they guide you through the city. You’ll also get the chance to see gospel singers, choir groups, orchestras and solo musicians as they play in the main Cathedral, as well as other smaller churches in the city.

The Strasbourg Christmas Market is usually held from the end of November to the end of December.

Christmas decorations for sale at Strasbourg Christmas market
Christmas decorations for sale at Strasbourg Christmas market

Riquewihr Christmas Market

Truly a fairy tale village, Riquewihr is popular with visitors throughout the year who come to admire the historical architecture and taste local Riesling wine. The Riquewihr Christmas Market starts at the end of November, and is wonderful for those wanting to throw themselves into traditional Alsatian culture.

Rub shoulders with locals as you admire the beautiful Christmas lights, and pop by La Guinguette de Noël where a private Christmas market is held at an old winemaker’s property in the town centre. The nearby town of Bergheim is worth a visit too, as it’s home to a charming nativity scene which stays in place until January. If you’re a fan of wine, look out for the local Christmas Cellars events, which feature cellar tours, tasting sessions and even live concerts.

The Riquewihr Christmas Market takes place usually between the end of November and the end of December.

The pretty town of Riquewihr.
The pretty town of Riquewihr.

Guebwiller, Blue Christmas

Nestled at the foot of the Vosges Mountains, Guebwiller is a beautiful commune in north-eastern France benefitting from incredible natural beauty and the unmissable food and wine which makes the Alsace region famous. If you drive a little out of town, visit Murbach Abbey, a grand building which was once the voice of authority in the Holy Roman Empire.

The town of Guebwiller has a Christmas market, but does things a little differently to its Alsatian counterparts. For the past six years, Guebwiller has celebrated a Blue Christmas, a nod to the famous ceramicist Théodore Deck who hailed from Guebwiller. This festive event is really unique, as the town comes alive with a deep blue ambience which is mesmerising. You’ll be able to enjoy the Art Deco ceramics by Théodore Deck, take part in Christmas events, exhibitions, artistic productions and, of course, a great Christmas market with local produce, organic foods and brilliant gifts.

Guebwiller’s Blue Christmas will last from the end of November to the end of December.

An Hour of Music – Advent Festival

Taking place in the scenic Alsatian town of Mulhouse, this event is a delightful musical celebration of the festive season. Every Saturday in the picturesque Temple Saint-Étienne, local performers will entertain audiences with an hour of music, ranging from four-hand piano, lively jazz quartets and romantic trios, to tributes to prolific composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

If you’re interested, the events are all free, and will happen between 5pm and 6pm each Saturday. Event organisers are even providing visitors with cups of tea, so you’ll keep both your hands and your spirits warm in the chilly weather, as you enjoy the festive delights of this Mulhouse advent festival.

An Hour of Music will take place each Saturday between 28th November and 19th December.

The beautiful Temple Saint-Étienne in Mulhouse.
The beautiful Temple Saint-Étienne in Mulhouse.

Inspired to travel to the Alsace region during the festive season?

With Eurotunnel Le Shuttle you can get from Folkestone to Calais in just 35 minutes, so start planning your perfect winter break.

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