Welcome to our series on the best Christmas markets in Europe! Make sure to check out our Christmas Market Breaks page for lots of holiday ideas as well as our top Hotel Deals for European Christmas Markets page.
With the breathtaking modern lights strung through the city, it can be easy to forget that Strasbourg's Christkindelsmärik has been taking place in the French town since 1570. At the time, Strasbourg was part of the German Rhineland, hence the market's name. But even when Strasbourg became French, it retained the advent tradition and now hosts around 11 markets during the Christmas season, which means you can always find a Christmas market near your Strasbourg hotel.
Today, Strasbourg is considered the "Capital of Christmas," and its original market is still held from late November until the end of December at Place Broglie. Festive winter huts run by traders and food merchants appear each year to carry on the long yuletide tradition. Shoppers can purchase classic arts and crafts from the region such as pewter ornaments, or find their fill of holiday cheer among mugs of mulled wine and spiced sweets.
Nearby, the shopping stalls continue in the shadow of the Strasbourg Cathedral. While the cathedral offers a suitably impressive backdrop, the star of the market is surely the massive Christmas tree that is brought to the main square at Place Kléber each year. Topping in at 30 m (100 ft) or higher, the gorgeous fir is laden with fairy lights and festive ornaments. Around the base of the tree is the Sharing Village - a collection of 100 chalet-style huts dedicated to charities and humanitarian organisations.
For epicureans interested in indulging in the city's gourmet side, the special Strasbourg Christmas food market is the best stop for culinary delights during the festive season. Local food and wine producers gather together at Place du Marché-aux-poissons to hand out samples and sell treats such as bredele cakes and foie gras. The area's unique blend of German and French heritage also results in other edible treats like exotic-sounding makrone and anisschnitte. In addition to nibbles, the food market holds daily demonstrations on baking spiced Christmas bread, as well as cookery workshops for children.
For a more modern take on the Christmas tradition, OFF Market has become a major destination for socially responsible shoppers in Strasbourg. Found between the Grand Ile and Gare quarters, the market features ethical goods from a variety of retailers and artisans dedicated to fair practices. Shunning the wooden chalets, stalls are encased in modern globes and tents. The OFF Market also hosts a full line up of events focusing on all things DIY, performances and social debates.
Between the markets, the streets of Strasbourg are decorated with thousands of hanging lights. Rather than limit the city to basic white lights, Strasbourg showcases an incredible display of yuletide décor. Shimmering gold illuminations known as the Gate of Lights welcome visitors to the main market and a walk through the streets of the French town becomes an exploration of an enchanting wonderland. After completing a tour of the shops and sipping a glass of vin chaud, be sure to pass the corner of the Grand'Rue and Rue du Fossé-des-Tanneurs, where a spectacular illuminated chandelier dangles over the street.
For more on Strasbourg, check out our Strasbourg holiday packages!