All over the continent, in country after country, town after town, the holidays come to life with light shows, celebrations, and perhaps most importantly, Christmas markets. In each one, visitors can peruse artisan goods to find the perfect gift for every loved one in their life. However, no market may be as special as Christkindelsmärik, the annual holiday market held in Strasbourg, France. Here's everything you need to know about why Strasbourg's Christmas Market may indeed be the best one in all of Europe.
Strasbourg Is the Oldest Christmas Market Around
The city of Strasbourg wants to make it clear they weren't the first Christmas market ever. However, it remains one of the longest-running markets in Europe. According to the city's records, the Strasbourg market started in 1570, while Strasbourg was still under German control. Each December 6, the city operated its Klausenmärik or Saint Nicolas market. Back then, the market lasted for a mere three days, and the goods sold typically only included provisions for cooking a holiday feast. However, slowly over time, more and more unique vendors joined in on the holiday fun, and the market became a month-long affair. This year's event will take place from November 22 to December 30. It will be open daily from 8 am to 10 pm.
There Are Plenty of Vendors to Choose From
Sure, the market may have started with just a few stalls (known as châlets) but it certainly isn't that way today. According to the market's website, there will be more than 300 vendors selling their goods around the city this holiday season. But, because there are so many vendors the market is now spread out across Strasbourg, with its most well-known market setting up shop right outside the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Other markets include the market of Alsatian, where visitors can taste all the local delicacies, located in Place des Meuniers, and the Three Kings' market located Place Benjamin-Zix. For children's gifts head to the Children's World market in Place Saint Thomas and for those looking to make a charitable donation head to the Sharing Village in Place Kléber, under the traditional Great Christmas Tree.
It's Also Home to One of the Largest Christmas Trees on Earth
Speaking of the Great Christmas Tree, it's a sight to behold all on its own. Each year, the city finds a tree worthy of the celebration. It typically ends up being about 100 feet tall. The tree is so important to the community that they hired a design company to ensure its decorations are just right every year. According to Romaric Gusto from the design company Sigmatech, this year's theme for the tree is "Christmas of yesteryear."
"The decorations are inspired by local traditions, using apple, candle, and bredele motifs to create a contemporary scene with a stunning visual impact," he said in an interview. "Sparkling red and gold will be the dominant colors."
The City Is Known as the "Capital of Christmas" for Good Reason
In 1992, Jean-Jacques Gsell, the then-deputy to the Mayor of Strasbourg Catherine Trautmann, came up with the plan to expand the market to a city-wide event. It was then that Strasbourg became known as the "Capital of Christmas." However, it's not just about the markets with this gorgeous town.
By mid-November, the entire community is blanketed in soft twinkling lights. Each home, business, and place of worship comes to life with a welcoming glow. They even put on a few shows and extra tours, such as a timely nativity scene tour that takes guests to see all the displays around Strasbourg. It includes stops at the Episcopal Palace, which plans to open its courtyard to the public for the first time this year for the tour, rue Brûlée, Strasbourg Cathedral, and more.
Admittedly, it's a place that gets increasingly crowded with tourists over the holiday season, but those crowds simply want to see for themselves how Strasbourg captured the essence of the holidays—with all its sense of community, merriment, and joy—and bottled it up for us all to enjoy over six charming weeks. Buy your tickets now and have all your holiday wishes handy as they will most certainly come true in this idyllic French town.
For more information on the event, hours, vendors, and how to get there, visit the city of Strasbourg's website.