The Christmas period in the upper Rhine valley starts every year with the first weekend and Sunday of Advent, more or less one month before Christmas. A lot – a big lot of Christmas events are organized all over the region: Christmas markets, concerts, story telling and nativity scenes. Some of them are daily and permanent and last for several weeks (see at the bottom of the page). We advise you visit them on weekdays, away from the crowd. Some others only happen at a specific date. Here are some of the events we like most. In order for every visitor to plan his holiday we classified them according to the calendar and dates of happening. All those events are happening every year more or less in the same order.

Christmas market in Colmar
Christmas market in Colmar. Colmar is only 14 kilometres away from Riquewihr.

First weekend of Advent (Nov 29-30, Dec 1, 2013)

See also the permanent markets: Strasbourg, Riquewihr, Colmar, Mulhouse or Altkirch as well as the Christmas markets held on weekends only like Kaysersberg.

MONT SAINT ODILE – Every Saturday and Sunday in the Advent time. From 10:00 to 17:00. With its local art and crafts, the small Christmas market of the Mont Sainte-Odile will amaze you as much as its prestigious monastery. Fantastic view on the plain of Alsace until the Black Forest. Take some time to visit the monastery, one of the most famous shrines in Alsace. When night has come drive back to the valley and make a stop at Rosheim and Obernai to visit their Christmas markets.

Second weekend of Advent (Dec 6-7-8, 2013)

This second weekend of Advent, the choice will be difficult as there are so many beautiful events to attend. I am afraid you will need several Christmas to get it all done!

NEUF BRISACH Dec 6, 7 and 8. From 14:00 to 19:00 on Friday, 10:00 to 21:00 on Saturday and 10:00 to 19:00 on Sunday. Neuf-Brisach stronghold is listed as World Heritage by UNESCO. They present a live Christmas at the time of Vauban. Exhibitors and extras in period costumes, old trades, tavern, boar on the spit, farm animals … back in time with the Christmas Market as it was in the years 1700!

ORSCHWILLER – Dec 7 and 8, 2013. Saturday 16:00 and Sunday from 10:00. Orschwiller is a little village on the wine route at the bottom of the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle. A friendly and cozy atmosphere of the religious and popular tradition of the Nativity. Lively village decorated and illuminated, a Christmas soundtrack and atmosphere around art and authentic handicrafts, made ​​with passion by associations and residents. Lights and emotions.

Christmas time in Ottmarsheim, Alsace
Christmas market in Ottmarsheim near Mulhouse, Alsace.

OTTMARSHEIM – Dec 7 and 8, 2013. Saturday 10:00-20:00 and Sunday 10:00-19:00. Unique in France, the Christmas market of Ottmarsheim owe its originality and success to the fact that museums come to exhibit and sell the products of their shops in addition to high quality artists who are also invited. Entertainment, strolling, concerts, storytelling … And last but not least, part of the celebration, one of the most original and beautiful medieval churches in Alsace on site hosts concerts and storytelling. Snacks by village associations.

RIBEAUVILLE – Dec 7 -8 and 14-15, 2013. Saturday 10:00-19:00 and Sunday 10:00-18:00. A well known and spectacular Christmas event. Everything as it might have been in the Middle Ages. With dances, costumes and colourful characters …

Valley of VILLé. 2013 in the village of FOUCHY : Dec 7 -8, 2013. Saturday 16:00-24:00 and Sunday 14:00-20:00. Every year another village in the valley is the venue of this spectacular event with always new attractions. So from one year to the other it is never the same. Absolutely unique and always very carefully planned. For locals by locals, a real must off the beaten track. Read carefully our practical hints.

Gutach Black Forest open air farm museum - Christmas market 2012
Gutach Black Forest open air farm museum – Christmas market 2012, a very special atmosphere.

Third weekend of Advent (Dec 13-14-15, 2013)

BERGHEIM – Dec 13 and 14-15, 2013. Friday 15:00-21:00, Saturday and Sunday 10:00-21:00. Another beautiful village on the wine route close to Ribeauvillé. Combining tradition and creativity, this Christmas market will delight you with its warm and authentic atmosphere in the heart of the walled city of Bergheim. Also do not miss the beautiful exhibition of Nativity Scenes.

BLACK FOREST OPEN AIR MUSEUM in GUTACH (Germany) Dec 13-15, 2013. Friday 17:00 – 21:00, Saturday & Sunday 13:00 – 18:00. The open air museum is normally closed in Winter but will open for a special Christmas Market event mid December every year. A very special place in a different atmosphere. See our dedicated page.

MOLSHEIM – Dec 7 -8 and 14-15, 2013. Saturday and Sunday 14:00-18:00 and Sunday Dec 15, 10:00-19:00. Dec 7 -8 and 14 : Christmas market. Special event on Sunday Dec 15, 2013: Christmas as in past times – Lords, knights, burgesses and beautiful ladies walk through the streets of the city while craftsmen, farmers, musicians and acrobats are working. This is an opportunity for young and old to meet Christkindel and Hans Trapp in the magic atmosphere of Christmas. Music and entertainment enliven the historic heart of the old episcopal city.

RIBEAUVILLE – Dec 7 -8 and 14-15, 2013. Saturday 10:00-19:00 and Sunday 10:00-18:00. A well known and spectacular Christmas event. Everything as it might have been in the Middle Ages. With dances, costumes and colourful characters …

Fourth weekend of Advent (Dec 20-21-22, 2013)

The giant illuminated Christmas fir of Grendelbruch
The giant illuminated Christmas fir of Grendelbruch

See also the permanent markets: Strasbourg, Riquewihr, Colmar, Mulhouse or Altkirch as well as the Christmas markets held on weekends only like Kaysersberg.

GRENDELBRUCH Christmas with the woodcutters in a lonely village in the mountain. Dec 21-22, 2013. Concert on Sunday Dec 22 at 17:00. Christmas market with a beautiful nativity scene in the church of the village. Giant Christmas fir illuminated at the edge of the forest, in the mountain. This Christmas tree is illuminated every evening at sunset from end of November until January 17. Beautiful and mysterious. Out of the beaten path. We love it. Combine this with a visit to the little city and Christmas market of Rosheim in the same area or Obernai.

WISSEMBOURG – Dec 21-22, 2013 – 11:00 to 19:00 : Christmas market and attractions. Marché de Noël et animations de l’Avent de 11h00 à 19h00. On Sunday 22 at 5 pm in the center of the city, participate in the torchlight procession in a pyrotechnic extravaganza around Christkindel and Hans Trapp to discover this great magical and authentic celebration.

Between Christmas and New Year

MUNSTER – Nov 30, Dec 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-24 and 26-31, 2013. From 09:30 in the morning to 19:00 (on Dec 14 until 22:00 and Dec 24 until 16:00). Christmas market with local handicrafts and delicatessen. Attractions.

TURCKHEIM – Nov 29-30, Dec 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-29, 2013. From 15:00 to 20:00. Christmas market with local handicrafts and delicatessen. In the main street (Grand Rue).

On several weekends in December

Kaysersberg, a weekend's evening in December
Kaysersberg, a weekend’s evening in December

KAYSERSBERG – Nov 29-30, Dec 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-23, 2013. From 10:00 in the morning to 20:00 The medieval town of Kaysersberg, protected by the shadow of the ruins of its castle, invites you to an enchanting ride in the heart of a picturesque and authentic 17th century city … A wonderful moment guaranteed for young and old!

MUNSTER – Nov 30, Dec 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-24 and 26-31, 2013. From 09:30 in the morning to 19:00 (on Dec 14 until 22:00 and Dec 24 until 16:00). Christmas market with local handicrafts and delicatessen. Attractions.

ROSHEIM – Dec 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22, 2013. From 16:00 to 20:00 on Saturdays and 14:00-19:00 on Sundays. Rosheim is a pretty little medieval city near Obernai and the Mount Ste Odile monastry. Rosheim has a unique old medieval church. Beautiful Christmas light shows after sunset.

TURCKHEIM – Nov 29-30, Dec 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-29, 2013. From 15:00 to 20:00. Christmas market with local handicrafts and delicatessen. In the main street (Grand Rue).

Permanent Christmas markets and events in Nov-Dec.

Strasbourg, capital city of Christmas
Strasbourg, capital city of Christmas. Every year from end of November to end of December.

ALTKIRCH – The Enchanted Forest is a magical forest with characters taken from fairy tales and legends of the Sundgau area (South of Alsace). It brings to life all the imagination of a region. The Enchanted Forest invests the city center for 4 weeks. Nearly 200 people and animals are involved in 26 illustrated stories. A wonderful experience out of the beaten track. After sunset.

BASEL – Nov 28 – Dec 23, 2013. Every day 11:00 – 20:00. The Basel Christmas market takes place on the Barfüsserplatz in the heart of the old town. In a warm and magical atmosphere, merchants and artisans from the region and throughout Switzerland offer their products and demonstrate their skills throughout some 130 stalls and wooden illuminated  chalets. Finally, on the Messeplatz the “Winter Enchantment” leads you into a Christmas fairy tale with Ferris wheel, ice rink and a multitude of attractions.

Colmar, Church of the Dominicans
Colmar, Church of the Dominicans

COLMAR – Nov 22 to Dec 31, 2013 – 5 Christmas markets in different historical settings in the old city center. The second biggest Christmas market in France after Strasbourg. See our dedicated pages and pictures.

ECOMUSEE d’ALSACE The Living Museum of Alsace is in Ungersheim between Colmar and Mulhouse. It is a complete village built with historical houses rescued over years everywhere in Alsace. Secrets for an authentic Christmas is a collection of exhibitions, storytelling, guided tours, etc. that take place every day from November 23 to January 5

EGUISHEIM Nov 23-24 and from Nov 29 until Dec 23, 2013. Every day from 09:00 – 19:00 except Saturday from 09:00 – 20:00. Another wonderful medieval village on the Alsace Wine Route. Beautiful Christmas market with a different theme every week.

FREIBURG im BREISGAU (Germany) – Nov 25 – Dec 23, 2013. Mon-Sat 10.00am-8.30pm, Sun 11.30am-7.30pm. Located in the very heart of Freiburg’s beautiful old historical quarter, the Freiburg Christmas Market is held on the Rathausplatz, the Franziskanerstraße, the Unterlindenplatz and on the Kartoffelmarkt. HAGUENAU – Nov 25 to Dec 30 (except Dec 25). Mondays 14:00 – 19:00, all other days 10:00 – 19:00. Christmas market in the heart of the pedestrian area with nearly 40 chalets offering crafts, food and Christmas decorations. You will like the enchanted facades, the carved wooden crib, the cottage of Santa Claus … but also the stories, concerts, exhibitions, workshops by local cooks, workshops for children, walks and hikes of Advent …

Christmas bauble by the glass blowers of Meisenthal.
Christmas bauble by the glass blowers of Meisenthal. First time was in 1858 in the northern region of the Vosges.

GENGENBACH – The giant Advent Calendar. Gengenbach is a beautiful historical city on the German side of the Rhine valley with plenty of romantic old houses with wooden frameworks, very similar to the houses we have in Alsace actually. In 2013 from the 30th of November until the 23th of December (a day before Christmas Eve), the magnificent 200 year old Town Hall facade comes to a new life.
The opening ceremony of a new window is happening every day exactly at 18.00 o’clock.
The opening times of Gengenbach Advent market: Monday to Friday from 15:00 – 20:00, Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 – 20:00

MEISENTHAL – The Craddle of the Christmas bauble. Every day until 18:00. To combine with a visit to the Cristalleries Royales de Saint-Louis (nearby) and the beautiful Musée Lalique, 40 Rue du Hochberg, 67290 Wingen-sur-Moder. End the day on your way back with a stop at the Christmas market of Haguenau (see above).

MULHOUSE – From November 23 to December 29 (except Dec. 25), 2013. Find a traditional Alsatian Christmas market in the heart of the historic center of Mulhouse and discover its particularity: the Stuff of Christmas, a fabric created each year to decorate the facades, the pedestrian streets and provide a festive backdrop for the Christmas market. Every day from 10:00 to 20:00, December 24 from 10:00 to 18:00 and on 26 of December 14:00 19:00.

OBERNAI – Nov 30 to Dec 31, 2013. Obernai is another beautiful medieval city. The thirty wooden chalets of the  “Christmas Gastronomy in Alsace” Market invites you in an enchanting setting between scents of gingerbread and mulled wine scent to fill your baskets of local produce and crafts gifts. Every day from 10:00 to 19:00, Friday and Saturday until 20:00, Sunday opening at 9:00 am, closed on December 25, opening at 14:00 on December 26, closed at 16:00 on December 24 and 31.

RIQUEWIHR – Nov 30 to Dec 29, 2013. Riquewihr is one of the most beautiful villages in France. Enjoy a traditional Christmas market run by musicians and street comedians (Christmas is market, and larger on weekends of December). From 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekdays and from 10:00 to 19:30 on Saturday and Sunday. See our dedicated page with pictures and practical hints and tips.

Riquewihr at dusk - Jan 1 2013
Riquewihr at dusk – Jan 1 2013

SELESTAT – Dec 6-24 : Beautiful Christmas events. The craddle of the Christmas fir. Not to be missed. See our dedicated page with pictures and practical hints and tips.

Selestat in Alsace, hometown of the Christmas tree deserves a visit in any season but especially during the Christmas period, from end of November to beginning of January.
Selestat in Alsace, hometown of the Christmas tree deserves a visit in any season but especially during the Christmas period, from end of November to beginning of January.

STRASBOURG – Strasbourg is the world capital of Christmas. The whole historical city center is listed as World Heritage by UNESCO. Apart from the 300 wooden chalets of the several Christmas markets the scenery and the Christmas lights and decorations are absolutely beautiful. From 30 November to 31 December: Christmas market every day from 10:00 to 20:00 (until 21:00 on Fridays and Saturdays). December 24: 10:00 to 18:00. December 25: 14:00 to 18:00. From 26 to 30 December: 10:00 to 19:00. December 31: from 10:00 to 18:00 – Cathedral Square, place du Corbeau (Raven) and Place Broglie. See our dedicated page with pictures and practical hints and tips.

THANN – Thann is a little Alsatian city nested in a narrow valley near Mulhouse. It is famous for it incredible wine (on the Rangen hill) and for its beautiful church (Collégiale St-Thiébaut). From November 22 to December 24: Enter the magic of Christmas on the theme of White Christmas and discover the Christmas market around the Collegiate Church nestled in the heart of a decorated forest of firs. In the Middle Ages, during the Advent time before Christmas, holy tales and stories were played in front of churches. So it is in Thann on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Tuesday to Thursday: 14:30 – 19:00, Friday 14:30 – 20:00, Saturday 10:00 – 20:00 – Sunday 10:00 – 19:00 – December 24: 10:00 – 17:00.

Christmas market of Thann, Alsace
Christmas market of Thann, Alsace near Mulhouse.

Other useful links

This page is brought to you by Les Remparts de Riquewihr – new luxury holiday apartments created in an old historical winery facing the vineyards in Riquewihr, Alsace. Riquewihr as well as La Vancelle are also a very practical base to visit all Alsace, the Vosges mountains and even nearby Germany and Switzerland.

6 Comments »

  1. I dream that one day I shall get to have Christmas in the stunning Alsace. I love your part of the world and shall endeavour to return to see snow falling on the fur trees.
    Thankyou for a most beautiful and informative post.
    I love it! Merry Christmas to you!