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Are you curious about how you can see one of Europe’s best Christmas markets AND enjoy it sustainably? I knew you were – because that is the best way to experience the holidays while giving back! Strasbourg is famously known as the Christmas capital of Europe. The Alsatian capital is undoubtedly deserving of this title. Strasbourg Christmas markets flawlessly combine modern alternative Christmas markets focused on sustainability and international culture while still providing plenty of those picturesque traditional Christmas markets. I’ve got both covered in this alternative and sustainable guide to Strasbourg Christmas Markets.
Strasbourg has more than 10 Christmas markets throughout the city. However, my favorite part about visiting Strasbourg during the Christmas season was the plethora of alternative Christmas markets. These alternative Christmas markets of Strasbourg provide you with opportunities to engage in sustainable holiday practices, including thrifting, upcycling, learning new DIY maker skills, supporting local crafters and producers, and even learning about different cultures. This Alternative Strasbourg Christmas market guide focuses on unique markets, alternative events, and local crafters. Keep an eye out for my tips on vegetarian food and ethical gifts worth buying. But don’t worry, I have plenty of information about the traditional ones while providing you with tips on where to stay, festive things to do in winter, seasonal events, and more in this mega sustainable guide to Strasbourg Christmas markets.
Make sure you pin this post to your dream European Christmas market board to always have it on hand.
Are you looking for more Christmas in Alsace with a sustainable focus? Then don’t miss these top posts to help you plan your perfect Christmas market holiday in France.
Saying that Strasbourg goes all out of Christmas is an understatement. As you meander old cobblestone streets lined with traditional half-timbered houses, it honestly looks like Santa’s elves throw up Christmas cheer. Local shops cover every windowsill with giant teddy bears, twinkling lights, and frosty snow and line every street with light displays, and down every alley is a magical experience waiting to unfold. – So, let’s dig in!
The entire city is decked out in Christmas decorations and there are lots of festive things to do
With a focus on sustainability and alternative markets and events, you can give back even more this season
Don’t worry – there’s a lot of traditional, markets and events too
2021 Strasbourg Christmas Market Dates
We have dates, people! Get excited. These are the latest confirmed dates.
November 26, 2021 – December 26, 2021
Closed Christmas day
Hours are not posted for these markets but based on 2019 hours
Sun-Mon: 10 am-8 pm
Fri: 10 am – 9 pm
Sat: 10 am – 10 pm
Limited hours on Christmas eve
To be on the safe side, I would suggest traveling mid-December to ensure you have the best experience possible.
IMPORTANT: While we have confirmed dates for the 2021 Christmas markets the rest of this post is based on information on 2019. Strasbourg has not updated its full Christmas program for events yet. Therefore, there may be some changes in the market structure, event program, and other highlights.
How Long to Stay in Strasbourg for Christmas
I suggest at least two full nights in Strasbourg. The markets really come alive at night, and with so many markets across the city, you’ll want two nights to see them all lit up, enjoy them during the day, and of course, eat everything humanly possible. However, there are numerous Christmas concerts, events, and other festivities, and you could easily spend multiple nights here to check out the best of the season.
Where to Stay in Strasbourg For Christmas
My friends and I stayed in a great hotel called Kaijoo by Happy Culture. This hipster boutique hotel was affordable, stylish, comfortable, and in a great location. They even had a bar serving piping hot Vin Chaud and other treats. We were pleased with our stay, and I highly recommend booking with them, if they have availability. It is the perfect funky aesthetic to round out your alternative experience in Strasbourg for the holidays.
If you are interested in a more luxury hotel option with a spa and amenities, I suggest Maison Rouge Hotel and Spa. This chic design hotel is centrally located, and you can warm with the spa after a long day of shopping at the markets.
I recommend making sure you stay within the main central island, as seen on the above map of the Christmas markets. When I went in 2019, there was high security, and we had to go through a checkpoint to get to the island. If you’re staying off the island, it might take up too much time to get to the markets.
SUSTAINABILITY TIP: Those plastic cups you’re drinking Vin Chaud out of? They are part of a Pfand system. You paid extra for the cup, but you get it back when you return the cup, so it can be washed and reused! Do not throw them away – they are not single-use. Yay for circular economies. For more sustainable tips head over to my Sustainable Alsace road trip post (coming very soon!).
Strasbourg Alternative and Sustainable Christmas Markets and Events
The alternative and non-traditional markets in Strasbourg were easily some of my favorites and were where we spent most of our time exploring. These markets prioritize sustainability, local producers, recycling, thrifting, workshops, community support, charity, handcrafted artisnal gifts, environmental education, and cultural exchange.
Strasbourg Alternative Christmas Markets
The OFF Christmas Market / OFF Marché
The OFF Marché is tucked away in a side lot off Pl. Grimmeisen. This market feels like part of a small, welcoming community welcoming you to experience a more meaningful side of Christmas. The highlight here is the non-traditional Christmas tree. The year I was there, it was an art installation that lit as you interacted with it in different ways. There is a place for thrifting, used books, and buying cheap second hand-gifts – excellent for those on a budget and still looking to put something under the tree. Other than that, there was local art, vintage and upcycled furniture, and a cozy indoor space for events and socializing. Come hungry because they have plenty of bio and local food, including vegetarian Tarte Flambée and bio Vin Chaud. Of course, they have recycling stations throughout this market and engage in the pfand system with reusable cups.
There are 30 exhibits and more than a hundred events. Many of the events are focused on educational experience so you can learn how to perform circus arts or learn a new skill.
The OFF Market has lots of great events focused on sustainability and creativity. In 2019 they had:
Daily creative workshops for DIY gift-making – for that sustainable, homemade gift!
Community-focused happy hour M-Th from 4-6 pm
Musical brunch every Sunday
Live music including DJs, funk, jazz, and more
Soup Kitchen Disco – the first Saturday open
Round table talks discussing sustainable topics
Bio wine show
Cultural experiences featuring international music such as traditional Balkan folk music
Small Alsatian Producer Market
If you spend the majority of your time at the European markets scratching your head at the cheaply-made, mass-produced item covered in plastic and glitter, wondering why on earth you would buy that as a souvenir- then this is the market for you! The small Alsatian producer market is tucked away on a cozy street at Pl. des Meuniers – near the OFF Marché.
This market is 100% Alsatian products. I won’t lie, this place is mostly food, but the selection here is unlike anywhere in the world. The focus is on the invisible producers and it sort of reminded me of going to a community market in my hometown. You’ll find homemade jams, honey, chocolates, unpasteurized Munster cheese, and foraged garlic pesto. These all make lovely treats to take home for a special memory from Alsace for you or a loved one.
If you don’t have room in your suitcase to take these items home, then come hungry because this market also has homemade traditional vegetarian meals like Dampfnudle (steamed sweet roll), wild mushroom tarts, and garden-fresh veggie soup. You can pair any of these tasty treats with mulled beer, bio wine, or a nice cup of Vin Chaud.
The Alsatian Delicies Market
Similar to the small producer market, the Alsatian Delicies Market features local products – but from larger producers. It was one of my favorite markets as it is located right along the river at Pl. du Marché aux Poissons. You’ll want to pick up some traditional Bredele biscuits, local craft beer, and Alsatian wine to go- we sure did! It is really nice to have all the fine wines of the region available to you in one location.
I recommend coming here for sunset and sampling a glass of local wine while sitting on a rustic log chair. My friends and I had a great time sipping crisp white wine and watching the sunset as the festive lights began to twinkle around the city. The ambiance is lovely.
The International Market
Curious about what Christmas is like in other countries? Every year Strasbourg invites a guest country to take over Pl. Gutenberg. The year I visited, the guest country was Lebanon, and it is one of the best markets in the city. You can learn about different holiday traditions in the host country, like how Lebanese Christians often plant wheat at the start of the holiday season. The newly sprouted shoots represent birth and life.
But, I’ll be totally honest here, the real highlight of the Lebanese market for me was the food and wonderful people singing Christmas songs in Arabic. At the same time, they made my vegan flatbread wrap made with an amazing herb sauce, cucumber, and tomato. The food was so good that I may have also ordered seasoned potato pieces covered in pomegranate seeds and a delicious sauce called Batata Harra.
Aside from the food and market stalls selling traditional Lebanese gifts, there is a cultural program. In 2019 there was a Lebanese choir, opportunities for kids to learn about children’s books from Lebanon, and academic and cultural discussions on Lebanese culture, heritage, academia, and more!
This was a special experience for me because I have only ever experienced Christmas in western countries, so I enjoyed broadening my horizons.
Previous guests have been Iceland and Finland, and I can’t wait to see who comes in the years to come!
Meaningful Christmas Gift Idea: The Lebanese market had all sorts of gifts from Lebanon or handmade in Lebanon. Buying something unique from the international market is a great way to engage in cultural exchange and get someone a great gift from the heart!
Creative Strasbourg Christmas Markets
If you’re like me and you love a good concept and design store, then these creators’ Christmas markets, featuring design, art, and master’s crafters, are right up your alley.
In 2019, this market was only open for one weekend. Located at Pl. Saint-Etienne, more than 20 Alsatian designers, and crafters come together under one roof. You’ll find fashion, jewelry, home decor, and body products for a unique Alsatian gift.
Winter Delicacies Market
Open for limited hours on the weekend at Rue du Bain; this is your one-stop shop for art. Make sure to stop here for you if you like paintings, illustrations, drawings, and photography.
GNOOS Concept Store
This Alsatian pop-up Christmas market features 20 local businesses. You can get coffee roasted in Alsace or shop all your favorite local small businesses under one roof.
OZ Trade Show
If you want a large souvenir that makes a statement, you’ll want to visit the OZ Trade Show. Open just for the last half of December at Pl. Kléber in the Aubette Rm., this trade show features genuinely unique pieces. The focus here is on quality and original products, including fine ceramic pieces, glass products, bold fashion designers, woodworkers, and more. If you want to make a statement this Christmas and get someone a true quality gift while supporting master’s crafters, you do not want to miss this trade show.
Market Stalls Featuring Craftswork
Strasbourg is known as the Ville et Métiers d’Art or Artistic City of Trades. It was given this name as recognition for the preservation, promotion, and development of traditional arts, crafts, and trade skills. Throughout the Christmas markets in Strasbourg, you’ll notice certain stalls featuring renowned artists and crafters embodying the very best of traditional work. There are more than two dozen or so of these stalls strinkled in Pl. Broglie, Pl. des Meuniers, and many other spots. For example, Caroline Courroy, gives a second life to furniture by using their fabric for cushions, purses, and more. Isabelle Dillenseger uses traditional Alsace textile to make linens, aprons, and more. Don’t miss the dedicated stall at Pl. Broglie, run by the Alsace Chamber of Trades, to see locals sharing their unique trade. Learn about beer brewing in Alsace, or see woodworkers or carpet weavers on display.
Mindful Christmas Gift: Look for these stalls selling authentic handmade crafts like ceramics from Alsace. This is a great way to get something a nice gift while supporting traditional craftspeople.
Charity and The Village of Sharing
While I 1000% support giving back no matter the time of the year, the holidays are known to be a season of giving, and the Strasbourg Christmas markets offer plenty of opportunities. Place Kléber is not only known for its famously tall Christmas tree but also The Village of Sharing. Throughout the Christmas market season, nearly 100 NGOs, charity organizations, and humanitarian associations set up shop at the Village of Sharing. Only a few groups stay for the whole season, with other stalls featuring rotating groups. The idea here is to walk around and talk to various vendors to learn about their mission and perhaps find a new charity that aligns with your values worth supporting yearly.
Some of the highlights are:
Starry Soup invites four top chefs to flex their culinary skills. Proceeds from this food stall go toward the HUMANIS International group, which supports 96 Alsace member associations.
Solidarity Stall was operated in 2019 by refugees and allies, and you can get your fill of Vin Chaud and other treats while giving back to the UNHRC.
*There are also public toilets here.
Alternative Christmas Events in Strasbourg
Alternative Christmas Trees
Aside from the main Christmas Tree, at Pl. Kléber, there are two alternative trees worth seeing. One, I already mentioned, is the art installation at the OFF market. The other, located at Pl. du marché Gayot, is decorated by everyone, including locals and tourists visiting Strasbourg Christmas markets. You can participate in an ornament-making workshop and hang your design up. We didn’t join as it seemed mostly for kids, but make sure you stop by and at least see the tree. It was funny all the lower branches were full, as no one could reach very high. This remarkable tree is made from dozens of smaller trees and is a nice way for you or your kids to leave their mark.
2019 was the 3rd annual nocturnal bike ride. This event is probably more fitting for locals – unless, of course, you happened to bring your bike with you. But, you could also venture down to Quai des Bateliers a couple of days before Christmas in the evening to watch the bike parade take off. We had one of these night bikes in Munich, and it was so much fun. Everyone dresses up their bike with neon lights, wears festive attire, and rides a safe 5k route through the city, enjoying Christmas music and lights.
Paye ton Noël
An alternative Christmas festival, the Pay ton Noël brings together street artists, musicians, comedians, and others for a three-week program taking place around the city. For example, the Off Market features several bands and shows indie their igloo dome. Other events include workshops and shows at Pl. de Zurich.
If you didn’t have time to make it to the Alps this Christmas, perhaps you’ll be able to make it to the winter electronic night. Taking place usually the weekend before Christmas, this is an indoor clubbing event where you can dress up in Aprés ski attire and dance the night away. *most likely, as an indoor event, this will be canceled in 2021.
Strasbourg Traditional Christmas Markets and Events
Strasbourg Traditional Christmas Markets
Of course, some of the magic of visiting Strasbourg for Christmas is experiencing a more traditional style market. These markets have their charm and offer a mix of cheap souvenirs and authentic gifts. Many of these markets are in a beautiful setting and are worth visiting just to experience the ambiance and warmth of Strasbourg at Christmas.
This authentic and traditional market is probably one of the better ones. With a history dating back to the 1870s, this is the oldest market in the city, and one of the oldest in Europe. It’s a mix of authentic artists selling their crafts and some tacky decorations mixed in. However, the ambiance is cozy with traditional wooden stalls serving authentic potato pancakes smothered in stinky Munster cheese. – they are delicious, by the way. Get them without the cheese for a vegan treat!
There are also some great shopping opportunities, even though it is a more traditional market. I remember seeing hand-crafted Alsace wine glasses. I had flashbacks to my Oma’s glass collection as she had this exact style back in the day. They bring out the flavors of Alsace wine. Some of Alsace’s finest crafters are mixed throughout this market, so look for authentic goods before spending your money.
Central Cathedral Market
The Cathedral market is perhaps one of the most popular and crowded markets. The highlight here really is the walk up to the market along Rue Mercière. The Notre Dame of Strasbourg creates an imposing background for the cherry Christmas stalls. We didn’t stay here long and really just clicked a few pictures of the alleyway leading to the market and wandered around before moving on.
Pl. du Château
Just to the side of the Notre Dame, this area had some rides, a bathroom (important for those drinking our way through the markets), and some little Château style huts down an alley. Most notably the Käthe Wohlfahrt Chalet. They are from Germany, but their Christmas decorations are coveted around the world. If you do buy from them, please only purchase the wood ornaments and stick to sustainable materials.
Pl. du Temple Neuf
The best part of this market is walking there – I recommend you take the side alleys and streets to immerse yourself in full Christmas decorations. Once you arrive, the market is small and an odd mix of traditional stalls and basic gifts. My friend, Christina, picked up some fuzzy panda slippers and a golden bookmark.
Pl. St. Thomas
The market here is a small crowd free-market, mostly selling some food and a few unique gifts. The best part about this market was its off-the-beaten-path location. If you are hungry, try to find some traditional pastries such as Brezel, Beignet, or Choquette, which are all vegetarian, deep-fried, sweet, and delicious.
Hungry for More Food? Try these Vegetarian Treats
Bredele traditional baked cookies
Spätzel – the alpine version of mac and cheese
Brezel – a pastry style pretzel that comes sweet or savory – I love the sugar coasted ones!
Vin Chaud – or mulled wine is the classic Christmas market drink – make sure it is bio!
Potato spears are vegan roasted potatoes dusted with seasoning.
Potato pancakes are vegan unless of course, you want to cover them in delicious stinky Munster cheese – then they are vegetarian.
Three King’s Counter
The iconic region of Petite France is renowned for its half-timber houses and water canals. It is an absolute must-visit during Christmas. You can reach the little island by passing through another market at Pl. Benjamin Zix. Enjoy the historic houses and picture-perfect streets as you explore this region.
Events and Things to do in Strasbourg in Winter
Strasbourg is basically non-stop ‘Christmas’ during the holiday season. There are dozens of events to keep you going no matter when you visit. They have not announced the 2021 event lineup yet, but you can keep an eye on the official website for more updates.
Traditionally there are four advent concerts, including children’s choirs and orchestras, held at the various churches throughout the city.
There are also several Christmas concerts with live bands, multi-language Christmas carol events, and much more.
The ice skating rink hosts Christmas shows on the ice.
Take part in guided light tours, history tours with the night watchman, and even festive treasure hunts during the evening hours.
Even the museums and planetariums get involved. The planetarium will show you what the Christmas sky looked like in Christmases past, and museums have special Christmas exhibits.
You can lace up your skates and go skating at Pl. Kléber
Last, but not least, whether you came for the alternative markets or the traditional experience, you simply must enjoy the Christmas decorations and light displays.
Probably one of the best views is at Rue Mercière where five angels guide you toward the main cathedral market and square.
Along Rue du Vieux-Marché-aux-Poissons heading toward Notre Dame there is a Christmas Portal that welcomes you to the Strasbour Chirtmas markets. Continue along that path following the lights for the full experience.
All along the river from Sainte-Madeleine bridge to Petite France, the walk is illuminated with festive stars. There are several Christmas markets along the way so enjoy the stroll with a steaming hot Vin Chaud in hand while seeing the very best of historic Strasbourg under the stars.
Rue des Tonneliers has suspended wine or beer (?) barrels. These festive lights pay homage to the street where delivery barrels were rolled down to the docs along the river.
One of the most picturesque streets is Rue des Orfèvres. This adorable alleyway becomes decorated with festive tree branches and holiday decorations.
If you are traveling from Pl. Gutenberg for the international market to Pl. Kléber to see the tree and charity stalls, then make sure you walk along Rue des Grandes Arcades for lights depicting toys inside red-curtained windows.
And to get from Pl. Kléber to Christkindelsmärik you can travel down the Rue de la Mésange for festive light displays.
For the epic Teddy Bear display that you do not want to miss, then meander along Rue du Maroquin for old timber houses with giant teddy bears and other holiday decorations strapped to them.
By Train: Strasbourg is very accessible for Europeans. I always advocate for train travel within Europe to reduce your carbon output. Plus, the trains are comfortable, and you can sit back, relax, and watch the snowy landscapes unfold.
I love Omio because it is a great way to travel around Europe. Rather than dealing with multiple companies from multiple counties, you can easily find and book the best tickets all in English. It is straightforward to use, and even as someone who lives in Europe. It is my preferred way to book travel in and around Europe. I highly recommend you book your transit to and from Strasbourg using Omio for a hassle-free experience.
What to Pack for Winter in Strasbourg
As much as we would all love to have a perfectly snowy Christmas season at the Strasbourg Christmas markets, the chances of rain are pretty high. So, your best bet is to pack clothing that does well in rain, snow, and cold nights. I always bring waterproof walking shoes or boots, wool socks, lots of layers, a hat, gloves, and a scarf.
What to Pack
Layers are always best, and you’ll want to make sure you have a solid coat and good rainproof walking shoes or winter boots.
A stylish winter jacket in a neutral color. I’m a huge fan of 3-in-1 jackets as you can peel off the layers or add them on as needed. They are expensive but are my go-to for winter travel. Any of these 3-in-1 jackets for men would be great as well. I know a lot of women that prefer to bundle up with a nice stylish pea coat and pair it with a nice long-sleeve or sweater underneath.
I hope this alternative and sustainable guide to Strasbourg’s Christmas markets helps you get off-the-beaten-path and explore a new side of Europe’s Christmas markets. The holidays are all about giving back and taking advantage of mindful ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle. You might even pick up a new skill such as DIY craft-making.
What alternative Christmas market looks like the most fun to you?
Does the idea of embracing sustainability during the holidays interest you?
Can you think of some ways you plan on giving back this season – leave me a comment and let me know!
Susanna grew up in small-town Alaska where the changing climate was always on her mind. Through traveling, she gained an interest in the power of sustainable and regenerative travel. She now attends a Master's program for environmental sustainability and bridges sustainable travel with environmental science. When she's not outside playing, you'll find her drinking whiskey with her cat and partner while trying to get to level 99 in life.