A unique atmosphere
From 25 November - St Catherine's Day - onwards, the whole of Alsace comes alive in a warm, enchanting festive ambience which builds up to a peak over the 4-week run-up to Christmas, before continuing over the holiday period to gently finish at Epiphany on 6 January.
This most popular of feasts is packed with the soul, emotion and authenticity characteristic of the Alsatian spirit. As soon as you cross the Vosges, you can sense the intimacy and the singular emotion of an Alsatian Christmas.
Wherever you turn, the air is heavy with the aroma of spices, honey and citrus fruits, children gaze in wonder at enchanting lights twinkling in the December nights, Christmas carols form the backdrop to the magical atmosphere that comes over every village.
Embodied in stories and legends, characters and customs that go back centuries, Advent in Alsace takes on a mantle of mystery and magic. Preparations for the forthcoming celebrations are underway in every town and village, and in private homes.
Due to its particular location, Alsace is influenced by several cultural traditions and ancestral beliefs that make it a unique land of legends. Legends both terrible and wondrous are retold every year at story-telling evenings over the period from Advent to Epiphany.
Legendary Christmas markets
Of all the seasonal traditions, the Christmas market remains the most popular and the most widespread. It is a festive entertainment in itself and one that brings warmth and good cheer to towns and villages throughout Alsace.
Give in to the sweet smells of Christmas treats, gingerbread, Christmas biscuits ("bredele") among other delights. Warm up with a mulled wine, whose aromas of cinnamon, oranges and spices permeate the winter air. Come and stock up with the best local produce: Alsatian wines and fruit brandies, Christmas beer, foie gras and so much more.
You'll find craftspeople and food producers from around the region showing off their skills and products. You can find all kinds of decorations for the house and an abundance of ideas for original gifts: Advent wreathes, painted glass baubles, candles, boughs of holly and mistletoe, cribs and nativity sets, countless tree decorations, "springerle" biscuits, fabrics, tablecloths, ribbons, glassware and tableware, colourfully painted wooden toys and so on.
A magical world populated with amazing, fantastic characters from ancient legends is revealed during the Christmas in Alsace. A period of merry-making punctuated by a plethora of activities and entertainments.
A stream of events that you will find happening in the historic streets and lanes of the towns and villages, as well as at the region's prestigious cultural venues. Cockles are warmed, there's a definite buzz in the air, faces light up and surprises aplenty await you!
The Christmas period features a wealth of mythical characters, both benevolent and scary, who are brought back to life year after year by local storytellers. In the valleys, each village cultivates its own legends, with costumed performances and story-telling sessions. Advent in Alsace provides a backdrop for numerous traditions where the legends of yesterday remain relevant today.
In Alsatian towns and villages, marvel at the alleyways and façades embellished by refined decorations and at the sheer creativity that goes into the decoration of shop windows, each one more impressive than the last.
But it is at nightfall that the real magic is revealed. As it begins to get dark, the lights begin to twinkle and the streets and squares burst into illuminated brilliance. The perfect opportunity for a stroll in a truly magical atmosphere. Each new discovery will set your eyes sparkling. Lights, tinsel, brightly lit Christmas trees blend in perfectly with the heritage buildings to offer the most beautiful setting!