Nestled in the Alsace region of France, the Colmar Christmas market is sprawling and lively experience filled to the brim with a winter wonderland of vendors, stalls, decorations, food and gifts.
Attracting visitors from around the world, the French city of Colmar is a pastel hued collection of Medieval homes and cobbled streets bisected by canals that give it the nickname “Little Venice”.
Over the past two decades, Colmar has become renowned for its magical Christmas market, a carefully curated patchwork of multiple smaller markets that combine into one large holiday experience tailored to all ages.
Events, experiences, sights, sounds and tastes of the holiday season can be found around every corner in this picturesque little city from late November through early January, becoming one of the most well known and beautiful markets in all of Europe!
With such a vast array of things to see and do, it comes as no surprise that the Colmar Christmas market often ranks at the top of the list of Christmas markets in Europe!
Colmar Christmas Market
The Colmar Christmas market is actually six smaller markets loosely connected to one another by the canals and cobbled streets of this historic city.
Each of these distinct neighborhoods and districts is tied to the next through a well-curated and cohesive set of regulations and guidelines put in place during the markets inception to ensure that the historic charm and aesthetic appeal of this one of a kind city were preserved.
Every detail from the quaint wooden chalet style market stalls to the wares sold within them as well as the lights decorating the buildings and streets have been carefully selected to ensure they flow with the theme and style of the architecture and culture of the area.
The most well-known of the six markets making up the Colmar Christmas market is the area around Place de la Dominicains, a square situated at the base of a majestic Medieval era church featuring around sixty different market stalls, each decorated in lush decorations and selling unique, often handcrafted ornaments, décor items and souvenirs of your visit to this Alsatian city.
The stained glass of the church is illuminated to display the Medieval work of art and each of the buildings surrounding the square, as well as the streets themselves, are hung with classic twinkling Christmas lights to flood the area with light and holiday spirit.
Nearby, the Place de la Cathedrale will feature a unique market arrangement unlike any found elsewhere in Europe.
This collection of small cabins and stalls will feature gourmet dishes carefully prepared by master chefs and restaurateurs from the region, offering everything from small snacks, full meals, appetizers, desserts and a little bit of everything in between.
These offerings exemplify not only French culinary prowess but also the unique regional flair of the Alsace region. Whether you visit for lunch, dinner or the in-between, you will find a wealth of gourmet dishes available and a nearby outdoor bar to rinse it all down with locally grown and produced Christmas-themed wines.
Place de l’Ancienne Douane is home to yet another unique collection of market stalls arranged around the River Launch canals that give this city it’s Venetian-inspired nickname.
Dozens of tiny chalets line both sides of the river and fill the nearby square leading up to the Koifhus, a late Medieval and early Renaissance customs house used for centuries as a place of bustling business and trade.
The centuries old tradition continues to this day with each and every one of the stalls selling different gift items and merchandise that is hard to find outside the region. This area of the market is the best bet for those hoping to do some Christmas shopping on their holiday vacation.
Over fifty stalls can be found here and their wares are as unique and storied as the historic architecture that surrounds the festively decorated stalls. Hats and scarves, carved wooden dishware, ornate glassware and other artisan wares fill the streets with an overwhelming array of delightful gift options sure to please anyone on your gift giving list.
Inside the nearby Koifhus, the shopping experience continues with a lavish indoor artisanal shopping boutique. Over twenty different master craftsmen fill this historic center of trade with contemporary works of art and craft, each piece carefully created to display the unique skills of the region.
Ceramic works and pottery, all one of a kind, can be found alongside handcrafted jewelry, garments, furniture and other works of art, creating an abundance of delightful options for finding a truly special gift to share during the holiday season. Hand-blown glass and carefully crafted hats make for a particularly interesting find during your holiday shopping experience.
All throughout, the collections are peppered with displays of antique and vintage toy collections on loan from the nearby toy museum, bringing back the nostalgic and whimsical memories of Christmases long long ago.
Place Jeanne d’Arc is a gathering of the sensory wonders of the holiday season, filled to the brim with not only picture-perfect historic architecture but also all the typical and regional food and drink of the Christmas season.
This section of the Colmar Christmas market features a number of stalls selling all sorts of delicious items with a special concentration on the regional and locally produced items typical of the Alsatian region of France. Foie gras and meats can be found alongside specialty liqueurs and mulled wine.
Manalas de Saint-Nicolas are classic butter-rich brioche buns formed into the shape of small men, a practice that is found only during the Christmas season. Of course, don’t forget to grab a bottle (or two) of Alsace’s renowned wine to bring home and share with loved ones over the holiday season!
Without a doubt the star of the season, baked goods and desserts are found all over this section of the market. Richly flavored gingerbread coated in icing or chocolate, a particularly French approach, can be found in all shapes and sizes throughout the market and even decorating trees in the classic tradition of the region.
Bredele, the classic Christmas cookie of the Alsace region of France, comes in a veritable rainbow of flavors from vanilla to cinnamon or even such unique flavors as anise and coconut. Small in size but large in flavor, these baked treats are as varied in shape as they are in flavor.
Tiny stars, intricate figures and whimsical crescent moon shapes pile high all around the market amid the other classic comforts of the holiday season.
Last but certainly not least, the sixth area of the Colmar Christmas market is dedicated entirely to children and the magic of the Christmas season.
Also located along the banks of the River Launch, this area is a whimsical display of live animals, children’s crafts, colorful décor and wondrous sights of the holidays to thrill the young and young at heart alike.
A mechanical Nativity scene brings the story of Christmas to life for children and a ride on the mechanical horse track is a must for families both local and from afar. There is also a large carousel and child-friendly versions of classic Christmas fare, including hot mulled cider and steamy hot chocolate. Of course, no child will want to leave before sending a letter to “Pere Noel” in the oversized Christmas letter box!
Special events will fill the Colmar Christmas market throughout the season, so it helps to research ahead of time to match your travels with the event itinerary. Musical performances and choirs perform on the streets and in nearby churches and Santa makes an appearance at certain times and dates.
You might also be able to catch a performance of the children’s choir as they float through the markets in the canals of the River Launch! From culinary events to special church services, you will be sure to find something new and exciting to do when you visit the Colmar Christmas market.
When planning ahead, be sure to pack warm layers to fight off the chill of the winter season! If you are lucky, you might even get a little snow flurry to accentuate the already picture perfect holiday experience!
While the city of Colmar is always a wonder to visit, there is something so special and magical about the Colmar Christmas market that seems to enhance it’s inherent charm and beauty tenfold.
The attention to detail and authentic feel of the Christmas market fills the area with an abundance of holiday spirit and nostalgic memory. With well over a hundred different market stalls spread out over six closely linked areas, every twist and turn of the historic streets reveals a new and exciting holiday experience sure to remain forever impressed upon your memories of your Christmas visit to this postcard-worthy region of France.
Once you get a taste for everything this stunning city has to offer, you will see why thousands of people flock from all around the world to experience the charm and magic of the Colmar Christmas market. Perhaps like many others, you too will make it a regular part of your Christmas tradition!
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