Visit the Christmas Markets in Alsace with your family – Our advice

Updated on 2024-04-23
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In this article, the My weekend in Alsace team has set out to help those who wish to enjoy the Christmas Markets in Alsace with their family. We know that those of you who have children often ask if this or that market is better with children, if special activities are planned for families, if there are places to take shelter to warm up after a few hours in the cold... We regularly receive requests for ideas and advice: here is an article that should help you, in addition to the traditional article on the most beautiful Christmas markets in Alsace.

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Clémence
Clémence loves finding good deals for her little family, but not only that. Curious about everything, she has always enjoyed wandering around Alsace - and elsewhere - and sharing her experiences with her friends and anyone else who needed them.

The format is meant to be collaborative and evolving: several members of the team will contribute and update it as they discover it, but it is in any case ClĂ©mence who opens the ball of contributions! She is well placed to tell you about it: she loves to make discoveries with her husband and their two children! And don’t forget to read our general article on visiting Alsace as a family .

Sélestat, in the Land of Bread (by Clémence)

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SĂ©lestat is THE city of the fir tree. It is here that, for the1st times, the tree as a Christmas decoration is mentioned in 1521. Today, this makes the city the capital of the Christmas country of the same name. We already talked about it on the blog in this article dedicated to the Christmas market in SĂ©lestat.

What immediately motivated me to go there was themanala workshop (mannele, as we are in the Bas-Rhin) at the Maison du Pain d’Alsace. In 1 hour, my little girl and I made our own little personalized men and women. The dough was already prepared but we shaped our manala (quite a technique!) and Luce also put them in the oven. Please note that the Maison du Pain d’Alsace regularly organizes workshops, depending on the time of year.

But Christmas in SĂ©lestat is not only about the Maison du Pain d’Alsace! It is part of a 13-stage route through the city, with exhibitions, a Christmas village, an ice rink and various animations to enhance the stroll.

The first step is necessarily the base: the highlighting of the famous register of 1521 in the brand new Humanist Library. Then, Luce and I really enjoyed the exhibitions about Meisenthal glass balls and thehistory of Christmas tree decoration in the Saint-Georges church. By the way, do you know the Meisenthal balls? When a dry winter hit the region, it was impossible to find apples to decorate the Christmas trees, as was the tradition. A glass blower had the idea to replace them with glass balls. Today, the CIAV (Centre International d’Art Verrier) in Meisenthal perpetuates this art.

Then, when we arrived in front of the Saint-Barbe cellar, we met some zany elves, Les Gnomides. We push the door open and arrive in La SapiniĂšre aux Mille Secrets, the lair of Professor Sapinus. Who’s that? The greatest connoisseur of fir trees in Selestat, Alsace and Mooonndde! In his stuwa (editor’s note: living room in Alsace), he tells Luce the legend of the Christmas tree. Even me, who has a rather extensive knowledge of the fir tree in Alsace, I learned some things! I won’t tell you anything here, no no. This will give you the opportunity to get to know this amazing teacher, if you want to know more. After a small market of creators on the 1st floor of the building, we arrive in the large room of the2nd floor floor where the tree contest is located. Great, we can vote for our favorites, much to my little girl’s delight! They are all so different, it was not easy to choose them… We are looking forward to the end of the contest to know who will be the lucky one.

In short, a very nice stopover for the family, even on a rainy day. Of course, you have to walk between the different stages but almost all of them are under cover.

  • The diversity of the animations
  • Professor Sapinus
  • The Manala family workshop
  • The signage, very easy to follow
  • Nothing!

Dream Christmas in Obernai (by Clémence)

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In the Christmas Land of the Fir Tree, Obernai is the other unavoidable step with Selestat. The Christmas market of Obernai (click to read the article already written on the blog and dedicated to it) is on a human scale with its 5 squares where you can find chalets of creators, craftsmen (textile, wood, blown glass…) and delicacies (local products, cookies, chocolates, alcohols, pancakes, cheeses…). When you arrive, even on a rainy day, as soon as the night falls, it’s a guaranteed wow effect! Everything is illuminated and very well decorated, from the Place Neher, at the foot of the ramparts to the Place de l’Etoile, the “Place des Enfants“. It is here that we decide to stop a little longer: there is the Adam carousel and the Little Train. On the way, we meet a character well known in Alsace and in Northern Europe in general: Saint Nicolas!

For the snack, we stop on the good advice of the Tourist Office at the chalet “Nature et crĂ©ations” where Anny proposes milk and white chocolate in many forms, even hot but also waffles. We enjoyed those with Christmas spices. Yummy!

For me, this Christmas market is a nice alternative to the bigger markets. The magic is there and the numerous visitors who strolled in the streets of Obernai understood it well!

LaurĂšne’s comment: I took part in the Bredele Tour, a storytelling and singing walk in the streets of Obernai that can be done with children. We sing, we eat bredele and we walk in the streets of Obernai… Nice program, right?

  • The decoration of the Christmas market and the merchants all around
  • The carousel and the little train to keep the children busy
  • Anny’s spiced pancakes
  • I would have appreciated perhaps a little more animation for the children, other than the rides, in particular for the children a little older

Barr, in the children’s paradise! (by ClĂ©mence)

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Barr is a charming little town on the Alsace Wine Route, between SĂ©lestat and Obernai. It was at the end of a rainy day that we discovered it, with our family. Here, the decoration is simple but very pretty as, for example, these garlands of lights which traverse whole streets.

The 1st Christmas market (there are 3!) is in the town hall. In front of the town hall, the children and my darling have fun with the wooden games provided.

Further down town, we find “Le 66 Grand’Rue”, renamed “Village des enfants” for the occasion. This is where the children’s workshops are held, but there are also other wooden games. Unfortunately, we arrived too late to participate but the children and my darling were able to enjoy the wooden games. Very good idea to have done it indoors! In case of rain or cold, it allows to recharge the batteries without getting bored. At the end of the room, a pretty decorated passage takes us to a large room that I find charming with its wooden beams and its hangar air: it is the 2nd Christmas market with crafts, local products, a solidarity stand…

On the other side of the building “Le 66 Grand’Rue”, in a courtyard, a last block of cottages awaits us. There is also a small merry-go-round with a few stalls to please the gourmets.

The experience was really too short to tell you more about this Christmas market but know that there are also shows throughout the afternoon (the story peddler, the night watchman’s round…), tales at the MusĂ©e de la Folie Marco, participative workshops… Yes, you will have understood, we were a little frustrated not to have spent more time there!

  • The diversity of the animations for the children
  • Beautiful places in a charming little town
  • Very frustrated not to have been able to enjoy many of the animations! Next time I’ll stay longer! 😉

Ribeauvillé, the medieval Christmas market (by LaurÚne)

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If you want an original market with many animations for the children, the Christmas market of Ribeauvillé (click to read the article about it) is a nice idea. It is a Christmas market with a medieval theme, organized by the village associations who all take part in the game during two weekends in December. Everyone is dressed up, the animations are really medieval with old wooden games, and the atmosphere is really nice!

With children, you should not miss the part of the market called the“Kingdom of the Goblins“, which is entirely dedicated to them. Why not take a ride on Santa’s lap and slide down a wooden slide before playing some medieval games with your family?

  • Medieval theme
  • A lot of animations for young and old: impressive and super qualitative!
  • A lot of people!

Family Christmas in Mulhouse (by Clémence)

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Not far from us, we are lucky to have the Christmas market in Mulhouse. The chance? Yes, because with children, it is a real pleasure!

It is already a pleasure for the eyes for the whole family because the decoration is magical. It changes every year: the lights adapt to theexclusive fabric that decorates the old Renaissance town hall but also the market chalets and store windows. Mulhouse is a creative city, so artists also participate.

Outside, around the Christmas market, there is a period carousel but also and especially… a Ferris wheel! Attention, to the most frigid in the literal sense as in the figurative sense (it measures 38 meters). But the kids love it: it’s a mandatory step every year. And the view on the Christmas market is unique! Two pieces of advice: cover up when it’s cold and do your tour at nightfall.

Being there on a Wednesday, I took the children to the Christmas Chalet. In the warmth of a cottage overlooking the beautifully decorated city hall and fountain, we participated in two workshops. On the occasion of Saint Lucy’s Day, the children created their own angel-shaped candle holders. A second workshop of fabric suspension was led by textile designers. We can easily occupy ourselves for three quarters of an hour. Workshops are held at least every Wednesday and Saturday during the Christmas market and the theme is different each time. At the Christmas cottage, you can also attend storytelling sessions, meet Santa Claus and his elves… In short, it’s THE place to be with children.

You can also visit the Boutique aux Etoffes. In addition to great local gift ideas for Christmas, you may find “La Minute Textile”, a workshop to make your own postcard: every year, a new illustrator draws it, often in a humorous way. A piece of Christmas fabric is cut out and incorporated into the card to make a unique pattern. The advantages: it’s super fast and it’s a nice souvenir of a visit to Mulhouse.

  • The animations for the children of the Christmas Chalet
  • The big wheel and the superb view of the market and the illuminations
  • The very special decoration with the Christmas fabric
  • There can be a lot of people in the Christmas Chalet as there are no reservations for the workshops

Strasbourg, a huge market with lots of animations! (by LaurĂšne)

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The Christmas Market in Strasbourg is undoubtedly the most famous Christmas market in Alsace. What is less known is that a large number of activities and events are organized for families on this occasion. Ideal to spend a good time with your children while allowing them to learn things in a playful way!

It is also useful to allow them to take breaks in the discovery of the market: if as an adult, we can easily walk the aisles of the Christmas Market during a whole day, it is not the same for children who often get tired of the stroll more quickly… Intersperse an activity in the day and everyone will be happy! 🙂

Impossible to list all the activities and animations proposed for the families so much they are numerous, but know that you can for example :

  • visit a child-friendly Christmas village and take advantage of the many activities on offer
  • take a treasure hunt on the trail of Santa Claus with Once Upon a Time in the City
  • learn how to make bredele and mannele at the MarchĂ© des DĂ©lices d’Alsace
  • participate in a variety of workshops at the Strasbourg Off Market (introduction to ceramics, creation of objects with a 3D printer, writing workshops…)
  • participate in child-friendly tours of the city
  • listen to a Christmas story while taking a boat ride with Batorama
  • go skating at the foot of the Big Fir Tree on Place KlĂ©ber

In short, you should not be bored! 😉

  • Huge choice of animations for children
  • Beautiful decorations in the city: children love it too!
  • The crowds on weekends: I was once afraid that one of my little cousins would be run over!

The Enchanted Forest of Altkirch (by Clémence)

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In Altkirch, in the Sundgau region of France, Christmas is the perfect time to discover a forest of tales and legends. The Enchanted Forest of Altkirch is different from the traditional Alsatian Christmas markets and allows you to live a Christmas experience with your kids. There is also a Christmas village, an ice rink and storytelling tours!

But where exactly did the idea of presenting tales and legends come from? In the Sundgau, legends have an important place in local traditions. And yes, at that time, the night and the omnipresent cold gave rise to many legends, sometimes quite dark.

Tales and legends of Sundgau…

We chose to discover the different tales by participating in a storytelling tour. Their staging alone is worth it: it is not lacking in humor. But it’s even better with a passionate storyteller who will make you live the tales and legends presented. The children, yes even they, remained particularly attentive. The theme of the year in my little loulou’s class is… storytelling! He listens carefully to the storyteller, especially during the story of Hansel and Gretel.

The tour lasted an hour and a half. We have “crossed” a dozen tales, from the Sundgau or more widely known, including :

  • The damsel and the fountain
  • Hansel and Gretel
  • Les Fouletots (with a game to win a trip!)
  • At the Farm with geese and rabbits
  • The Ogre of Bombach
  • The 2 Fir trees of the Sainte AurĂ©lie church

We came at the end of the period so the village of the craftsmen was already closed. Note that there are also exhibitions every year at the Sundgauvian Museum and at the CRAC (Regional Center for Contemporary Art).

Take advantage of your winter walk to discover the street-art frescoes: the city of Altkirch is full of them!

The Fireflies Cave

A little further in the village, we stopped at the surprising “Grotte aux Lucioles“, a place created by a private couple. Here, several spaces follow one another: we start with the cave all illuminated with fairies, elves, trolls… Then we arrive in front of a window that protects… a huge model train! The kids love it. And in the meantime, parents can observe every detail and character in the scene. Layout artists are often great pranksters! We then go to the lair of the… Lord of the Rings! The couple collects the characters of size life of an orc in Frodo Saquet while passing obviously by Gandalf or Gimli. A final room is filled with old-fashioned porcelain dolls and automaton sprites. Santa’s elves? The mystery remains…

The visit takes about 30 minutes but it is an unusual little detour before leaving Altkirch.

  • The captivating stories of the storyteller
  • Research in the staging of stories
  • The tale “Les Fouletots” staged in the form of a game: it keeps the children busy if they do not visit the Enchanted Forest as part of a storytelling tour.
  • The cold… but no one could do anything about that!
  • The fact that you have to take the car to go to the different places of animations

Christmas at the Ecomuseum of Alsace (by LaurĂšne)

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I love The Ecomuseum of Alsace in general and particularly recommend you to go there with your family during the Christmas period if you want to immerse yourself in the Alsatian Christmas culture and traditions… There are tons of workshops and animations organized!

Christmas in the Garden at the Parc de Wesserling (by Clémence)

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The Parc de Wesserling can be visited all year round, but it offers especially nice animations for children during the Christmas period. Read ClĂ©mence’s full article on the Parc de Wesserling to find out more.

Christmas treasure hunts (by Clémence)

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Every year during the Christmas season, the Alsace Tourist Offices offer about thirty treasure hunts throughout the region. A great activity to (re)discover Alsace with your family!

The concept? Throughout the walk you will have chosen, you will have fun answering riddles and thus find a sentence or a treasure word, generally in connection with the village / city where you are. He/she will allow you to come back to the Tourist Office to get a small reward. For example, we received a beautiful wooden or ceramic hanging for our tree, made locally.

The hunts last between 1 hour and 1h30, which is perfect even with the youngest, and allow you to discover Christmas in Alsace and the towns and villages where they take place. I myself was surprised by some villages that I already know.

A booklet, which includes all the Christmas treasure hunts, is available in the participating tourist offices. Each year, some hunts are renewed or the participating locations change. And that’s great, because it allows you to discover new destinations or new routes every year!

And the bonus: if you do 3 treasure hunts, you can participate in a contest to win a weekend with your family. Don’t forget to get your ballot stamped at the tourist offices to participate!

In short, it is a perfect activity to complete a family Christmas market or any other Christmas animation. At home, the pups love it!

  • The fact of (re)discovering Alsatian villages and towns
  • The variety of destinations
  • Fun and interesting courses for children and adults alike!
  • It’s free!
  • Some rewards for hunting. It is often one per family, which is not a concern in itself if it is adapted as, for example, a decoration for the family tree. If it is not suitable, it is better not to give it!
  • Small Christmas market in the heart of the village: little walking, which is good for the little ones
  • Santa Claus, stories, choirs and animals
  • Pancakes and waffles at low prices
  • It’s a small market, don’t expect something huge with lots of entertainment either! 😉