In this article, the team from My weekend in Alsace decided to help those wanting to enjoy Christmas markets in Alsace as a family. We know that those of you with children often ask if this market or that one is better with children, if there are special activities organised for families, if there are places to find shelter and get warm after a few hours in the cold… We regularly receive requests for ideas and advice: here is an article that should help, in addition to this more conventional article about the most beautiful Christmas markets in Alsace. It’s a collaborative and evolving format: several members of the team will contribute and update it with their discoveries, but Clémence will start. She is the perfect person to talk about this subject, as she loves making new discoveries with her husband and her two children!

Sélestat, in the land of the Christmas Tree


atelier-mannele-maison-pain-selestat

Sélestat is THE town of the Christmas Tree. It's where, for the first time, the Christmas Tree was mentioned as a Christmas decoration in 1521. Nowadays, it's the capital of the Land of the Christmas Tree. We had already mentioned it on the blog in an article dedicated to Sélestat Christmas Market

What motivated me straight away to come and visit, was the manala workshop (mannele, as we are in Bas-Rhin) at the Maison du Pain d’Alsace. In 1 hour, my girl and I made our own personalised little guys and girls. The dough was already prepared, but we shaped our manala (it's quite a technique!) and Luce also put them in the oven. Please note that the Maison du Pain d’Alsace regularly organises workshops, depending on the time of year.

However, Christmas in Sélestat is not only the Maison du Pain d’Alsace! It is actually part of a route with 13 stops through town, with exhibitions, a Christmas village, a skating rink and different activities to enliven your visit.

The first stop is essential: the spotlight on the famous register dating back from 1521 at the brand new Humanist Library. Afterwards, Luce and I really enjoyed the exhibitions about the glass balls of Meisenthal and the history of the Christmas tree decoration in the Church Saint-Georges. Incidentally, did you know about the balls of Meisenthal? When a dry winter hit the region, it was impossible to find apples to decorate Christmas trees, as tradition would dictate. A glass-blower had the idea to replace them with glass balls. Nowadays, the CIAV (Centre International d’Art Verrier) of Meisenthal perpetuates this art.

And then, we arrived in front of the caveau Saint-Barbe, where we met zany elves, Les Gnomides. As we pushed the door, we got to "La Sapinière aux Mille Secrets", Professeur Sapinus' den. Who is that? The greatest specialist of Christmas Trees in Sélestat, in Alsace and in the wooooorld! In his stuwa (Editor's note: a living room in Alsace), he told Luce the legend of the Christmas Tree. Even I, who know quite a lot about Christmas Trees in Alsace, learned a lot! And I won't tell you anything here, no, no, no. It will give you the chance to meet this surprising professor if you want to learn more. After a small designer market on the first floor of the building, we got to the big room of the second floor, where you'll find the Christmas tree contest. Yay, we could vote for our favourites and my girl loved that! They are all so different... it wasn't easy to choose! We waited patiently for the end of the contest to know which one was the winner. 

A great stop for a family, even on a rainy day. You'll have to walk between all the stops, but almost all of them are under shelter

I liked

  • The variety of activities
  • Professeur Sapinus
  • The Manala workshop for families
  • The signage is very easy to follow

I liked a little less

  • Nothing!

Practical information

Prices

1h30 workshop at the Maison du Pain d’Alsace: 6.50€
Everything else is free!

Opening days, times and programme

You will find here all practical information

Getting here

By car

Sélestat is located:

  • 67 km from Mulhouse (about 45 minutes drive)
  • 26 km from Colmar (about 30 minutes drive)
  • 50 km from Strasbourg (about 35 minutes drive)
By public transport

By train from the railway stations of Mulhouse, Colmar and Strasbourg, with one train every half-hour or hour.


Address: Sélestat

Christmas at Alsace Ecomuseum (by Laurène)


noel-ecomusee-alsace

I love the Ecomuseum of Alsace on a normal day, and I would really recommend for you to go as a family at Christmas time, if you want to immerse yourself into the culture and Alsatian Christmas traditions... There are tons of workshops and activities organised every year! You can read the full article, Christmas at the Alsace Ecomuseum to learn more. 


Address: Écomusée d'Alsace, Chemin du Grosswald, Ungersheim, France

Dreaming of Christmas in Obernai (by Clémence)


saint-nicolas-obernai-enfants

In the land of the Chrismas Tree, Obernai is the other essential stop alongside Sélestat. Obernai Christmas Market (click here to read the article about it on the blog) is of human scale with 5 squares, where you'll find chalets of designers, craftsmen (textile, wood, blown glass…) and treats (regional products, biscuits, chocolates, alcohols, crepes, cheese…). When you get there, even on a rainy day, at dusk, it's a guaranteed wow effect! Everything is illuminated and very well decorated from place Neher, to the bottom of the ramparts and to Place de l’Etoile, "Children's Square”. That's where we decided to stop for a little longer: there is a carousel, called "Adam et le Petit Train". On our way, we met a very famous character for Alsatians and people from the North of Europe in general: Saint Nicholas !

For an afternoon snack, we stopped, on the advice of the Tourist Office, at the chalet “Nature et créations”, where Anny offers white and milk chocolate in many forms, even as hot chocolate or waffles. We loved the ones with Christmas spices. Yummy!

As for myself, this Christmas market is a great alternative to bigger markets. Magic is here and the many visitors in the streets of Obernai understood that as well!

A comment from Laurène: I took part in the "Tournée des Bredele", a walk with stories and songs in the streets in Obernai that can be done with children. You'll sing, you'll eat bredele and you'll wander around the streets of Obernai... Isn't it a cool plan? 

I liked

  • The Christmas Market and the shops decorations
  • The carousel and the small train for children
  • The crêpes with spices by Anny

I liked a little less

  • I maybe would have liked some more activities for children, rather than carousels, especially for older children.

Practical information

Prices

1h30 workshop at the Maison du Pain d’Alsace: 6.50€
The rest is free!

Opening dates, times and programme

You will find here all practical information

Getting here

By car

Sélestat is located

  • 67 km from Mulhouse (about 45 minutes drive)
  • 26 km from Colmar (about 30 minutes drive)
  • 50 km from Strasbourg (about 35 minutes drive)
By public transport

By train from the railway stations of Mulhouse, Colmar and Strasbourg, with one train every half-hour or hour.


Address: Obernai

Barr, a paradise for children! (by Clémence)


marche-noel-barr-famille

Barr is a small and charming town on the Alsace Wine Route, between Sélestat and Obernai. We discovered it as a family at the end of a rainy day. Here, decoration is simple, but pretty, as for example these light garlands going all around the streets.

The first Christmas market (there are 3!) is located in the town hall. In front of the town hall, the kids and my boyfriend had fun with the wooden toys put at disposal.

Further away, you'll find “Le 66 Grand’Rue”, know as the "Children's village" for the occasion. That's where you'll find children workshops, but also other wooden toys. Unfortunately, we were too late to take part, but the children and my boyfriend had some more fun with the wooden toys. It's a very good idea to have them inside! In case of rain or cold, it's a good place to rest, without being bored. At the back of the room, a pretty decorated passage leads to a charming and large room, with wooden beams and the appearance of a warehouse: it's the second Christmas market with crafts, regional products, a solidarity stand...

On the other side of the building, “Le 66 Grand’Rue”, in a courtyard, one last block of chalets is awaiting. There is also a small carousel with a few stands for food lovers.

It was too short a visit for me to tell you more about this Christmas market, but please note that there are shows throughout the afternoon (le Colporteur d’histoires, la ronde du veilleur de nuit…), tales at the Musée de la Folie Marco, participative workshops… Yes, you get it, we were a bit frustrated not to have more time there!

I liked

  • The variety of activities for children
  • Pretty locations in a charming small town

I liked a little less

  • I was very frustrated to not be able to enjoy many activities! I'll stay longer next time! ;)

Practical information

Tarifs

The toys are free. For workshops, a small poster explains that you have to bring some food to be able to take part. It's a good idea, isn't it?

Opening dates, times and programme

You will find here all practical information.

Getting here

By car

Barr is located:

  • 85 km from Mulhouse (about 55 minutes drive)
  • 43 km from Colmar (about 35 minutes drive)
  • 34 km from Strasbourg (about 25 minutes drive)
By public transport

Direct train from Strasbourg railway station, with a connection in Sélestat from Colmar and Mulhouse.


Address: Barr

Ribeauvillé, a medieval Christmas Market (by Laurène)


marche-noel-ribeauville

If you are looking for an original market with countless activities for children, Ribeauvillé Christmas Market (click here for the full article) is a good idea. It's a Christmas market on a medieval theme, organised by the associations of the village, which all play along during two weekends in December. Everyone dresses up, medieval activities are organised with old wooden toys and the atmosphere is very nice!

With children, don't miss the part of the market called the "Royaume des Lutins", which is entirely for them. Why not go on the knees of Father Christmas or slide on a wood toboggan before playing some medieval games as a family?

I liked

  • The medieval theme
  • Countless activities for young and old alike: it's impressive and very qualitative!

I liked a little less

  • A lot of people!

Practical information

Opening dates and times and programme

You will find here all practical information.

Getting here

By car

Ribeauvillé is located:

  • 17 km from Colmar (about 25 minutes drive)
  • 59 km from Mulhouse (about 45 minutes drive)
  • 65 km from Strasbourg (about 45 minutes drive)
By public transport

You can have a look on Vialsace.


Address: Ribeauvillé

Christmas for families in Mulhouse (by Clémence)


grand-roue-noel-mulhouse

Not very far from home, we are very lucky to have Mulhouse Christmas Market. Lucky, right? Yes, because with children, it's a real treat!

First of all, it's a true pleasure for the eyes for the whole family, because decorations are absolutely magical. It changes every year: lights adapt to the exclusive cloth decorating the former Renaissance City Hall, but also the market chalets and the shop windows. Mulhouse is a creative city... therefore, artists also play a part.

Outside, around the Christmas Market, you'll find an historical carousel, but also and mostly... a big wheel! Beware, if you are faint-hearted or sensitive to the cold... it is 38m tall. Children love it and it's a must-do every year. The view over the Christmas market is unique! Two pieces of advice: bring some warm clothes and choose to ride at dusk.

As I visited on a Wednesday, I brought the children to the Christmas Chalet. We were quite warm in a chalet with a view on the prettily decorated City Hall and Fountain and we took part in two workshops. On the occasion of Saint Lucia, children created their own lantern in the shape of an angel. The second workshop consisted in making hangings in fabric and it was hosted by textile designers. You can easily stay busy for 45 minutes. Workshops are organised at least every Wednesday and Saturday during the Christmas market and the theme changes every time. At the Christmas Chalet, you can also listen to tales, meet Father Christmas and the elves… It's THE place to be with children.

Don't forget to have a look at the shop La Boutique aux Etoffes. They have great local gift ideas for Christmas and you might be able to take part in “La Minute Textile”, a workshop to make your own postcard: every year, a new illustrator draws it, often with a lot of humour. You'll cut a piece of Christmas fabric and include it in your postcard to make a unique model. Advantages: it's super quick and it's a pretty souvenir from your visit to Mulhouse.

I liked

  • The activities for children at the Christmas Chalet
  • The big wheel and the splendid view over the market and illuminations
  • The very different decorations with the Christmas fabric

I liked a little less

  • There can be a lot of people in the Christmas Chalet, because you can't make a booking for workshops

Practical information

Opening dates and times, and programme

You will find here all practical information.

Getting here

By car

Mulhouse is located:

  • 43 km from Colmar (about 30 minutes drive)
  • 115 km from Strasbourg (about 1h15 drive)
By public transport

The Christmas market is located a 10 minutes walk away from Mulhouse railway station. You can have a look on Vialsace.


Address: Mulhouse, France

Strasbourg, a huge market with a lot of activities! (by Laurène)


jeu-piste-noel-strasbourg

Strasbourg Christmas Market is probably the most famous Christmas Market in Alsace. What is less known is that countless activities and events are organised on this occasion for families. It's perfect to spend a good time with your children, all the while letting them learn new things in a fun way!

It's also very useful to take breaks while discovering the market: as an adult, it's quite easy to wander around the Christmas Market all day long, but it can be tiring for children... Why not squeeze in an activity during the day, so that everyone is happy! :)

It would be impossible to list here all the activities and events for families, as there are so many of them, but please note that you can, for example :

  • create Christmas decorations and attend a lot of shows at the Récré de Noël
  • join a paper chase on the footsteps of Father Christmas with Il était une fois la ville
  • learn how to make bredele and mannele at the Marché des Délices d'Alsace
  • take part in very varied workshops at Strasbourg Off Market (initiation with ceramics, creating objects with a 3D printer, writing workshops..)
  • take part in guided city tours specifically suited for children
  • listen to a Christmas tale while taking a boat tour with Batorama
  • go skating under the Giant Christmas Tree of Place Kléber

You probably won't get bored! ;-) 

I liked

  • A huge selection of activities for children
  • Magnificent decorations in the city: children will also love them!

I liked a little less

  • The weekend crowd: I was afraid that my little cousins would get crushed!

Practical information

Opening dates, times and programme

You will find here all practical information.

Getting here

By car
Strasbourg is located:
  • 75 km from Colmar (about 55 minutes drive)
  • 115 km from Mulhouse (about 1h15 drive)
By public transport
It's easy to get to Strasbourg railway station and take it from there.

Address: Strasbourg, France

Christmas in the Garden at Wesserling Park (by Clémence)


noel-parc-wesserling

Wesserling Park can be visited yearlong, but it offers very nice events and activities for children at Christmas time. Please go and read the full article written by Clémence about Christmas in the Garden at Wesserling Park to learn more. 


Address: Parc de Wesserling - Écomusée Textile, Rue du Parc, Husseren-Wesserling, France

The Enchanted Forest of Altkirch (by Clémence)


foret-enchantee-altkirch

Altkirch in the Sundgau (southern Alsace) offers, at Christmas time, not a traditional Christmas market, but an Enchanted Forest on the theme of tales and legends... It's perfect for families!


Address: Altkirch

Quatzenheim, a small traditional market (by Laurène)


fermes-noel-quatzenheim

Quatzenheim is my village... Surely, you might say that I'm not objective! It's probably not entirely wrong, but everyone who visited it, also with children, told me they loved it. This year, I visited it with my little cousin and I asked her what she though of it before adding Quatzenheim to this special list "Christmas markets for families". Her verdict? "Yes, it's great for children", she said! So let me tell you about it, even though it's a very small market :)

I will therefore only tell you about the activities especially interesting for children. Of course, the first must-do is the arrival of Father Christmas (in person, yep!) accompanied by his elves and who meets a huge success every year when he arrives in the main street of the village... He gets assailed by children, distributes sweets and takes pictures with those wishing to! In addition to Father Christmas, tale readings are organised and a childrens choir come to sing at the market. There are animals in the farms and you can go and say hi to sheep, donkeys, horses, chickens and rabbits!

Finally, my little cousine Léonie told me something very essential for her: the crêpes of the Christmas Market! Yes, you'll find them just about anywhere, it's true, but these ones are sold at 1€. Perfect for a sweet treat for the whole family and with a small budget! ;)

I liked

  • A small Christmas market in the heart of the village: you don't need to walk a lot, which is great for the little ones
  • Father Christmas, tales, choirs and animals
  • Crêpes and waffles for 1€

I liked a little less

  • It's a small market, so don't expect something huge with a lot of activities either! ;)

Practical information

Prices

Games are free. For workshops, as specified on a small poster, you'll have to bring a bit of food to get access. A great idea, isn't it?

Opening dates and times and programme

You will find here all practical information.

Getting here

By car

Barr is located:

  • 85 km from Mulhouse (about 55 minutes drive)
  • 43 km from Colmar (about 35 minutes drive)
  • 34 km from Strasbourg (about 25 minutes drive)
By public transport

Direct train from Strasbourg railway station and with one connection from Colmar and Mulhouse.


Address: Quatzenheim