In Colmar, the Christmas celebrations from Advent to Epiphany give the Alsatian town a special atmosphere. The fairy-tale setting of the old town is even more magical at Christmas with the creative lights that are hung. Everywhere you look, along the streets the shop windows and houses are tastefully decorated for Christmas. A visit to the Colmar Christmas Market is an unforgettable experience!
Christmas in Colmar
The whole historic centre is transformed into one big Christmas market made up of a multitude of châlets (little wooden stalls) selling original gift ideas and Christmas delicacies.
But the multitude of stalls at the Christmas market did not just happen: their designs have been specifically created with the help of an architect in order to respect the rich architectural heritage of Colmar. The tourist office stresses that “Everything has been designed so that the visitor can fully enjoy the beauty of the historical city centre while discovering traditional Christmas markets”.
Far from falling into the consumer trap with plain or products unrelated to Christmas, the municipality of Colmar worked on the selection of items that meet precise criteria, in line with the motto “art and tradition”. Therefore, local and regional craft items are prioritised, as well as local produce and traditional Christmas delicacies (cakes, pastries and sweets), without forgetting mulled wine.
The Christmas Illuminations in the streets of Colmar follows the same spirit and have been designed to perfectly blend with the urban scenery, in order to show to advantage Colmar’s heritage.
Colmar Christmas Markets
The old town of Colmar hosts 5 magical Christmas markets:
Marché de Noël de la Place des Dominicains
The Dominican Church and its stained-glass windows tower over this Christmas market which is naturally themed on a more ‘spiritual‘ dimension. The 14th century stained-glass windows are lit up at night-time, enhancing the particular atmosphere of the Christmas market made up of 65 stalls all nestled together.
Marché de Noël de la Place Jeanne d’Arc
Here, the traditional wooden stalls give way to a reconstituted Alsatian village with its half-timbered houses, typical church and farm animals. The stalls are dedicated to local produce, such as foie gras, bredalas, Alsatian wines and brandy.
Marché de Noël de la Place de l’Ancienne Douane
Passing the veranda of the Old Customs House, you can access the beautiful square of “Place de l’Ancienne Douane”, from where you can admire the rear of the building (16th century) but also another Christmas market made up of 42 stalls. They are all set up around the Schwendi Fountain, which is surmounted by a statue of Bartholdi, depicting the general who introduced the Tokay grape variety to Alsace.
Indoor Christmas market at the Koifhus (Ancienne Douane)
The imposing building of the Old Customs House (or Koifhus – Ancienne Douane in French), covered in glazed tiles, was the most important building throughout the political and economic history of the city of Colmar. Built in 1480, the building had two uses: on the one hand it was a storeroom for goods that were taxed upon entering the city, and on the other hand, it was the city hall. Enter in to warm up and discover the creations of some twenty artisans (potters, glass blowers, cabinet-makers, wood sculptors, hat makers, jewellers, etc.) and masterpieces of three antiquarians.
Marché de Noël de la Petite Venise, Place des Six Montagnes Noires
This is the one that might get your children more enthusiastic! This Christmas market hosts 44 brightly coloured stalls, full of delightful surprises and specifically designed for children. There is an animated Nativity scene, a merry-go-round with wooden horses and a giant French-style yellow letterbox to post your letter to Santa Claus.
Christmas Events in Colmar
If you are visiting Colmar for a few days, there are many other places to discover and events you can participate in:
- Go to Place Rapp where an illuminated ice-skating rink is set amongst a winter wonderland scattered with snowy Christmas trees and châlets, reminiscent of the nearby Vosges Mountains.
- Do not miss the guided tours “the Magic of Christmas” organised by the Colmar Tourist Office. The tour leads you at nightfall through the enchanting setting of the old town of Colmar beautifully illuminated, while hearing (in French only!) about the history of the city and the Christmas traditions of Alsace. Reservations and more info can be found at the Colmar Tourist Office.
- A wide variety of events are organised in Colmar from the Advent to Epiphany: masses, exhibitions, concerts, performances and street shows. One in particular is worth a peek: the Christmas Carols sung by children’s choirs on brightly-lit little boats on the Little Venice canals.
Open from 25 November to 30 December 2016.
Find out more about Advent and Christmas season in Colmar in 2016: http://www.noel-colmar.com/ (in English)