Lille Christmas Market is wonderfully set in the busy shopping district of the city and is a popular destination for French, British and Belgian visitors.
Christmas in Lille
The Christmas Market of Lille is the largest of its kind in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region and has been held in the town since 1989 by the Fédération Lilloise du Commerce, de l’Artisanat et des Services.
Since 1996, the Christmas market has taken place in the Place Rihour located near the Grand’Place where a Ferris wheel is traditionally set up.
Approximately one million visitors come to discover the market and the Christmas lighting in Lille each year, attracted by the warm and festive atmosphere.
Each year, the streets of Lille shine with bright and festive lights making the city centre a warm and exciting place to be. The colourful façades and shop windows are decorated with ornaments, lights, tinsel and garlands. Rue de la Grande Chaussée and Rue de la Monnaie in the Vieux-Lille are adorned with fir-tree garlands made of red and gold ribbons.
The focal point of central Lille is the large square of Place du Général de Gaulle, also known as the Grand’Place. This is where the Lillois gather for big celebrations.
The star of the Christmas festivities in Lille might not be Santa but the huge Ferris wheel which stands in the centre of the Grand’Place. It is one of the tallest big wheels of France being 50 metres high and comprising 36 cabins which can carry 180 passengers. With a weight of 150 tonnes and coming from the Netherlands, the big Wheel sparkles with 10,000 light bulbs. The view from the top is breathtaking and embraces the whole town of Lille and its surroundings: the belfries of Lille, the opera, the train station and the Euralille CBD. The Ferris Wheel operates from 20 November to the beginning of January 2014 from 12:00 noon until late at night. Admission is 4 euros (3 euros for those under 1.40 m).
A winter-wonderland village is set up around the big wheel featuring an 18 metre tall Christmas tree.
Place du Rihour
It might be the scent of cinnamon and roasted chestnuts that will lead visitors to the large modern Place du Rihour. Located just a few metres from the Grand’Place, the square has been the favourite site for the Lille Christmas Market since 1996. The village of chalets establish 80 stalls which overflow with ideas for Christmas presents, santons and ornaments for the tree. Some craftsmen come from as far away as Poland, Russia and Canada.
A large selection of local and international produce such as speculoos, waffles, gingerbread and mulled wine are on offer.
Lille Christmas Market is open from 18 November to 30 December 2016 (closed on 25 December).
The capital of an industrial region, Lille can only surprise you with its beautifully restored old town. Everywhere the flamboyant architecture of the town centre reveals a perfect harmony of brick and stone on richly decorated façades, reminiscent of a prosperous past. Today, Lille, on the border with Belgium, is a thriving city with more than one million inhabitants and a plethora of restaurants, brasseries and cafés.
Find out more about Lille.
How to get to Lille
Situated at the crossroads of five motorways, Lille is easily reached from Paris (220 km), Calais (110 km), Brussels (123 km) and Amsterdam (287 km).
Lille has two train stations, 400 metres from each other.
Lille Flandres is a terminus station with TGV connections to Paris (1h).
Lille Europe has TGV and Eurostar connections to London (1.20 hours), Brussels (35 minutes), Cologne (3.20 hours), and Lyon (3 hours).
The closest international airports to Lille are Paris, Charles-de-Gaulle (51 minutes) and Brussels-Zaventem (38 minutes), both accessible by train.
(f) for féminin, (m) for masculin, (adj) for adjective and (v) for verbs
- Advent = Avent (m)
- chalet = châlet (m)
- Christmas = Noël
- Christmas Eve = veille de Noël (f) / réveillon (m)
- Christmas lighting = illuminations de Noël (f,p)
- Christmas market = marché de Noël (m)
- Christmas Tree = sapin de Noël (m), arbre de Noël (m)
- craftsman = artisan (m)
- Father Christmas = Père Noël (m)
- Ferris wheel = grande roue (f)
- holiday season = période de Noël (f), temps des fêtes (m)
- Nord = Nord (m)
- Santa = Père Noël (m)
- square = place (f)
- street = rue (f)
French Moments would like to thank the Tourist Office of Lille for the use of their photo library.
Featured image: design by French Moments based on Vieille Bourse (© Kaelkael – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons), Ferris Wheel on Grand’Place (OT Lille / © Laurent Ghesquière) and Christmas Tree on Grand’Place (OT Lille / © Laurent Ghesquière).