Under the starlight, a Christmas market emerges in the heart of a mountainous valley, gracefully extending at the foot of a majestic railway viaduct. As night falls, the Christmas lights transform this place into a true enchantment. And when snowflakes dance delicately, the gorges undergo a winter metamorphosis worthy of a fairy tale landscape. It is my delight invite you to discover the Ravenna Gorge Christmas market, nestled in the heart of Germany's Black Forest.
🎦 Watch our short video on Christmas in Germany, which will inspire you to explore this beautiful country in Europe for the holidays ⤵
About the Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market
The German name for the Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market is Weihnachtsmarkt in der Ravennaschlucht.
The Christmas market is a recent creation. Its first edition took place in 2010, and it quickly became a success. Its reputation has spread far beyond the Black Forest, and visitors from France and Switzerland are coming in ever greater numbers. After a two-year hiatus during the pandemic crisis (2020-2021), the market is back in 2023 for its 12th edition.
A Highly Romantic Christmas Market
The Ravenna Gorge Christmas market is set against a dreamlike backdrop of a hamlet adorned with small wooden huts. The market captivates visitors with over 40 stalls offering the finest craftsmanship, exceptional gift ideas, and regional products. Guests can also immerse themselves in traditional crafts while a diverse range of food and drinks caters to every palate.
A Fairy-tale Setting
The Christmas market is set in a unique environment: the steep, wooded hills of the Ravenna Gorge, the Galgenbühl hill near the Hofgut Sternen inn and the 40-metre-high Höllentalbahn railway viaduct.
In the mysterious aura of Ravenna Gorge, somewhere between peaceful silence and eerie wildness, the Christmas market in the Ravenna Gorge unfolds.
The meticulous selection of artisanal treasures that adorn the Christmas market focuses on regional authenticity. Artisans, proud representatives of the local terroir, unveil creations that capture the very essence of local craftsmanship.
Each piece, meticulously crafted by hand, tells a tale of commitment and dedication, requiring the precious time of skilled hands. This approach transcends the simple act of supporting Black Forest artisans; it is a guardian of regional traditions, a passionate transmission of heritage.
The music that fills the market's air originates from the joyful melodies of local artists. These musicians, deftly wielding traditional instruments resonant with the region's soul, transport visitors into an immersive musical experience infused with the preserved echoes of local customs.
Food and beverage
All food and beverage stalls hail from the Black Forest and primarily use regional products. The Christmas market organizers also ensure that culinary specialties such as trout, Black Forest ham, farm products, and regional schnapps are integrated into the product range. Moreover, the menu is continuously complemented with plant-based alternatives.
A lantern-lit walk to the Christmas market
If you want to walk to the Christmas village, you can take part in lantern and torch-lit walks through the Ravenna Gorge. Experienced guides lead the lantern hike through the Spoon Valley, recounting mysterious legends. The starting point is the Kurhaus in Hinterzarten.
For more information about the Ravenna Gorge Christmas market, check out the event's official website.
The Höllental: A Natural and Historic Valley
Beyond the Christmas market, the Ravennaschlucht is an important natural and historical site in the Black Forest.
The Ravenna Christmas Market is located in the centre of the Höllental, a deeply incised valley, partly similar to a gorge, hence the name "Ravenna", which comes from the French "la ravine".
The Hell Valley
Höllental means the valley of hell.
The Rotbach (called initially the Höllenbach - the stream of hell) runs through the valley.
Fortunately, the Ravenna Gorge Christmas market sheds light on this gloomily named site.
A Valley in the southern Black Forest
The Höllental stretches around nine kilometres between Hinterzarten and Buchenbach - Himmelreich, in the southern Black Forest, around twenty kilometres east of Freiburg im Breisgau.
The photo below show the site of the Christmas market in daylight, with the hamlet formed by the Hofgut Sternen Inn.
The Höllentalbahn: A Scenic Railway
The Höllentalbahn is a railway line in the Black Forest connecting the towns of Freiburg im Breisgau and Donaueschingen via the Höllental.
The railway has gradients of up to 57.14‰ in the Himmelreich - Hinterzarten section, making it the steepest railway in Germany.
The Ravenna Bridge is a stone viaduct of nine arches built in 1926. On one side, the viaduct leads to the small Ravenna tunnel, 47 metres long.
For the record, the bridge was dynamited by the Germans in April 1945, shortly before the end of the Second World War. It was rebuilt under the supervision of the French occupying forces by 80 German prisoners of war from Offenburg.
During the Christmas market, the viaduct is beautifully illuminated, with the lighting changing hourly, from blue to green, red and purple.
A Royal Visit
On the 4th of May 1770, Marie-Antoinette passed through the Ravenna Gorge on her honeymoon journey from Vienna to Versailles.
At that time, the gorge was part of Austrian territory (Further Austria or Vorderösterreich).
Legend has it that the path through the valley was converted into a road to allow the convoy to pass. The future Queen of France is said to have stopped at the Hofgut Sternen Inn.
Later, in 1779, the celebrated German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe spent the night here.
From Hinterzarten (Germany) to Eguisheim (France)
The neighbouring village of Hinterzarten is a renowned mountain spa.
Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market: What you need to know
Here are some practical info and tips to plan your visit to the Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market.
Tips about the Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market
This Christmas market is like no other. It doesn't take place in a public space like the central square of a town or village. To visit, you'll need to book your ticket in advance online.
When you buy your ticket, you will be offered a time slot of two hours. According to the market organiser, Hochschwarzwald Tourismus GmbH, this voluntary restriction on visitor capacity is designed to enhance the quality of your stay and avoid excessively long waiting times.
In 2023, an adult's entrance fee is €7.50 (arrival from 4 pm). If you come by car, parking costs €8.
The car park address is: Hofgut Sternen, Höllsteig 76, 79874 Breitnau/Hinterzarten.
Please note that prices are for a time slot of around 2 hours.
How to book your tickets
First select the car park ticket according to availability, then book an entry ticket with a time slot suitable for you and those travelling with you.
There are several ticket categories:
- Titisee shuttle bus + admission
- Hinterzarten shuttle +admission
- Freiburg shuttle + admission
- pedestrian entrance without parking
The Ravennaschlucht Christmas market welcomes visitors every Advent weekend until 9 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and until 8 pm on Sundays.
Make sure to bundle up, as the climate can shift unexpectedly, and temperatures plunge rapidly after nightfall in the Black Forest.
Arriving at the Ravennaschlucht
The Ravennaschlucht site is located along the Bundesstraße 31 that crosses the Black Forest between Breisach am Rhein and Lindau via Freiburg im Breisgau and Titisee-Neustadt. It is:
- 10 km from Titisee-Neustadt
- 26 km from Freiburg im Breisgau
- 75 km from Colmar
- 85 km from Mulhouse
- 95 km from Basel
- 110 km from Strasbourg
- 170 km from Stuttgart
- 295 km from Frankfurt
Where to stay near the Ravenna Gorge at Christmas?
When visiting the Ravenna Gorge Christmas market, selecting suitable accommodation is key to fully enjoying this enchanting season.
The most convenient (and closest) accommodation you can find is the Hofgut Sternen, located on the very site of the Christmas market. But as you might expect, it will be fully booked every Advent weekend.
If you're coming from Colmar, Mulhouse or Basel, you can travel to the Ravenna Gorge Christmas market without booking a night in a hotel.
To streamline your search, look at the interactive map below to locate lodgings close to the Christmas market and select the one that best suits your needs.
About the illustrations in the article
Usually, most of the photos used on this blog are ours (© French Moments). However, for this article, I have selected some photos from Depositphotos, a commercial platform that brings authors of high-quality licensed stock photos, graphics, vectors and videos together with appreciative buyers.
Featured image: Weihnachtsmarkt in der Ravennaschlucht © Hochschwarzwald Tourismus GmbH