Last Updated on 22nd November 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
Colmar is a French fairytale town on the border with Germany. Situated in the Alsace region to the east of France, the settlement is best-known for its abundance of timber-framed houses and rich medieval history. Visit come Christmastime and you’ll soon discover a wealth of festive events, including, of course, a number of festive markets. Here’s your complete Colmar Christmas Market guide, including events and things to do!
Please note that due to the ongoing health crisis, the Colmar Christmas Market is cancelled in 2020.
But first… If you’re wondering whether or not it’s worth visiting the annual festive event in Colmar, then it’s time to stop your search! Consistently ranked as one of the best Christmas Markets in Europe, the city is transformed into a delightful extravaganza of twinkling lights, oversized trees, teddy-bear walls, and all the wooden-style chalet stalls! Though wonderful to visit during the daytime, the city is truly best-seen at night, when a dazzling display of lights illuminates the city and its many canals, transforming Colmar into a true winter wonderland.
Colmar Christmas Markets Guide
In 2019, there are six distinctive Christmas markets, dotted across the historic city centre. Though you should pack comfortable walking shoes to get around the town (high heels sure look pretty but they definitely don’t mix well with the cobblestone lanes that are common in Europe), every market is situated along a 1 km long trail, meaning that all can be seen over the course of a day.
Place des Dominicains
As its name would suggest, one of the largest Colmar Christmas Markets lies in the shadows of the former Dominican Church which has since been transformed into a museum featuring Alsatian artworks. If you’re arriving in Colmar by car then this is likely the first market you’ll frequent during your city visit.
In total, there are several dozen Bavarian-style chalets set around the church in a horseshoe shape. From vin chaud to handcrafted goods, this market sells everything you could hope to expect from a traditional European market. This is also one of the markets in the city where you can drink your Glühwein from a mug, as opposed to a plastic cup!
Place Jeanne d’Arc
With a focus on artisanal products, you surely won’t be disappointed should you chose to visit the Place Jeanne d’Arc. Situated amidst a sea of timber-framed houses, the Square of Place Jeanne d’Arc is dedicated to foodstuffs and other goods that originate in the Alsace and beyond. Head here for local wines, gingerbread, Christmas Bredele, and more!
If you’ve ever seen a photo of Colmar online then no doubt you’ll have seen a snap of the world-famous ‘Petite Venise’. Of course, almost city has its own claim to fame as being the ‘Venice of X,’ but Colmar’s version of Venice is particularly beautiful and draws crowds all year ’round.
It’s also here, in the heart of one of the most picturesque parts of Eastern France, where you’ll soon discover the Colmar Children’s Christmas Market. Fun for all the family, highlights include a mechanical Nativity Scene, plenty of hot apple juice, and even the chance to post a letter to Father Christmas!
Place de l’Ancienne Douane
For those who wish to follow in the footsteps of one of the most famous Frenchmen to have ever lived in Colmar (i.e. the man who designed the Statue of Liberty), it’s necessary to head to Place de l’Ancienne Douane, which is literally translated into English as ‘Ancient Customs Square,’ as a sculpture of Auguste Bartholdi is to be found here.
Otherwise, note that one of the largest Christmas Markets in Colmar is to be found on the square, in the shadow of the historic Collegiate Church (which only held Cathedral status for around a decade). In total, around fifty chalets are present, selling everything from Alsace produce to Christmas decorations. Come nightfall, the former Customs House is illuminated with a thousand twinkling lights.
Place de la Cathedrale
The ultimate Christmas market foodie experience is to be discovered by those who head to Place de la Cathedrale. As its name would suggest, this Christmas Market lies in the shadow of the Collegiate Church of Saint Martin (Cathedral Square being a bit of a misnomer considering that the ecclesiastical building was only a cathedral for around a decade!)
Featuring a selection of nine chalets set under a covering (making this the other ‘semi-indoor’ Christmas Market in Colmar), the cabins are arranged in a semi-circle around tables where you can sit and enjoy your gourmet finds on small benches.
Though there was not by way of meat-free options to be found, those who frequent this market can expect to discover plenty of Alsace specialities as well as some vin chaud! For those who wish to discover even more about the local Eastern French cuisine, it’s worth noting that culinary shows are held in the centre of the market tent on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 5 PM.
Koïfhus (Colmar Indoor Christmas Market)
Even if its raining on your trip to Colmar then try not to panic since there’s even an indoor market where you can enjoy the best of the festive cheer sheltered from the elements. Situated in a building steps away from the Place de l’Ancienne Douane, the indoor market places a particular focus on handcrafted goods and vintage products.
Set over two floors, highlights include plenty of unique jewellery pieces, vintage maps and antiquarian books, and hand-turned wooden products. As such, if you’re looking for an extra unique gift or souvenir from your Colmar trip, I highly recommend heading to this market!
Christmas things to do in Colmar (that aren’t Christmas Markets)
Listen to Christmas Concerts
Throughout the festive season, events take place across the city, but the most notable are those of the concerts. Highlights include performances throughout the Christmas period at Saint Matthieu’s church, including Advent events, violin concertos, and even a Youth Symphony Orchestra concert.
Of course, no Christmas city would be complete without the opportunity to go ice skating at the Christmas Markets. Colmar is no exception and boasts a particularly large skating rink, which clocks in at 800 metres squared and is to be found at Place Rapp. Surrounded by a forest of Christmas trees, the ice rink costs €1,70, with skate hire priced at €2. The nearby carousel costs €2, while the Christmas roller coaster costs €2,50.
Christmas Tree Market
Taking place in Place Rapp, there’s a Christmas tree Market where you can purchase ‘Sapins de Noël’ (Christmas trees, literally translated as ‘Christmas firs’). In 2019, the market takes place every day from the 29th of November to the 24th December.
Nearby destinations to see the best of Christmas in the Alsace
Just a fifteen-minute drive away from Colmar by car, Eguesheim is a hidden gem worth discovering on any trip to the Alsace region. Home to the kind of timber-framed houses that are so synonymous with the region, the tiny town is focused around a central château and hosts its own annual Christmas market from the end of November until the end of December.
For more information about visiting this festive event, here’s your ultimate guide to Eguisheim Christmas Market. Nearby, the three castles of Eguisheim are a trio of ruinous sandstone monuments dating all the way back to the middle ages.
Though a little further away from Colmar than Egensheim, one of the best places to experience Christmas in the Alsace off the beaten tourist track is by heading to the charming city of Obernai. Much of the Alsace town is focused around a central market square and it’s here where Obernai’s main Christmas Market is to be found. Charming and delightful, here’s your complete guide to Obernai Christmas Market.
Widely regarded to be the ‘capital of Christmas’ when it comes to the best of the festive season in Europe, you can’t visit the Alsace and miss out on a chance to visit Strasbourg. After all, the city boasts just under a dozen Christmas markets, many of which are specialised and themed.
Things to know before visiting Colmar at Christmas
Hands down, the best time to visit Colmar is at Christmastime when the markets are in full swing and the town is all decked out for the festive season (think timber-framed houses complete with shuttered windows covered in Santa Clauses, teddy bears, and all mode of glitter decorations).
With this being said, there’s certainly no shortage of unique things to do in Colmar that aren’t Christmas related. From spying a quarter-scale replica of the Statue of Liberty (the man who designed the monument was born in Colmar) to enjoying coffee at one of the best cafés in town, for those who wish to wander off the beaten path, the Aslace city has plenty of secrets to uncover.
Though English is fairly widely spoken, particularly by those working in the tourism industry, it’s only polite to learn a few words of the local language, in this case French. Bring along a simple French phrasebook like this one to help you get by. It’s also a good idea to bring along a universal travel adapter like this one so that you can keep your electronics charged wherever you go!
When visiting the Colmar markets, be sure to bring along a comfortable pair of walking shoes (heels are pretty but don’t mix well with cobbled lanes), not to mention a warm jacket to combat the cold. I personally love this coat as it’s ever so warm and vegan!
Most Christmas market stalls. If arriving by car, then there are several free parking spots, that are not paid during parts of the day. Like most other Christmas markets in Europe, you should be sure to bring along plenty of cash as bank cards are not widely accepted at the Christmas Market stalls. Furthermore, in order to purchase a vin chaud, you’ll also have to pay a deposit of €1 per plastic cup, which you’ll get back upon returning said cup!
Where to stay in Colmar at Christmas
As you might expect from such a beautiful town, Colmar has no shortage of places to stay to suit every budget and need. Here’s a top selection of Colmar accomodation, based on web ratings and locations. Alternatively, you can also book to stay in an Airbnb. Click here for money off your first trip if you haven’t used the booking site before!
La Maison des Têtes
If you’re in search of the ultimate luxurious experience when it comes to Colmar, then you need to look no further than the five-star hotel in the historic city centre. Not only is this über luxe hotel complete with amenities such as a pool, air-conditioning, and WiFi, but it’s also full of historic quirks that make this a unique place to stay. Check rates and availability here.
Hôtel Le Colombier Suites
Well-reviewed and situated close to many of the best Colmar attractions, Le Colombier is a four-star accommodation offering the likes of air-conditioning, room service, and Wi-Fi. Set against the backdrop of a building dating all the way back to the 1500s, other amenities include a sauna and lounge area. Check rates and availability here.