Alsace’s capital cityStrasbourgin Eastern France is sometimes known as the Christmas Capital of Europe. The city has a long Christmas tradition: the first market was held in 1570, making it one of the oldest in Europe and the very first in France. It has been a fixed tradition of Alsatian families since then. It however took its modern aspect at the end of the 19th century. All the Christmas markets and events linked to the Advent period were fully rebranded 30 years ago under the slogan “Strasbourg, Christmas Capital of Europe”.
Christmas time is strategically a very important event for the promotion of the town. Over a dozen sites across town are converted to welcome Christmas activities while 250 streets, squares and parks are decorated with lights and 500 Christmas trees give a fairy-tale touch to the town. Translated in numbers, over 33 kilometres of light garlands are deployed.
Economically, Strasbourg “Christkindlesmärik” (the regional word to designate the Christmas market) generates €250m in revenues for the city as some two million visitors are registered during the one-month long event.
In 2020, the pandemic forced the city to cancel all of its Christmas celebrations. 2021 is time for a “revenge” over last year. Christmas markets are all back in town, more attractive than ever. “We are so happy to be here again. New health and safety protocols have been set up in a very open manner between market exhibitors and the city hall. Markets will be more open with some chalets being relocated at different locations. And there will a distance of 7 to 8 meters across the alleys compared to an average of four before,” explains Michel Wagner, representing the exhibitors present at the Christmas market.
More than 300 stalls are presented in a new configuration while the traditional majestic Great Christmas Tree will again crown Place Kleber in the city centre. Thematic Christmas markets as well as shows and concerts will turn Strasbourg into a magical destination – not to be missed – until December 26.
Turning the market into an authentic, inclusive event
The Covid was also an opportunity to rethink the Christmas Market. With the ambition for the city administration to adapt its symbolic value into today world and its current challenges. The main ideas are :
- Reaffirming values of authenticity, modernity and solidarity.
- Repositioning the event for greater inclusion and participation, with more transparency over the organisation of “Strasbourg Christmas Capital”.
- Preserving the economic dynamic of the event.
- Responding to the challenge of the Christmas Market’s re-appropriation by the citizens of Strasbourg, as in the past, the event has been increasingly perceived as a purely tourist attraction by locals.
New activities include the setting of an “Advent Village” with creative workshops and shows open to all. The facade of the city hall has been redecorated for the first time. A special “path of the stars” done by local artist Emilie Angebault illuminates a promenade across the historical town.
Among other highlights is a Christmas Market of typical Alsatian delicacies in the garden of the Palais Rohan, next to the cathedral. The OFF Market is the ideal place to exchange, recycle, hunt for antiques with a social, eco-friendly background.
The “Village du Partage” (Solidarity Village) welcomes 90 charities promoting the values of solidarity, fraternity and humanism. The public is encouraged to make responsible purchases, to take part in solidarity collections, but also to taste a soup concocted by four star-chefs