Christmas is a time for tradition and celebration in Alsace, especially in Colmar. Beginning at the end of November the Christmas Markets set up outside in four public squares and inside the Old Customs House (Koïfhus). The plazas each have a theme and wooden stalls are set up around historical buildings in Place des Dominicains, Petite Venise, Place de l’Ancienne Douane, and Place Jeanne d’Arc. Decorated and well-lighted pedestrian streets connect the squares making it easy and fun to stroll from one to another.
For six weeks, mid-November through December, there are special concerts, ice skating on a temporary rink, and visits from Santa. Outside the magnificent Dominican church on Place des Dominicains dozens of stalls sell Christmas ornaments and holiday gift items. The Inside Market set up at the Old Customs House (Koïfhus) is packed with shoppers looking for high-quality pottery, jewelry, and sculptures made by local craftsmen. Wine lovers and foodies flock to the market in la Place Jeanne d’Arc to stock up on Alsatian vintages and local treats ranging from spicy gingerbread cookies to and foie gras.
La Petite Venise is a lively place with the Children’s Market featuring pettable animals, a moving nativity scene, a carousel, and an oversized Santa’s mailbox for posting letters to the jolly man. An ice rink dominates Place Rapp throughout December and skaters are advised to be prepared for a snow storm on December 23rd.