Where Santa comes from: Enjoy Christmas in Upper Rhine Valley

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Christmas in Alsace

Christmas in Alsace

Wintertime in the Upper Rhine Valley is the season for traditional Christmas markets. The beginning of Advent marks the opening of colorful and richly decorated stands that charmingly nestle in the town lanes. Visitors are tempted by hot mulled wine, gingerbread, and regional treats but also by the possibility of buying Christmas presents from the many artisans, potters, and goldsmiths. Music, singing, and nativity scenes spread the Christmas spirit. At special medieval markets, jugglers invite their audience to marvel and suckling pigs on original spit-roast grills promise hearty enjoyment.

Even Santa Claus comes from the Upper Rhine Valley: Caricaturist Thomas Nast made the figure famous. The man from Landau, who later immigrated to the USA, drew the classic Father Christmas in red-and-white clothing for the first time. His drawings were later the model for an advertising campaign that made Santa Claus in his red clothes famous around the world.

With snow-covered fir trees, frozen lakes and rivers, and powdery snow on the Alpine peaks, the Upper Rhine Valley also transforms itself into a gorgeous winter landscape during the cold season. On endless ski-runs and cross-country ski tracks, winter athletes find the ideal conditions for skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowboarding. With elevations of up to about 1,500 meters, the mountains of the tri-border area of Germany, France, and Switzerland ensure white slopes.

If you prefer a slower pace, you can enjoy a romantic ride in a horse-drawn carriage through the wintery panorama or book a hiking tour in the snow. Whether beginners or experts, the right offers are available for every age group and all skill levels.

Discover Christmas, winter romance, and the typical regional recipes in the Upper Rhine Valley.

Winter in Freiburg

Winter in Freiburg

Magical Christmas time and winter romance in the Upper Rhine Valley

  • Gormandize and shop at charming Advent markets
  • A dream of skiing in an idyllic winter landscape
  • Romantic enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides and dog sledding

Winter Tips

  • magical Advent season is guaranteed by the Dornröschen (Sleeping Beauty) Christmas market in Dörrbach. Rustic wooden huts offer colorful handicrafts and culinary delicacies in a medieval setting.
  • The ice age under the open sky starts at the end of November in Karlsruhe: The Stadtwerke Eiszeit, one of the largest artificial ice rinks in Southern Germany, offers the perfect conditions for ice-skating and curling on about 1,000 square meters.

    Skiing in Jura

    Skiing in Jura

  • The history of skiing as a sport is presented by the Ski Museum in Hinterzarten. In a 300 year-old farmhouse, the rare and lovingly collected exhibits document not only the development of the sport but also the career of Olympic champions such as Georg Thoma.
  • Reflective moments are shared by the Advent Impulses at the St. Martin Church in Freiburg. The services start every day at 5:30 p.m. during the pre-Christmas period.
  • The tallest Christmas tree of Europe is presented by the Aargau. The giant Christmas tree in Oberrohrdorf is sponsored solely by a private initiative and has a height of 44 meters.
  • Giant woodpiles burn at the Christmas torching in Altensteig. The historical custom celebrates the birth of Christ on Christmas Eve.
  • As an extra for the Advent season, the Upper Rhine Valley offers individual Christmas packages that include accommodations and specials such as wine-tasting or a boat trip.


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