News / Europe

Strasbourg’s Christmas Market Big Business

A vendor serves hot wine at the traditional Christkindelsmaerik (Christ Child market) near Strasbourg Cathedral. Nov. 24, 2012.
A vendor serves hot wine at the traditional Christkindelsmaerik (Christ Child market) near Strasbourg Cathedral. Nov. 24, 2012.
Caroline Arbour
— The French Alsatian city of Strasbourg has been on the map for years as a major tourist destination during the holidays, with close to two million visitors expected to have taken in the sights this season. 

The main draw is its Christmas market, the oldest and one of the largest in Europe.  The city spends $3.3 million a year on the market, a paltry sum compared to what it brings in, even in tougher economic times.

If there is one city in the world that rhymes with Christmas, it certainly is Strasbourg, the capital of the Alsace region.

Each year, the municipality coordinates 500 related events, strings dozens of kilometers of lights across the city and erects a 30-meter tree, cut in the nearby forests of the Vosges mountains.

The centerpiece of festivities, is Strasbourg’s Christmas market. Dating back to 1570, it is the oldest in Europe and boasting 300 chalets, it is certainly one of the largest.

“We’ve been here for six hours walking around," said Jacqueline Pal, from Los Angeles. She came with her daughter, who lives in Paris, and they are both raving about the experience.

“We have different markets, but it seems less commercial. I know, it’s about buying and selling, but the whole atmosphere is a lot different.  There’s a whole joie de vivre.”

Christmas tree decorations are sold at the Christkindelsmaerik near Strasbourg Cathedral, Nov. 2012.Christmas tree decorations are sold at the Christkindelsmaerik near Strasbourg Cathedral, Nov. 2012.
x
Christmas tree decorations are sold at the Christkindelsmaerik near Strasbourg Cathedral, Nov. 2012.
Christmas tree decorations are sold at the Christkindelsmaerik near Strasbourg Cathedral, Nov. 2012.
There is no question though that the market is big business. The city pours $3.3 million into holiday preparations and decorations each year and it has maintained this level of investment.

And this, because the period from the last weekend of November to Christmas will generate more than $210 million in benefits for Strasbourg and draw two million visitors.

Deputy mayor Robert Hermann says there is no better month in the year for restaurants and hotels.

For some artisans and businesses, the market accounts for up to half of their annual income and Hermann says they would struggle without this window on their work.

Preliminary reports indicate crowds and sales are down for this 442nd edition, but only slightly, and depending on the products they offer, some kiosks are naturally faring better than others.

Farmer Pierre-Henri Lenormand, who sells herbs and cheeses, like the regional Munster, reports he has done well.

The man who coordinates the city’s efforts, Renaud de Maillard, says he and the 15 project heads he supervises are already at work planning for next year. And there is talk of further exporting the market.  

That’s right: Strasbourg already hosts a Christmas market in Tokyo and this year it launched in Moscow.

In 2013, there could be a Strasbourg Christmas market in New York City, near Rockefeller Center.  

Deputy mayor Robert Hermann says in today’s race to attract foreign investment and qualified workers, it’s a way to showcase the city’s culture, businesses, research and innovation and quality of life.

And to do so in a more festive ambiance than the traditional trade shows allow.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid