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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter 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.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid