As the holiday season arrives with twinkling lights up and down the grand boulevards, shop windows decked out with festive displays and the arrival of the popular Christmas markets, December is one of the most magical times of the year to visit Paris. Take a whirl around the ice skating rinks at some of the city’s most iconic spots, go window shopping at the grand magasins and enjoy Christmas in one of the most romantic cities in the world!
Ice Skating Rinks
Head to one of the ice rinks set up in Paris to enjoy this classic winter activity. Even if you don’t step out on the ice, it is fun to watch the spectacle with a cup of vin chaud or hot chocolate. Entrance to the ice rinks are free and skate rental around €5.
- Hotel de Ville: Generally from the first weekend in December to the first weekend in March. Monday-Friday: 12pm-10pm; Saturday, Sunday and holidays: 9am-10pm. Bring a pair of gloves – to keep warm and also because they’re required at this rink.
- Eiffel Tower Ice rink: The popular ice skating rink on the Eiffel Tower will not take place this year due to renovation work on the first level.
- Trocadéro Ice rink: Generally from mid-December to early January. The fun Christmas Village at the Trocadéro located just across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower is a festive spot for ice skating and enjoying the charms of a French Christmas market – all with great views of the Eiffel Tower nearby.
Christmas Lights in Paris
The holiday atmosphere officially arrives when the festive Christmas lights and decorations appear throughout Paris. While many charming streets in each arrondissement will be decorated for the holiday season, head to the Champs-Elysées for the most spectacular and popular Christmas light display in Paris. Bundle up, enjoy fabulous shopping and savor the holiday shopping in the magical setting of Paris at Christmas time!
Christmas Markets in Paris
For Christmas charm and a fun Parisian shopping experience head to a Christmas market where you’ll find holiday treats, traditional Christmas food and desserts, handmade crafts and great gift ideas. Stay warm with a vin chaud, or mulled wine, while strolling along the wooden chalet stalls at the popular Champs-Elysées Christmas Market or the Christmas Village at the Trocadéro across from the Eiffel Tower. Smaller Christmas Markets set up in Place Saint Sulpice and Place Saint Germain des Prés in the 6th arrondissement. If you’re visiting Paris in late November and December, don’t miss the holiday atmosphere at the Paris Christmas markets!
Festival de l'Automne (The Autumn Festival)
7 September, 2016 - 31 December, 2016
Taking place from mid September through much of December, the 44th annual Paris Autumn Festival or Festival de l'Automne celebrates the autumn season with an extensive line-up of events and exhibitions highlighting contemporary visual art, cinema, theater, music and more.
Paris Courts Devant (Short Film Festival)
December 2016 (Dates to be announced)
Film lovers will want to head to 17th arrondissement near Montmartre for the Paris Short Film Festival held at the Cinéma des Cinéastes. This is one of the most important short film festivals around the world, with each entry running no longer than 25 minutes. The festival is held in several buildings around throughout Montmartre and tickets are €6.
Gucci Paris Masters - International Show Jumping Competition
1-4 December, 2016
In December the Paris International Show Jumping Competition comes to the Parc des Expositions de Paris Nord Villepinte. Located at the second largest convention center in France, this event attracts top show-jumpers and enthusiasts for the events and the Salon du Cheval show that takes place at the same time.
Africolor Music Festival
18 November, 2016 - 24 December, 2016
Presented by Africolor, this music festival celebrates African music and performers at different venues throughout Paris and its suburbs. 2015 will mark the 27th edition of this popular festival and promises to be better than ever! Check their site for full program if you’ll be visiting Paris in December this time of year.
Christmas Trees in Paris
The holidays in Paris wouldn’t be complete without Christmas trees – thousands of them! This longstanding holiday tradition brings a wonderful wintry feel right to the heart of Paris. Visitors will enjoy the festive holiday setting around the Champs-Elysées, Place de la Bastille and many other historic spots in Paris. One of our favorite Christmas trees in Paris is the one set up each year in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral. Head there for a great holiday photo from Paris!
Christmas at Disneyland Paris
11 November, 2016 - 8 January, 2017
Discover the charms of Christmas at Disneyland Paris during the holidays! The magical setting gets a holiday makeover with thousands upon thousands of twinkling lights as Main Street USA becomes a winter wonderland. Enjoy holiday fun for the whole family with caroling, a visit with Father Christmas and holiday events for Christmas and New Year’s at Disneyland Paris.
Christmas Windows at Paris' Grand Magasins
There’s no better place to enjoy window shopping during the holidays than at the grand magasins along Boulevard Haussmann. The famous department stores Galaries Lafayette and Printemps present fabulous displays brimming with Christmas magic in their vitrines. Whether you’re tempted to enter for holiday shopping or just strolling along, it’s hard not to be captivated by the holiday atmosphere! Inside the department stores you’ll find holiday decorations and lights, including a gorgeous Christmas tree decorated by Swarovsky in the glass-domed atrium of Galeries Lafayette. Just be prepared for the holiday shopping crowds!
Address: Boulevard Haussman
Christmas at the Notre Dame Cathedral
Every year the Notre-Dame cathedral creates a seasonal atmosphere as the children's choir sings Christmas songs throughout the holiday period. A nativity scene is set up on the steps outside while a light show paints works of art onto the cathedral walls. For an unforgettable Christmas Eve in Paris be sure to attend the midnight Mass.