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France’s oldest Christmas market opened in Strasbourg on Saturday, to mark the start of the holiday season. The market is the Alsacian town’s 442th, and has become its most important tourist draw of the year.
Strasbourg, situated in the east of France near the German border, has held its famous market since 1570. Around 300 chalets display traditional wears, like holiday decorations and nativity scenes, as well as the mulled wine, pretzels and pastries that have become associated with the region.
More than 500 cultural events will take place during the month-long event, in cooperation with local churches and associations.
Five Christmas trees, including one giant tree, have been hoisted up in the centre of town.
Georgia is this year’s special guest, as per tradition, and Strasburg’s Gutenberg square will be transformed into a miniature version of the eastern Europe country.
Strasbourg’s municipality has invested 2.5 million euros into the annual market but its tourism experts say costs are offset by the employment benefits, with hundreds of jobs available to the local population during the event.
The European capital is expecting two million visitors this year.