Mulled wine with a difference:
The most unusual Christmas markets
The festive season seems to begin earlier every year but who can complain when you get to visit so many Christmas markets? By now delicious mulled wine is a prerequisite of any market as are the foodie delights and handmade crafts. If that makes all Christmas markets feel the same, think again. These five choices stand out because of their very special offers, spectacular locations or breathtaking sights.
Santa Claus Village, Lapland
Where could possibly be better for a Christmas market than Rovaniemi, the capital of the northern Finnish province of Lapland and no less than the official residence of Santa Claus? The sun doesn’t rise here in winter but the moon and the stars shine as bright as the Northern Lights. The main building of the Santa Claus Village is home to a unique exhibition all on the theme of Christmas. Open all year round, free admission.
Santa Pauli, Hamburg
Hamburg’s alternative Christmas market, Santa Pauli combines the traditional experience of a festive market with the frivolous life of the city’s famous red-light district, the Reeperbahn. By nighttime, this is definitely a market for the grown-ups as in addition to live music on stage, the event also includes strip shows. Among the stalls, in addition to German sausage and mulled wine, you can even pick up a few items for the bedroom. Open from 17 November to 23rd December. Free admission.
Ravenna Gorge, Black Forest
Germany is renowned for its Christmas markets and this setting would warm the heart of even the coldest Scrooge. The market in the Ravenna Gorge is like a scene from a fairytale. It’s located below a 40-metre viaduct carrying the Höllentalbahn railway which meanders through the famous Black Forest. The cosy collection of wooden huts offer local delicacies and crafts, and surrounded by nature, they make for a unique winter village of lights. Open weekends during the Christmas period including Fridays. Admission €3.50.
Christkindlmarkt, Petzen, Austria
If you’re feeling in festive high spirits, you should take a trip to the southern Austrian region of Carinthia where Europe’s highest Christmas market awaits. Located 1700 metres above sea level, the Christkindlmarkt at Petzen is set in a perfect snow-covered winter landscape. Culinary highlights from the region and musical performances on the open-air stage add to the seasonal mood. To reach the market, you’ll need to take a 15-minute gondola lift ride. Just be careful not to miss the last return to the valley. Open on 3rd, 10th, and 17th December. Admission including gondola ride and a free drink is €13.
Winter Wonderland, London
Part Christmas market, part theme park, the sprawling Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park attracts hundreds of thousands of revellers. Growing in size each year, 2016 marks the tenth anniversary. With over 200 fairy-lit Bavarian style wooden chalets, the Christmas market stalls are surrounded by fairground attractions, food outlets, and bars. Other things to look out for include the ice-skating rink, circus and ballet performances, giant observation wheel, and the Bavarian Village beer hall complete with live music. Open 18 November to 2 January. Free entry.