By Brittnay Sharman, Epicure & Culture Contributor
If you’re looking for an alternative to the traditional Christmas market experience, and want something a bit more exciting, then you are in luck. From enjoying the Christmas spirit at a crypt to sipping on your gluhwein inside a cave, here are a few of the quirkiest Christmas markets in Europe you can visit.These are not your typical #European #Christmas markets! Check out #3! Click To Tweet
1. Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market (Breitnau, Germany)
Located in heart of the Black Forest beneath a viaduct, the Ravennaschlucht Market is something special. The high walls of the viaduct light up, and the sweeping view of the Black Forest is the perfect setting for a winter wonderland.
Over 40 stalls sell traditional handmade ornaments, toys and food. For something savory, try the flammkuchen, a German-styled pizza that is usually served with sour cream, cheese, onions and bacon.
Don’t leave the market without a taste of the exquisite schwarzwälder kirschtorte. Also known as black forest gateau — this chocolate, cream and cherry cake is one of the most well know products of the region.
2. Cave Christmas Market (Valkenburg, Netherlands)
The Dutch city of Valkenburg is famous for hosting not one, but two Christmas markets set in caves.
The market at Gemeentegrot Municipal Cave is one of the oldest and largest underground Christmas markets in Europe. The cave is filled with twinkling lights and stalls displaying everything from handcrafted wares to tasty Dutch treats.
If you head over to the popular Fluweelengrot Velvet Cave, you will find that this market is set under the ruins of a 12th-century castle. The cave also has a chapel that dates back to the 18th century. The atmosphere in here is cozy and you can walk through the stalls and sample Dutch pastries. The most popular is kerstkrans, a pastry ring filled with almond paste, or kerststol, a delicious fruity bread.
3. Christ Church Christmas Market (Dublin, Ireland)
This Christmas market is set in the 12th century crypt of the iconic Christ Church Cathedral. Vendors sell things like popular Irish jewelry designs, including claddagh rings and trinity knot earrings, as well as classic nativity scenes and ornaments featuring painted Irish harps and shamrocks.
If you are looking for a treat to satisfy your sweet tooth, try the Guinness Porter cake, a fruity moist cake where the main ingredient is Ireland’s most famous beer.
4. St Pauli Christmas Market (Hamburg, Germany)
Hamburg offers a Christmas market with a real twist — an adults-only winter wonderland. This erotic Christmas Market is held every year at St Pauli Hamburg. In this market, the stalls offer some very interesting alternative Christmas goodies. If you’ve ever wanted a naughty Santa ornament or to dress up as a kinky reindeer, this is the one Christmas market in Europe where you can do it!
This market combines two of Germany’s best qualities, being salacious and food. As always, the tasty bratwurst is on offer. Or you can try the bratkartoffeln, a glorious dish of fried potatoes and bacon.An adults-only #Christmas #market? Yes, it exists! #offbeat #Europe Click To Tweet
5. Underground Wine Cellar Christmas Market (Traben-Trarbach, Germany)
Germany started the tradition of wonderfully festive Christmas markets in Europe. However, the Weihnachtsmarkt Mosel Traben-Trarbach offers the best of German Christmas with a twist; this Christmas market is set in underground wine cellars.
For the last five years, the market has transformed historical 16th-century wine vaults into a Christmas fairytale. In the vaults, stalls sell all sorts of goodies, from Christmas decorations to delectable food. The star of the show, though, is the wine. Make sure to try a glass of the region’s very own riesling paired with delicious weihnachtsgans (roasted goose).
When in time to satisfy the sweet cravings, enjoy the traditional lebkuchen, a German gingerbread that is usually sold in a heart shape. You might also snack on some baumkuchen, the Teutonic rendition of spit cake.
6. Christbaum Wald im See (Lake Millstatt, Austria)
Located right on the Austrian Lake Millstatt, Christbaum Wald im See is a Christmas market built on a floating terrace called Kap 4613 overlooking alpine scenery. When it comes to the food, you can’t go past the gluhwein (German mulled wine) with wiener schnitzel, which is a pan-fried breaded veal.
For dessert, indulge in apfelstrudel, the traditional Austrian version of apple pie.
7. Fira de Santa Lucía (Barcelona, Spain)
Barcelona’s Fira de Santa Lucía is a traditional Catalan Christmas market. What makes this market unusual is not the location, but the characters that create the Catalonian Christmas scene, Caga Tíos and Caganer.
Caga Tíos or Tío de Nadal, is a smiling tree trunk that poops out the presents for the kids on Christmas Eve after it is beaten with sticks. Tradition says that is has to be fed daily with small treats and covered with a blanket to keep it warm.
The other character in the Catalonian tradition is the Caganer, also a pooping character that is set into the nativity scene. In recent times Caganer has become more famous for representing everything from politicians to famous actors and football stars.
At the Fira de Santa Lucía, you will also find a great variety of food, from the escudella, a traditional Christmas soup, to turrones or nougats. The perfect treat to take with you is the neules, a rolled wafer that can be enjoyed on its own, with some chocolate or Crema Catalana.A tree trunk that poops presents? It's a thing at this #Christmas #market! Click To Tweet
These aren’t your typical Christmas markets in Europe but if you’re up for something a little offbeat and awesome, make sure to add them to your bucket list!