When temperatures drop, warm up with this festive selection of winter events in Prague
When the Czech capital is transformed into an icy wonderland, it’s easy to see why winter is considered one of the most beautiful seasons in Prague. Frost-covered buildings reflect in the rivers and a busy events calendar more than compensates for the crisp temperatures. From celebrations such as Carnevale Praha and Three Kings’ Day to the International Festival of Advent and Christmas Music, here are our favourite winter events in Prague.
What better way to throw yourself into the festive season than with an evening of Christmas music? The International Festival of Advent and Christmas Music is the oldest event of its kind in Europe and invites choirs from across the globe to perform during a week of music and festivities. Highlights of the event, which is celebrating its 26th anniversary in 2016, are the outdoor concerts in Prague’s historic Old Town Square.
Bohuslav Martinů Days is an annual music series that honours composer Bohuslav Martinů. Each year, the festival brings together national groups such as Prague Symphony Orchestra, Prague Conservatory Symphonic Orchestra, Prague Philharmonic Choir and PKF Prague Philharmonia. Concerts are hosted at beautiful venues across the city, such as Prague Castle and Bohuslav Martinů Hall in Liechtenstein Palace.
Europe is known for its Christmas markets and Prague is home to some of the most picturesque on the continent. The city’s largest is at Old Town Square, where myriad stands sell festive food, warming drinks, artisanal gifts and beautiful decorations. In the centre of the square you’ll find a giant Christmas tree, around which visitors can catch live music and carol concerts. Elsewhere in Prague, festive markets can also be found at Wenceslas Square, Prague Castle, Náměstí Republiky square, Náměstí Míru square, Tylovo square and Anděl.
Prague is a popular New Year’s Eve destination for visitors and residents alike. Ringing in 1st January with a bang is the city’s annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display, which lights up the city as the clocks strike midnight. The best view of the show, which attracts thousands of revellers each year, can be found at Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square and along the banks of the Vltava River.
Three Kings’ Day celebrates the three kings, or wise men, who visited baby Jesus in Bethlehem in the story of the Nativity. It also represents the end of the Christmas season. Prague marks the occasion with a procession through the streets, concluding at Old Town Square, where a life-sized nativity scene is set up and guests can give gifts to charity.
In the weeks leading up to Lent, the Czech Republic celebrates Carnevale, or Masopust. Carnevale Praha (Prague’s version of Carnevale) is one of the most anticipated events in Prague each winter. It’s a giant celebration spanning several weeks and featuring a busy programme of concerts and events, banquets and shows. Throughout the carnival period, it’s common to see people dressed up in the costumes of mythical characters, particularly during the colourful street parades.
Vinohrady Carnival Market at Tylovo Square invites visitors to eat, drink and be merry while discovering Prague’s traditional folk heritage. Guests can explore local handicrafts such as wicker and wood products and animal skins, and sample local gourmet delicacies such as cheeses, sweets and gingerbread.