Winter Markets In Prague
Prague is a truly beautiful city to visit at any time of the year, but as December rolls in the city is completely transformed into a magical winter paradise. A winter trip to Prague is always a fantastic experience, as the traditional Gothic architecture and picturesque skyline of the city are brought to life by the combination of the crisp winter air and the abundant festive decorations. Winter markets in Prague are a chance to enjoy some of the most authentic and traditional European festive traditions.
Travellers and locals alike come together in Prague over December, to enjoy all the city has to offer, and its compact centre means that you can walk to and from many of the most exciting sights. The winter markets in Prague are open throughout December, and attract visitors right through to the start of January. As the cold sets in, there's even a chance of snow.
What to see?
Whether you're travelling alone or with loved ones the winter markets in Prague have something to offer. The largest and most highly regarded can be found on Old Town Square, but a slightly quieter (although equally spectacular) market is also held at the nearby Wenceslas Square.
The winter markets offer travellers a chance to experience all kinds of wonderful Czech traditions. An enormous Christmas tree, brought in from the nearby town of Pečky and situated at the Old Town Square Market, is brought to life with a light display each night, which is switched on at around 5.30pm.
The tree is the backdrop to some other must-see traditions. An animal stable hosted in the main market square is a delight for children and adults alike, with goats, sheep, and a donkey on hand to be befriended. Surrounding this are myriad huts, stalls and cabins, all exuding traditional Czech charm, and browsing these should be at the top of your to-do list.
What to buy at Prague's winter markets?
Local artisans take great pride in crafting some of the most beautiful and well made traditional handicrafts to sell over the winter, from dolls and puppets, to wooden toys and even embroidered lace. The markets are the perfect place to pick up souvenirs and decorations like baubles and other ornaments, to be displayed at home each winter thereafter.
Many of the beautifully crafted items on offer are hard to find anywhere else. Bohemian crystal, produced in the regions of Bohemia and Silesia, and some of the purest and most refined in the world, is fashioned by master craftsmen into everything from humble figurines to works of modern art by some iconic designers. Similarly, Bohemian Garnet - a gemstone with a deep, dark red hue only visible in direct light - is only found in the Czech Republic, and is used to make some of the most beautiful jewellery (perfect for gifts) that can be found across the markets.
For the younger visitors, classic Czech toys can be found in many of the winter markets in Prague. Most popular among these are the expertly shaped wooden toys like rocking horses, and puppets that owe their designs to classic Czech theatre.
What to eat at the winter markets in Prague?
You'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to food and drink during a winter stay in Prague. Some must-try delicacies include whole large hams which can be seen roasting slowly on spits, and are sliced and served fresh, along with Klobasa - barbecued Czech sausages. For a sweeter treat, you can indulge in some freshly prepared cakes and pastries, such as 'trdelnik', a hot sugar-coated cinnamon roll, made by wrapping dough in a spiral around a wooden roller suspended above hot coals.
To quench your thirst, there are plenty of classics to choose from, from mulled wine , known as 'svařák' in Czech, to velvety hot chocolate. For a chilled alternative, try one of the Czech Republic's famous beers like Černá Hora (brewed since 1298).
If traditional food is something that appeals, you could even spend an afternoon at the markets purchasing the ingredients to make your very own 'cukrovi'. These biscuits are traditionally made with family during the festive period, and there are few more authentically Czech ways to spend a winter evening in Prague than by baking your very own cukrovi with the children after a day out at the markets.
Other things to see:
After experiencing the wonders of the winter markets in Prague, you can indulge in a little culture by attending one of the many ballets, operas and concerts that are held throughout the winter months. From winter classics like Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker at Prague's National Theatre, to classical music concerts held in Prague's Old Town Klementinum (founded in 1232), there are countless performances to be enjoyed. For a more traditional experience, you could even spend an evening at Prague Theatre, and enjoy a marionette puppetry performance.
Other stunning attractions to visit include the majestic Prague Castle. This historic and culturally significant landmark was built in around the year 880, and is the world's largest coherent castle complex. With both audio and guided tours available, exploring the castle is an afternoon well spent - and it will even play host to its own festive markets throughout December.