A Prague Christmas
Doing your research for your Christmas trip? wondering what to wear? what to do? what to expect? etc etc then let me help you out.
Several short videos about the Christmas Markets on the Old Town Square and Republic Square including food stalls, prices and warnings are on my YouTube channel.
Where are the Markets?
There are 4 central markets. The largest is at the Old Town Square, smaller versions are on Wenceslas Square and Namesti Miru and there'll be a small one on Namesti Republiky. These are better described below:
The Old Town Square Prague Christmas Market is the biggest and oldest. The square has the official Christmas tree, a range of art, craft and a wide selection of food/drink stalls (the food and drink available is covered in more detail in the next section). There'll be a kiddies pony-ride area at the back of the Jan Hus monument and a viewing deck in the middle of the square so you can take some pictures etc. If you are coming here with kids then either keep close hold of them or agree a meeting point if you get separated. It's a crush. Metro Staromestske Namesti is the closest stop.
The layout of the Old Town Square Christmas Market is pictured left.
1) The Christmas Tree
2) Bethlehem Stable i.e. live animals
3) Viewing Bridge
4) Performanace stage 4m above the ground
5) Food stalls
6) Arts and crafts stalls
Remember that the "food stalls" are directly part of the market. There is another row of places selling food next to the Old Town Hall. This year (2015) the tree is 22m high, contains 600 ornaments, Gold star and windows showing pictures by a Czech artist called Josef Lada.
The main part of the Wenceslas Square Prague Christmas Market is located in the lower half of the square but they often have stalls at the top end as well. It will have the same type of stalls but a smaller selection. The blacksmith is always popular (as it's the warmest place) as are the drink stalls. There is no real Christmas tree on Wenceslas square but there'll be a lot of building and street decoration which makes the area look very nice and makes for great pictures. Metro Mustek is the closest stop or the Vaclavske Namesti or Vodickova tram stop.
The Namesti Miru (Peace Square) Prague Christmas Market is my own personal favourite. Little bit further out i.e. 15 minute walk from the top of Wenceslas Square but much more of what a Christmas market is all about. Lots of independent stalls with a range of local produce. Not so much battery operated flashing bobbly headwear here. It will have a tree which will be decorated but not to the extent of the Old Town Square. If walking from the top of Wenceslas Square go one block to the right. This is the street called Anglicka. Cross the road into Anglicka and follow it to the end where you'll find the market. Metro Namesti Miru (one stop from Museum) is the closest stop.
The Republic Square Prague Christmas Market is located on the cobblestoned area in front of the Palladium shopping centre and to the left of the square. This is the smallest of the markets. Probably less than 20 stalls but far more space to move around in and prices will be cheaper than the Old Town Square Christmas market which is only 200 metres away. As we normally drive into town we are more likely to park at the Palladium, get a drink at this market and look at the stalls before going to the Old Town market for the tree etc. Namesti Republiky is the nearest metro. You won't find any Carps getting knocked senseless here, if you want to see that I recommend you visit Andel (in front of the metro exit).
What's the weather like?
If you're really lucky there'll be fresh snow. If you're not as lucky it will be cold around 1 to 5 degrees Celsius but sunny. If you're unlucky it'll be wet. Basically get a 5-day forecast and you'll see what it's going to be like. Bring layers of clothing that you can add and remove as you move in and out of shops and buildings etc. Boots and thick socks are recommended if you intend a lot of walking.
When do the Christmas markets start?Technically Christmas here starts on the Feast of Mikulas which is on or about December 6th but historically the market at Namesti Republiky opens the week before. "Mikulas" is covered in the "Family Prague Christmas" further down the page. The markets normally stay open until Twelfth Night (3 kings).
What's to eat and drink?
Svavrene Vino - This is mulled wine and may also be called "Gluwein" as many visitors here may recognise the German version. At this level the wine is very basic and most people would not waste good wine by boiling it anyway. The wine may be served in a glass if you intend drinking it at the place where you bought it or more likely in a plastic cup that you can take away. Try it from a few places as the wine used will vary from place to place.
Grog - My own favourite - This should be a one part rum to 4 parts hot water served with a piece of lemon and sweetened to your choice. Instant warmness, energising and leaves a pleasant aftertaste.
Medovina - You'll find at least one stall that serves this drink. In Czech "Med" is honey so you won't be surprised that Medovina is honey-wine and this is the alcoholic version. Beautiful golden appearance that you'll lose if it comes in a plastic cup so go for the glass on this one.To eat:
Spit Roast - On the Old Town Square Christmas market there will be at least one spit-roast going on. Always pork. They'll carve a portion direct onto your plate usually with a slice of bread and you can add your own mustard.
Sausages - The small sausage (Frankfurter style) is called "parek" and normally you get two. The larger dark-red version is "Klobasa" and the white one is "Bavorska" (slightly spiced). The Czech style is to have a sausage on a plate with an accompanying slice of bread and sauce/mustard but on the markets they try and sell you the "hot-dog" which may be served in the more American style.
Bowl food - Some Christmas market food stalls will serve from a tray of food. The most popular of these is the Czech "Halusky". This is a very filling mix of tiny pieces of dumpling mixed with fried bacon. My advice is to take a small portion as they usually skimp on the amount of bacon used this can make it taste a bit bland. Some stalls will charge a bit extra for a portion or sour cream to go with it. Definitely have something to drink at the same time.Trdelnik - This is your dessert or a snack. Its a sweet bread mix with different flavours. My favourite is the cinnamon trdlo. The mix is wrapped around a revolving cylinder and takes about 15 minutes to cook. There will be trdlo at various stages of cooking so you won't have to wait. When you first get it, it will be piping hot but, eat it as quickly as possible because it cools down rapidly. Best eaten with a coffee.
1) Calculate your money as close as possible to the price and use coins if possible. If you use a high value note you should know what to expect back.
2) Anything "flashing" will die within 24 hours of buying it.
3) If you choose anything from a display, inspect what they give you to make sure you are happy with it especially clothes sizes and items of a breakable nature.
4) Christmas Markets are pickpocket hot spots.