Prague Christmas Markets 2013

Thousands flock to Prague every December to experience the famous Christmas markets

One of the busiest times for tourism in Prague is December, when thousands flock to the city to experience the famous Christmas markets. Some travel companies even offer package deals designed specifically around attending them and with the cold, dark nights combined with the city’s wonderful architecture adding to the Christmas charm, it’s easy to see why so many people head over. All sorts of gifts, food, drink and other items are on sale and the increasing popularity of the markets has seen more pop up over the years.

Most of the markets are open from 30th November until around the 1st January or a few days after, starting at 9 or 10 in the morning and closing anywhere between 7 and 10pm depending on where they are. They all stay open every day throughout December (including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Day) and are a great way to embrace the Christmas spirit.

Probably the busiest square in Prague anyway, due to its location and attractions such as the Astronomical Clock, Old Town Square is even more packed and its beauty further enhanced by the presence of its Christmas market.  With the largest Christmas tree in Prague that will be lit for the first time at 5pm on Saturday 30th November illuminating the square, and surrounded by various stalls open all day long, a magical atmosphere is created.

The market is open from 30th November until 1st January and there is an animal stable where children (and animal-loving adults too) can pet sheep, goats and donkeys. There is also a big nativity scene too and in the large cabin next door children can take part in workshops making decorations and visit the puppet theatre. Or for those wanting to get more active, from 5th December until 31st January behind Estates theatre nearby an ice rink will open from 10am until 10pm.

The other big Christmas market is at Wenceslas Square and the Christmas stands are installed alongside the permanent food vendors that reside there all year. There is a well-lit, tall Christmas tree and plenty of places selling sausages, gingerbread, mulled wine and many more varieties of festive food and drink from their wooden cabins. Gifts such as hand-crafted wooden toys and souvenirs too can be picked up as well as numerous Christmas decorations. It is open from 30th November until 12th January.

Slightly smaller is the Christmas market at Náměstí Republiky in front of the Palladium shopping centre. It is split into two sections, with one focused more on the food and drink side of things and the other on gifts and non-edible items. These include stalls selling winter clothes like hats, gloves and scarves and some less traditional items like homemade soap that you won’t find anywhere in the shopping centre. It is open from 30th November until 30th December.

One of Prague’s permanent markets that is open all year round, Havel’s Market gets in the Christmas swing of things too. On a smaller scale it brings more of a Christmas feel to the place throughout December as the stalls are transformed to start selling all manner of Christmas goodies. Situated between Wenceslas and Old Town Square it’s a perfect stop-off when travelling from one to the other.

Peace Square at Náměstí Míru has an intimate Christmas market that is more popular with Czechs and other residents than tourists as it is not right in the centre. The imposing Gothic Church of St. Ludmila increases the Christmas fantasy atmosphere along with another huge tree and nativity scene. More hand-crafted goods and Czech pastries are popular items sold and for a smaller yet no less wonderful Christmas market experience it’s a great place to visit.

Taking over from the Farmers’ Market that runs there a few days each week for most of the year, the Christmas market at Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad also occurs in front of a church, the massive Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord. A traditional Christmas market, the prices found here are cheaper than the ones in Prague’s centre, which make it a perfect for anyone on a budget or seeking a bargain. It is open from the 1st until 23rd December.

To beat the December rush the International Women’s Association of Prague are holding their fourth annual charity Christmas Market on 23rd November at Diplomat Hotel in Prague 6. Open from 10am until 4pm there will be over 40 stalls selling health and beauty products, baked goods, handmade jewellery and artistic clocks and English and children’s books. The kids’ corner will also keep any children bored by all this shopping well entertained.

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