Hundreds of people gathered on Prague’s Old Town Square on Saturday
afternoon for the traditional Christmas tree lighting ceremony, marking the
start of Advent and the opening of the city’s biggest Christmas market.
The lighting ceremony of the 22-metre tall spruce felled near Křivoklát, South Bohemia, was enhanced by a selection from Bedrich Smetana’s cycle of symphonic poems My Country. Visitors will find 99 stalls on Old Town Square and three Nativity scenes, one of which is live.
The Christmas market offers visitors a rich cultural program with some 700 performers appearing on stage in the course of the next three weeks.
Among the Advent events that reflect the true spirit of Christmas is the annual Charity Advent Market organized by the Fund Act For Others. Now in its fourth year, the market is organized by international team of dedicated enthusiasts who give it a multicultural flair. A visit to the three day-event at Prague’s Mala Strana will bring you joy ahead of Christmas and enable the fund to help the needy. I spoke to founder and event manager of Act for Others Melanie Schilling about what the market, which opens at the Maltese Palace on Friday, will offer
A 22-metre tall spruce felled near Křivoklat, South Bohemia, has gone up
on Prague’s Old Town Square for Christmas. This year’s Christmas tree
on the square grew for 66 years.
It will be decorated and illuminated for the first time on Saturday, December 2, to mark the opening of the Christmas market. Last year, the ceremony was seen by 12,000 people.
The first wine of the season, the so-called Saint Martin’s wine, goes on
sale on Saturday in the Czech Republic. Czechs are celebrating the Feast of
Saint Martin, which falls on November 11 and which has become an occasion
for winemakers to present their young wines.
Events featuring wine tasting are traditionally held at various venues around the country. This year, the main event takes place on Freedom Square in Bnro. In Prague, festivities will be traditionally held in Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad and the Rašínovo nábřeží embankment. This year, sellers expect around 2.2 million bottles of Saint Martin’s to go on the market, which is a slight drop on the previous year.
Ježíšek’s grandchildren ( Santa’s grandchildren) is the name of a nationwide charity project launched by Czech Radio. It aims to bring a smile to the faces of abandoned, elderly, people who have no family and friends to cheer them up. The aim is to encourage members of the public to grant these people a wish as a special Christmas gift in a scheme that should interconnect generations and revive the true spirit of Christmas. I spoke to Marietta Prajslerová, one of the project organizers at Czech Radio, about what it involves and how the idea
U.S. News & World Report has just rated Prague as their Best Christmas Vacation, beating out nearby Vienna, which came in second, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, which was ranked third. Described as a “winter wonderland you’ve got to see to believe”, the publication also praised the Czech capital’s increasingly famous seasonal markets. I asked Barbora Hrubá of Prague City Tourism, the body which promotes the capital city, to present her pitch for why Prague is being lauded as a Christmas destination:
The US duo Dálava, consisting of vocalist Julia Úlehla and guitarist Aram Bajakian, explores traditional Moravian folk songs collected by Úlehla’s great-grandfather, blending them with more contemporary, indie-rock sound. We are going to listen to their second album, called the Book of Transfigurations, which was released in April 2017.
The Ride of the Kings – a unique and colourful tradition practiced in only four south-east Moravian villages took place in the village of Hluk on Sunday. The ride refers to the flight of Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus from Czech King George of Podébrady in the 15th century and involves a festive ride through the village with a boy portraying the monarch dresses in a traditional women’s folk costume to ‘mask’ his identity. The event which involves months of preparations end with a big celebration, dancing, drinking and merrymaking. The Ride of the Kings is on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage.
Jan Dismas Zelenka is considered one of the most significant baroque composers, yet his music had been largely forgotten after his death and was only rediscovered 150 years later by the composer Bedřich Smetana. Today, each new discovery of Zelenka’s previously unknown works is a sensation of its kind. His Easter Mass, or Missa Paschalis, composed in 1726, saw its modern-day premiere just a few years ago, when it was performed by Prague’s Ensemble Inégal.