With less than a month to go now until Christmas, Prague's traditional Christmas markets opened earlier this week. The biggest of them all is on the capital's Old Town Square. Along with the usual stalls selling presents, decorations and mulled wine, and the traditional very tall Christmas tree, this year the square also features an ice rink. Coilin O'Connor sets the scene:
It's even busier than usual on Prague's Old Town Square today. The reason for this is that the city's traditional Christmas market has just opened. All around me there are wooden stalls selling everything from toys and clothes to newly forged metalwork and freshly baked bread. There are also other festive attractions such as an open-air ice rink, and a stable full of live Biblical animals, including donkeys and sheep. I asked some traders how business was faring.
How is business so far, and how do you stop getting cold?
Trader 1: "Just warming myself by warm clothes, nothing else (laughs)."
This is only here for one month: what do you do when the market isn't open?
Trader 1: "I have a rest (laughs)."
Is business that good?
Trader 1: "Not so good. Actually, I study."
What is it you're selling here?
Trader 2:"Mostly glass beads. They are handmade."
How is business so far?
Trader 2: "We started today at 12 o'clock and we've already sold something, because people are curious before Christmas, they are looking for some presents for their friends."
How do you stop from being cold?
Trader 2: "It's not so cold yet, but I'm afraid in December it will be much colder."
What about the people coming to the market. If the accents I hear around me are anything to go by not too many Czechs have started their Christmas shopping yet.
Where are you from?
English man: "I'm from Manchester."
English man: "Not really, not with all the stalls. We have the square, a shopping square which is very similar but not really other stalls, no."
What do you make of it?
English man: "Very good, very nice. A lot of them are selling the same things but it's very different, very festive."
Can I ask you where you're from?
American man: "Michigan."
What do you make of the market?
American man: "Oh, I love it, we love Christmas markets. We've been all over Europe checking them out...very nice. We don't see anything like this in Michigan."
What do you make of it?
Irish man: "It's unbelievable - you wouldn't get this where we come from, in Cork."
How does it compare to the Christmas markets in Cork?
Irish man: "(laughs) This is far superior, far superior, it's brilliant."
Have you bought anything yet?
Irish woman: "Not yet, we only got here yesterday."
Irish man: "She bought sweets (laughs)."
Irish woman: "We still have a few days."
One thing about open air Christmas markets is that it can get very cold. Luckily there are also dozens of stands selling "svarak", or mulled red wine, which is traditional here at this time of year.
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