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Prague Christmas Markets 2011

UPDATE: Looking for info on the 2012 Christmas Markets in Prague?

It’s that time of year, the temperature drops to around freezing and many of Prague’s squares come alive with the Christmas markets. Here’s the lowdown on where and when you’ll find them and what to expect when you get there.

Old Town Square Prague Market

What to expect

In all the markets you can expect to find stalls or huts selling souvenirs, gifts and Christmas decorations, running the gamut from hand-made pieces down to commercially produced imported tchotchkes. Pay attention to where items are produced if you’re looking for something authentic for the folks back home.

Refreshments come in the form of warm alcohol – mulled wine (svařák) and honey wine or mead (medovina). Savoury eats include sausage and smoked hams while the sweet-toothed will enjoy pancakes (palačinky) and Czech gingerbread (perník).

Old Town Square

The market opens on the 26th of November and runs till the 1st of January. All the stalls are open from 9am to 7pm weekdays and to 8pm on weekends. Stalls serving food and drink can be open till midnight. By far Prague’s largest Christmas market, there’s also a stage where folk music and dancing performance take place. This year’s tree will be 29 meters tall and is gifted to Prague by the town of Malé Kyšice.

Wenceslas Square

The pedestrian area at the bottom of Wenceslas Square is where you’ll find another small Christmas market from November 26th to January 8th.

Namesti Republiky

In front of the Celnice building there will be a small market with the usual array of stalls. The market will run from November 25th to December 24th. There’s a

Out of the centre

Prague 2 and 3 aren’t left out of the action, Náměstí Míru (Prague 2)’s market starts earlier than most, on the the 20th of November and runs to the 24th of December. Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad in Prague 3 usually also has a market too.

What to watch out for

As with anywhere there are large crowds and lots of tourists, be aware of your valuables. Check your change at stalls, and make sure you understand in your own currency how much you’re paying for anything you buy. One more thing – if you’re visiting one of these markets just a few days before Christmas, don’t be alarmed by the large tubs full of icy water and live carp. That’s the traditional Czech christmas dinner. People can choose to take the fish home dead or alive, where it will likely be kept in the bathtub till it’s time to prepare it.

Where to stay?

Most of our selection of apartments and hotels in Prague are in or very close to the center but if you want Old Town Square right on your doorstep, the Old Town Flats apartments or either of the Old Town Residence or Tyn Church hotels are the best choices.

Charlie takes care of the marketing side of things at JayWay Travel. A long-term Prague resident, his interests are cooking, eating out, cycling, skiing and travel.

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