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Prague Christmas 2024

Christmas Eve in Prague » 24th December 2024


Christmas Eve is the most festive day of Christmas in Czechia. Czech people spend the day at home with their family, and in the evening give presents and enjoy a traditional Czech Christmas dinner. Merry Christmas to one and all: Veselé Vánoce!
Old Town Square Christmas Markets
Old Town Sq. Christmas Markets

Christmas Eve in Prague


Christmas Eve (24th December) is the main day of Christmas in Czechia. And with fewer people around in Prague, it is a wonderfully peaceful day to explore the city.

Prague can be especially charming when the squares and bridges are dusted with snow or a heavy frost, giving it a real 'olden day' charm.

There are options for sightseeing, entertainment and dining, but not everything is open: only certain tours and river cruises are running, only selected restaurants and shops open, and the times are limited. So the day does take a little planning.

Planning for Christmas Eve

The Prague Christmas markets are open from 10am to 10pm on Christmas Eve.

Some sightseeing tours of Prague run in the morning, but there are no afternoon tours. Trips outside Prague do not operate all day.

The Lunch Cruise and Sightseeing Cruise are the only river cruises running. No boats operate in the evening.
If you enjoy classical music and/or Christmas carols, highly atmospheric Christmas concerts are held in some of the city's grandest buildings, such as in the Smetana Hall at Municipal House and in the Mirror Chapel at the Klementinum.

There is also an afternoon ballet performance of The Nutcracker at Broadway Theatre.

In terms of dining, some pubs and restaurants close for the day on Christmas Eve. Those that do open have limited opening hours. It is advisable therefore to make reservations for both lunch and dinner, as most places book out.
The Nutcracker on Christmas Eve in PragueNutcracker at Broadway Theatre
The atmosphere in the bars and restaurants tends to be one of quiet festive celebration.

For something more upbeat, the Medieval Tavern puts on two shows (17:00 and 20:30). Tickets include food, drinks, live music and entertainment. They always sell out on Christmas Eve, so advance reservations are essential.
Christmas Tree at the Old Town Square in PragueTyn Church at Old Town Square Prague is called The City of a Hundred Spires and for good reason. It should not be difficult to find a suitable church service to attend on Christmas Eve:

A number of churches in Prague hold an afternoon Christmas mass for families with children, normally around 16:00.

Tyn Church at the Old Town Square holds a mass at 16:30. Entrance is free, just turn up.

On the stage at the Old Town Square, an open-air Christmas mass is held at 21:00. Entrance is free, just turn up.

A Midnight Mass is held at some churches, such as at Strahov Monastery. Entrance is free, just turn up.
For more information on what's open and when on Christmas Eve in Prague, and to book restaurants, sightseeing and entertainment, view the Prague Christmas Planner.

Traditional Czech Family Christmas


To discover what a traditional Czech Christmas is, one has to naturally look at the family and at food.

Czech people generally spend the afternoon of Christmas Eve at home, dressing the Christmas tree and preparing food for the evening celebrations.

During the day, Czechs traditionally are not allowed to eat meat. Instead, they will eat something like sauerkraut soup. This ensures they will see the golden piglet (bringing them wealth in the year ahead). This lasts until after sunset, when Christmas dinner is served.
Christmas candles
Traditional Czech Christmas Dinner Carp is the central ingredient of a Czech Christmas dinner. The fish is typically bought live from street sellers in the days running up to Christmas or on Christmas Eve morning. In Prague, carp is on sale at Republic Square (Namesti republiky).

Once the fish has been brought home, it is often kept alive in the bath until it is time to cook.

On Christmas Eve afternoon, the carp is prepared, coated in breadcrumbs, then fried. It is then served early evening with potato salad as the main course.

Fish soup (rybí polévka) forms the starter, with apple strudel or Christmas sweetbread (vánočka) for dessert.
Presents are brought by Jezisek (little Jesus), not by Father Christmas or Santa Claus.

No-one knows what Jezisek looks like or how he does it, but after dinner, when the family moves from the dining room to the lounge, presents will have magically appeared under the Christmas tree. And it has happened while everyone was eating, without anyone noticing! Children are amazed at how it happens, but that is the wonder of Christmas.
Christmas Presents
With the presents open and a beautifully dressed tree in the corner, the rest of the evening is spent playing games, chatting, eating snacks, and watching children's fairy tales on television - the stories, which emanate from Central Europe and Russia, are an important part of Christmas in Czechia.
Christmas Pastries In the lead up to Christmas, Czech families bake home-made biscuits (Vánoční cukroví) and prepare a variety of small open sandwiches (chlebíčky). These are brought out for the family to enjoy on Christmas Eve night.

For adults, there is also a good supply of Czech beer, wines and local spirits (Slivovica, Becherovka and Fernet Stock)!

Finally, some families will attend midnight mass at their local church.
If you are spending Christmas in Prague and would like to try a traditional Czech Christmas dinner, we list the restaurants that offer it in the Christmas Planner.
informationCHRISTMAS 2024
KEY DATES
XMAS MARKETS

Old Town Square & Wenceslas Square
30 Nov-06 Jan
Daily 10:00-22:00
SMALL & LOCAL MARKETS

Top of Wenceslas Square
25 Nov-06 Jan
Daily 10:00-20:00

Republic Square
30 Nov-30 Dec
Daily 10:00-20:00

Na Kampe Square
30 Nov-01 Jan
Daily 10:00-20:00

Peace Square
23 Nov-24 Dec
Daily 10:00-20:00

Tyl Square
25 Nov-24 Dec
Daily 10:00-20:00
TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY

30 Nov-06 Jan
Old Town Square
Daily 16:30, 17:30, 18:30, 19:30, 20:30, 21:30
LAMP LIGHTING CEREMONY

Charles Bridge
01-23 Dec
Daily 16:10-16:30
ICE SKATING

Wenceslas Square
05 Dec-16 Feb
Daily 09:00/21:00

Ovocny trh, Old Town
05 Dec-31 Jan
Daily 10:00-21:00

Na Frantisku, Old Town
30 Nov-31 Mar
Daily 08:00-19:00/21:00/22:00

Tower Park: Žižkov, Prague 3
30 Nov-29 Feb
Mon-Fri: 15:00-20:00; Sat-Sun: 09:00-20:00
MIKULAS DAY

Old Town Square & Wenceslas Square
05 Dec 2024
16:00-19:00
XMAS EVE

24 Dec 2024
-16:00 Christmas Mass for children at various churches
-16:30 Christmas Mass at Tyn Church
-21:00 Open-air Christmas Mass at Old Town Square
-24:00 Midnight Mass at Strahov & other churches
XMAS PLANNER

24-26 Dec 2024
What's open at Christmas: restaurants, entertainment & sightseeing
NEW YEAR'S EVE

31 Dec 2024
Festivities & Fireworks
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Christmas in Czechia (Czech Republic)

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