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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, so with fewer people 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, which gives everything a real 'olden day' charm.

There are options for sightseeing, entertainment and dining, but not everything is open and running, and opening times are generally 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.

Sightseeing tours of Prague run in the morning only. There are no afternoon tours. And day trips outside Prague do not operate at all.

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

For dining and refreshments, only certain pubs and restaurants open on Christmas Eve, and those that do operate have limited opening hours. It is advisable to make reservations for both lunch and dinner, as most places book out.

The atmosphere in the bars and restaurants tends to be one of quiet, festive celebration.
Christmas concerts on Christmas Eve in PragueMirror Chapel at Klementinum
For an upbeat night out, the Medieval Tavern puts on two shows (17:00 and 20:30). Food, drinks, live music and entertainment are all included, and tickets always sell out, so advance reservations are essential.

Prague is called The City of a Hundred Spires for good reason. It is relatively easy to find a church service to attend on Christmas Eve:
Christmas Tree at the Old Town Square in PragueTyn Church at Old Town Square Several churches in Prague hold a Christmas mass for families with children around 16:00. Others have evening services. Times are often announced close to the date, so ask at your hotel reception for suggestions when you arrive in the city.

Church services that operate every year include:

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.

Midnight Mass is held at Strahov Monastery (and other churches). 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.

A Traditional Czech Christmas


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

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

During the daytime on Christmas Eve, Czechs must abstain from eating meat. Instead, they will eat sauerkraut soup or something similar. This ensures they see the golden piglet, which will bring them wealth in the year ahead.
Christmas candles
The meat fast lasts until after sunset, when Christmas dinner is served around 6pm.
Traditional Czech Christmas Dinner Carp is the central ingredient of a Czech Christmas dinner, and is served with potato salad.

The fish is typically bought live from street sellers in the days running up to Christmas or on Christmas Eve morning itself.

In Prague, for example, live carp are sold on the streets at Republic Square (Namesti republiky).

Once the fish has been brought home, it is kept alive in the bath. Then, in the afternoon of Christmas Eve, the fish is prepared, coated in breadcrumbs, and fried.

The potato salad has already been made fresh in the morning.

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/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. Children are amazed at how this has happened while everyone was eating, and without anyone noticing. 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 days and hours before Christmas, Czech families will have been busy baking home-made biscuits (Vánoční cukroví), and preparing a variety of open sandwiches (chlebíčky). These are all brought out 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).

Later on, it is traditional for some people to 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 Kampě 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-31 Jan
Daily 09:00/21:00

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

Na Frantisku, Old Town
05 Dec-31 Jan
Daily 08:00-19:00/21:00/22:00

Tower Park: Žižkov, Prague 3
05 Dec-31 Jan
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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