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Prague Christmas 2023

Christmas Eve » 24th December 2023

Christmas Eve is the most festive day of Christmas in Prague and the Czech Republic.
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 the Czech Republic.

With fewer people around, it is a wonderfully peaceful day for visitors to explore Prague. The city can be especially charming if the squares are dusted with snow or a heavy frost, giving it a real 'olden day' charm.

Sightseeing and entertainment is available, and there are restaurants to dine in, but not everything is open: only certain tours run, only selected restaurants and shops are open, and operating hours are limited. So the day takes 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 trips outside Prague, and no afternoon tours.

The Lunch Cruise and Sightseeing Cruise are the only river cruises running. The boats do not operate in the evening.

If you enjoy classical music or Christmas carols, highly atmospheric Christmas concerts are staged in churches and other beautiful, historic buildings.

There is also a performance of the ballet The Nutcracker - tickets go on sale on this website in August 2023.

In terms of dining, a number of pubs and restaurants close their doors for the day, while those that do open tend to operate limited hours. It is therefore advisable to make reservations for lunch and dinner, as most places book out.
The Nutcracker on Christmas Eve in PragueNutcracker at National Theatre
The atmosphere in the restaurants tends to be one of quiet, festive celebration.

If you are searching for something more upbeat, the popular Medieval Tavern puts on two shows (17:00 and 20:30). Tickets include food, drinks, live music and entertainment. Advance reservations are essential, as both shows will sell out.
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 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, see 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 the Czech Republic.
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 2023
Old Town Square & Wenceslas Square
*02 Dec-06 Jan
Daily 10:00-22:00
Entry is free

Prague Castle
*02 Dec-06 Jan
Mon-Thu 09:00-18:00
Fri-Sun 09:00-19:00
Entry is free

Republic Square
*02 Dec-06 Jan
Daily 10:00-22:00
Entry is free

Peace Square
*02 Dec-24 Dec
Daily 10:00-19:00
Entry is free
*The markets are likely to start one week earlier, on 25th November, but the authorities will only decide this in October - any developments will be posted here first
Charles Bridge
Daily 16:00
Old Town Square
Daily 16:30

Wenceslas Square
Daily 17:00
Old Town Square
05 Dec 2023
24 Dec 2023
-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
24-26 Dec 2023
What's open at Christmas: restaurants, entertainment & sightseeing
Čapadlo, Smetanovo nábřeží, Old Town
02 Dec-31 Jan
Daily 10:00-21:00

Ovocny trh (square behind Estates Theatre), Old Town
05 Dec-31 Jan
Daily 10:00-21:00

Na Frantisku Sports Centre, Old Town
02 Dec-31 Mar
Mon-Fri 08:00-17:30; Sat-Sun 10:00-17:00/18:00
31 Dec 2023
Festivities & Fireworks
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Christmas in the Czech Republic

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