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Prague Christmas 2023

Prague Christmas Markets » 2nd December 2023 - 6th January 2024

The Prague Christmas Markets are open daily at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. A 'winter wonderland' awaits, for visitors to soak up the festive atmosphere, browse the stalls, and enjoy Christmas carols, hearty food and local drinks - photos
Prague Christmas Markets at Old Town Square
Old Town Christmas Markets

Christmas Markets 2023

The Prague Christmas Markets are open daily from 2nd December 2023 to 6th January 2024, including on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

Opening hours are 10:00-22:00. Entry is free.

The main Christmas markets are held at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, in the heart of the city. The two squares are 5 minutes walk from each other.

Smaller markets are held on Kampa Island, at Republic Square (Náměstí Republiky), and at Havel's Market.
There is also a sizeable Christmas market at Prague Castle, held on the square in front of St. George's Basilica from 2nd December 2023 to 6th January 2024.
Open daily 09:00-18:00/19:00. Entry is free.

For a local Christmas market, visit Peace Square (Náměstí Míru), which is 15 minutes walk from Wenceslas Square. The market, which attracts mostly Czech people, runs from 2nd December to 24th December 2023. Open 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.

What are the Prague Christmas Markets?

Christmas markets (Vánoční trhy) are a key ingredient of the festive magic in the Czech Republic, and the Prague markets are the most impressive in the country. They light up the city, bringing locals and tourists together in a true 'winter wonderland' setting.

The Prague Christmas Markets consist of brightly decorated wooden huts, stocked with local handicrafts and traditional Christmas treats.

Among the wares on display are ceramics, jewellery, glassware, embroidered lace, wooden toys, candles, Christmas tree ornaments, winter hats and gloves, and puppets and dolls dressed in traditional costume.
Christmas Market stall at the Old Town Square
Christmas Market stall
While you can buy nice souvenirs from the stalls, to take home to decorate your house with or to use as Christmas gifts, the markets are about more than shopping. There is all manner of local food and drink to sample, much of it prepared at the stalls in front of you.
Food at the Christmas Markets
Food at the Christmas Markets
Popular food on offer includes: large hams roasted on spits (Pražská Šunka); terribly unhealthy but wonderfully tasty barbequed sausages (klobása); flatbread topped with garlic, cheese and ketchup (langoš); smoked meat dumplings (knedlíky plněné uzeným masem); sweet dumplings (sladké knedlíky); and pancakes (palačinky).

A traditional Czech Christmas fish soup (rybí polévka) is cooked by the cauldron load. The soup is made from carp, vegetables, cream and brandy, using over 1,500 kilograms of ingredients every year.

There are various cakes and sweets to choose from too, such as spicy gingerbread (perníčky) and hot sweet pastry (trdelník).
Trdelník is made from rolled dough that is wrapped around a stick, baked on an open fire, then topped with a sugar and walnut mix. It is delicious on its own, but can also have chocolate sauce spread inside it, and/or be filled with ice-cream.
A word of warning to parents: once a child has tasted trdelník, there is no going back - its addictive nature means you will be pestered endlessly for another hit!

For drinks, visitors can sample famous Czech beers, such as Pilsner Urquell, Staropramen and Budvar.

Alternatively, opt for a hot drink: mulled wine (svařák); hot chocolate (horká čokoláda); honey wine (Medovina); or grog, which is a mixture of rum, water, lemon and sugar.

Outdoor Christmas shopping is so much nicer with a hot mulled wine or cold beer in your hand!
making trdelnik at the Easter Markets
Trdelník pastries

Eco Markets

Food and drink at the markets is served with 100% biodegradable plates, cutlery and cups.

Where possible, ingredients are sourced locally: Christmas fish soup is made with carp from Czech rivers and lakes, and vegetables from local farms; Czech meat is used for the sausages and hamburgers; the hams on spits are from Czech pigs; the beer is exclusively Czech (naturally!); and the wine hails from Moravia, including the wine used to make svařák.
Christmas Tree at the Old Town Square
Old Town Square Christmas tree

Christmas Trees

The most impressive sight at the Prague Christmas Markets is the mighty 25m Christmas tree erected at the Old Town Square, which is brought from the Ústí nad Labem region of North Bohemia in the Czech Republic.

The tree is dressed with red and gold baubles, and draped in a blaze of lights. It is a spectacular sight set against the dark Gothic skyline.

The tree lights are switched on at 16:30 every day, accompanied by rousing music.

The tree lighting ceremony is then repeated every hour at: 17:30, 18:30, 19:30, 20:30 and 21:30.
The music for the ceremony alternates between Elizabethan Serenade by Karel Gott and All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey.

Wenceslas Square has its own Christmas tree too. In fact it has two, because the Christmas markets are spread across both the top and bottom of the square.

The tree lights at Wenceslas Square are switched on around 17:00 every evening.

Other Attractions

Both the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square have nativity scenes in wooden stables, depicting Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and the Three Kings.

There are opportunities for visiting children to join in Christmas themed activities: workshops are held from 11am on Saturday and Sunday mornings at the Old Town Square, showing children how to paint and prepare traditional Czech Christmas items.

There is also an animals stable at the Old Town Square, where children can stroke sheep, goats and a donkey.

But what is Christmas without carols? School choirs and folk groups dressed in traditional costume perform in the late afternoon on a stage at the Old Town Square, with children travelling from all over the country to appear.

Photo Opportunities

A great place to take photos of the Christmas Markets at the Old Town Square is from the Observation Bridge (free to enter), which is erected in the centre of the square. Climb the steps to reach the platform, and take in an expansive view over the stalls.

For a higher vantage point, climb to the top of the Old Town Hall Tower (entrance fee applies), from where you can enjoy magnificent aerial views over the Old Town Square and beyond.

Street level photography is also worth considering: amongst the market stalls, vivid close up shots can be taken of the colourful wares and of the food being prepared.

Theme of the Christmas Markets in 2023

Decoration of the Christmas Markets is mostly inspired by the traditional colours of Christmas: green, red, gold and white.

However, there is also an annual theme, which last year was "Heavenly Christmas":

The decorations were simple and traditional. The Christmas tree lights at the Old Town Square were warm white, with bright stars, and there were red and gold baubles.

The Old Town Square was guarded by 5 large angels (each 4m-6m tall), two serving as photo points. Two angels were sited on the Observation Bridge, one symbolically lighting a candle on the Christmas tree.

At Wenceslas Square, the Christmas tree was decorated with red baubles and light stars.

We will have to wait until November to see what the annual theme for 2023 will be. But whatever it is, the festive atmosphere in Prague in December is simply wonderful!

Where to Stay in Prague

The Christmas Markets are held in the district of Prague 1, which is the city centre.

Prague 1 is compact and highly pedestrianised, and is made up of several areas. All are within easy walking distance of each other.

The two most popular areas to stay in Prague 1, for quick access on foot to the markets, are the Old Town and Wenceslas Square (which is in the New Town).

The third most popular area is the Lesser Town, which is located across the river from the Old Town, and can be reached by strolling across Charles Bridge.
Prague Hotels
Hotels in Prague 1
Christmas Market
Christmas Market
Most of the sightseeing, entertainment and nightlife in Prague is also in these three areas.

Therefore, if you book a hotel in Prague 1, the Christmas Markets, sights, tourist attractions, museums, theatres, concert halls, restaurants and shops will all be nearby.

The Christmas Markets are free to enter. By staying in Prague 1, whenever you fancy dropping in, you can leave your hotel and be in the midst of the action in minutes. Grab a drink or a hot snack, browse the stalls, soak up the atmosphere, then when you're ready to freshen up it's just a short walk back to your hotel.

Weather in December in Prague

The weather in Prague in December is highly changeable. The average low is -2°C (28°F), but the temperature can deviate dramatically in either direction.

There are bright and sunny, relatively warm periods. Equally, there can be heavy bouts of snow that last several days or weeks, when temperatures head far into minus territory.

What Clothes to Wear

In terms of clothing, bring a warm winter jacket, hat and gloves. Many visitors pack their thermals too!

As Prague is a wonderful city to explore on foot, wear comfortable walking shoes or boots.

If you get caught out by the weather, there are shops in Prague that can help. These range from department stores like Marks & Spencer and shoe shops such as Bata, to specialist outdoor clothing and footwear stores like Rock Point.

For sightseeing, dining and entertainment in Prague, most tourist establishments welcome visitors in casual attire. However, you will need to dress reasonably smartly at the opera houses and high-end restaurants.
drinks hut at the Prague Christmas Markets
Drinks hut at Old Town Square
Stalls at the Prague Christmas Markets
See the sights in Prague

Sightseeing in Prague

Sightseeing in Prague is enchanting all year round, with grand monuments and magnificent squares to explore, and a dramatic history to discover. And the festive atmosphere lends the city an even greater charm than normal.

Sights and tourist attractions are open throughout the Christmas season, except on Christmas Eve.

A sightseeing tour led by a professional local guide can show visitors the true beauty of Prague. From walking tours to coach tours to river cruises, there are many ways to explore the city.

River Cruises At Christmas

The Vltava River flows through the heart of the city, and many famous sights line its banks. This makes river cruises an ideal way to experience the unique ambience of Prague.

Trips range from 2-hour sightseeing cruises, to lunch and dinner cruises aboard luxurious, ultra-modern boats.

The boats are heated in the winter, to ensure a comfortable journey no matter the weather. And they are festively decorated throughout December.

In addition to the regular river cruises, the Prague Advent Cruise sets sail every weekend in the build up to Christmas: on this delightful sightseeing cruise, Christmas carols are played onboard, and guests are served hot mulled wine and a cake.
Prague Christmas River Cruise
Christmas River Cruises

Entertainment in Prague

Throughout the festive season, there is entertainment galore, including highly atmospheric Christmas concerts and Christmas events.

Classical Concerts

We particularly recommend attending a classical concert in Prague. Performances are magical at this time of year, both the Christmas concerts and regular concerts. They are staged in grand concert halls, and in beautiful churches and other historic buildings.

The best concerts always sell out, so we advise booking tickets in advance.
Opera & Ballet

The opera and ballet season is also in full swing, with performances staged at all three of the city's opera houses: Prague State Opera, National Theatre and Estates Theatre:

November Concerts + Opera & Ballet

December Concerts + Opera & Ballet

January Concerts + Opera & Ballet

Festive productions are prominent, such as the ever-popular ballet 'The Nutcracker', which is staged at two theatres: the National Theatre and Hybernia Theatre.

(Nutcracker tickets go on sale in August 2023. Tell us if are interested, and we will email you when they are listed - contact us)
The Nutcracker at the National Theatre in PragueNutcracker at National Theatre
Black Light Theatre

If you are seeking a typically Czech experience, black light theatres in Prague put on shows that are highly visual, so can be enjoyed by all ages and nationalities:

November Theatre

December Theatre

January Theatre
Czech nights

For excellent local Czech hospitality, consider either the Medieval Tavern or the Traditional Czech Night. Both are 'all-inclusive' events, and well suited to a cold winter's night.

WHAT'S OPEN at Christmas and New Year's Eve in Prague

For information on spending Christmas in Prague:

-24th December: Christmas Eve in Prague
-24th-26th December: Christmas Planner

For information on New Year's Eve celebrations in Prague:
-31st December: New Year's Eve
-31st December: New Year's Eve Planner

For more information on what's open throughout December: Christmas opening times.

More Information

For an introduction to the city: Prague tourism information.

For practical information, including currency exchange advice: Prague tourist information.

For travel advice: Travel to Prague and Travel around Prague by Public Transport.

For an easy way to visit Prague, the Prague Package includes a hotel, Prague airport transfers, sightseeing and entertainment.
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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Your guide to the Prague Christmas Markets 2023

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