Czech Republic, Europe, Prague

Christmas Markets: Wenceslas Square in Prague.

November 14, 2011
Christmas Markets: Wencelas Square in Prague.

I went to Prague last December and again this past July.  Unfortunately, my second visit was rather disappointing as the city did not hold the same allure. Don’t get me wrong, the beautiful architecture still amazed me and I felt comfortable walking about the what now seemed to be “familiar” streets. I especially remembered why my love for the city was so great … it was here on a night walk that I decided I’d chase my dreams and move to Europe.

What was different on this second visit? In the summer, parts of the city actually seemed ugly. I suddenly noticed the abundance of American chain retail stores and restaurants like TGI Fridays and even Hooters! I glanced at walls adorned with pointless graffiti, nothing like what I’d seen in Cologne or Szczecin. Worst of all? The city was noisy and jam packed with tourists, many of them drunken college aged back packers.

I didn’t realize how spoiled I’d been to have experienced Prague at Christmas. It’d been quiet, charming and quaint. There were far less tourists. It snowed the entire 2 days I was there, big fat flakes that made my experience extraordinary. Carols played as I strolled the markets, sipping mulled wine, trying local food and laughing at treasures (aka junk) being sold. Even on little side streets, you’d find nativity scenes and decorated Christmas trees.

Festive Prague

Festive Prague
Shortly after arriving and checking into Hotel Yasmine, I ventured out to see my very first Christmas market which was located in Wenceslas Square.

Christmas Markets: Wencelas Square in Prague.
I was amazed at how beautiful and festive it all was, so unlike the commercial fare of Toronto and North America in general. No one was asking me to donate money every 5 minutes, nativity scenes were on display and not forbidden on the premise of political correctness and people weren’t tearing at one another to snap up some last minute sale item. In fact, families came to the market together and took their time to revel in the experience.

Christmas is really Christmas here … not just a “holiday“. Of course in North America, you don’t dare breath the word Christmas for fear of offending someone. Christmas is especially celebrated by those who lived in Prague during the Soviet occupation when the city was bland and almost joyless during the holiday season when celebrations were limited and conducted in private.

Christmas Markets: Wencelas Square in Prague.

Christmas Markets: Wencelas Square in Prague.
So, yeah it can be said that I enjoyed my first Christmas market experience immensely. I sampled mulled wine for the first time and thought it was disgusting but this changed as the week went on. I got to the point where I was inhaling several cups a day! I tried some weird looking candy that was way to sugary and picked up some cute souvenirs for friends back home.

Christmas Markets: Wencelas Square in Prague.

Christmas Markets: Wencelas Square in Prague.

Christmas Markets: Wencelas Square in Prague.
That first trip to Prague was unlike any holiday I’d had to date. My time there was really magical! In my opinion, Christmas is the best time to visit the city.

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18 Comments

  • Reply fotoeins November 14, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Cheryl, those are some pretty photos of the “Vánoční trhy na Václavském náměstí”! 🙂

    I discovered my love of the Christmas markets when I used to live in Heidelberg and then on subsequent visits to Germany. When I visited Prague a number of times in December, the lights and stalls at Weneceslas Square and Old Town Square are particularly bright and lively.

    Thanks again for your post!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard November 15, 2011 at 12:24 am

      @fotoeins – Thanks! My visit there was quite lovely. Glad you enjoy these kinds of markets as well.

  • Reply Andrew November 14, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    Great pictures. My (then future) wife and I went to Prague last year. It really is a neat place in the Winter. Though really freaking cold and snowy. We had one nice crisp clear day and the rest of the weekend was snowy and cold. Still wandering the markets is neat.
    Another time to go is Easter. Similar markets popup and though warmer, not quite the summer heat or crush of drunkenness.

    BTW don’t they have Christmas Markets in Berlin?

    • Reply Cheryl Howard November 15, 2011 at 12:26 am

      @Andrew – thanks so much! Hmmm, Easter sounds quite nice as well.

      And yes, they have many markets in Berlin but I haven’t been to any yet as I only moved here 6 months ago. LOL! I saw them setting up already at Alexanderplatz over the weekend … I plan to hit up as many as possible before Christmas. 🙂

  • Reply Jenna November 15, 2011 at 12:18 am

    I think you already know how much I love Prague. I really enjoyed the Czech Christmas traditions. It’s kind of hard to imagine what working there all day must be like– brr! And I agree with you about visiting in the winter. Even though it’s very cold there, winter is a great time to get a feeling for the culture.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard November 15, 2011 at 12:30 am

      @Jenna – Yes, for sure. We both haven fallen victim to the city’s magnetic charm. 🙂 Ohhh, I’d hate being outside all day too … I may be back there for Christmas … mulling it over! 🙂

  • Reply Christy @ Technosyncratic November 15, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Prague would be a fantastic place to spend Christmas, though I don’t know if I could handle exploring the city in snow! I’m such a wimp when it comes to cold weather, though, so maybe that’s just me. 🙂 We’ll be in Thailand this Christmas, and while I’m sure I’ll love the warm temps I’m not sure what celebrating Christmas will be like there.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard November 15, 2011 at 1:25 pm

      @Christy – It’s amazing there this time of year. Thailand sounds pretty nice too! 🙂

  • Reply Andrea November 16, 2011 at 12:08 am

    Beautiful – haven’t checked out that square yet but I just saw them putting up holiday decorations in the city today so maybe too soon. Definitely hoping to catch one at least in Vienna before we leave Europe!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard November 16, 2011 at 2:35 am

      @Andrea – Hope you make at least one before you leave … they’re magnificent! The one at the palace is quite nice and where I spent my Christmas morning last year. 🙂

  • Reply fotoeins November 17, 2011 at 12:21 am

    An interesting place to start is Weihnachtsmarkt in Deutschland : http://www.weihnachtsmarkt-deutschland.de/

    I’ve noticed that all the cities’ own tourist websites offer information about the Weihnachtsmärkte. For example, from Berlin.de, one gets pointed to http://www.weihnachtsmarkt-deutschland.de/

    It’s gonna “hurt” not being in the `Schland this year for Weihnachtsmarkt : Glühwein, Würste, Kartoffelpuffer (mit Apfelmus), and the hits just keep on comin’ …

    Mach Spass!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard November 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm

      @fotoeins – thanks for posting this info. Hopefully you’ll be able to make it here eventually for the x-mas season!

  • Reply Stephanie - The Travel Chica November 17, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    So beautiful! It has been strange to celebrate Christmas in the Summer the last two years. At least this year, I will most likely be in Patagonia, so it will feel a like Christmas season. And maybe there will even be some pretty light displays like this.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard November 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm

      @Stephanie – thank you! Hope you get treated to a lovely Christmas season. 🙂

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