Prague Christmas market opens Saturday on Old Town Square

Photo: Kristyna Makova

With the holiday season just around the corner, the traditional Prague Christmas market is due to open on Saturday in the historic centre of the Czech capital. Both visitors to Prague and locals can come to see what’s in store this year in Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square and sample some traditional Czech Christmas delicacies.

Photo: CTK
On Saturday, December 1, at 5 PM, the Christmas tree on Prague’s Old Town Square will be lit to officially mark the beginning of this year’s Christmas market in the Czech capital. Strolling around more than 80 stands with traditional Czech handicraft products as well as food stands with pastries, pancakes and other local Christmas favourites, visitors can enjoy folklore, choirs and various theatre shows on the main stage just next to the Christmas tree. Libor Votruba is the director of Taiko, the company that organizes the event.

“The Christmas market will be almost the same as last year. We just added some new food stands with traditional Czech food since in previous years, visitors to the market recommended that we bring more Czech specialities like ‘staroceske trdlo’ and ‘babiccina placka’, and so on. So we brought more food of this kind. We also re-organized some of the stalls so that Old Town Square is more spacious for people to move around and feel more comfortable.”

Photo: Kristyna Makova
This year, the market will also have a different colour scheme. A year ago, the tree, the stalls and other decorations were set in blue and silver while this season, the dominant colour scheme will be a combination of red, silver and gold. The 22-metre tall Christmas tree is an 80-year old pine which was brought to Prague from the Krkonose Mountains, eastern Bohemia. Its illumination will be sponsored by a company that recycles used lamps. I asked Andrew Brookie, a New Zealander running the Ekolamp Company, why they have chosen to sponsor the tree lights this year.

“Because we are a company that is responsible for the collection and ecological recycling of lamps. We feel that the lighting of the Christmas tree is a good opportunity to spread our message to the Czech people. They should know that lamps and luminaires can be recycled ecologically, and we want to encourage people to put them into bins for recycling. ”

Photo: Kristyna Makova
The Christmas market on Old Town Square in Prague will be open throughout the holiday season until January 1, 2008, and will even host a New Year’s Eve celebration with live bands and fireworks. And organizer Libor Votruba says he can assure everybody no Christmas tree is collapsing this time, as it did four years ago when it injured a British visitor to the market.

“I could guarantee that for the last three years since we started organizing the Christmas market. We measure the tree, and conduct the respective tests with it. We put weights on the sides of the tree, and below, there is a 21-ton weight holding it.”