If you plump for Christmas or New Year in the Czech Republic this year, you certainly won’t regret your decision. The atmosphere around a traditional Czech Christmas is sure to fire your imagination. One of the things inexorably linked to the Yuletide season here is the „Czech Christmas Mass“ by composer Jakub Jan Ryba. He created the piece in 1796 and it received its first performance on Christmas Day that same year in the church in Starý Rožmitál where Ryba lived. This was in keeping with his lifelong belief that a lot could be achieved even in a small town environment. So be sure not to miss a performance during Advent.
Christmas Czech style
The largest Christmas tree in the country can traditionally be found on Prague’s Old Town Square, where the best known Christmas markets also take place amid carol singing, mugs of hot mead and mulled wine, straw and glass tree decorations and many other items made by skilled local craftsmen. One of the cultural highlights will be a Christmas concert by opera singer Eva Urbanová, scheduled to take place 21st December at the Žofín Concert Hall. You can also choose from a wide range of exhibitions, concerts, festivals musical performances and special children’s events which will be taking place throughout the Czech Republic in December. What better reason do you need to head out into the regions of the Czech Republic.
Advent in South Bohemia
Should you find yourself in South Bohemia this winter, you’re certain to encounter the traditional components of most Czech Christmas dinners – carp and potato salad. The best Czech carp are reared in the lakes of South Bohemia, from where they make their way to Christmas dinner tables in many countries around the world. The ‘carp capital’ of the region is undoubtedly Třeboň - not far from the main square in the town stands a typical fish restaurant called Šupina where you can sample carp prepared in a number of ways. The highlight of any visit to South Bohemia is the town of Český Krumlov, a place full of character, tranquillity and romantic ambiance. Advent is a time when the townsfolk meet up for various events beginning with the lighting of the Christmas tree - carols are sung, there are presents for the children and a special postal service for letters to Father Christmas is set up. Another high point in the run-up to Christmas is the town’s live nativity scene – the well-known bible story told in song and dance to the accompaniment of a live band. Advent weekends are brought to life by old Bohemian Christmas markets where punch and traditional Christmas sweets are served, their aroma filling the entire town centre and instilling a mood of good cheer. And events taking place on the First Courtyard of the local chateau as part of the Bears’ Christmas are not limited to families with children looking to kick off Christmas day. Český Krumlov’s inimitable charm and romance are also on display as the town sees in the New Year.
New Year Fun
Should you find yourself on the last day of 2013 in Prague, be sure to head for the city’s steamers. You’ll love the cruise through the city centre and perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to catch a ride on the historical Vltava or Vyšehrad boats which this year became official pieces of national heritage. This year the customary New Year fireworks display has been moved from the River Vltava to the Letenské Gardens. The display will illuminate the capital on 1st January 2014 at 18:01 and the best vantage points from which to enjoy it are from Dvořákovo Embankment, Karlov, Mánesův and Čechův bridges, Petřín and Letná. Over 200 ski resorts in the Czech Republic are also preparing to see in 2014 with panache.
Czech mountains gaining respect among skiers
The borders of the Czech Republic are hemmed by mountain ranges, ideal locations for winter sports, especially among families with children. There are 450km of downhill slopes and around 300 cross-country skiing trails measuring almost 3000km in total to choose from. Extreme sports fans can get their adrenalin fix in snowparks or try their hand at snowtubing. As ski resorts are constantly updating their facilities, coming together to form ski regions and offering more for the price of a single skipass, skiing in the Czech Republic is becoming increasingly popular. Why not come and see for yourself?