Kuks (Nov. 14, 15, 21, 22)
Christmas starts early in the Baroque chateau and hospital in Kuks, as over 140 stands with traditional wares – ceramics, soaps, Cannes, wreaths and Christmas decorations and a wide array of food and drinks – fill the courtyard. Every hour, the Church choir of Dvůr Kralové will perform in the Church of the Trinity and the Musica per Legni flute ensemble will give a concerts at 10:00 and 12:00. Trains, running on a special schedule from Pardubice, will make stops in Kuks on all four days. Entry fee 40 CZK.
České Budějovice (Nov 27 to Jan 6)
From Nov. 27 through Jan. 6 the town square will be filled with traditional Christmas crafts and decorations and activities for young and old, including a bell parade on Dec. 2, the landing of an Angel on Dec. 5 (presumably to join the Mikuláš and Čert show), a living nativity scene and gospel singing.
Česky Krumlov (Nov 28 to Jan 6)
Every Sunday before Christmas, there’s a different program. On Dec. 7, the Baby Jesus post office will be in town, on Dec. 14, there will be caroling around the tree and on Dec. 21, the town’s musicians will sing Silent Night in many different languages. A living nativity scene will put you in a contemplative mood on the day before Christmas, Dec. 23.
Brno (Nov 28 to Dec 23)
Christmas markets will fill all three of Brno’s large squares in the center of town with fun for kids and grown-ups, from the tree lighting ceremony on Nov. 28 to Dec. 23. There will be pony rides, merry-go-rounds, a mailbox for the Baby Jesus, along with punch, funnel cake, Moravian plum pies and a winter garden offering grilled specialties starting with dried prunes on a skewer with bacon and ending with goose and cabbage.
Karlovy Vary (Nov 28 to Dec 23)
A new market is scheduled for the Hotel Thermal Spa in Karlovy Vary. A Christmas ice-skating rink, train, carousel, and plenty of children’s activities will take place around the giant Christmas tree. A Christmas grill, live performances, and nativity scene will add to the festival atmosphere.
Pardubice (Dec 6 to 14 and 20 to 21)
In December, the precious Pernštýn square in Pardubice will fill with sound of music. Local children’s choirs will start, followed by folk, country and brass bands. On Dec. 10. At 18:00, you can sing Christmas carols on the square. There will be a merry-go-round and a children’s train, along with a nativity scene with live animals and stands full of pretty traditional items, of course.
Rožnov pod Radhoštem (Dec 7 to 16)
Live a real Czech country Christmas market in the Wallachian folk museum. All of the museum’s employees will become housekeepers, craftsmen or parts of the Mikuláš and Čert duo. The houses will be decked out in Christmas style and in each you can try out a different activity such as chocolate or candle making, baking Christmas cakes or making decorations out of paper or straw. The traditional Christmas market starts on Dec. 13.
Loket (Dec 7 and 8)
On Dec. 7 the square below the ancient castle of Loket will come alive with a real medieval Christmas crafts market. Permeated by the smell of mulled wine and mead, there will be caroling, a play about the birth of our Lord, a great koláč tournament and a fencing school for the kids while parents look on with a glass of mulled alcohol of their choice. And you need not fear the cold: warm up by the fire in the Knight’s Hall tavern.
Mnichovo Hradiště (Dec 13)
Experience Christmas with a Rococo flair in the charming baroque town of Mnichovo Hradiště on Saturday, Dec. 13. In addition to a traditional Christmas festivities, there will be carriage rides and a living nativity scene, just like in the times of the great general Wallenstein.
Karlštejn Castle (Dec 21 to 24)
On November 30, the battlements of the Karlštejn Castle will resound to the music of the Advent concert, as groups of musicians and dancers fill the square. On Dec. 21 a historical fair with toys, wooden swords, jewelry and other gifts will ensue in the square. Wash down Christmas treats with Karlštejn wine visit the exhibition of nativity scenes in the Bethlehem Museum, with mechanical nativity scenes and the Karlštejn royal Nativity with figures of the ten most important Czech rulers. The climax of the day will be the Czech Christmas Mass by Jan Jakub Ryba in the Knights Hall at 17:00.
Vienna (Nov. 13 to Jan. 6)
The first recorded Christmas market, the Vienna Dezembermarkt, took place here in 1294 and the Viennese have been careful not to let the tradition die out. From November to January, the city is host to not one but eight Christmas markets, including the gaily lit Enchanted Park in the Rathauspark next to the Town Hall, Christmas Village in the Maria-Therezia Platz and the Artisan Market in front of the Schonbrunn Palace, the nostalgic Old Vienna Market in the beautiful Freyung Square.
Bratislava (Nov. 20 to Dec. 22)
Although Bratislava’s Old Town is tiny compared to Prague’s, the city makes full use of it come Christmastime, with over 100 stalls filling the Franziskan Square. You can buy all kinds of traditional Slovak gifts like beeswax candles, carved wood and heavy sheepskin coats while fortifying yourself with traditional food like cabbage soup and bread with lard and cracklings. There will be daily concerts, folk dances and performances for children and adults alike.
Dresden and Nuremberg (Nov. 26 to Dec. 24)
A few hours’ drive across the border in the land of people who take their Christmas markets dead seriously, you’ll get your fill of Gebrannte Mandeln (candied, toasted almonds), as Lebkuchen and Magenbrot (both forms of soft gingerbread), Bratwurst, Glühwein, (mulled wine, preferably with a shot of brandy), or Eierpunsch (an egg-based warm alcoholic drink) while walking among stalls full of handmade toys, Nussknacker (carved Nutcrackers) and Zwetschgenmännle (figures made of decorated dried plums).
Krakow (Nov. 27 to Dec. 26)
From November 27 to December 26, at the Christmas market in the center of the erstwhile capital of Poland you will find jewelry made of Baltic amber, Bohemian glass, clothes, furs and decorations for a much better price than in the Czech Republic. Plus a chorus of Polish carols, folk dances and nativity scenes.