The Czech čarodějnice or “Witch Burning Night” has two possible origins. The first, Beltane, is a Celtic summer festival dating back from when Celtic tribes inhabited this area.
The event could also stem from either a Scandinavian or German summer rite, which later became the night of St. Walpurga. This explains its English name: Walpurgis Night.
As Christianity spread, what had once been a pagan festival became more of a tradition to keep all that was pagan at bay. The fires were lit to ward off witches and part of this process included burning old broom sticks.
No matter what you call it, in Prague and beyond you will find a night of roaring bonfires, roasting buřty, and outdoor revelry that’s all about saying so long to winter, and welcoming the spring.
This year Witch Burning Night falls on Saturday, April 30.
Organized Witch Burning events will be taking place all over Prague this Saturday. Here are some of the best known, and a few surprises:
Ladronka Park Witch Burning is one of the biggest celebrations in Prague and this year in addition to all the usual fanfare (activities for children, markets, and live entertainment on the main stage) visitors can enjoy the Picnic FOOD festival, a diverse offering of food and drink stalls. Start time is 12 pm.
Café na půl cesty in Pankrác in association with the Green Door initiative that helps find employment for the mentally disabled, organizes a Witch Burning with a social conscious. The live music and merriment kicks off at 2pm
Žluté lázně beach resort will have a rich line-up for families and a fiery evening for DJ-packed entertainment for adults. Start time is 2pm.
Malostranské čarodějnice includes a lantern procession from the square to Kampa park where the main festivities take place. Starting in the evening at 7pm.
Břevnov monastery is a more quiet though no less festive affair. A marketplace with over fifteen food and drink stalls, tent, and live music that opens at 12pm.
For tips beyond Prague see here.
Alternatively, see our article on where to legally light your own fire which includes maps Divoká Šárka, Hloubětín Forest, and more.