Holiday Markets Minus the Tourists

Burned out on chestnuts and tchotchkes? Check out these funky-yet-festive alternatives

Prague’s traditional Christmas markets are widely touted to be among the best in Central Europe – but those of us who have lived here for any length of time know better. While Old Town Square never fails to stun and Náměstí Míru’s cozy neighborhood setting is just as breathtaking, the city’s much-hyped seasonal markets have long since lost their mojo. Luckily, there are plenty of other options that will help get you into the holiday shopping spirit, whether you’re partial to handcrafts, designer clothes, jewelry, organic foodstuffs or simply enjoy rifling through cool secondhand treasures collected by two of the Czech silver screen’s most bankable leading ladies.  

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Christmas Holešovice Fashion Market
When: November 29-December 1; Friday 12:00-21:00, Saturdays 10:00-21:00, Sunday 10:00-17:00
Where: Holešovice Pražská tržnice, hall 7, Bubenské nábř. 306/13, Prague 7
Admission: Free

For those who find shopping at malls around the holidays to be hectic, tiring and frustratingly unproductive, Holešovice Fashion Market promises not only a chill atmosphere but also unique, one-of-a-kind gift ideas from more than 140 local designers. Organized by the Czech fashion labels Lovemusic and Plazma Lab, this year’s theme is “Give with Style”. The offerings range from fashion (of course) to home décor, specialty gifts and organic food items. “It’s an opportunity to escape the hectic atmosphere of Christmas and enjoy a cup of bio coffee or tea,” the organizers explain. Julius Fashion Shop offers whimsical designs for him and her, while My Obsession strives to bring elegance and charm to erotic goods. Mommabear caters to the fashion sensibilities of the littlest shoppers, while Monika Roženková’s sophisticated label, MonaRosa, borders on haute couture. Meanwhile, Trash Made boasts a collection of original jewelry, fashion and interior accessories constructed out of recyclable materials. The program also includes fashion shows, dance performances, live music and a winter photo studio hosted by Savec, which will snap your photo free of charge.

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Design Supermarket 
When: December 4-8; Thursday/Friday 12pm-9pm, Saturday 10am-9pm, Sunday 10am-7pm 
Where: Palác Archa, Na Poříčí 26, Prague 1
Admission: 120 CZK

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One of the most anticipated events of the season, Design Supermarket – now in its seventh year – offers 16,000 square meters of fashion, jewelry, accessories, porcelain, glass, furniture, books and other wares from nearly 100 young Czech and international designers. Let top Czech fashion designers like Jana Mikešová, Kristýna K, Zuzana Kubíčková and Chatty help upgrade your wardrobe. Browse the jewelry department where you can find Blueberries, Jara design, Jana Hamrova Jewellery and Perli! Pick up a porcelain piece from de-sign.cz or Hana Vinklárková, who be debuting her brand Artistka for the first time this year. Ladies, you also won’t want to miss Luciela Taschen’s stand, which will be displaying a wide range of handmade bags and clutches.

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Christmas Market at the Holešovice Exhibition Grounds 
When:
 December 6-8; 10am-6pm
Where: Výstaviště Holešovice, Výstaviště 67, Prague 7 
Admission: 25 CZK 

The annual Christmas market at the city’s expansive exhibition grounds has the look and feel of a true insider’s secret. The event takes over two big warehoue-sized rooms and is mostly dedicated to ceramics, though you can also find stands hawking homemade breads and pastas, as well as hand-stitched bags, dolls, candles and other knickknacks from local vendors. While Incheba, the exhibition grounds’ operator, doesn’t do a great job marketing this beloved neighborhood gem, word still manages to spread quickly, so make sure this is definitely at the top of your must-see list this holiday season.

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Boutique Market 
When:
 December 7-21; Saturdays 10am to 9pm
Where: Holešovice Pražská tržnice, hall 7, Bubenské nábř. 306/13, Prague 7
Admission: Free 

From fine wine, chocolates and fair trade coffee blends to Czech glass, silver rings and snazzy outfits for the kids, Boutique Market focuses on – well – “boutique” manufacturers with top-quality and environmentally friendly products to sell. “The market will be held in a heated industrial hall and will include decorations, background music, refreshments and activities for children,” organizers say. “Thanks to the right timing, Boutique Market provides a suitable place for Christmas shoppers.” Foodies will love Upekla’s elaborate cake selection, as well as the tantalizing chocolate creations at Chocomaze. Mommacoffee will be selling fair-trade blends from around the world, while Winehouse.cz specializes in Moravian reds and whites. For original jewelry and home décor make sure to check out local designers like Marienberg, Mihulli, Holcimart-Krakatka and Lubor Baum’s upmarket silver collection. Fashionistas will also have plenty to look at from Yaxi Taxi and Ritore’s sleek women’s ware to Kidoo.cz’s colorful hoodies and sweatpants for little boys and girls.

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Vánoční bazar v Mokré čtvrti (Christmas Bazaar on Skid Row) 
When: December 14-15; 10am-8pm; (December 13: Donation drop-offs; 10am-8pm)  
Where: Divadlo DISK; Karlova 26, Prague 1
Admission: Free 

Czech actresses and BFFs Aňa Geislerová Tatiana Vilhelmová team up with director Peter Serge Butko for the 10th annual installment of their popular charity Christmas bazaar. Hunt through rows of donated items, which in years past have included everything from clothing and jewelry to vases, paintings, skis and baby prams. There are no price tags, rather visitors are encouraged to bargain, keeping in mind that all proceeds will go to a various charities. Generous offers are usually accompanied by a bottle of wine, Becherovka or some other sweet delight from one of the bazaar’s numerous sponsors. “We very carefully select specific projects, and we know exactly where the money from the Christmas bazaar go,” Butko explains. The event has raised millions of crowns for charities over the last decade, and organizers are hoping to outdo themselves this year. The weekend bazaar is followed by an elaborate after-party at Lucerna Music Bar on December 20, where there will be plenty to drink and plenty of Czech singers, actors and artists to schmooze with, too.

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Vánoční Dyzajn Márket 
When:
 December 15, 10am-7pm
Where: Piazetta Nová Scéna, Národní Divadlo, Národní 2, Prague 1
Admission: Free

This intimate one-day market nestled in the courtyard between the National Theater and the New Scene has developed a devout following over the years, popular not only for its unique wares, but also for its laid-back, familial vibe. While it’s located along a prime tourist route, Dyzajn is still very mich a local affair, boasting live musch, theater and mulled wine from Café Jericho. This year’s maket will feature handmade works from 170 designers and artists, including jewelry, and clothing by Veršatyl and handbags by ZasPas, both of which will be featured during the afternoon fashion show (1pm-2pm). Best of all, Dyzajn Márket’s “Silver Sunday” will support a number of charitable projects dedicated to helping people with mental illnesses, the elderly and hospice homes.

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For additoinal Christmas activities and markets visit www.expats.cz/entertainment/christmas/
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