This week sees the opening of two Christmas markets in Prague while further afoot castles throughout the Czech Republic begin opening their doors for advent markets, tours, and special performances in the run-up to the holidays.
For those who want to exchange the merry hordes of the Prague markets for a Baroque palace or medieval fortress dressed in yuletide finery, these smaller though no less festive celebrations are just a train ride from Prague and offer Christmas cheer in stunning surrounds.
Nelahozeves, a Renaissance-era castle located 25 km north of Prague, opens its advent market from Friday, November 22 to Sunday, November 24. The market is held in the courtyard of the castle, with several stands throughout the grounds selling traditional crafts as well as offering workshop stations. A theatre performance, caroling, and real Scottish bagpipers will precede the lighting of the Christmas tree (16:30) followed by a “special surprise.” Grown-ups can enjoy a taste of Lobkowicz mulled wine.
Hluboka nad Vltavou
November 24-December 31
Hluboká Castle is one of the most distinctive chateaus in Europe with its Romantic facade and surrounding gardens. An idyllic setting for enjoying some holiday cheer. Its advent weekends have dozens of events planned ranging from a Christmas market with handicrafts and food stalls in the Prince’s Court plus a tour of the interior spaces and workshops for chidren focused on the work of Czech illustrator Adolf Bjorn.
Opens November 30th
A Baroque castle surrounded by an English park that’s famed for its labyrinths and mazes, Loučeň Chateau is also home to the largest advent wreath in Bohemia, adorning the fountain in its courtyard. Every year the palace opens its advent celebration with a ritual involving four angels who accompany the White Lady of Loučeň as she lights the candles on the wreath and blesses the pre-Christmas period. This year’s lighting happens November 30th as does the opening of the exhibit “Christmas Tree Story” featuring 21 themed Christmas trees.
November 30-December 22
Not far from Liberec, this Renaissance castle occupies a three-country border area where Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic meet. It is one of the best restored castles in the Czech lands, meaning that its “Clam-Gallas Christmas in Grabštejn” events are worth attending for the tour of the festively decorated interiors alone, not to mention the ornament decorating workshops, concerts, and meals in the castle tavern.
December 7-8; December 14-15
Built during the reign of Přemysl Otakar II this magnificent royal castle was purportedly home to Charles IV during his childhood years. A varied program takes place here across two weekends in December with its medieval courtyard hosting advent markets, live performers, and puppet shows. A historic train will transport visitors to the site from Prague’s Smichov station on December 14-15.
This 12th-century Gothic stunner in the charming town of Loket near Karlovy Vary will host its advent celebration from December 7-8. The festivities focus on the crafts and customs of the Ore Mountain region. Visitors can try their hand at making straw ornaments or decorating gingerbread decorating. Folk music, including traditional barrel organ, and dance from the Ore Mountain region are on the program.
Frýdlant Castle near Liberec rises up from a basalt rock above the River Směda. The complex consists of a medieval castle and a Renaissance chateau and is considered one of the most important monuments in the Czech Republic. It is also Central Europe’s oldest castle museum. A special series of Christmas-themed tours will take place here throughout the advent season, even offering visitors a chance to decorate the castle tree.
Now through January 12
Majestic Karlštejn Castle has numerous events (concerts, nativity scenes, and masses) planned for the advent season. A large historical marketplace will pop up under the castle where regional products from carvers and jewellers, as well as advent wreaths and many other Christmas goods, will be on offer. The Museum of Nativity Scenes as well as multiple performances and castle tours throughout the season, make the short train ride from Prague worth the trip.
This South Bohemian castle, the third-largest historical castle complex in the Czech Republic, annually hosts a lively marketplace with regional goods as well as numerous food stalls in the second and third chateau courtyards during the advent season. The popular market has increased in size this year and will add a music, dance, and theater program, creative workshops, a menagerie of animals and blacksmiths and potters showcasing their skills.
November 30-December 15
A variety of advent-related festivities will take place in this so-called “Jane Eyre” castle, a 19th-century Gothic-style Romantic château near Hradec Králové. During this event, the chateau kitchen is open to the public, where guests will be able to taste English Christmas punch and other holiday treats. Includes night tours.
You can search for additional advent events (in Czech) at the National Heritage Institute’s website.