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Events and festivals in Czech Republic
The popular festivals of the Czech Republic are celebrated with great enthusiasm and joy in all the regions of the country. This attitude is propitiated, in part, by the harsh communist oppression to which the Czech people were subjected, during which they were deprived of the celebration of their ancient traditions.
Here we tell you about the main popular festivals in the Czech Republic.
Popular festivals in the Czech Republic
They have thirteen national holidays, of which we highlight the most special ones.
Christmas is celebrated almost all over the world but in this country it is done with true fervour. The streets are filled with light and colour and the squares are filled with street markets. Some of the typical products of this time of the year are sold in the streets. Svařák is a very spicy hot wine with a rich flavour which is served to accompany trdelník, a traditional sweet which consists of a flour dough roasted on a wooden skewer.
Barborky or Feast of Saint Barbara
It takes place on 4th December. According to tradition, the Czechs must cut the branch of a cherry tree which is 10 or more years old and put it in a vase in the house of a single woman. It is said that if the branch blooms before Christmas Eve, it will mean that the woman will marry in the following year. 5th December is Saint Nicholas, a party similar to the Spanish Three Kings Day. At the end of the year, lentils are eaten to attract good luck or 4 nuts are eaten to ensure good health.
Velikonoce or Easter
Another event in the Czech Republic is Easter, which is more related to spring than to Christian tradition. Easter eggs decorated with colours are also sold. On Monday there is a procession of children singing songs. These dates are celebrated as a family and people eat mazanec, an almond and lemon cake with the drawing of on a cross on top.
Burning of Witches
The Festival of the Burning of Witches is one of the most curious and magical Czech folk festivals. It is celebrated on the night of 30th April and is a tradition which dates back to the Middle Ages. At that time it was believed that witches hid in the mountains to practice black magic with the devil. The people of the villages used amulets to protect themselves from curses and lit fires to burn these women. The tradition is maintained today but the atmosphere is more festive. The Burning of Witches is celebrated by burning straw dolls which represent the witches while the women dance around and the men jump over the fire.
It takes place on 1st May and is one of the most popular festivals in the Czech Republic. Couples head to the Petřín park in Prague and kiss under a cherry tree. The reason Lovers' Day is celebrated on May Day is because of a well-known poem by Karel Hynek Mácha called Maj which means, precisely, May.
Another of the festivities of the Czech Republic is the Royal Silverning, which takes place at the end of June in the town of Kutná Hora, also known as "Treasure Chest". It is a celebration that commemorates the arrival of King Wenceslas IV with his wife Sofia. The streets are decorated, knights duel and parades and fireworks shows are organised.
Feast of the Rose of the Five Petals
This is one of the most picturesque events in Czech Republic. It is celebrated in June in the city of Cesky Krumlov and is a tribute to the Rosenberg family, who ruled the city for more than 300 years. That day is a medieval festival, where the crafts of the time are recreated and a spectacular parade of torches takes place. It also features an amazing live chess game.
Other events in the Czech Republic
Other festivities to highlight are:
This takes place on 15th May and commemorates the liberation of the country from the oppression of the Soviet Union. It is named for the cultural and social flourishing which could be enjoyed in the former Czechoslovakia, at least for a time, until the Soviets crushed the nation's dreams of freedom. It is celebrated by playing classical music.
International Folklore Festival
It takes place in the months of June and July in Straznice, Moravia. Thousands of people gather to watch or participate in the contest of Verbunk, which is the traditional dance of the Czech Republic.
Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
This is celebrated in July and is one of the oldest film festivals in the world. During the Cold War it was canceled but in the 90s it was able to recover its importance and prestige. The awards which are granted are the Crystal Globe and is celebrated in a luxury thermal station.
The Czechs are especially proud of their folklore which has centuries of history and they love to show their traditions to tourists. Therefore, if you travel to this country, we recommend that you do it during one of the peculiar Czech Republic festivities.GO TO EVENTS
Food in Czech Republic
If you are asking yourself what you can eat in the Czech Republic, you should know that you won’t go hungry, as the dishes they serve are large and abundant, perfect for the traveller who has spent the day touring around the country.
The gastronomy of the Czech Republic is influenced by Austrian and German cuisine. Also by the climate and the type of products that can be grown, among which you will find wheat, potatoes, vegetables and meat. Although the cuisine is varied, the Czech population love meat, particularly veal and pork.
These are some of the dishes you will find in the restaurants and that all tourists should try.
Bramboračka (potato soup)
Some of the most traditional dishes of the Czech Republic are the soups, among which is found bramboračka. This soup is made with potatoes, vegetables and mushrooms, and seasoned with spices. It is eaten as a starter and is particularly appetising on cold days.
Koleno (Ham hock)
The koleno is roast ham hock, which is a very popular dish among the Czechs. The meat is marinated in beer and herbs before roasting. It is served in one large piece accompanied by mustard, pickles and Czech bread.
Svíčková na smetaně (marinated sirloin)
Another dish to try in the Czech Republic is svíčková, a very elaborate recipe which is representative of the country’s cuisine. It is made with veal sirloin accompanied by a delicious Czech sauce which is prepared with vegetables, and which may vary according to local produce. What is consistent in all of these is the carrot, which provides its a characteristic orange colour. This is a very old recipe which dates back to 1826 and the cooking of this dish has not changed since then.
Vepřo-knedlo-zelo (pork roast)
This is the star dish of Czech gastronomy. It is the definitive proof that Czechs love their meat. To prepare this dish, different parts of the pig are used, such as the head, the ham and the fillet. It is served with cabbage and dumplings as a garnish. Each piece of meat is seasoned with onion, garlic, pepper and cumin.
Knedlíky or dumplings are also very popular foods within the gastronomy of the Czech Republic. They consist of pieces of boiled dough and they can be sweet or savoury. They are usually used as a garnish on different dishes and can be found in the shape of a ball, or made into a roll to enable cutting. They can also be prepared stuffed with meat, or even fruit when served as a dessert.
Goulash is an indispensable dish when eating in the Czech Republic. It belongs to Hungarian cuisine, although the Czech version has nothing to be envious of. In reality, they are not really alike, neither in their ingredients nor in their presentation. Czech goulash consists of stuffed meat which is accompanied by a sauce and knedliky (dumplings). It is traditional to serve goulash inside a country loaf of bread after removing the dough.
The nakládaný hermelín is an aperitif which is very popular in this country. You can ask for it at any pub to accompany a delicious Czech beer. It is a soft-flavoured cheese macerated in oil, garlic, chillies and other spices. It is accompanied by Czech bread and pepper or onion.
Traditional Czech Republic desserts
There are also some sweet treats to eat in the Czech Republic that you will enjoy, particularly if you have a sweet tooth. These are the most traditional.
In the historic centre of Prague there are many stalls selling trdelnik, which is a dough roll that is slowly boiled and pierced with a stick to create a hollow centre. It is sprinkled with sugar and dried fruits and can also be filled with ice cream.
This is a recipe from Czech Republic gastronomy originating from the beginning of the 17th Century. It was a dessert which was served at weddings in those times. It consists of small bread rolls stuffed with fruit compote. There is also a savoury version which is filled with a base of ham or cheese.
Another typical dish from the Czech Republic is ovocné knedlíky which is a type of meatball filled with fruits and covered in cottage cheese or butter. These are also sold covered in cinnamon, chocolate or ginger.
Traditional drinks from the Czech Republic
The Czechs greatly appreciate their beer, and there are ancient factories in existence which date back to the year 993. Czech beer is considered a national symbol and an item of pride for beer connoisseurs.
It is said that the original recipe was a remedy for stomach ache and, over time, it was transformed into what it is today. It is a unique drink and is very representative of the country. It is prepared with a series of herbs and spices that give it a subtle bitter, yet delicious flavour.
The food and drink of the Czech Republic is served in large portions and is very tasty and spicy. This is something that tourists who are aficionados of gastronomy thoroughly enjoy.GO TO GASTRONOMY
Shopping in Czech Republic
To find out what to buy in the Czech Republic, you won't have to put too much effort into it because it's a country with a great tradition that has been poured into its souvenirs. In addition, you will find picturesque items at very interesting prices.
These are some typical products from the Czech Republic that you will want to take home with you.
Inspired by local stories and Czech legends, they are handcrafted. They come in all sizes, representing different characters. Each marionette has its own individual face and unique character. Puppetry and marionette theatre are among the country's most important emblems. If you want to delve into this tradition, visit the Puppet Museum in Pilsen.
Also called Bohemian crystal. It enjoys enormous worldwide prestige for its beauty and quality. There are several glass factories in the country where glass is blown and then hand carved to create different objects. Some luxury brands continue to provide Czech crystal luxury items to the aristocracy and royal houses. But you can also find options for humbler budgets.
Another product to buy in the Czech Republic is known as bloodstone, because of its intense red color. According to legend, this precious gem has the magical virtue of transforming sadness into joy. Authentic garnets must bear a certificate. In medieval times it was an element worn by kings and nobles, but today it is within everyone's reach and is used to decorate all kinds of jewellery and accessories.
Karlovy Vary Wafers
These wafers are a traditional and popular treat in the Czech Republic. They are giant wafers that can be found, with different flavours, in little stalls in the centre of the city of the same name. They are eaten cold or hot and are also sold packaged in supermarkets to give away.
Karlovy Vary also offers its own traditional drink, which was first produced in 1807. It has a high percentage of alcohol (up to 38%) and its taste is exquisite, thanks to the quality of the city waters and the alcohol used. It also uses natural sugar and contains up to 32 different herbs and spices.
Souvenirs from the Czech Republic
There are interesting options for those who are looking for more unusual items.
Art Decor Toys
The Art Dekor shop is in the centre of the capital, where you can buy unique Czech Republic souvenirs. This establishment's offer are gifts, accessories and handmade toys. Traditional colours and shapes for items of all kinds, from dolls and stuffed animals to decorative objects.
This shop is in Prague, in a cubist house called "of The Black Madonna". In this shop-museum we find replicas of works by avant-garde artists as well as restored objects and furniture and contemporary creations with modern designs.
Qubus Design Studio was founded in 2002 by designer Maxim Velčovský whose pieces express a great creativity mixed with a peculiar humour. There is also room for objects that refer to the country's artisan tradition, along with more contemporary designs.
Where to buy typical products from the Czech Republic
The markets are ideal for tourists to visit during their trip and in the city of Prague there are several of them that deserve a visit.
Havelská Trh Market
It is situated in Havelská and has an enormous variety of different products, from food such as locally produced fruits and vegetables to handicrafts made from a variety of materials. Here you can also find the traditional wooden puppets. It's a picturesque market worth visiting.
The River Town market
It is situated at number 306 of Bubenské nabrezi and it is one of the most popular markets in the capital. There's everything from food to fashion items. Keep in mind that some of the brands you find may be imitations.
Prague Flea Market
This market is in Kolbenova, in a very old huge courtyard. A variety of curious objects are shown, mostly antiques and second-hand items. You have to pay a symbolic price of less than 1€ to enter this market. This visit is a must, and you will find many things to buy in the Czech Republic.
Of course there are also shopping areas in the more central streets of Prague where you can find boutiques and luxury brands. Just a short distance from the historic centre of the city you can find shopping centres such as Arkády Pankrác, Nový Smíchov or Atrium Flora where you can spend a pleasant afternoon shopping for souvenirs from the Czech Republic.
Brno is the second largest city in the country after Prague and is the historical capital of Moravia. It is also an iconic place for shopping, especially in the popular shopping mall Galería Vaňkovka.GO TO SHOPPING
Czech Republic tourist attractions
More information about Czech Republic
The Czech Republic, also known as Czechia, is a Central European nation, rich in history and proudly one of Europe’s most popular travel destinations, in particular, its fascinating, fairy-tale capital of Prague, the focal point of most trips to the Czech Republic. Landlocked between Poland, Slovakia, Austria and Germany, the Czech Republic offers traveller more than just charming chocolate-box cities, but also a chance to peer through the looking glass into the history of Europe as a whole, due to its central location and long, eventful history.
Over the centuries, the Czech Republic has been both a battle-ground and a playground for kingdoms and empires, so many intriguing relics have been left behind. Countless ancient castles, mansions and monasteries are scattered throughout the country, many of which are set amongst forested countryside and mountains, such as the impressive hilltop castle of Bouzov or the atmospheric ruins of Rabi Castle.
Prague steals the spotlight when it comes to travel to the Czech Republic, but cities such as Brno in the south and the pretty spa resort of Karlovy Vary are not to be missed. Of course, one of the Czech Republic’s best-known features is its unbeatable beer scene. A long history of brewing combined with a forward-thinking artisan beer trend makes it Europe’s best-loved destinations of beer aficionados.
History of the Czech Republic
The Czech Republic, in roughly the same form as we know it today, did not emerge until the 9th-century, with the establishment of the Duchy of Bohemia. Before this time, both Celtic and Germanic tribes and Slavs had inhabited the Central European region. In 921, famous King Wenceslas inherited the throne of Bohemia, converting the kingdom to Christianity. Shortly thereafter, around the beginning of the 11th-century, Bohemia became part of the Holy Roman Empire and continued to play an important role in the region throughout the Middle Ages.
The Golden Age of Bohemia can be said to be the 14th-century when many of its most iconic monuments were founded and Prague flourished as a centre of learning and culture. Both the Charles Bridge and Charles Square, must-see sights on a trip to the Czech Republic, were established during this age, as well as Charles University, today the oldest and largest in the country. The long-lived rule of the Holy Roman Empire came to an end in 1806 and Bohemia was integrated into Austria-Hungary.
Following World War I, Czechoslovakia was formed as the Habsburg Empire collapsed, encompassing many different ethnic minorities into one state. This caused a number of struggles within the new state, especially for some of the German population, who desired independence. During World War II, Czechoslovakia was annexed and occupied by Germany, a difficult time in Czech history. As the war came to a close in 1945, almost all of the German population were forcefully expelled beyond Czechslovakia’s borders, just as Czechoslovakia became part of the Soviet Union, under which it remained for the next 41 years.
The so-called Velvet Revolution of 1989 brought a peaceful return to democracy for Czechoslovakia as it severed its ties with the Soviet Union. In 1993 it split into the two separate states of Slovakia and Czech Republic in similarly peaceful circumstances. Ever since this time, the Czech Republic has dedicated itself to integration into world markets and is today part of the European Union and NATO.
Nature in the Czech Republic
Although city breaks to Prague are one of the more popular choices for travel to the Czech Republic, the beauty of this country’s natural attractions cannot be overlooked. Rolling hills, dense forests and green river valleys are just some of the inspiring landscapes that the Czech Republic is known for. A temperate climate ensures pleasantly warm summers and snowy winters. The Czech Republic is home to a number of national parks, perhaps the most famous of which is the Krkonose National Park, a designated biosphere reserve situated on the border with Poland.
The mist-shrouded Krkonose Mountains are encompassed within the park, where you can expect to find alpine landscapes, fine-forests and fields of powdery snow. Punkva Caves are another must-see natural attraction to discover on a trip to the Czech Republic. This amazing underground cave system has walking trails which allow visitors to discover mighty stalagmites and stalactites as they navigate a fascinating subterranean world. There’s even the chance to take a boat trip on an underground river which weaves through the cave system.
One of the Czech Republic’s most unique natural landscapes is Hruboskalsko, an extraordinary rock formation composed of hundreds of sandstone towers. Daredevils flock to the park to scale these rocks, whilst a spiral staircase allows less-adventurous travellers to climb to the top of Hlacatic Lookout for amazing panoramic views.
Culture of the Czech Republic
Due to the nation’s situation in the heart of Europe, it’s culture has long been shaped by a variety of influences. The official language is, of course, Czech, and Slovak is widely spoken. Although a Slavic-speaking country, the Czech Republic leans towards western Europe in many ways when it comes to culture. Nevertheless, a number of folkloric traditions and customs endure to this day. In South Bohemia and Moravia, folk culture is still alive and celebrated, particularly in the summer months, when traditional clothing is widely worn throughout the festival season.
On a holiday to the Czech Republic, you’re sure to witness singing, dancing, live music and locals adorned in colourful clothing if you’re lucky enough to catch a traditional folklore celebration during your visit. Historically, Czech people have been characterised as tolerant and open-minded, and today the country is considered one of the most secular places in the world, with 75% of its population claiming to be unaffiliated with any faiths.
Of course, part of the Czech Republic’s appeal is its thriving beer culture. The home of modern beer, which was invented in Plzen in 1842, Czech’s drink more beer than any other nation in the world. If you’re enthusiastic to experience true Czech culture during your trip to the Czech Republic, be sure to visit a modest hospoda, a type of traditional bar, where you can order a beer and raise a pint with the locals.
From the fairy-tale streets of historic Prague to the rolling countryside of South Bohemia and the thermal springs of Karlovy Vary, a trip to the Czech Republic is always a good idea, whether you’re a history buff, a city-breaker or a beer aficionado.
UK citizens can travel to the Czech Republic with a passport or identity card.
No advance visa is required.
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