Witches Night 2023: Best bonfires for banishing winter in Prague

The annual event falls on a Sunday this year, making it ideal for spending the day by a fire.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 27.04.2023 15:35:00 (updated on 28.04.2023) Reading time: 4 minutes

Newsletters sign-up

The end of April brings Witches Night, a celebration with pagan roots that has become a time for children to dress up and for adults to roast sausages over an open fire.

The event has had a spotty history in recent years, being banned first for dry conditions due to drought and then due to Covid. It will be celebrated without restrictions on April 30 for the second year in a row, and the third time in the past six years.

Preliminary forecasts from the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (ČHMÚ) call for occasional rain, but temperatures should be between 14 degrees and 19 degrees Celsius.

Folklore across Europe says that every year on April 30 witches would gather on high mountains. Fires were built on hills so the smoke would drive them away so they can’t settle in farm fields or villages.

In Czech, the event is known as Čarodějnice, or sometimes Pálení čarodějnic (Burning of Witches) or Filipojakubská noc (Philip and Jacob’s Night). In Germany, the event is called Walpurgisnacht, the eve of the feast of St. Walpurga.

An effigy of a witch, typically a dressed-up wooden broom, is burned in a bonfire to mark the end of cold weather. The event is not meant as a reference to actual witch trials or executions.

Čarodějnice is sometimes confused with the drowning of the winter spirit Morana, another event with pagan roots. This event takes place two weeks before Easter or on March 20, depending on local traditions.

Where to celebrate Čarodějnice:

Prague’s biggest celebration is at Ladronka in Prague 6. Festivities will start at noon and run until 9 p.m. Several popular entertainers will appear on the stage including singer-songwriter Pavel Callta, social media star Pam Rabbit, and the pop duo Ben and Mateo.

There will also be a Lego show, completions and activities for children, a “witches trail” with entertainment, and food stands. People can roast sausages on a stick after the bonfire settles down. Read more on Facebook and the event website.

Witches Night bonfire at Ladronka. (Photo: Raymond Johnston)
Witches Night bonfire at Ladronka. Photo: Raymond Johnston

This year, Žluté lázně on the waterfront in Prague’s Podolí district will add a zone where people can try out new circus techniques like juggling or the hula hoop to its program. Entertainment runs throughout the day with musical acts, competitions, face painting, and the roasting of sausages. 

The headline act is rock group Vilém Čok & Bypass, which will hit the stage at 4:50 p.m. The two-meter-tall bonfire will then be lit at 6 p.m. An afterparty with a DJ will follow until midnight. The gates open at 10 a.m. and the entrance fee is CZK 100. Children in witch costumes get in for free. Read more on Facebook and the event website.

The enthusiastic Malostranské Čarodějnice takes place at Kampa, with a small fire but a lot of costumed people. Children's entertainment at Kampa starts at 3 p.m. A parade from Malostranské náměstí to Kampa is at 6 p.m. and the fire will be lit around 7 p.m.

Live music will come from Lovesong Orchestra and Krless. Prague volunteer firefighters will be on hand to make sure it all goes smoothly and will also show off some of their equipment. Read more on Facebook.

Costumed witches at Kampa. Photo: Raymond Johnston
Costumed witches at Kampa. Photo: Raymond Johnston

The 20th edition of a spring market and witch burning takes place at Břevnovský klášter, starting at noon. Over two dozen stalls will sell cheese, wine, beer, soft drinks, meat, and handcrafted items. A fire for cooking sausages and skewers will be lit at 3 p.m. and a larger fire for the witch will be lit at 4 p.m. A musical program starts at 6 p.m. Read more on Facebook.

Czech bands Mňága a Žďorp and Kašpárek v rohlíku plus a large bonfire will fill the evening program at Chvalská tvrz. During the day starting at 2 p.m., there is a carousel, bouncy castle, costume contest, kid-friendly music, and face painting. Admission is CZK 150, but free for people under 120 cm. No dogs allowed. Read more on Facebook.

Most likely the safest bonfire will be staged by the Prague 8 firefighters (Hasiči Praha 8) at TJ Slovan Bohnice. Festivities start at 5:30 p.m. and the fire will be lit around 7 p.m. There will be a costume contest for children, and refreshments. Read more on Facebook.

On the southern edge of Prague at the beach at Hostivařská přehrada, there will be music, contests for children, flame-cooked sausages, a bonfire, and a fire show. Read more on Facebook.

Witchy food festivals :

 A street food festival at Smíchovská náplavka will have face painting, games, juggling, and a historical carousel during the day, a concert by musician Jan Ponocný at 7 p.m., and a fire show at 9 p.m. Read more on Facebook and the event website.

Food, music, and children’s entertainment will be at Karlínské náměstí from 11 a.m to 7 p.m. Children can have fun on trampolines, a carousel, a train, and a bouncy castle. Workshops will include making sand sculptures and decorating gingerbread. Read more on Facebook.  

A wine festival at Střelecký ostrov will also include a fire show as well as wines from small producers, plus food and music. Admission is free but if you want to sample the wine you need to buy a special glass for CZK 100. Read more on Facebook.  

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more