Celebrate St. Wenceslas with seasonal beer, markets, and cultural events

The holiday associated with Prague's patron saint offers a variety of activities that everybody can enjoy.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 27.09.2022 13:19:00 (updated on 27.09.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

St. Wenceslas, among his many other ethereal duties, is the patron of Czech beer. While the main focus of attention in the fall is on wine, beer has been staking out its place at the end of September.

The beer connection dates back to the time when Prince Wenceslas, or Václav in Czech, ruled Bohemia in the first part of the 10th century. As a way to protect the Bohemian brewing industry, he set the death penalty for anyone caught exporting the cuttings of hops. His attributes as a saint are to watch over the Czech nation, as well as the Polish and Slovenian ones, the region of Bohemia, the city of Prague, prisoners, and religious ministers.

There are two special seasonal markets for the holiday, at Wenceslas Square and náměstí Republiky, both running until Oct. 9. The markets will offer beer, wine, mead, and food plus some souvenirs. Náměstí Republiky will also welcome people with a cultural program.

A big celebration planned for Wenceslas Square on Sept. 28 has been canceled due to security reasons, as a protest is scheduled to take place on the square.

Statue of St Wenceslas at the tower of the Old Town Hall / via Raymond Johnston
Statue of St Wenceslas at the tower of the Old Town Hall / via Raymond Johnston

There are some other options to celebrate. Many pubs and breweries are participating in the Days of Czech Beer, an event designed to coincide with the St. Wenceslas holiday that lasts until the end of the month. A map listing participating pubs, many of which are in Prague, can be found on the event’s website.

Czech beer poured from a tap. (Photo: iStock, Jag_cz)
Czech beer poured from a tap. (Photo: iStock, Jag_cz)

Several breweries have made autumn beers that are available on tap in pubs, and sometimes in stores. Plzeňský Prazdroj cooperated with small brewers on a special Belgian-style beer that will be available in over 1,000 pubs. Litovel Brewery got into the holiday spirit with Litovel Václav 12-degree beer. Budvar, Lobkowicz, Holba, Samson, Starobrno, Bakalář, and Zubr will also offer special batches.

For people interested in a road trip, Pivovar Svijany has made a special lager called Dux that can be found in select pubs, and on Sept. 28, the brewer will hold St. Wenceslas festivities at Svijany Chateau.

The main celebration outside of Prague takes place in the nearby Stará Boleslav, the town where Wenceslas was murdered in 935 or 929, depending on which historian you ask. There will be a fun fair in the city, and an annual procession when the relics of St. Wenceslas will be brought to the Basilica of St. Wenceslas.

There are several ways to celebrate the holiday with something more cultural in Prague, where several buildings are open for visits.

The government is opening up its office (Strakova akademie) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the last tour starting at 4 p.m. You will be able to see historical spaces as well as working areas. For security reasons, photos can only be taken in the press conference area.

The Ministry of Culture is welcoming people to its main building, Nostický palác in Malá Strana, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. People can expect tours and a cultural program showcasing the many areas where the ministry is active. The building has several paintings by old masters and a library of rare books.

For just the fifth time, the Finance Ministry building is opening its headquarters at Letenská 15 for public tours, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. During the tour, you will be able to print a commemorative sheet on a historical letterpress once used to print securities. The former monastery building is next to Vojanový Sady, where there will be a demonstration with dogs from the customs service.

The Prague Hygiene Station on Rytířská Street will open for tours for the first time, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The historical building itself has a colorful history and its current look dates to a 1798 renovation. Hygienists will also be on hand to explain the current health situation.

People can also see inside the newly restored Clam-Gallas Palace, which is owned by the city and used for exhibitions and cultural events. The Baroque gem had been closed for four years due to its poor condition but now looks good as new, with historical murals and décor in many of the rooms. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with tours (in Czech) every 15 minutes.

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