Prague selects Old Town Square tree, announces market dates

As traditional outdoor markets return to the Czech capital, the city announces more details about the Old Town tree and markets.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 04.11.2021 17:30 (updated on 06.11.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

Update (Nov. 24) The entertainment program at the Old Town Square market has been canceled, and there will be no tree lighting ceremony on Nov. 27.

After a break last year due to the pandemic, Christmas markets will be back in Prague, with the main one at Old Town Square, while some others will be in neighborhoods. The tree for Old Town Square has also been selected and will be lit on Nov. 27.

The markets will offer a wide range of holiday gifts including winter hats and scarfs, hand-made crafts, decorations, candles, soap, and similar items. There will also be mulled wine and other festive food and drink that can be consumed on the spot.

In the past, Prague’s holiday markets, especially the one at Old Town Square, have made it to the tops of international rankings.

The first market to open will be at náměstí Míru, which starts Nov. 20, followed by náměstí Republiky on Nov. 25, and Tylovo náměstí (by the I. P. Pavlova metro stop) on Nov. 26. All three of these run to Dec. 24, the day most Czech have their holiday meal and exchange presents.

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The market at náměstí Míru has long been a favorite with local people, as it is still large and a bit more relaxed than the ones downtown.

The main market on Old Town Square opens Saturday, Nov. 27. In keeping with tradition, this opening coincides with the start of Advent, the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. It runs to Jan. 6, which is Three Kings Day, the end of the holiday season. Some followers of Orthodox Christianity, especially from Eastern Europe and Russia, celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7.

As in the past, the Old Town Square market will have daily entertainment, and free fish soup will be served on the morning of Dec. 24. The program is subject to change, in accordance with pandemic rules.

“We are happy to be able to again this year to offer Praguers and visitors to the metropolis traditional Advent celebrations in the center of Prague, and thus contribute to the rebirth of tourism in the capital,” Libor Votruba, chairman of the board of directors of Taiko, said.

Taiko organizes the Old Town Square market. They also normally operate a market on the lower part of Wenceslas Square, but that one won't take place this year. Other markets have different operators.

Christmas tree in Old Town Square. (photo: Raymond Johnston
Christmas tree in Old Town Square in 2020. (Photo: Raymond Johnston

This year’s Old Town Square tree will be from a village near Jablonec nad Nisou in the Liberec region. Details on the lighting of the tree have not been announced, but in keeping with the pandemic restrictions, it will likely be a low-key event to keep crowds to a manageable level. Even before the pandemic, the big lighting ceremony with live celebrity entertainers had already been dropped due to safety concerns.

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The tree was selected from 30 suggestions sent in by the public. The owner was cutting it down anyway for safety reasons. Taiko, which held the competition to find a tree for the 11th time, will give the owner a prize of CZK 10,000.

The 21.5 meter Norway spruce is not among the tallest trees to adorn the square, but it is evenly branched and in very good condition.

"It is partly a question of prestige, every year it becomes the most famous Christmas tree in the Czech Republic. This year, it grew over 100 kilometers northeast of the Old Town Square, which it will decorate until the beginning of January,” Prague City Councilor Jan Chabr said.

For the second year in a row, the municipal company Technologie hlavního města Prahy (THMP) will fell the tree, transport it, and decorate it. THMP also handles much of the holiday decoration throughout the city and also looks after lighting up monuments such as the Petřín Tower.

“After last year's experience, we know that this is a relatively logistically demanding event, but we are happy to take on the task. We plan to cut down the tree on the next to last Sunday of November so that on the first weekend of Advent it can shine in front of the Týn Church in Prague,” THMP board chairman Tomáš Jílek said.

It has not been announced yet what will happen to the tree, but last year’s tree was turned into furniture for a retirement home.

Details for other markets such as ones at the upper part of Wencelas Square, Prague Castle, and Anděl have not yet been announced.

Christmas markets in Prague

  • Náměstí Míru

    Nov. 20–Dec. 24

    More info here

  • Náměstí Republiky

    Nov. 25–Dec. 24

    More info here

  • Tylovo náměstí

    Nov. 26–Dec. 24

    More info here

  • Old Town Square

    Nov. 27–Jan. 6

    More info here

  • New Town Hall

    (Novoměstská radnice)

    Dec. 11–12

    More info here

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