In Europe with the kids? Like a real-life Winter Wonderland, a traditional outdoor Christmas market is not to be missed. At the many Christmas Markets which have just opened in the Czech Republic, you will find chestnuts literally roasting on an open fire. The city is ablaze with twinkle lights. Old Town Square in particular is bustling all day and into the night with every yuletide culinary treat imaginable. (And if you’re staying at Four Seasons Hotel Prague, don’t miss the hotel’s special Christmas menu and holiday festivities either.)
Hot food steams up from open stoves tended by market vendors bundled in their wooden stalls. Prague Ham spins on a spit, waiting to be sliced. Traditional sausages, and skewers, sizzle on grill.
My kids love the sugar -roasted crunchy almonds, but there are savory and sweet nuts of all types.
Traditional Czech pastries like these hot Trdlo are rolled out and then twirled over the coals only to be rolled again in cinnamon sugar. (And if you like, can be coated inside with Nutella.)
There are whimsical decorations and small gifts to buy: delicate Christmas ornaments, intricate gingerbread cookies, fairy dolls, mittens, gloves, handmade journals, hats, straw baskets and furry slippers. The best stocking stuffers we found were at the smaller market in Namesti Miru (bath salts and some lavender pillows).
The Christmas markets in Prague, large or small, make a simple stroll through this city feel like you are walking into an old-fashioned storybook.
Hot apple cider (spiked with rum for Mom and Dad) is a stand-out winter warm-up treat. But there are a number of other hot beverages to choose from. Last night, I tried honey mead at The Namesti Republiky market. This is a hot spirit sweetened with honey—rich and delicious.
In the evening in Old Town Square, carolers sing on a brightly lit stage next to the square’s centerpiece, an elaborate Christmas tree. Due to some high-tech lighting design, the tree looks like it has snow continually falling on it.
It is true that the stalls in the center of town cater to tourists. Visitors who venture outside the city center will find quieter, perhaps more authentic-feeling markets where more Czechs sip their mead and buy their gifts. But, still, the backdrop of Old Town Square, with the majestic Tyn Church poised against the lively market is certainly is a sight to behold. And if you are lucky enough to be in Prague in December, a holiday memory for you and yours to cherish.
The view of the markets from the Clock Tower in Old Town Square is particularly spectacular.
Read more on Prague in Four Seasons Magazine.
Read our “Concierge Recommendations” for Prague in Four Seasons Magazine.
Lee Rose Emery is an actress, writer and editor-in-chief of the award-winning blog, LA City Mom, “tips from the carpool lane…”, based in Los Angeles, California. Lee is currently living in Prague, the Czech Republic, with her husband, eight-year-old son and daughter, 10. Stay tuned for more chronicles of her European family adventures.
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