So its jaw-dropping skyline, ancient cobbled lanes, and endless supply of beer are just not enough to get you to Prague, you say? This list of the year’s top festivals has got “book now” written all over it. From foodie fests to cultural events, here’s your ultimate Prague to-do list for 2015.
Czech Mardi Gras
Now through early March 2015
Called masopust (farewell to meat) in Czech, this lead up to Lent commences in late January and is in full swing by mid-February. Czech villagers host ritual pig slaughters, and traditional pork delicacies like blood soup and sausage abound on menus throughout Prague. It all culminates in colorful parades throughout the country. The most popular one in Prague takes place this year on March 3 in the Zizkov district.
Prague Fashion Weekend
March 21–22, 2015
Though not a fashion capital on par with Paris, London or New York, Prague’s fairly young fashion weekend has become a chic celebration of Central European designers with runway shows, pop-up boutiques and cocktail parties lending to the well-heeled fun.
March 19–27, 2015
A laid-back international film festival with a program of highly anticipated film premieres, retrospectives and tributes by day (expect lots of English-language or subtitled films) and live music from local bands by night. This year Hitchcock muse Kim Novak will be the guest of honor.
Late March–late April, 2015
Nearly as popular as Prague’s legendary Christmas Markets, the Easter markets sell brilliantly painted, hand-blown eggs and pomlázka, the bundles of pussy willow twigs adorned with colorful ribbons that are used by Czech men to spank Czech women during the Czech Easter festivities. The largest market is in Old Town Square.
April 30, 2015
A fascinating ancient folk festival (in Czech: čarodějnice) where straw effigies of witches, said to represent winter, are burned to make way for spring. A lantern procession typically takes place from Lesser Town Square (around 7 pm) to Kampa Park where the witch burning takes place.
Prague Fringe Festival
May 22–30, 2015
An acclaimed international theater festival with sister events in Edinburgh and New York, the Prague Fringe Festival is a week-long staging of theater, comedy and musical performances at unique venues throughout the city.
Prague Food Festival
May 29–31, 2015
A giant picnic on the sprawling lawns of Prague Castle. This annual event packs the best of Prague and the Czech Republic’s culinary scene, from its top restaurants and most skilled food artisans, into one delicious weekend.
Prague Museum Night
June 13, 2015
Participating museums and cultural institutes open their doors to the public for free (and stay open till midnight!) for a festive night of gallery hopping. Bonus events and activities like DIY art workshops, pop-up bars and musical performances make the evening extra enchanted.
Prague Folklore Days
July 23–26, 2015
Cosmopolitan Prague is transformed into a city of flag-waving, folk-dancing, costumed ensembles from all over Europe who give free open-air performances in the city’s historic squares.
August 13–September 6, 2015
A new international circus festival held at Prague’s Letná park promises acrobatic feats from world-famous troupes and loads of activities for families.
2015 dates TBD
Prague’s annual celebration of its LGBT community is a week-long extravaganza of parties and concerts, ending in a joyful parade on Wenceslas Square.
Strings of Autumn
2015 dates TBD
This renowned annual festival of classical music celebrates 20 years in 2015, and hosts international talent as well as homegrown virtuosos. Many of the performances take place in Prague’s Rudolfinum, said to have the finest acoustics in Europe!
Birell Grand Prix
September 5, 2015
A stunning 10k night run through Prague’s majestic Old Town, this is just one of many races organized throughout the year in the Czech Republic by the RunCzech running league.
October 5–11, 2015
Czechs have long been known for their work in the field of design; and Designblok, Prague’s design and fashion week, is its pre-eminent showcase. Everything from jewelry to furniture and art is exhibited and sold by local artists.
St. Martin’s Festival
Early November 2015
It’s said that the St. Martin’s Day tradition derives from the stick-to-your-ribs meals once prepared by peasants in anticipation of the harsh winter ahead. A number of Prague restaurants do a St. Martin’s feast of roasted goose with red cabbage and dumplings throughout November, and the Czech version of Beaujolais nouveau, Svatomartinské vino, is poured at vineyards and wine bars in Prague this month.
Prague Christmas Festival
Late November, 2015–January 1, 2016
Christmastime in the Czech Republic, alive with the sounds of carols and the scent of mulled wine and cinnamon funnel cake wafting from the markets, lures loads of visitors to Prague each year with its special holiday magic.