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Spring has Sprung!

It’s well known that the weather in Prague, whether it’s raining or snowing, sunny or windy, will not deter people from getting out and about and enjoying all the city has to offer. But after months of dealing with the winter cold, it’s time to remove a layer or two and enjoy the spring. As always, Prague has much to enjoy.

 

From 12 March to 3 April the Easter Markets are taking place in both Old Town and Wenceslas Squares. Take some time to visit and browse the handicrafts and souvenirs on offer,
including exquisite hand painted Easter eggs. The Czech Republic has some unique Eastertraditions. TheEaster cake, baked in the shape of a lamb, is a symbol of renewal, as are the hand painted Easter eggs. As you walk around the markets you may also notice some whips made of birch wood and ribbons. These plaited whips are used in one of the more bizarre traditions, Pomlázka. On Easter Monday, men and boys use these whips to lightly ‘beat’ women and girls. This whipping is designed to help the women stay young, and for the privilege of being beaten, the women and girls give the blokes gifts. Be careful though if you’re a man and you decide to beat someone after midday – you may find yourself soaked with water. 

Until 17 April there is more fun to be had at the annual St Matthew’s Fair at Holesovice Exhibition Centre in Prague 7. This year’s fair includes over 100 attractions including roller coasters and dodgem cars. 

For the energetic the Prague Half Marathon is on 2 April 2016. If the half marathon in April doesn’t fulfil your passion for running, the Prague Marathon is on 8 May. With a course winding through the historical Prague centre and on the banks of the Vltava, this must be one of the most picturesque marathons in the world. 

Back to strange events. April 30 sees the annual Burning of the Witches, a festival that symbolises the triumph of good over evil, and marks the departure of winter. There will be a parade from Lesser Town Square to Kampa Park and the witch burning will start at around 8 pm. Then, the first day of May in Prague is Kissing Day – a great day for lovers, many of whom visit the statue of Karel Hynek Macha in the park at Petrin Hill and place flowers at his feet. 

If you want to enjoy some more sporting activities, from 5 to 9 May Prague is host to the World Championship in Historical Medieval Battle, the Battle of the Nations. More than thirtyteams will be competing this year so if you are curious about what medieval war was like, this is a great chance to find out. You will be able to explore the camp to discover how people lived, enjoy live music and catch up on your souvenir shopping.

 May also sees an annual event beloved of beer drinkers, the annual Czech Beer Festival. Of course, after all the marathon running and medieval fighting you will have worked up a thirst. The Beer Festival runs from 12 to 28 May in Letenske Park (tram stop Sparta) and features some 150 different varieties of beer, loads of Czech food and, of course, entertainment.

 

If you are after something more cultural, Prague Museum Night on 11 June is a great chance to visit a host of museums and galleries.

Spring in Prague would not be complete without music. The Prague Spring Music Festival is on from 12 may to 4 June this year with around 50 concerts in 17 venues. Don’t miss Daniel Barenboim, Murray Perahia and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. The instrumental competition this year focuses on the piano and the trumpet. The competition sessions are a cheap way to enjoy excellent music.

If you prefer something more modern, Janet Jackson is on at O2 Arena on 20 April and the same venue sees Mumford and Sons on 20 May. O2 Arena also sees concerts by Black Sabbath (June) and Rihanna (July). Jamie Woon (16 April) and Nazareth (21 May) are just two of the delights at the Lucerna Club. The Tiger Lillies are playing Songs from the Circus at Divadlo Archa on 8 May and Oz rockers AC/DC will be playing in Prague on 22 May … but I have heard tickets have already sold out for that one. 

On a gentler note, French crooner Charles Aznavour will be at Kongresové Centrum Praha on 6 April, and Andre Rieu and Orchestra will be at O2 on 26 May.

 

As ever, Prague in spring has something for everyone. Although I have to say it’s the ideal time of year to enjoy long walks amongst the trees in the city’s many beautiful parks.

by Dalice Trost

 

 

 

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