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Spring: The Ideal Time to Visit Prague

Easter eggsThe days are lengthening. Winter has nearly left us and spring is just around the corner. Any day now green shoots will appear on the bare boughs of winter trees. It’s the perfect time of year to discover Prague’s great outdoors, to enjoy some rather quirky cultural traditions, and to take in a concert or two.

If you’re thinking of studying TEFL in Prague, this is the ideal time of year. Each spring I am surprised by how quickly the trees don their green finery. The quiet months of January and February are behind us now and Prague life is growing busier. It’s nearly time to discover the Czech Easter traditions.

Whilst Easter is primarily a Christian celebration, the Easter traditions in many countries stem from pagan origins, celebrating nature’s fertility and the end of winter. Chocolate eggs are the symbol of this rebirth in many countries, and you will find them in Czech shops, but you will see another, more unusual, symbol—the pussy-willow whip known as the pomlázka. On Easter Monday, men and boys take up their whips, which are decorated with colourful ribbons, and light-heartedly ‘beat’ the women. The women reward the men by giving them hand-decorated Easter eggs. Easter Monday this year is on 6 April. If you’re missing hot cross buns, don’t despair. You can pick some up at M&S. Remember to pay a visit to the Easter markets which spring up around the city for your souvenirs. They’ll open on 21 March and continue through to 12 April in Old Town and Wenceslas Squares. You can buy some lovely local handicrafts and, if you don’t fancy decorating your own eggs, you can pick some up here.

Burning of the WitchesThe end of April brings another pagan celebration, the Burning of the Witches. Many towns will hold a bonfire and burn their own witches. In Prague, a popular witch burning is held each year on Kampa Island. No humans are injured in the process!

If you love walking, Prague in spring is perfect. Not too hot, and not too cold. Whether it’s strolling through the ancient streets marvelling at the architecture and building decorations, or passing the hours hiking through one of one of Prague’s parks, the city caters to all tastes. My favourite parks are Stromovka, a former hunting park on the banks of the Vltava, and Divoka Sarka. Another great place to walk is Prokop Valley (Prokopské Údolí) in Prague 5, where it’s easy to forget you are in the city.

A cool beer at the Letna beer garden is always a fab way to finish a spring day. Or you can catch some of the finest views of Prague after an uphill hike (or a funicular ride if you’re feeling tired) to the top of Petrin Hill.

If you want some tips for routes, I recommend David Borrowman’s useful book Run Hike Bike Prague.

If you’d rather visit a fun fair, St Matthew’s Fair is on this year from 1 March to 21 April at the Exhibition Grounds in Prague 7. Enjoy the rides and take time to explore Stromovka while you’re on this side of the river. Visit the website for details.

Prague is often a draw for top-rated musicians, in all genres, and this year is no exception. See, and hear, Paul Simon and Sting in Concert at the O2 arena on 14 March. April sees concerts by Beth Hart and class rockers Manfred Mann’s Earth Band at Lucerna, and Roxette will be playing O2 in May.

If you’re a lover of classical music, Prague Spring offers a variety of concerts by local and international musicians, and an international music competition.

Prague MarathonPerhaps the highlight of May for newcomers to Prague is the May Day Ritual on 1 May, sometimes known as “Kissing Day”. On Petrin Hill you will find a statue of the 19th century poet, Karel Hynek Macha. Lovers make a pilgrimage to his statue and lay flowers at his feet, before sneaking off to find a secluded corner to celebrate their relationships. May also sees Prague hosting its annual marathon and the Czech Beer Festival.

Prague in spring truly has something for everyone.

By Dalice Trost, 2 March 2015

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