Prague is gearing up for end-of-year celebrations, with thousands of people expected to join the annual mega-party on Wenceslas Square. Also, with 180,000 tourists about to descend on the Czech capital hotels and restaurants are stocking up on champagne and preparing gourmet menus for the big night.
With 2013 on its way out, the buzz in the Czech capital has visibly waned in preparation for the New Year’s celebrations. There is less traffic in the streets, as the city empties out for the holidays, and more in shopping centers as people stock up on food and drink for the big night.
In Prague the main open air-party will traditionally take place on Wenceslas Square which will host a mega concert, starting in the late afternoon with a magician’s show for children, and will be followed by a medley of Czech bands and musicians ending well past midnight. The square will be closed to traffic as of midday that day, and police and paramedics will be out in force to deal with any emergencies.
Another outdoor party will be taking place on nearby Old Town Square around the city’s main Christmas tree and Christmas market. The events traditionally culminate with a toast at midnight to which people bring their own champagne. Many also bring their own fireworks for the occasion since the big fireworks display organized by Prague City Hall now takes place at 6pm on January 1st –in order to make it more accessible to families with children.
Thousands of Czechs traditionally head for the mountains to see the New Year in, and ski resorts are fully booked as usual despite the lack of snow. Many people see the year in at their country cottages and some 300,000 Czechs have booked foreign holidays in other European capitals or at exotic holiday locations. In Europe, France tops the list this year as the number one destination for Czech end-of-year holiday makers, followed by Austria and Italy.
Meanwhile an estimated 180,000 foreign tourists are descending on Prague for the New Year’s celebrations, of those 63,000 Russian tourists who like to travel to Prague ahead of their own Orthodox Christmas Day celebrations on January 7th.
This year there is reportedly a marked increase of tourists from South Korea and Greece. Apart from live bands, dancing and special performances at the city’s five star restaurants, people can book a New Year’s cruise on a river boat on the Vltava for a party, dancing on deck and a toast at midnight near Prague’s famous Charles Bridge.
No matter how boisterous the celebrations in the city centre turn out there should be no sign of the festivities in the early morning. A massive clean-up operation is due to start at 3am on January 1st and the remains of the party – which last year amounted to 50 tons of garbage on Wenceslas Square alone – should be gone by 8am when the city’s main square is due to reopen to traffic.
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