Christmas In Brno: What To Expect From The City’s Festive Celebrations
The Brno Christmas winter festival is back, with even more gastronomy and music! The festival’s tagline for the second year is: “The second best Christmas in the world, right after the one at home”. From 24 November to 23 December, four squares and several courtyards of the city centre will again be filled with seasonal food and drink, a rich cultural program and a local and cosy festive atmosphere.
“Brno Christmas is a phenomenon that attracts tourists to the centre of Brno, but above all it is a meeting place for all of us Brno residents,” said Brno’s Mayor Markéta Vaňková. “Just as these holidays bring families together, Brno Christmas connects the whole of Brno. In addition to the organisers from TIC BRNO and Brno-střed, other institutions are also involved in individual elements of the festival, such as the BUT Faculty of Architecture with its architectural nativity scenes and the Brno Observatory and Planetarium with the Festival of Light.”
The Festival of Light will be celebrated on Kravi Hora on 21 December, the eve of the winter solstice, the day when the Sun dies and the world is said to be briefly without protection from evil. The light audio installation, a kind of protective shield over Brno, is being prepared by the Brno Observatory and Planetarium and the VISUALOVE studio.
Christmas in Brno is the main event of the winter season and is the longest and most extensive festival celebration on the city’s calendar. “We have a modern festival in Brno that preserves local features and traditions. We therefore collaborate with local suppliers, gastro enterprises, artists and other institutions,” said Jana Janulíková, director of TIC BRNO.
Janulíková said the festival continues its strong emphasis on gastronomy. “We followed up on our long-standing project Gourmet Brno, and together with businesses came up with the Gourmet Christmas concept in the courtyard of the Old Town Hall,” she added. “In a non-traditional spirit, several courtyards in the centre will also be open to you. As every year, there will also be a new visual style, this time playful and colourful, which can also be enjoyed in augmented reality! The Brno Christmas communication campaign is aimed not only at the Czech Republic, but also abroad. For several years, Brno has been building a strong position as a first-class European Christmas destination.”
A Christmas tree with a story
Preparations for the Advent season traditionally begin with the transfer of the Christmas tree from Bílovice nad Svitavou to namesti Svobody. The European silver fir, which has grown to a height of 18 metres and will stand 16 metres above the square when settled, will depart from the Bystroušky Fox Hunt in Bílovice nad Svitavou at 4pm on Thursday, 16 November.
The 99-year-old story of the Christmas tree on Náměstí Svobody, which in 1924 became the first public Christmas tree in Czechoslovakia and possibly in Central Europe, began in the Bílovice Forest. To this day, it is still brought directly from the surrounding forests and donated by Mendel University’s Masaryk Forest School Enterprise. Throughout Advent, the Czech Red Cross donation box will be placed under the tree, raising money to help local children, as has been tradition ever since the first tree was placed in the square by the writer Rudolf Těsnohlídek.
Not only the tree will be decorated, but also the street and square. Brno Technical Networks started installing the Christmas lights at the end of October, and should be finished by mid-November. According to Miroslav Sečkář, Economic Director of Brno Technical Networks, the main Christmas tree alone uses a quarter of a million lights and three kilometres of light chains, as well as light decorations made from recycled PET bottles. Brno Technical Networks will also illuminate the trees in the courtyard of the New Town Hall and in front of the Mahen Theater.
The company is also preparing holiday decorations in the streets of the centre of Brno, as well as constructing, connecting and decorating the wooden Christmas stalls. “This year there will be 68 stalls on Namesti Svobody and eight on Dominikánské náměstí,” said Sečkář. “It is worth noting that, thanks to LED technologies, the lighting decoration is extremely economical, so all-day lighting of the Christmas tree on Namesti Svobody costs only CZK 270.
The ceremonial lighting of the Christmas tree on Náměstí Svobody and the official start of Brno Christmas will take place at 5pm on 24 November, in the presence of leading representatives of the city and the Brno Bishopric.
Gourmet courtyards, open courtyards and shop windows full of design
The centre of all the gourmet events will be Gourmet Christmas in the courtyard of the Old Town Hall. The gastro options and the accompanying program are being prepared by nine of the establishments included in the Gourmet Brno gastronomic guide. Delicacies include warm Christmas sangria from JustWine, bagels from Soul Bistro, baked marshmallows and Turbomošt, sweet and salty desserts from Božský’s workshop scoop, various sweets and hot chocolate from Café Momenta, oysters with sparkling wines from the Klára Bára Wine Café Christmas bar, and kimchi cabbage from Večerka. These participating businesses are also organising special themed days, so you can keep coming back.
A brand new Christmas village for children will appear in the neighbouring yard at the Old Town Hall, featuring child-sized Christmas stalls, activities and workshops prepared by Brno Zoo, VIDA! science centre, the Moravian Gallery, and VESNA women’s educational association. Another Christmas in the backyard will open a few doors away at Radnická 2, where TIC BRNO, together with Café Mitte, will offer a special program here for adults and families with children.
The last backyard will be the House of Lords from Kunštát, with the non-traditional spectacle of an Architectural Nativity scene created by students from the BUT Faculty of Architecture, under the leadership of architects Kristýna Smržová, Kristina Richter Adamson, Michal Palaščák and faculty dean Radek Suchánek. The students are also preparing two other “archibethlehems”, to be located in Tyršuv Sad and in front of the Janáček Theater.
In the streets, you will also come across a non-traditional exhibition called Window Pop City, dedicated to the (un)ordinary identity of the city. The exhibition in the shop windows of the TIC BRNO infocenter presents what urban furniture for Brno could look like; based on the ideas and proposals of high school and university students, designers from the POSTROP studio suggest how a Brno bench, trash can, pavement, railing, or public lighting lamp might look.
“Brno Christmas continues to grow and expand to other interesting locations,” said Janulíková. “The revitalization of more secluded parts of the centre is an initiative that we want to develop, to expand the Christmas city and offer true Advent contemplation in the backdrop of a festively decorated city. It’s like we are gradually turning on more and more lights on the map.”
The colourful and playful visual style of this year’s Brno Christmas was designed by Vendula Pucharová Kramářová, in cooperation with the Aetna creative agency. “Vendula studied at FaVU in Brno and her work is mainly inspired by nature and folklore motifs,” explained Michal Rožek, the agency’s long-time idea maker. “The pattern features sliced apples, oranges, gingerbread and other candies arranged around a central carp or Christmas tree. In this way, this original “artwork” brings to the fore the gastronomic side of the holidays with the artistic motifs used.”
These patterns appear not only on traditional souvenirs (chocolates, menthols, pendants, tins, cloths), but also on posters in the streets of the city, which are also the site of another Christmas visual experience: augmented reality. From 17 November, just find a poster in the centre with a QR code, which will bring forth fun animations accompanied by special musical jingles.
Brno Christmas has its own musical jingle for the first time in history, in several musical styles, written by Tomáš Kelar, a member of the iconic Brno band Midi Lidi and artistic director of the Pop Messe music festival, and musician, producer and multimedia artist Ondřej Mikula.
Get to know Christmas Brno
When roaming the Brno Christmas festival, don’t miss the four central squares, each different and each with its own specific atmosphere. On Namesti Svobody, in addition to the Christmas tree, you will find a winter bar, a designer consumption zone at the fountain and a passing Christmas tram. Every day from 3pm there will be children’s programs and performances, followed by two concerts at 5pm and 7pm, and more musical attractions later in the evening. In addition, every Saturday, one concert will be dedicated to a folklore group, reflecting Brno’s status as a UNESCO City of Music.
Zelný trh also comes to life every day with a cultural program running alongside the traditional and handicraft products in its more than 100 stalls. In the calmer surroundings of Dominikánská náměstí you will find the huge wooden Halouzek nativity scene with life-size statues. On Saturday 2 December, you can meet the creator himself and take part in a carving workshop and a guided tour of the nativity scene.
Moravské náměstí will also be decorated; at Jošt you will find a children’s carousel and a circular bar, while the newly renovated park area is hosting the large Ferris wheel again, and for the first time, an ice rink. Some of the stalls in Moravák will be dedicated to charitable organisations.
You can also take a Brno souvenir with you from the markets, with TIC BRNO’s original and local products. In addition to special phosphorescent balls from the astronomical clock, you can get your hands on candlesticks in the form of three Brno icons, a handmade flask, or a new collection of mugs and glasses from Bruna!, which will be supplemented with new pieces every year. You can find everything on the website www.darkyzbrna.cz.
All news and information about the program and the sellers can be found on the festival website and in the Brno Christmas mobile application.
Christmas In Brno: What To Expect From The City’s Festive Celebrations