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  • Festivals to travel for: The Burning of the Witches in the Czech Republic

    Prague, photo by Dario Garavini

    Officially, the Czech republic has only been around for less than two decades, but never let it be said that it doesn’t have enough history and traditions to fill an entire library. In one form or another, the Czech Republic has had a pretty important role in European history, so its attractions are not only natural, but historical as well. The cities and towns of the Czech Republic are rich in culture, but they are the kind of destinations where you can easily spend your day sightseeing and still find some nice venues where you can go out and party 21st century style in the evening. However, one of the most fun things a traveler can do in the Czech Republic is attend one of the countless festivals and fairs that happen almost monthly. Read on to find out more about one of the Czech festivals to travel for: the Burning of the Witches in the Czech Republic.

    History

    The Burning of the Witches, also called Walpurgis Night in other parts of Europe, takes place either on April 30 or May 1, exactly six months after Halloween. It is a night of celebration when huge bonfires are built, and there is dancing and revelry, and this is how the festival has been celebrated for centuries. The name of the festival comes from St Walburga, an English missionary, but the night is associated with all sorts of supernatural happenings, like witches’ gatherings. However, in the Czech Republic the Burning of the Witches has more positive meanings: it is the time when winter ends and people can be happy for the summer.

    Where to celebrate

    Prague, photo by fklv on Flickr

    Bonfires and fairs all organized all over the country on the night of the Burning of the Witches, and several events feature witches too – thought not the flammable king. In Prague, self titles witches as well as people in costumes gather in the Malostranske Namesti town square and proceed to make their way along Mostecka street. The biggest celebration in the country takes place at Ladronka park and estate, and it features lots of kid friendly activities before the bonfire is lit, and there’s even a Miss Witch pageant. In smaller villages, there’s usually one big bonfire that the local children help build.

    How to celebrate

    The point of the bonfires on Walpurgis Night is to burn effigies of witches made of straw and rags, to banish winter. But the best part about the bonfire gatherings is the chance to dance, sing, listen to music, and of course, eat. Sample traditional roast sausages, potatoes, and traditional bread, and wash it down with Czech beer!

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