A walk through the vineyards at Havlickovy Sady

Young wine, Fun and Festivals: Get the Most out of the Last Days of Summer

So we’re entering the final days of summer. Leaves are falling from the trees and there’s a definite autumnal chill in the air. However, it’s not all bad news. Those of you who are long term Prague residents will know that Autumn is one of the most beautiful times of year in the city. We can look forward to bright blue skies and the parks and forests coming alive with bright reds, rusty browns and vibrant yellows.

Autumn is on its way…

One more reason to look forward to September…

There’s also one more thing that makes the tail end of summer something to really look forward to and that is burcak (pronounced boorchak), or “young wine”. From the end of August, you will start to see stalls appearing on the city’s streets selling this mysterious substance, usually in large plastic bottles and available in red or white. If you’ve never come across young wine before, it is basically wine that is only partially fermented, is cloudy in appearance and generally has a lower alcohol content of anything from 1-8%. It tastes pleasantly sweet and is very drinkable, although I tend to prefer the red variety, as it has a slightly more tart and sour taste. One very important thing to remember if you buy yourself a bottle of burcak, is that it will still be fermenting and therefore it’s really important not to screw the lid on too tightly! If you make this elementary error, the excess gas will not be able to escape and you are going to have a messy burcak-based explosion on your hands.

Burcak
Burcak

Wine festivals a.k.a. vinobrani

September is one of my absolute favourite months to be in the Czech Republic, as it is the month of the “vinobrani”, or wine festival. These celebrations will be springing up all over the city, and also in surrounding towns and villages. You will be able to choose between numerous kinds of burcak and regular wine, all produced by some of the best local vineyards. But it’s not all about the wine. These festivals are basically a way for people to say a last goodbye to summer, so they are always full of a special kind of energy. At larger festivals, you can look forward to live music, fire shows, parades, fireworks, historical re-enactments, costumes, entertainment for kids, the chance to buy locally produced handicrafts and some really delicious food.

When and where will they be?

1. Karlstejn Vinobrani

When is it?

September 30th and October 1st 2017.

Where is it?

Karlstejn Castle

How do you get there?

Karlstejn is a 40 minute train ride from Prague. Trains leave regularly from Hlavni Nadrazi (Prague’s main train station).

What can you expect?

This is certainly one of the most impressive and spectacular wine festivals. The whole of the town will come alive with the spirit of the 14th century. Many people attend this festival in full costume and much of the entertainment has a historical feel to it. You can look forward to traditional dances, demonstrations of jousting and sword fighting, fire dancers as well as jugglers, circus performers and improvised theatre. The main event is the Parade of Emperor Charles IV, which takes place on both days.

How much is it?

200 CZK for Saturday and 100 CZK for Sunday

The Parade of Emperor Charles IV
The Parade of Emperor Charles IV

2. Melnik Vinobrani

When is it?

September 15th-17th 2017.

Where is it?

This festival takes over the whole of Melnik’s historic centre.

How do you get there?

Melnik is a 45 minute bus ride from Prague’s Ladvi Metro station (C Line).

What can you expect?

This is my favourite of all of the wine festivals and I try to go every year. The entirety of Melnik’s historical centre is closed off especially for the festival and there is a real party atmosphere. There are 4 stages, including a stage for kids, a stage dedicated to folk and country music and also the largest main stage. There are always some great and really varied musical acts playing at this festival. The live music continues from 10am-midnight on Saturday, 2pm-11.45pm on Friday and 10am-4pm on Sunday. You can also look forward to theatre performances, a firework show, a parade in historical costume, stalls selling gifts and crafts and a great selection of local wine and refreshments.

How much is it?

200 CZK for a 3 day ticket or 120 CZK for a 1 day ticket.

Night falls over the festival
Night falls over the festival

3. Vinohrady Vinobrani

When is it?

September 15th and 16th 2017.

Where is it?

Jiriho z Podebrad Square (Prague 2).

How do you get there?

Either the metro (A line) or a tram will take you directly to the square. The name of the stop is Jiriho z Podebrad.

What can you expect?

This is a smaller festival, but is always full of fun and energy. There will be live music from 4pm-10pm on both days. Along with the music, you will be able to enjoy local wines from Bohemia and Moravia and a wide selection of refreshments.

How much is it?

Entry is free of charge.

Relaxing in Vinohrady
Relaxing in Vinohrady

4. Grebovka Vinobrani

When is it?

September 23rd 2017.

Where is it?

Havlickovy Sady Park a.k.a. Grebovka (Vrsovice, Prague 2)

How do you get there?

The closest metro station is Namesti Miru, from here the park is a 10 minute walk. The nearest tram stop is Krymska, from here the park is around a 5 minute walk away.

What can you expect?

This is probably the biggest vinobrani in Prague and it is located in the stunning Havlickovy Sady Park. There will be live music from 2pm-8.30pm on the main stage (the event will be headlined by Aneta Langerova, who is a pretty big name on the Czech music scene). Grebovka prides itself on offering a wide selection of top quality refreshments, so you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to food and Havlickovy Sady has its very own vineyard, so this will be the perfect opportunity to sample some local produce.

How much is it?

Entry is free of charge.

A walk through the vineyards at Havlickovy Sady
A walk through the vineyards at Havlickovy Sady

5. Vinobrani of St. Klara

When is it?

September 16th and 17th 2017.

Where is it?

Prague Botanical Garden (Troja, Prague 8)

How do you get there?

The nearest bus stop is Kovarna and the 112 bus from Nadrazi Holesovice will take you here. Alternatively, you could take the tram to Vystaviste Holesovice and enjoy a pleasant 30 minute walk to the Botanical Gardens through Stromovka Park.

What can you expect?

The botanical gardens in Troja are simply gorgeous, and are sure to provide a beautiful setting for this festival. It is also home to one of the oldest vineyards in Prague and its wine has won many awards. The programme will be running from 10am – 7pm both days and will include live jazz and folk music.

How much is it?

Entry is 200 CZK.

Views from the Botanical Gardens
Views from the Botanical Gardens

 

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