Easter Monday, March or April
Prague Spring, May
Prague Fringe Festival, June
Dvořák Prague International Music Festival, September
Christmas–New Year, December
Days are short – the sun sets around 4.30pm in mid-January – but post–New Year accommodation prices are the cheapest you’ll find, ideal for that romantic getaway in a cosy hotel with an open fireplace.
Three Kings’ Day (Svátek Tří králů)
On 6 January, Three Kings’ Day (also known as Twelfth Night) marks the formal end of the Christmas season. The Czechs celebrate with carol-singing, bell-ringing and gifts to the poor.
Anniversary of Jan Palach’s Death
A gathering in Wenceslas Square on 19 January commemorates the Charles University student Jan Palach who burned himself to death in 1969 in protest against the Soviet occupation.
The frost can be cruel in February, with temperatures below -10°C, so wrap up well. But Prague looks mighty pretty in the snow.
Once banned by the communists, street parties, fireworks, concerts and revelry mark the Czech version of carnival (www.carnevale.cz). Celebrations start on the Friday before Shrove Tuesday (aka Mardi Gras), and end with a masked parade.
The first buds of spring begin to green Prague’s parks and gardens, and the Easter holidays bring Easter markets, hand-painted Easter eggs, and the first tourist influx of the year.
St Matthew Fair (Matějská pouť)
From the Feast of St Matthew (24 February) up to and including Easter weekend, the Výstaviště exhibition grounds fill with roller coasters, shooting galleries and stalls selling traditional heart-shaped cookies. Open 2pm to 10pm Tuesday to Friday; 10am to 10pm Saturday and Sunday. see www.matejskapout.cz.
Easter Monday (Pondělí velikonoční)
Mirthful spring! Czech boys chase girls and swat them on the legs with willow switches decked with ribbons; the girls respond with gifts of hand-painted eggs, then everyone parties. The culmination of several days of spring-cleaning, cooking and visiting family and friends.
One World (Jeden Svět)
This weeklong film festival (www.oneworld.cz) is dedicated to documentaries on the subject of human rights. Screenings are held at some of the smaller cinemas around Prague, including Kino Světozor.
This festival (www.febiofest.cz) of film, TV and video features new works by international film-makers. It continues throughout the Czech Republic after the Prague festival.
The weather transforms from shivers to sunshine. By the end of the month the sidewalks and squares are covered with outdoor cafe tables, and peak tourist season begins.
Burning of the Witches (Pálení čarodějnic)
This Czech pre-Christian (pagan) festival for warding off evil features the burning of brooms at Výstaviště and all-night, end-of-winter bonfire parties on Kampa island and in suburban backyards. It's held on 30 April.
May is Prague's busiest and most beautiful month, with trees and gardens in full blossom, and a string of major festivals. Book accommodation well in advance, and expect to pay top dollar.
Czech Beer Festival
During the second half of May, part of Letná park is consumed by the country's largest beer tent. The festival (www.ceskypivnifestival.cz) celebrates the nation's most famous product. Hog roasts, live music and 70 brands of beer.
Labour Day (Svátek práce)
Once sacred to the communists, the 1 May holiday is now mostly a picnic opportunity. To celebrate the arrival of spring, couples lay flowers at the statue of the 19th-century romantic poet Karel Hynek Mácha, author of Máj (May), a poem about unrequited love.
Prague Spring (Pražské jaro)
Running from 12 May to 3 June, this international music festival is Prague’s most prestigious event, with classical music concerts held in theatres, churches and historic buildings.
Prague Food Festival
From Friday to Sunday the Prague Food Festival (www.praguefoodfestival.com) spreads throughout the Royal Garden on the northern side of Prague Castle. The best of Czech and international cuisine is celebrated, with cooking demonstrations, food stalls, beer- and wine-tastings and children’s events.
This festival (www.khamoro.cz) of Roma culture ‒ with performances of traditional music and dance, exhibitions of art and photography, and a parade through Staré Město ‒ is usually held in late May.
Something of a shoulder season, June promises great weather for beer gardens and river cruises without the May festival crowds or the hordes of students who descend on the city in July and August.
Prague Fringe Festival
This nine-day binge of international theatre, dance, comedy and music (www.praguefringe.com), inspired by the innovative Edinburgh Fringe, takes place in late May/early June. Hugely popular with visitors and now pulling in more and more locals.
Dance Prague (Tanec Praha)
International festival of modern dance (www.tanecpraha.cz) held at theatres around Prague throughout June.
Prague swelters in summer, so pack some lightweight clothes and opt for accommodation with air-conditioning.
Jan Hus Day (Den Jana Husa)
Celebrations are held on 6 July to remember the burning at the stake of Bohemian religious reformer Jan Hus in 1415. Things are kicked off with bell-ringing at Bethlehem Chapel the evening before.
The hot and humid summer weather mellows out as September approaches, and the hordes of visiting backpackers, students and school groups thin out, making this a great month to visit.
Dvořák Prague International Music Festival
Two weeks in September are given over to Prague's second-most-popular music festival (www.dvorakovapraha.cz) after Prague Spring, a celebration of the works of the Czech Republic's most famous classical composer. The program includes performances by the world's top orchestras, chamber ensembles and soloists.
Autumn is one of the most pleasant times of year in Prague – the tourist crowds start to diminish, it's still pleasantly warm, and the Strings of Autumn festival is less frenetic than the Prague Spring.
Prague Writers’ Festival
A meeting of writers from around the world (www.pwf.cz), with public readings, lectures, discussions and bookshop events.
Strings of Autumn (Struny podzimu)
Strings of Autumn (www.strunypodzimu.cz) is an eclectic program of musical performances, from classical and baroque to avant-garde jazz, Sardinian vocal polyphony and contemporary Swiss yodelling. It runs for eight weeks from mid-September to mid-November, but it is missing a year in 2017.
Cold and dark it may be, but a warming glass of svařák (mulled wine) will set you up to enjoy the city’s Christmas markets and New Year celebrations. Expect peak season hotel prices.
Christmas–New Year (Vánoce–Nový Rok)
From 24 December to 1 January, tourists engulf Prague and many Czechs take an extended holiday. From early December a Christmas market takes over the Old Town Square, around a huge Christmas tree. On New Year's Eve, massive crowds gather here for a huge midnight fireworks display.