Merry Bratislava Christmas! Christmas in Bratislava begins at the end of November
This year Christmas in Bratislava features a number of new activities: the extension of the Main Christmas Market up to New Year's Eve, the opening of the "Friendly Zone" on the Primate's Square and a varied cultural programme involving several city organisations. This year all seventeen city districts of Bratislava are taking part in the event. You can enjoy the Christmas spirit all over the city.
The Main Christmas Market used to end before Christmas Eve. This year it will continue after the Christmas holidays. "We have been thinking about this change for a long time in the organising team. The public's great interest weighed in and, since many vendors responded positively, we will have the market open for the first time in the Main Square up to the end of the year," says Katarína Hulíková, Director of the Bratislava Cultural and Information Centre (BKIS), which is the main organiser of Bratislava Christmas. The vendors will start selling their products at the Main Christmas Market on 23 November, the opening ceremony with the lighting of the Christmas tree is scheduled for Friday 24 November at 6:00 p.m. Following a three-day break over the Christmas holiday, about half of the stalls will be open from 27 December until the end of the year.
"I am already looking forward to switching on the Christmas tree lights as the main symbol of Christmas. And this is just the beginning. During Bratislava Christmas, the Christmas spirit will spread throughout Bratislava, thanks also to involvement of the city districts and city organisations. Concerts, markets, Christmas readings, a varied programme for children, exhibitions and much more. However, the Christmas market is, above all, a place where we share the peaceful atmosphere of the coming holidays and enjoy both planned and random encounters, smile at each other, sincerely wish each other a Merry Christmas and all try to be a little bit better to others. The Christmas market is simply about people being close to each other, something which we have kind of lacked lately," says Mayor Vallo. BKIS is starting to build the Main Christmas Market in the next few days.
Traditional and unconventional tastes and offers from non-profit organisations
More than seventy vendors and shops will sell their products on the Main Square, and this year the assortment will also include mead, fruit wines and beer. Non-profit organisations will also have their stalls - some open throughout the market and some rotating over the weeks. City organisations will also be given space - for example, the Bratislava Zoo or the DPOH theatre will have their own stall. In addition to the traditional Christmas dishes, you can also taste more exotic flavours, and vegans will be able to find something to their liking.
A new chill-out zone on the Primate's Square
A new addition to the Bratislava Christmas will be the Friendly Zone close to the Main Christmas Market - on the Primate's Square. It aims to create a welcoming place for families with children, the elderly, vulnerable groups and all those who want to take a break from the hustle and bustle in the city.
"The creation of the Friendly Zone is a response to a number of suggestions we received from the public satisfaction questionnaire after last year's Christmas. We want people with disabilities, who find it difficult to move in the crowds at the Main Christmas Market, to be able to enjoy the Christmas spirit in the city," explains Hulíková. BKIS is partnering with IKEA on the Friendly Zone. It will be covered, wheelchair-accessible, and you will be able to sit, relax and enjoy the Christmas atmosphere near the popular Christmas Forest.
Christmas Forest is back on the Primate's Square
The popular Christmas Forest will grow in the city again for the seventh time. In association with BAUHAUS and ÚĽUV, there will be up to 34 trees on the Primate's Square from 23 November to 18 December - the highest number since launch of the project. Primary, art and special schools from various Bratislava districts will take part in decorating the Forest. This year, the decorated trees will go to the right place: to people who cannot afford to buy a tree, to charities, social service homes, associations for homeless people, and families in a difficult social situation.
Clean, environmentally friendly and safe Christmas
Just like last year, the organiser places a major emphasis on cleanliness and ecology. Compostable utensils and reusable cups will be provided, and waste will be sorted once again. Two sorting stations can be found at the Main Christmas Market and one on the Primate's Square in the Friendly Zone. While you won't be able to buy reusable bottles at the market, you can drop off reusable packaging (PET bottles and cans) at the sorting stations, with the proceeds going to charity. Special ashtrays for cigarette butts will be placed in the Main Square, just like last year. With the support of SPAK-EKO, these will be recycled by the Slovak company Ecobutt. Cigarette waste will be turned into asphalt. BKIS also takes care of safety at the Christmas markets. In this area, the city is building on last year's cooperation with the Municipal and State Police, the fire brigade, the health service and other forces to ensure that all visitors feel comfortable and safe.
Christmas tree from Karlova Ves
The Christmas tree, which was erected on Thursday 2 November by the City Forests on the Main Square, was privately donated by a donor from Karlova Ves. It is a 34-year-old blue spruce (Picea pungens) with a trunk circumference of 119cm and a height of 12m. The tree had grown higher than the power pole and the street lighting, and the root system was pushing out the retaining wall. With frequent strong winds, the owner was concerned that it would uproot or break and thereby pose an immediate threat to the safety of people and property. The Christmas tree will live on after the Christmas holidays - its branches will be given to Bratislava Zoo as food for its animal residents after Christmas.
Cooperation with the Old Town
This year BKIS is cooperating closely with the Old Town on the Bratislava Christmas. The Old Town Christmas Market on Hviezdoslav Square will apply the same standards as the Christmas Market on the Main Square, such as returnable cups, compostable dishes and waste sorting stations. The two markets will also share the same visual design. "This year, the Old Town Christmas Market on Hviezdoslav Square will be different - greener, more cultural, cleaner - in other words, better. We are also developing a brand-new concept of the Family Zone, which will be a safe and creative place for all parents with children. I am very happy that we have aligned with the city in many ways, that we have mutually inspired each other, and can bring a higher level and a natural connection between the two squares for all visitors," explains Dana Kleinert, Old Town Deputy Mayor.
Concerts, interpreted readings and the magical Night of Witches
The Bratislava Christmas will also include a Christmas programme on Franciscan Square. On Fridays, BKIS invites you to readings of local works for adults and concerts performed by young bands. Saturdays will be dedicated to readings for children and performances by female artists with their groups. Sundays will be filled with music - performances by elementary art schools and well-known Slovak musicians. The readings and one of the concerts will be interpreted into Slovak sign language. BKIS is also organising a programme in Klarisky. There will be Advent concerts, clothes and children's toy swaps, a Christmas children's flea market, creative workshops and a silent disco. A special programme is also prepared for St Nicholas' Day (5 Dec) or St Lucia's Day (13 Dec), with BKIS organising a magical Night of Witches.
All relevant information, including the programme of the participating city districts, city organisations and organisers supported by BKIS through the Open Call system, can be found at Bratislavské Vianoce ↗︎.
The Bratislava Cultural and Information Centre (BKIS) is the city’s contributory organisation that implements and dramaturgically covers important city-wide cultural and social events (Bratislava Christmas, Bratislava City Days, Bratislava Cultural Summer, etc.). It creates the conditions for organising cultural events through open calls. BKIS also covers the oldest Tourism Guide Training Course in Slovakia, devoted to Bratislava. It organises a series of thematic guided walks, the Rendezvous with the City, and makes a podcast of the same name. It manages the Klarisky concert and exhibition hall and is responsible for restoration of the former Zora cinema.