The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting colder, and that can only mean one thing in Brno: Christmas festivities are upon us!
A giant pine tree has sprouted up in Zelný trh, and the punch stand has opened on náměstí Svobody (Freedom Sqaure). None but the most heartless scrooge could help but feel the holiday cheer wash over the city as it erupts with decorations and excitement.
It seems that just as one festival comes to an end here in Brno, overnight another one appears. But nothing can compare with the mother of all festivals, the Brno Christmas market. It begins on Friday, November 27 with the annual lighting of the Christmas tree (a 13-meter tall spruce) in Freedom Square at 5 pm and runs through December 23.
The market brings a non-stop array of food, crafts, and of course entertainment. Just grab a cup of punch and head to the main stage for a line-up of free concerts all season long. My personal highlights include the Brno Children’s Choir on Friday, November 27 (5.05 pm); Ukulele Orchestra Jako Brno on Friday, December 4 (6 pm); and jazz combo Jaromír Hnilička on Tuesday, December 15th (6 pm). You can get up-to-date news and information about Christmas Market events on their website and the Brněnské Vánoce Facebook page.
Maybe you’re looking for something a bit less chilly? The number of cultural opportunities happening this season in Brno is truly overwhelming. From opera to ballet to classical music to rock and pop—wherever your interests lie, there is literally something happening every day of the week.
Finding out about events is not always so easy. You’re in luck, because I’ve scoured the Internet so you don’t have to. Here are my picks as a foreigner for the best events of the season to get you into the holiday spirit, along with some links to the most useful event listings so you can find others to suit your taste.
Christmas Early Music Concert
Where: Brno Philharmonie Meeting House; 7.30 pm
What: The Barocco Sempre Giovane chamber orchestra will perform a program of Bach, Handel, and Ryba, sponsored by the Brno Phiharmonie.
Why: There’s no better antidote to holiday stress than sitting back, closing your eyes, and listening to the magic of composers like Handel and Bach who never go out of style. (Listen.)
Melanie Scholtz Quartet
Where: Stará Pekárna, 8 pm
What: Cape Town’s Melanie Scholtz and her quartet play as part of Jazz Brno 2015.
Why: The quartet goes far behind “chick jazz singer” status to really lay down a tight groove. (Listen.)
Paris the Show
Where: Sono Centrum; 7.30 pm
What: French cabaret “chansons” from the post-war era.
Why: The songs are beautiful, and it’s a good time to show support for our friends in France.
Where: Bobycentrum; 8 pm
What: 16 soloists and a 30 piece orchestra will commemorate the 100th birthday of the “king of swing,” Frank Sinatra.
Why: Classic and timeless tunes like “Fly Me To The Moon,” “All The Way,” “New York, New York,” and “My Way” will leave you humming for days. The list goes on and on.
5. 12. and on
In December: 5. 7. 13. 17. 18. 21. 28. 12; in January: 7. 8.
Where: Janáček Theatre
What: The classic holiday ballet complete with dancing mice and sugar-plum fairies.
Why: Hands down the surest and quickest way to get into the holiday groove, plus, at the 5.12 performance St. Nicholas will make a special appearance. There is also a 2 for 1 ticket offer, so you can share the love with a friend.
Swan Lake, Royal Russian Ballet
Where: Brno Pavillion
What: The Royal Russian Ballet school perform the other classic Tchaikovsky ballet one night only in Brno.
Why: How often do you get to see the Royal Russian Ballet?
Christmas Concert in Villa Tugendhat
Where: Villa Tugendhat
What: Pianist Jan Vojtek will give a solo program of works by Bartok, Gershwin, and Say in the intimate setting of Villa Tugendhat.
Why: Voijtek has chops! Plus, you get to experience Villa Tugendhat beyond the confines of a guided tour. (Listen.)
Where: Cathedral of Peter and Paul (Petrov)
What: A Christmas Day concert at Petrov cathedral with Czech and Moravian carols performed by Kantiléna.
Why: Carols on Christmas Day at the iconic Brno landmark. Simply beautiful. (Listen.)
Looking for more entertainment options? Here are the Brno event calendars I have found to be the most user-friendly and comprehensive:
Go to Brno: good listing of concerts, film, and cultural events.
Goout.cz; complete listing of pop, rock, theater, and more, with detailed descriptions and links.
Music Friendly City: comprehensive listing of all genres, plus news and reviews.
And of course don’t forget to check right here at the Brno Expats Centre website and Facebook page for event suggestions with foreigners in mind.
Have a fabulous and musical holiday season!