EVEN for those who dislike Christmas, the festive holiday season has become difficult to avoid. Christmas markets have ballooned in numerous Slovak cities and towns, offering seasonal drinks and food, as well as gifts and souvenirs.

Naturally, the markets in bigger cities have the most to offer. In Bratislava, the Christmas market has expanded into central squares: the Main Square and Hviezdoslavovo Square, with the former hosting a stage featuring musical programmes and the latter boasting an open-air ice skating rink.

Daily musical programmes in the Main Square begin at 16:00 and will last until December 22. Information about other holiday programmes organised in Bratislava can be found at bkis.sk or citylife.sk. The Old Town Christmas Market is open until December 23.

On November 22, a new record was set at the market’s opening when 2,000 sparklers were lit simultaneously at 18:00, the Old Town administration informed. Igor Svítok from the Book of Slovak Records confirmed this as the highest number recorded so far. In Košice, the program-me includes theatre performances for children, as well as music and dance, and a Christmas Cinema, mostly near the Immaculata statue on Main Street. There is also a concert of music by minorities and “A Christmas Design Market” in the Historical City Hall. The pre-Christmas period ends on December 23 with a Gala concert at 17:00. The entire programme can be found at visitkosice.eu.

In central Slovakia, Banská Bystrica’s daily festival programme consists mostly of folklore music, Christmas carols and nativity-scene re-enactments, scheduled until December 22. Most of these events take place in the central SNP Square. More information can be found at pkobb.sk and banskabystrica.sk, and some programmes will continue until after the New Year.

Christmas markets are organised in almost every bigger town, mostly offering mulled wine and local delicacies, like the thin potato pancake, lokša, as well as the hamburger-like cigánska pečienka, sausages and Christmas desserts. Roasted chestnuts complete the holiday atmosphere.