How to enjoy Christmas in Bratislava even during the pandemic

Regularly updated tips with events and pastime activities in the capital this December.

Advent wreath on Hviezdoslavovo SquareAdvent wreath on Hviezdoslavovo Square (Source: TASR)

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has scrapped the traditional Christmas markets in the very centre of Bratislava along with the New Year’s Eve fireworks. The Slovak capital still offers many possibilities to enjoy a Christmas atmosphere in the city.

There are several Christmas trees installed around the city, along with some stalls with hand-made products in the old market hall Stará Tržnica. Moreover, Christmas decorations and light installations of the winter edition of the White Night multi-genre festival light up the walk in the city centre.

Here are some tips for events during the holiday season in Bratislava:

Christmas trees and Christmas decorations
Christmas markets
Advent stroll
White Night multi-genre festival
Rorate masses
Concerts
Exhibitions
Street gallery
New Year's Eve in Bratislava

Christmas trees and Christmas decorations

Lost in Bratislava? Impossible with this City Guide! Lost in Bratislava? Impossible with this City Guide! (Source: Spectacular Slovakia)

The Bratislava city council has traditionally erected its Christmas tree on the Main Square. This year it is a 12-metre and 17-year-old white fir, a gift from a family from Staré Grunty at the edge of the Karlova Ves borough. It is decorated with wooden ornaments made by folk art master Jana Majerská. Her wooden nativity scene with folk motifs complete the Christmas atmosphere in the centre.

There is a Christmas forest on the Main Square from December 4 to 20. It consist of Christmas trees decorated by art school students with their hand-made ornaments.

Afterwards, the Christmas trees will be donated to charity organisations, senior homes, associations for the homeless as well as families and people in need.

The Old Town borough has a Christmas tree, too. On Hviezdoslavovo Square there stands a 10-metre blue spruce, a gift from Ružinov’s Trnávka district. The square is also decorated with a traditional Advent wreath, on the covered fountain next to the statue of P. O. Hviezdoslav.

Petržalka, the biggest borough of Bratislava, has its own Christmas tree. The 10-metre black pine stands on Námestie Republiky Square. It was ceremonially lit together with Christmas lights in the streets of Petržalka during an event marking St Nicolaus on December 5.

Other Christmas trees in this borough will be located near the DK Lúky, DK Zrkadlový Háj culture houses and Cik Cak Centre, at which residents will be able to hang Christmas decorations and add their wishes.

In Ružinov, people can enjoy a Christmas atmosphere in Andrej Hlinka Park and in the streets Ružinovská, Košická and Galvaniho decorated with light ornaments.

Christmas tram spreads holiday spirit in the streets of Bratislava

The Christmas tram returned to the streets of Bratislava on St. Nicholas Day (December 6).

For the first time in the history of Christmas trams, the design was not proposed by the transporter itself but by designers and artists. They turned the tram into a moving gallery.

Related articleChristmas tram spreads holiday spirit in the streets of Bratislava Read more 

The Christmas tram is not only a tourist attraction this year. It is part of the public transport in Bratislava and will operate as a line 1 tram from Bratislava Main Station to Ľudovít Štúr Square. During the week, it will operate during the afternoon hours and most of the day during the weekend.

“Whoever wants to travel with this tram has to purchase a travel ticket as they would for Bratislava public transport,” said Ľubica Melcerová, spokesperson for Bratislava public transport company (DPB), as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Christmas markets

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the anti-epidemiological measures, the city cancelled this year’s main Christmas market on the Main Square. However, as visitors to last year’s Christmas markets lacked more traditional elements in the decoration and atmosphere of the markets, the city approached the Centre of Folk-Art Production (ÚĽUV) this year. Now there are several stalls on the Main Square, in which folk art makers show their arts and sell their products.

Winter Tyršák

Tyršák, a place in Petržalka next to the Old Bridge, which housed the popular beach with beach volleyball courses and stands with refreshments during the summer, reopened to visitors in early December. However, due to tightened anti-pandemic measures it is closed as of December 11.

Christmas craft fair

The Christmas Craft Fair is held in the courtyard of the Old Town Hall every weekend until December 20. The Christmas atmosphere is highlighted by the Advent wreath, with candles and the nativity scene painted on the entrance glass facade of the City History Museum. Open: courtyard of the Old Town Hall, Radničná 1, every weekend until December 20, admission is free.

Christmas stalls in Petržalka

As the traditional Christmas markets on Námestie Republiky Square will not take place in Petržalka this year, the borough is installing some stalls with hand-made products in front of the DK Zrkadlový Háj culture house as a replacement. The event will take place only on December 19 between 12:00 and 18:00..

Christmas Days

The Incheba fairground hosts Christmas Days, a kind of market, at which people can buy Christmas presents including handmade products, bijouterie or interior accessories. Outside the exhibition premises there are stands with food specialties and drinks as well as the 30-metre wheel offering a panoramatic view over the city. Open: Incheba, Viedenská Cesta, Mon-Fri 11:00-18:00, Sat-Sun 10:00-19:00 until December 21.

Christmas stalls in front of Vivo!

There are also some Christmas stalls in front of the Vivo! shopping centre in Nové Mesto borough. Part of the attraction of this Christmas venue is a wheel offering a panoramatic view over the city and a merry-go-round.

Christmas Market Hall

Related articleWhere to buy locally produced Christmas presents in Bratislava Read more 

About one hundred local producers offer their products in the Christmas Market Hall in Stará Tržnica (Old Market Hall). Thus visitors have the opportunity to buy Christmas gifts like local delicacies and wines, craft beer, handicraft products, local fashion, artworks or books, new as well as antique ones. The event is part of the Doma Nakupujem initiative supporting Slovak products. Open: Vianočná Tržnica, Stará Tržnica, Námestie SNP 25, from Wednesday to Saturday until Dec 19, open Wed-Fri 12:00-20:00, Saturday 9:00-15:00, free entry.

Advent stroll in the Old Town

Thirteen restaurants, cafés and shops in the city centre have joined forces and prepared Christmas offers for their visitors under the slogan Advent Stroll in the Old Town.

Other events

Christmas edition of the White Night

After the pandemic cancelled the popular White Night this October, its organisers have arrived with its winter edition. Twelve light installations are being gradually installed in public places with free access across the city centre. At the entrance to the Primate’s Palace, there already stands the Snowman by Viktor Frešo. Breastfeeding by Dorota Sadovská is installed close to the Salvator Pharmacy and Christmas Bubbles by Nina Augustín Šošková decorate the facade of Mirbach Palace on Františkánske Square. Since the first Sunday of Advent, the Old Bridge has been illuminated in the style of winter sunsets on the Danube. As of December 5, people can follow the story of the Danube as seen by Nina Augustín Šošková and Róbert Farkaš from River Park up to Eurovea. The final work, Kuvyt by Lubo Mikle, will be installed on Rázusovo Nábrežie embankment on December 20.

Rorate masses

Related articleFranciscans renew the beauty of a forgotten Advent tradition Read more 

MASS: In spite of the pandemic, the Franciscans are holding traditional Rorate masses in their church, offering a space to be at peace and reflect before the upcoming Christmas holidays. The Františkánska Schóla Bratislava music ensemble led by Sylvia Urdová again contributes to their unique atmosphere. Due to the limited capacity of the church to 120 seats, the Rorate masses are held twice a week this year. After the mass, there is no traditional breakfast due to anti-pandemic measures. The Franciscan Church, Františkánske Square, every Tuesday and Thursday until Christmas, 6:00, free entrance.

Advent concert

CONCERT: The Schola Minor ensemble will sing Marian and Advent medieval compositions from their new CD with a Gregorian chant at the concert. Starts: the Franciscan Church, Františkánske Square, Dec 13, 19:30, free entry.

CONCERT: Mirror in Mirror (Zrkadlo v zrkadle) – the Advent online concert of the Convergence festival. Daniel Rumler (violin), Lucia Harvanová (violin), Martin Ruman (viola), Jozef Lupták (violoncello) and Boris Lenko (keyboards) will perform works by Arvo Pärt, Ludwig van Beethoven and Alexander Albrecht. Starts: Dec 13 at 20:00, voluntary admission is available at Ticketportal

Exhibitions

How ours played

EXHIBITION: The interactive exhibition reminds visitors what gifts current parents, grandparents or grandparents may have found under the Christmas tree. Open: Bratislava City Museum, Old Town Hall, Radničná 1, from Dec 12, daily except for Monday 10:00-17:00, Sat-Sun 11:00-18:00. The exhibition will last until January 9, 2022. Admission is €2.

Nativity scenes

EXHIBITION: The Franciscans will exhibit nativity scenes from around the globe from its collection. Open: the Franciscan Church, Františkánske Square, from December 14, during masses. As of December 25, the church will be open between 10:00 and 15:00 until January 1.

Related articleExhibition of nativity scenes offers a trip around the globe Read more 

Street gallery

The streets of the city are also beautified by reproductions of art works with winter motifs from the collections of the Bratislava City Gallery (GMB). Two are on the Main Square and one is in front of the old market hall Stará Tržnica. All have extensive labels in Slovak and English explaining their history and what they depict.

New Year’s Eve

Although it is not yet known what recommendations and measures will apply during New Year’s Eve, the Bratislava city council has already decided that the New Year’s celebrations in the capital will be without fireworks this year. It will specify the exact programme of celebrations of the arrival of the year 2021 only later.

Due to the current situation and possible changes in the current regulations, it is necessary to follow the website of the Bratislava city council https://bratislava.sk/sk/bratislavske-vianoce for latest information. There is also a map of Christmas events taking place in Bratislava.

For interesting feature stories about Bratislava and many practical tips for travellers see our Bratislava City Guide.

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