Weekend: All you want for Christmas is ...

Your Christmas edition of the Spectacular Slovakia Weekly Roundup. Happy holidays, Nutcrackers and Mashas!

Have you caught your carp? This fish is often served on the Christmas Eve dinner table in Slovakia.Have you caught your carp? This fish is often served on the Christmas Eve dinner table in Slovakia. (Source: TASR/Miroslav Košírer)

To help you fully soak in the Christmas atmosphere, we are writing about the festive weekend weather forecast, ice climbing, food and tips on how to spend Christmas in Slovakia.



WEATHER

Green-and-white Christmas

Snow is on the cards in several locations around Slovakia on Christmas Eve, December 24. However, due to rain, people might experience a green Christmas in lower-altitude areas.

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The meteorological office warns against black ice across the country in the morning hours and all-day snowdrifts and strong winds in the mountainous areas of central Slovakia.

Afternoon temperatures will get as high as + 9 °C in the southwest and -1 °C in the northeast of Slovakia.

In the evening most of the country will find itself under a snow blanket, but in the southern half of western Slovakia and in some places in the south of central and eastern Slovakia, no snow is expected.

On Saturday and Sunday, December 25 and 26, rain will fall in most areas initially. At higher altitudes, it will snow. Slovakia should see less precipitation later on in the day. Night temperatures will drop down to +4 °C in the southwest and to -7 °C in the north; the morning temperature should start at -1°C and rise to +7 °C as the day goes by.


TRAVEL

Ice climbing outside Kremnica

There are not many ice climbing locations in Slovakia, so a 20-metre-high icefall in the Skalka hiking area is justly rare.

The town of Kremnica will make the frozen waterfall, which was created by volunteers and mountain rescuers based in the Kremnické Vrchy hills within 10 days earlier this month, accessible to climbers and others on December 25.

“The priority was to identify a place that would be accessible to the general public, not just climbers,” said mountain rescuer Pavol Klobušník. It can be found right underneath a glass viewing platform in the Via Ferrata World area, close to a parking lot.

At an altitude of 1,200 metres, with its northwest exposure and location in the coldest valley in the area, it is assumed that the icefall will last until March. The first icefall appeared in the Skalka area, though in another part of it, in 2019.

The Skalka peak is home to a ski resort and 60 kilometres of cross-country skiing trails.

Via Ferrata: The Via Ferrata World and Via Ferrata Komín outside Kremnica will be closed until the end of May 2022.

Skiing: At least 50 out of 94 ski resorts in Slovakia should be open during the Christmas holiday. You can find more information here.

Christmas tours: At Orava Castle, little visitors can encounter fairytale creatures, listen to carols, accomplish different tasks and enjoy a festive season from December 28 to 30, when self-guided Christmas tours will take place. It’s open only to the vaccinated/recovered, but no restrictions apply to under 12s.

Skalica: Set off on a trip to the former royal town of Skalica, famous for its scrumptious pastry, trdelník.

You can find more travel stories on our website or purchase any of the Spectacular Slovakia guides.


CULTURE

The Nutcracker

It’s not Christmas without the Nutcracker. The magical ballet fairy tale with the music of P. I. Tchaikovsky takes place on Christmas Day.

Every year, for a month and a half, the Nutcracker dominates the stages of all major ballet ensembles in the world, from Russia through Europe, the USA to Australia.

Even at a time when theatres are closed, the Slovak National Theatre will not deprive its audience of the popular production. During the holidays, the theatre will stream the popular ballet performance.

Viewers can watch it here on December 23 at 17:00 and on December 24 and 25 at 10:00.

In the Nutcracker Ballet, little Masha receives a Nutcracker as a Christmas gift. The Nutcracker looks like a soldier, but it is a cursed prince. In Masha’s dream, the Nutcracker, together with other toys, finds himself in a fight against the evil Mouse King, whom he defeats, thus breaking his curse. The Nutcracker and Masha fall in love and travel through the land of fairytales.

The Nutcracker premiered at the Slovak National Theatre in 1928.

OTHER THINGS TO DO AT CHRISTMAS

  • Concert: Watch the 2021 Slovak Philharmonic Christmas concert featuring the Bratislava Boys Choir.
  • Podcast: American Jeremy Hill and his guests from five different countries talk about Christmas and traditions. Listen to the Na Slovensku Aj Po Anglicky podcast.
  • Song: Slovak DJ and producer Robert Burian has released a remix of the 1979 Christmas song Zima na saniach (Winter on the Sledge) by Michal Dočolomanský and the Slniečko children’s choir.

    Hudba.sk lists other Slovak and Czech Christmas songs released in 2021.

Here are four Slovak Christmas songs that I like:

  1. Každý deň budú vraj Vianoce (It's Supposed to Be Christmas Every Day) by Marián Kochanský and Miro Žbirka,
  2. Najkrajšie Vianoce (The Most Wonderful Christmas) by I.M.T. Smile,
  3. Daj Boh šťastia tejto zemi (God Bless This Land) by Katarína Koščová,
  4. Vianoce ’97 (Christmas ’97) by Vidiek.

FOOD

A festive meal of many names: Opekance

In most of Slovakia, opekance, bobaľky or pupáky are an integral part of Christmas Eve dinner. This traditional food, carried on by grandmothers, used to be served all year round.

Slovaks use up to three different names to describe these baked round pieces of dough sprinkled with poppy seeds or sheep cheese known as bryndza.

Their production has a double tradition in Slovakia. They could be served fresh but also prepared a week in advance. Learn more about the history of the meal and how to prepare it.

How to: Organise a baking session using a few Slovak recipes.


That is it for now. Stay healthy, stay safe, and enjoy the festive weekend! – Peter Dlhopolec and Anna Fay

Do you have any tips? You can reach Peter at peter.dlhopolec@spectator.sk

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