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New Year's Eve in Prague
A firework explodes at my feet, above me the sky erupts in green, red and gold bursts of light. Wenceslas Square, Prague's main boulevard, is covered with people lighting fireworks, the shells that remain from their explosions lie at their feet. It's 30 minutes to midnight on New Year's eve and the pyrotechnic light show is near its peak.
I'm standing on the steps of the National Museum, a large banister offers some protection from the fiery explosions but still provides a chance to view the spectacle across the entire boulevard. This light show isn't planned, rehearsed or organized, anyone who wants to set off fireworks can.
Weeks before the end of the year, every corner store in town stocks up on fireworks, noise makers and rockets. The day before the celebration eager pyrotechnic enthusiasts begin firing rockets in test runs. By the evening of the 31st of December the sound of a firework becomes as common as the sound of a passing streetcar.
Near midnight the streets resemble a war zone. People run from their sheltered sidewalks into the crossfire. Surprisingly amongst the hundred of people immediately around me and the thousands of fireworks I don't witness a single injury.
The explosions continue for many hours, slowly diminishing in intensity, but the party is just beginning. In the old town the cobblestone streets are overrun with pedestrians dancing in their drunken stupor and exhilaration. The crowd is a mix of Czech citizens, expatriates and tourists of all ages.
The firework show continues as the famous 16th century astronomical clock rings 3 o'clock.
Many of Prague's bars on New Year's eve stay open until 4 a.m. But once you are in, the party keeps going and revellers can stay as long as they like.
Prague Night Life
Not far from the old town square on V Kolkovne is a row of cocktail bars. Tretter's is famous for its mojitos, the strawberry daiquiris made with fresh fruit are also spectacular. Don't be surprised to find bartenders putting on a flaming bar tending show and a customer dancing on the bar. This mix crowd is casually dressed but serious about having a good time.
Around the corner at Kozi 1 you'll find Kozicka, which translates to Crazy Goat. The large pub is located in an old wine cellar but you'll find just as many people drinking from heavy steins. The beer is less expensive than in other downtown bars and the kitchen is open very late.
There are hundreds of great clubs, pubs and restaurants to choose from in Prague. If you want to start the new year with a bang this is the place to be.