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The Czech Republic's rolling hills and low mountains are perfect for hearty hiking, especially in the Sumava of western and southern Bohemia and the Krkonose mountains in northern Bohemia. Climbers should head to the Sandstone Rocks of the Labe in northern Bohemia and cavers should check out the Moravian Karst area north of Brno. The prime boating river is the scenic but unfortunately polluted Sazava.
Downhill skiing is plentiful, popular and relatively cheap in the Czech Republic, though facilities are not up to Western European standards and queues are long. Hired gear is generally of poor quality, so it's best to bring your own equipment. The country's best downhill skiing can be found at Spindleruv mlyn in the Krkonose between January and early April; Sumava has the best cross-country skiing trails.
Practically every day is a saint's day in the Czech Republic, and 'special days', festivals and public holidays are widely acknowledged. On 30 April in Prague, the Czech version of Walpurgisnacht, Paleni Carodejnic (Burning of the Witches) is a pre-Christian festival for warding off evil. Politically incorrect witch burning is now replaced by all-night bonfire parties on Kampa Island and in suburban backyards. High culture follows for the remainder of the year with the Prazske jaro (Prague Spring) International Music Festival in May and June, the Prague International Book Fair also in May and the Mozart Festival in September. The Christmas-New Year season closes the year quietly for most of the Czech Republic, but Prague is overcome with tourist revelry during a fast and furious holiday season.
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