Prague celebrates Prague – the 1st Oslavy Prahy festival

26-06-2009

There are many festivals in and around Prague celebrating all the wonderful facets of this city imaginable. But until this weekend, there was never a festival that feted the city itself. Now the “Oslavy Prahy”, or Celebrations of Prague, festival is going to do just that. The three-day festival aims to turn Prague into what its organisers describe as “a paradise of music, film, theatre, art, sport, science, fashion, adrenalin and dance.”

Preparations are underway for the most wide-ranging festival in recent memory. On Friday Prague’s Old Town Square will be the scene of performances by a dozen top Czech bands, as well as magicians, exotic dancers, the Prague Children’s Orchestra and music by Prague’s adopted son Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. On hand will be the tasty morsels of Czech chefs, the best-loved Czech who never lived, Jára Cimrman, and much, much more. The festival’s main organiser, Robert Kozler, explains what it is all about:

“Today, tomorrow and the next day we are going to celebrate the capital city of the Czech Republic. That’s the main idea, because every important metropolis in Europe has its own celebration, as do many Czech towns and even villages. But until now, Prague has lacked a comprehensive celebration that would showcase the city with all its galleries and museums, all its history and future and life, and fully open it up to visitors from both home and abroad. So we decided to do something about that, and that’s why I’m able to sit here now and proudly say that as of today there is something beginning that I hope will become a true tradition for the nation as a whole.”

Mr Kozler is no stranger to demanding feats of organisation. He is the founder of the music and theatre festival Mezi Ploty, a popular annual event held at a psychiatric hospital that is now in its 18th year. And in terms of scope, Celebrations of Prague has seemingly impossible goals. The festival will open doors to the public across the city, staging events at all of the main theatres, galleries and museums. There will be opera singers and ghosts wandering the Old Town streets, “walking poetry tours” honouring this country’s Nobel laureates, and seemingly impromptu concerts taking place all over Prague, from the zoo to the so called “Smíchov Beach”. But the ambitious event will not be bankrupting the city as Mr Kozler explains:

“We’re talking about around 6 million crowns. That’s thanks to the many artists, writers, scientists and so on who we’ve worked with over the years on Mezi Ploty. All of these people are doing this now either for free or at minimum charge. The reason why is that this celebration isn’t just a bit of irreverent fun – it’s something that shows Praguers and Czechs in general their roots, their history. It’s a check on our excessive modesty and a reminder to ourselves that we’re good for something in this country, there are things we’re very good at, and not only do we belong in Europe but we have moulded it, and that’s the way it’s always been.”

Czech Radio and its historic premises will not be missing from the programme. Within the scope of the Celebrations of Prague our doors too will be open to visitors from 10 to 5 on Saturday.

26-06-2009