The festival season has a lot to offer, despite the coronavirus: where to go for fun and culture?

Summer festivals and events with thousands of visitors, often from abroad. All that has been put to rest as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Government regulations allowed the organizers of cancelled events to offer vouchers for next year as compensation for this year’s events. All the large and popular festivals had to give up on this year, but that doesn’t mean that culture in the summer will be limited to going for a swim, to the pub, and singing around the fire.

Government rules set out clear conditions for large events (and the bigger ones have to divide their visitors into sections of 500 people), meaning we cannot expect to party big time this year. On the other hand, the current situation motivated for example certain regions to support local tourism and offer additional programme to visitors. Organizers of smaller (regional) events can also benefit from their lower visitor numbers, meaning their events can still take place, as long as they comply with the current safety rules. So where can you go to spice up your summer with some music, theatre, and such?

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CELTIC NIGHT (Harrachov)

Probably the only large festival this summer, which will include the sections of 500 people, is the open-air Celtic Night in Krkonoše. It will take place in Harrachov on the 7th – 8th of August 2020 and its line-up includes Tři sestry, Rybičky 48, Mňága a Ždorp, Wohnout, Alkehol, and many others. The website states that even this year, the festival will allow camping in tents, meaning the only major change to the original plans is that the Thursday programme was cancelled, due to the festival’s limited capacity. Under the current circumstances, the organizers did not have sufficient funds to cover the Thursday line-up. 

KORESPONDANCE (Žďár nad Sázavou)

The unique castle in Žďár nad Sázavou regularly hosts the International festival of contemporary dance, physical theatre, and contemporary circus. Despite all the restrictions, the 2020 edition will take place on the 11th of August in Prague and on the 14th – 16th of August in Žďár. The organizers have announced that even should the restrictions be tightened (limiting the number of visitors, for example), the event would still take place, with live streaming if necessary. Since the visitor numbers have been limited, the organizers started selling tickets for individual programme items, rather than the whole festival. In any case, visitors can look forward to examples of modern dance art, physical theatre performances, acrobatics, physical illusionists, etc. For up-to-date information, go to: www.korespondance.cz/en

LETOKRUH (Praha, Brno, Hradec Králové)

Most summer events had to be cancelled, which naturally gave rise to completely new ones. One of these is the Letokruh summer festival, which will take place in three Czech cities. The four-day event is divided by genre, with each day dedicated to a different music style. The programme is the same in all three cities: the first day is for rappers, such as Yzomandia and Viktor Sheen, the second day will include shows by Rybičky 48, Horkýže Slíže, and others, the third day will start with Pokáč and go on to No Name, and on the fourth day, the festival will end with for example Ben Cristovao and Kapitán Demo. The festival will start this week in Brno (Za Lužánkami Stadium), on the 15th of July, followed by Hradec Králové (22nd – 25th July) and end in Prague at the Letňany Airport on 29th July – 1st August 2020. For more information and the full programme, go to the festival's website (https://praha.letokruh.cz/)

SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL (Prague, Brno, Ostrava, Bratislava)

The Summer Shakespeare Festival traditionally takes place at Prague Castle, Špilberk Castle in Brno, Silesian Ostrava Castle in Ostrava, and Bratislava Castle in Bratislava. In Prague, it will start on Wednesday the 22nd of July with All's Well That Ends Well and it will run until the end of the summer holidays, with parallel performances throughout August at the Music and Dance Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. In Brno, the festival will kick off with the Winter Tale on Tuesday the 21st of July and end on the 6th of August with The Taming of the Shrew. In Ostrava, you can see the first play on the 24th of July and the festival will end on the 12th of August. Apart from these plays, the programme also includes The Merry Wives of Windsor with Bolek Polívka and Simona Stašová and Hamlet with Hynek Čermák. You can find the full programme for all four cities here.

STAR SUMMER UNDER THE ŽIŽKOV TOWER (Hvězdné léto pod Žižkovskou věží, Praha) + other Prague festivals

Since the 1st of July, the space under the Žižkov TV Tower has been occupied by an original stage, with shows from the Kalich Theatre, as well as concerts (Tomáš Klus, Dan Landa, Ondřej Havelka and the Melody Makers etc.). The programme includes musicals, such as Grease and Titanic. More information here

In general, Prague will be busy in the summer, with summer scenes organized by the Ungelt Theatre and the Vila Štvanice Theatre, which will mostly be presenting independent and alternative performances on its summer scene (Theatre LETÍ, A Studio Rubín, alternative concerts, and film screenings). The roof of the Galerie Harfa shopping mall will come alive with popular comedy performances (such as the Caveman one man show). Fans of acrobatics, extreme shows and fun can get their fix at Letní Letná LIGHT, a contemporary circus festival, from the 18th to the 25th of August. And let’s not forget Prague’s LGBTQ+ festival, Prague Pride. It had to cancel its traditional Pride Parade because of the pandemic, but the organizers have prepared a wide range of programme, which will also be available online.

Karlovy Vary Cultural Summer (Karlovy Vary)

Culture and summer events thrive not only in Prague, but also in the regions. For example, Karlovy Vary has its Karlovy Vary Cultural Summer (Karlovarské kulturní léto), drawing in spa guests and other tourists alike with programme for visitors of all ages. It includes concerts (Sebastian, Monkey Business, Lake Malawi, Jelen, Lenka Dusilová, Pavel Callta, Aneta Langerová, Lenny and many others), as well as colonnade performances of the Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra (almost every day). On Wednesdays, Fridays, and the weekends, you will also find a chill-out zone in the Dvořákovy sady park, with entertainment for children. If you want to get to know the city from a completely new angle, you can try one of the dramatic guided tours organized by the Street Theatre of Viktor Braunreiter (Pouliční divadlo Viktora Braunreitera). You will find similar local festivals and cultural programme in other regions; you just need to look for interesting things happening in your vicinity :-).

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... and last but not least, the “window shopping” FESTCEST

If you don’t get enough travelling this summer, you can always try the travellers’ festival FestCest 2020 – the first year will take place on the 25th of July at the Stránov Castle courtyard. The festival will focus on travelling, stories from the road, as well as recommendations and tips for newbie travellers. This year, it will offer presentations by for example Slávek Král, who hitchhiked through Asia, and Libor Hoření, who spent time in an isolated Inuit community in Alaska, as well as additional programme (guided tours through the castle, yoga lessons, etc.). Even though this year, you probably won’t get much further than Greece or Croatia, you can at least start planning...:-).