Thanks to its Christmas markets and cosy cellar bars, Prague has cemented its status as a favourite cold weather clime. But if you’re already planning your return trip, note that the start of spring is also an ideal time to visit the Czech capital. Suddenly, public parks are abuzz with picnicking locals, trees break into blossom and the city’s calendar fills with festivals. Whether you’re seeking contemporary dance at Tanec Praha or classical music at the Prague Proms, colourful costumes at Prague Folklore Days or sporting cheer at Prague Marathon, these 10 Prague festivals cater to all tastes.
Not quite ready to huff and puff your way through the city’s cobbled streets? Even if you aren’t sporting on your finest running shorts, it’s well worth attending the Prague Marathon as a spectator. The event draws crowds of thousands and hosts a perfectly festive atmosphere, thanks in part to the companion Marathon Music Festival with live performances and the concluding pasta party with, yes, heaps of pasta.
If you know your Berg from your Brahms, doubtless the Prague Spring International Music Festival is already on your must-do list. The festival is a favourite of connoisseurs worldwide, and invites top performers, conductors, and orchestras from around the globe to participate. Several competitions also factor into the calendar, for those who like their classical compositions with a bit of competitive vigour.
Step aside, Edinburgh: there’s more than one experimental theatre festival around this season. The Prague Fringe Festival brings together dozens of individual performers and drama companies from the Czech Republic and beyond, with performances ranging from musical theatre and monologues to dance, comedy, and more, held in select theatres around town.
One of the most popular Prague festivals since its inauguration in 1989, Tanec Praha (or the International Festival of Contemporary Dance and Movement Theatre) is a celebration of all things kinetic. The festival is an evocative, occasionally challenging blend of genres, bringing brilliantly outré choreographers, composers and physical theatre companies from across Europe to the Czech stage.
One of several musically oriented Prague festivals, Prague Summer Nights specifically celebrates the talents of young musicians and performers. Opera lovers especially won’t want to give this one a miss: all the greats are performed with spectacular flair in the Estates Theatre – the very same venue where Mozart originally premiered the opera in 1787.
If you’re in the business of hosting open-air concerts, it’s hard to do better than the splendid setting of Wenceslas Square. That’s just how the Prague Proms kicks off its schedule of world-class concerts. For more than a month, the festival hosts musical events across the city, ranging from string quartets and brass bands to performances of repertory favourites such as Carmina Burana.
Not all music-related Prague festivals skew towards jazz or classical, however. United Islands of Prague has, in the past, featured acts ranging from Israeli indie rock bands to Mexico-based electronic DJs. The open-air, genre-crossing festival is traditionally held in several outdoor locations across the city centre.
Highlighting the traditions of different Czech regions and eras, Prague Folklore Days is like stepping into a temporary time capsule. For four days in summer, the festival sees many dozens of participants take to the streets of Prague, accompanied by music and performing historic dances. Take in the sights and you’ll soon start wishing for an embroidered outfit of your own.
Named after the iconic moving installation that defines the contemporary aspect of Prague’s urbanscape, Metronome Music And Arts Fair draws lovers of rock and electro from across the world with its star-studded line-up of international acts. Previous headliners have included Morcheeba and The Chemical Brothers, mixed in with a hearty delivery of local talent. Right in the heart of the city, it’s among Prague’s headline summer festivals.
A high-octane indoor EDM extravaganza, the one-night-only Magnetic Festival is where to find the world’s freshest DJs tearing up the decks well into the next morning. Be prepared to party hard: spectacular light displays, talented VJs and special effects guarantee a stratospheric mood among the hundreds of electronic dance music enthusiasts that attend.