2017 Letní Letná festival of new circus kicks off

Cirque Alfonse - 'Barbu', photo: Frédéric Barrette / official website of Letní Letná

What can visitors look forward to at the 14th edition of Letní Letná, which gets underway on Thursday night?

Cirque Alfonse - 'Barbu', photo: Frédéric Barrette / official website of Letní Letná
Letní Letná, which brings some of the world’s best contemporary circus acts to Prague, gets underway for the 14th time at the city’s Letná Plain on Thursday evening. Perhaps the biggest draw at this year’s edition of the three-week festival are Cirque Alfonse, a troupe from Quebec. When I spoke to Letní Letná manager Ivana Vrbíková, I first asked her what audiences could expect from their cabaret-style show Barbu.

“It’s new circus, of course, contemporary circus, so you should expect acrobatics and great live music.

“And what is amazing is that they are performing in a beautiful, beautiful wooden tent called Spiegeltent, which we have brought from Belgium.”

As well as Cirque Alfonse, who are some of the other interesting international performers at this year’s Letní Letná?

“It’s good you mention it, because Cirque Alfonse aren’t the only ones. We also have Collectif Malunés, from France and Belgium.

“And then we have a Spanish circus, from Catalonia, called Escarlata, while again, after three years comes Atelier Lefeuvre, from France.

Collectif Malunés - 'Forever, happily...', photo: František Ortmann / official website of Letní Letná
“Atelier Lefeuvre have performed here three times and they were always sold out.

“So we have a very rich programme this year.

“What is very important to say is that tonight at 8:30 there is an open-air performance, for free, so people can come to get a taste of what contemporary circus is.

“For one week there was a huge workshop with NoFit State Circus and their director Firenza [Guidi].

“These guys have been practising with Czech performers and groups and you can see the results of this amazing week-long workshop tonight.”

Are there many events at Letní Letná that are suitable for children?

“I wouldn’t say that we are a festival for children, but we do have a lot of events for them in the afternoons.

“Also you can take children to some of the evening programme, because I think it’s very exciting for them to see such shows.

“We also have afternoon performances by these big foreign stars, so we are open to families.

“We have many open-air events for free and also during the day there are four kids’ shows.”

Atelier Lefeuvre - '8m3', photo: Matthieu Hagene / official website of Letní Letná
This is the 14th edition of Letní Letná. How has the festival developed over the years?

“We are still growing and growing. It’s still hard work. We are trying to be better each year and to satisfy more people.

“What’s very important for us is bringing quality and bringing happiness to families, so they can enjoy these three weeks in the summer in Prague.”

Also some people might not know it but Letní Letná is almost kind of like a village, isn’t it? You can go there in the evening and just have a drink – you don’t even have to go to a show.

“Yes, exactly. We are completely open.

“There are many bars, there are many food trucks and food stands, so you can really enjoy the evening.

“There are many people improvising and doing some stuff. Really, it’s like a big open park, full of enjoyment.”