Busy schedule of events in Prague and beyond on Velvet Revolution anniversary

Photo: Peter Turnley, Public Domain

Countless events across the Czech Republic – and indeed across the globe – are taking place over the next four days to mark the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. These are scheduled in key places associated with the Revolution, such as Wenceslas Square or Národní třída in Prague, as well as in locations such as Washington D.C. and London.

Photo: Peter Turnley, Public Domain
Over the next four days, numerous events are planned to mark the anniversary of the revolution which ended communist rule in Czechoslovakia in 1989. In Prague, where the Revolution sprang to life as a student protest in Národní třída, ostensibly to mark oppression of students by the Nazi regime, the greatest numbers of events are planned.

Tram and car traffic is to be suspended at Národní and two concert stages erected – symbolically entitled “Truth” and “Love”. At this site, a major “Festival of Freedom” is to take place starting at 10am, and continuing until 10pm. Performances from the likes of Lenka Dusilová and Baromantika, Zrní and Jaromír Švejdí will underscore the atmosphere of celebration. A number of stalls will be erected in the vicinity too, with a carnival procession and other festivities planned, including skating, graffiti, exhibitions and performances by student bands. Theatre performances are also set to take place in this space, as well as in the nearby Black Box theatre, which will premiere a new play directly about the events of 1989. Czech students will also partake in an event entitled “Díky, že můžem! – Korzo Národní” – or “Thanks that we can” in which thanks is given to those students who 25 years ago opened the gates to freedom and democracy.

Events are also scheduled at countless other sites across Prague including at Jungmannovo náměstí, Betlemské náměstí, Karolíny Světlé and Náměstí Jana Palacha. At Wenceslas Square, where mass demonstrations were held following the events of November 17, events are occurring under a banner entitled “Celebrating 25 Years of Freedom”. These include a concert on November 17 called “1989 Again”, produced by Czech Radio, at which famous names such as Michal Prokop, Jiří Suchý, Jaroslav Hutka, Vladimír Merta, David Koller, Lenka Dusilová, Dan Bárta, Michael Kocáb and Aneta Langerová are scheduled to perform.

Meanwhile, musician and former Velvet Underground member John Cale is to perform at a “Memory of the Nation” award event at Prague’s National Theatre on November 17. The award is given to people who have waged battles against totalitarian communist regimes. Also present will be author Tom Stoppard. 20 people have been nominated for the award this year from countries including the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.

Naturally, events are also taking place in other key sites associated with the Velvet Revolution, such as the city of Brno or in Bratislava, now the capital of independent Slovakia.

Václav Havel, photo: Tomáš Adamec
A series of commemorative events have also been planned at global Czech Centres and embassies by the Foreign Ministry. Locations include places as afar as London, Rotterdam and Madrid. Meanwhile, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka is heading to Washington D.C. to unveil a bust in Capitol Hill on November 19 of the late president Václav Havel created by Czech artist Lubomír Janečka. The event will also be attended by the Czech-born former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Meanwhile, at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C., the Czech Philharmonic will be performing a special concert held at 7:00 pm local time on November 17.