Prague gears up for weekend of major centenary celebrations

Wenceslas Square, photo: Štěpánka Budková

Countless events will take place around the Czech Republic next weekend marking the anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia on October 28, 1918. In Prague the centenary celebrations will include the official reopening of the main National Museum building after major renovations. However, that is just one of many things that locals and visitors can look forward to, organiser Vladimír Bláha told me.

Wenceslas Square,  photo: Štěpánka Budková
“One of the most important shows during the weekend will be the big video mapping that will be projected onto the reconstructed façade of the National Museum.

“This will be the biggest video mapping ever in Prague. It’s a musical and image installation which will present the history of Czechoslovakia during the last 100 years.

“There will also be several concerts on Wenceslas Square, basically concerts of popular music, at which there will be Czech and Slovak artists.

“I would also like to invite visitors to visit other stages which are in different parts of the city.

“One of them is the stage on Old Town Square, where there will be concerts more for a younger audience, meaning there will be some rap and hip hop from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, along with other Czech and Slovak artists.”

On Saturday there will also be a big parade taking place in Prague. What will that be?

“Exactly. This is called March for the Republic and it will unite several organisations linked to the creation of Czechoslovakia: legionnaires, Sokols and representatives of scouting.

“This march will start at Kampa island, will go through the streets of Prague and will finish at Wenceslas Square, where there will be a special exhibition or event made by Sokol.”

There are going to be a number of zones in different parts of Prague, such as Old Town Square, Dejvice and Náměstí Republiky. What will be happening at those places?

“At Dejvice and on Evropská St. there will be a military parade – that’s also a very important thing linked to the creation of Czechoslovakia, as the army was there at the beginning of that.

Military parade on Evropská St. in 2008,  photo: Barbora Němcová
“There will also be a military parade, an exhibition of military vehicles, including tanks, at Letná Plain.

“And at Náměstí Republiky, where the programme already starts on Friday October 26, there will be several folk music concerts and huge events organised by the Czech tourist [hiking] club.”

I’m curious about one thing. The actual centenary is on Sunday, but you’re also having events on Saturday – why over the whole weekend?

“Basically when organising the programme we wanted to bring people together, to celebrate not just one day – because October 28 will have the official stuff, with fireworks in the evening.

“So we wanted to propose cultural programmes and concerts on Saturday to motivate people from other parts of the Czech Republic to stay in Prague.

“Even though the celebrations will culminate in Prague, we wanted them to be for all inhabitants of the Czech Republic, of Slovakia – and other foreign visitors to the Czech capital.”