Get those miniature flags ready if you’re in Prague this weekend because from October 26th to October 28th, the city will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Czechoslovak Republic’s foundation.
Although the Czechoslovak Republic, which was established in 1918, has long since split into two separate states, namely Czechia and Slovakia, its creation marks a crucial moment in central European history, especially for citizens of the aforementioned countries. For roughly 300 years the region was ruled by a succession of monarchs from Austria or Hungary but after World War I the Czech and Slovakian people declared their independence from external powers, and then united to form a democratic republic. This union survived in one form or another for the next 70 years, before peacefully disbanding into modern-day Czechia and Slovakia in 1993, after the fall of communism in Europe.
To celebrate the republic’s centenary, events will take place throughout Prague between October 26th to 28th, ranging from the grand reopening of the National Museum to live hip-hop concerts. Here’s what to expect.
To celebrate the movement’s influence on Czech national identity, representatives of age-old gymnastics organisation Sokol will march from Kampa Island to Wenceslas Square from 12.15pm on 28 October. By combining physical training with academics this movement helped revive Czech language, culture and heritage in the late 19th century, contributing to the unification of the Czech people. As Sokol were well-known for their elaborate group acrobatic performances, the parade will end with an open-air gymnastics show on Wenceslas Square.
A military parade held in honour of Czech and Slovak independence will take place in the daytime on Saturday, 27 October. Thousands of people from the armed, police and rescue services will march down Evropská boulevard during the procession, alongside dozens of military vehicles. After the show, visitors can head to Letná Park for an open-air exhibition, presenting contemporary and historic military equipment.
Most plazas in Prague’s city centre will host events during the weekend, including Old Town Square, which will essentially turn into a small festival ground for two days. Though some concerts are planned for Sunday daytime, the lion’s share of events here will take place on Saturday evening and continue until around 10pm. Old Town Square’s program will mainly revolve around contemporary music and feature artists ranging from rappers to soul singers, mostly from Czechia or Slovakia. As other major plazas like Namesty Republicky and Wenceslas Squaretown will hold similar events focused on different genres during the celebrations, it is worth wandering around to see what’s going on.
After seven years of renovations, Prague’s National Museum will finally reopen during a ceremony on Saturday, 27 October. For the event in question, the museum’s facade will serve as the canvas for a large-scale, video-mapping show titled ‘The Witness to History’, which will begin at 8pm. The museum has organised a special exhibition called Czech-Slovak/Slovak-Czech to celebrate the centenary too, which will explore the two countries’ shared history.
The centenary celebrations will end with a bang on Sunday when a massive fireworks display will illuminate the skies above Prague. For some added symbolism, the show will start at 19.18 (7.18pm) to match the year that the Czechoslovakia Republic was established (1918). As the fireworks will shoot into the air from Letná Hill, they will be visible throughout the city, but for the best views consider heading to larger central plazas like Old Town Square or Wenceslas Square.