Prague is rightly considered one of Europe’s cultural hotspots, where cutting-edge contemporary art galleries cross paths with trendy gourmet restaurants in historic surroundings. The city’s cultural calendar this summer is filled with numerous must-see events. From art exhibitions to music festivals, discover what’s on in Prague for a complete cultural experience of the city.
Art | Tim Burton and His World at the House at the Stone Bell
28 March – 3 August
The House at the Stone Bell, located on the Old Town Square, unveils an exhibition of Tim Burton’s work, aptly titled Tim Burton and His World. Best known for his work on Hollywood productions such as Edward Scissorhands, Corpse Bride and Sleepy Hollow, Burton has a distinct style where unbridled imagination, black humor and bleak poetry combine, resulting in unforgettable characters and narratives. This retrospective show, which has traveled to locations such as New York and Paris, explores Burton’s life and work, and presents hundreds of objects ranging from films to storyboards, paintings and puppets.
Hrabal Exhibition | Courtesy of Museum of Czech Literature
Literature | Who Am I Bohumil Hrabal Exhibition at the PNP
1 April – 31 August
Those wishing to explore the works and life of Bohumil Hrabal, regarded by many Czechs as one of the best writers of the 20th century, should schedule a visit to the Museum of Czech Literature (PNP). Its most recent exhibition, organized in collaboration with the Literaturhaus Berlin, celebrates the writer’s 100th birthday anniversary. Hrabal’s two best-known novels, Closely Observed Trains (Ostře sledované vlaky) and I Served the King of England (Obsluhoval jsem anglického krále) were adapted for the screen by the famous Czech director Jiří Menzel (1966 and 2006, respectively). Hrabal himself was a great raconteur, much of his story-telling taking place in his favorite pub, U zlatého tygra (At the Golden Tiger) on Husova Street in Prague, once the favorite watering hole of Václav Havel, who, together with the former U.S. president Bill Clinton, joined Hrabal for a traditional Czech pub evening here during Clinton’s visit in 1994.
Hrabal Exhibition | Courtesy of Museum of Czech Literature
Forgotten Bohumil Reynek at the Waldstein Riding School
16 April – 31 July
Until 31 July, the Waldstein Riding School presents a jewel on the Czech graphic arts scene – an exhibition of work by Bohuslav Reynek, a writer and shining icon of Czech modern art. For many decades, his spirited and valuable artwork remained unnoticed, hidden from public view. Although his work gradually garnered critical acclaim abroad, he remained unknown to most Czechs for many decades. The Forgotten Bohumil Reynek exhibition, organized in collaboration with the National Gallery in Prague, presents Reynek’s work in all its beauty and richness. With many of the works being exhibited for the very first time, the show hopes to attract public attention to the work of this forgotten master.
Vysehrani, a festival where theater meets music, takes place annually at the fort of Vysehrad, one of the most important, historic sites in Prague. Visitors to the event can experience a medieval craft fair complete with a blacksmith’s shop, swordsmen, jugglers and lots of folk music. On 17 June, visitors will be treated to a unique cultural evening in the company of writer Jan Burian, followed by a concert by Vasek Koubek and Radka Fisarova, who is widely considered to be the Czech Edith Piaf.
Art | Alfons Mucha: The Slav Epic at the National Gallery
10 May – 31 December
The exhibition Slav Epic (Slovanská epopej), organized by the National Gallery, is a series of 20 monumental canvases depicting the history of the Slavic peoples and civilizations. Mucha conceived it as a monument for his people, and devoted the latter half of his artistic career to the realization of this epic work. The initial idea was kindled in 1899, while Mucha was working on the design for the interior of the Pavilion of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which had been commissioned by the Austro-Hungarian government for the 1900 Paris Exhibition. In preparation for the assignment, he traveled widely through the Balkans, researching the ancient history and customs of the region. From this experience sprang the inspiration for a new project – the creation of ‘an epic for all the Slavic peoples’ that would portray the ‘joys and sorrows’ of his own nation and those of other Slavs.
The Czech Republic wouldn’t be the same without beer – it’s one of the country’s most famous exports, after Vaclav Havel and Milan Kundera. During the 17 days of Prague’s Beer Festival, beer aficionados can taste over 70 brands of top-quality Czech beer, as well as numerous bohemian specialties prepared by chefs from some of the most famous Czech restaurants. This year’s beer festival will be accompanied by Rock’n’Beer Fest, a multi-genre music festival featuring 56 local and international bands.
The Prague Proms is preparing to celebrate its tenth anniversary this year. The festival will kick off with an open-air concert by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, who will perform scores from blockbuster films at Prague’s Wenceslas Square. One of the festival’s highlights will be a performance by the acclaimed composer and conductor Vince Mendoza, prepared with Joe Lovano and John Abercrombie – a night to remember for jazz fans. In addition to the Smetana Hall of the Municipal House, concerts will also be held at the Prague Congress Centre, Hybernia Palace, Lichtenstein Palace and the Church of St. Barbara in Kutná Hora. Accompanying jazz concerts, allowing for avid jazz fans to remain in high spirits and take the fun to new dimensions, will be held at The Loop Jazz Club, which has recently found a home in the wonderful and increasingly popular surroundings of the beautifully renovated Občanská Plovárna.
The United Islands of Prague Festival is a much-loved open-air music event that takes place by the river Vltava at Střelecký Island, Kampa, Petřín and Kinski Garden. This year, the festival celebrates its 11th anniversary, and continues its mission of promoting emerging acts and reviving Prague’s urban areas. The 2014 festival will open with its traditional Club Night and a music performance by the American contemporary blues guitar master Kenny Wayne Shepherd, a prominent exponent of what is known as modern blues. The five-times Grammy-nominated and multi-platinum-selling blues-rock guitarist will present his new album GOIN’ HOME (released May 5th) in Prague’s legendary Lucerna Music Bar on 18 May! In addition to Shepherd’s promising performance, a number of local and international bands will also show off their skill, with Nylon, Voila!, Lanugo, Kieslowski, Palermo or Love Earth all present on the line-up.
Outstanding dramatic works by William Shakespeare, unforgettable performances by popular actors and breathtaking, dramatic experiences – this is the Summer Shakespeare Festival, the oldest and largest open-air theater festival of its kind in Europe. The event takes place in the historic premises of the Supreme Burgrave’s House at the Prague Castle, in the courtyard of the Liechtenstein Palace in Malá Strana and at the Faculty of Music, Academy of Performing Arts at Malostranské Square. The Summer Shakespeare Festival offers over 140 performances, some of which are performed in English. Two and a half hours of Shakespeare’s most famous drama and one of the most famous plays in the history of theater will be performed on 25 and 26 June as a part of the world tour of London-based Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. Now in its 20th year, the Summer Shakespeare Festival attracts thousands of visitors to the stunning Prague Castle every year.
From 17 August until 2 September, the people of Prague can enjoy the 11th International Festival of Contemporary Circus and Theater. For the third time, Letní Letná will welcome the magical circus tent of one of the most successful circus companies of all time, the Cirque Trottola. Their brand-new piece, entitled Matamore, is a co-production with yet another big name on the French circus scene, Le Petit Théâtre Baraque. The result is a fantastic production with clowns and acrobats, juggling and flying high in the air, where each movement and swing re-examines the laws of gravity. The festival itself is an event where new circus meets theater, and where some of the best new circus companies from around the world showcase their Czech and international premieres. The varied program includes street art and open-air shows, photography exhibitions, workshops, meetings with professionals working in the field, film screenings, concerts, and many others.