4 Kids: St. Matthew´s Fair (Matějská pouť)

Expats.cz visits this annual fun fair and its new exhibit: Giganti - Animals of the Ice Age

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St. Mathew´s Fair (Matějská Pouť) and Giganti – Animals of the Ice Age

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This annual fun fair is a long-standing tradition and has been at its current Stromovka location since 1963. There are rides for everyone from the smallest toddlers to serious thrillseekers. This year, an exhibit called Giganti features life-size replicas of some of the enormous ancestors of modern animals. This exhibit includes a high-quality mirror labyrinth, for an extra fee. This year, it runs until May 1.


 

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Výstaviště, Holešovice

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Trams going to Výstaviště include: 5, 12, 14, 15 and 17.

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A fun fair this large can take as long or as short as you like. After just an hour there, our youngest had already hit his limit, and was suffering from overstimulation. At the Giganti exhibit, plan for half an hour to an hour, including the maze.

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Apart from the obvious threat of being pickpocketed or spending too much money too fast, there´s not much to warn against. The mirror maze is very well done; so much so our 3 year-old ran right into a wall and hurt himself. Also, some conservative families may take issue with the appearance of scantily-clad ladies that are airbrushed onto the backdrops of many rides. They are colorful and well done, but almost pornographic. The club music, blaring non-stop from the rides, is too loud; if your children speak English, you may not be comfortable having them hear “Damn You´s a Sexy Bitch” blasting with the original lyrics.

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Some attractions, like the bouncy castle and the Jungle King fun house, don´t have a time limit, so encourage your child to stay there to get the most out of it. The Giganti exhibit is only accessed through the fairgrounds, but costs a separate entrance fee. It´s in Hall E, across from the giant Goja Theatre pyramid. It might be best to save this until the kids are a bit worn out from walking – they’ll take it in more slowly that way. Or save a ride as a treat for after, if they´ve been good. It´s not ideal to have a serious, thought-provoking exhibit in the middle of a loud and crazy fair, but it didn´t cause any problems, either.

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TIP: There are in fact TWO mirror mazes in the same hall as the Giganti exhibit (Hala E). So look for the second one before you leave – it is glass and mirrors and they dim the lights to make it harder. 


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In the event of rain, there´s not much you can do. Some rides are covered. Sun overexposure isn´t a big problem in these early days of spring. There are a few tables and benches for resting.

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A standard range of beverages is available at inflated prices at the food stalls around the park.

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Fairground food is never healthy or cheap. My advice would be to get a bagel from Bohemia Bagel beforehand, so no one is hungry. My kids ate just half a hotdog, some sugar-coated nuts and shared a cotton candy – and they were ill from that. The candy – which is everywhere – looks better than it tastes, in my opinion. Think neon marshmallows and marzipan sculptures. On a positive note, the food here is distinctly Czech and you won´t find it anywhere else – like potatoes sliced into swirls then fried. And just look at the chlebíčky made entirely out of candy!

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Plenty of hourly paid parking is available all around Výstaviště. Strict towing is enforced in the residential area around the exhibition grounds – don´t chance it.

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Tuesday – Friday from 14:00 – 21:00. Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 10:00 – 20:00, including Easter and other holidays. From 13:00 – 17:00 there are clowns at Křižík fountain.

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All ages will find something to enjoy. The selection of rides, even for toddlers, is impressive – the baby swings, the pony rides, boat rides; older kids will love their 5 minutes on the bungee trampoline. Even babies can enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds, but it can quickly become sensory overload.


 

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The biggest danger here is getting separated from your children, so try to have an emergency plan – where to meet & what to do. Our kids carry our business cards in a pocket and know they should ask someone who works there to call us if they get lost. Luckily, the 30 or so attractions for small children are clustered in the same area, so you can avoid the boisterous crowds hanging by the wilder rides like “The Booster” on the other end of the park.

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There a few pay toilets around, clearly marked, which cost 10 CZK to use. They´re not attractive, but better than a port-a-potty. Still, there was nothing to dry your hands with. And don´t forget to grab that toilet paper before going into the stall!

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On weekends, adults pay 25 CZK to enter the fair; children are free. Weekdays it´s a bit less. Entrance to the Giganti exhibit costs 350 CZK for a family with a maximum 3 kids, and includes entrance to the mirror maze.

TIP for families on a budget: it costs only 30czk to enter the mirror labyrinths, if you don´t go to the Giganti exhibit. If you can walk through the park without your child screaming to go on rides, this is excellent value.

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Little kid rides cost 30 – 50 CZK per go and they´re over quick. There is no all-day pass available. Tickets are purchased directly at the ride, unlike some places where you can buy a bunch at a time and give them to your child to budget themselves. So they´re asking to go on rides the whole time. Add to that the balloons and candy, and those horrible cheap plastic toys that never fail to enthrall, and it adds up to a pretty expensive day out.

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Great for dads. Great for kids who get to ride on dad´s shoulders.

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A good day out. Lots of other dogs to sniff.

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http://www.matejskapout.cz/
http://giganti.cz/

Here’s a video news report about St. Matthew’s Fair on Czech TV


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This year marks the 45th Anniversary of Matějská Pouť (or the Feast of St. Matthias Fair). It runs from March 5th – April 25th. St. Matthias is the patron saint of construction and confectioners – and there´s plenty of that on display. The organizers work with a Dutch company that brings in some of the more extreme rides, while the Czech rides are traditional, but well-maintained. The Loch Ness ride has been in operation for 80 years. Imagine bringing a grandchild and saying “I went on this when I was your age”. What we call “Bumper Cars” here is called “Autodrom.” Little boats sail around on the “Aquadrom”. For a true Czech tradition, put your kids on the little boat swings (photo 2). There are several places for pony rides and those little swings that go in circles – for smaller kids, then bigger kids, and finally the extreme version of the ride that gives a view of the whole area.

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The Giganti show was our main reason for coming. I was impressed with the realistic looking animals, 11 in all, and they were set up nicely enough in their native environments. There were 8-foot-tall beavers, mammoths and some crazy predecessor to the modern rhino. The exhibits were accompanied by information written in Czech and English. The graphics showed relative size of humans to the animal, and what part of the world they lived in. It was well done, and I know that seeing the sheer size of these beasts will leave an impact on my kids and help them grasp the evolutionary differences between dinosaurs 100,000 years ago and these mammals from 10,000 years ago.

I didn´t even know about the mirror maze until we got there. Compared to the old and small one on top of Petrin hill, or Krystals City (another attraction at Matějská Pouť) this was much better because the mirrors were new and very clean and it was set up in such a way that you really did get just a wee bit lost. To keep the mirrors smudge free, visitors must wear disposable gloves. That´s a fine idea, except they were the size of oven mitts, so they wouldn´t stay on my own hands, much less a child´s. There was a wall of distortion mirrors on the side of the maze; these were less impressive. All in all, it was a great day for everyone.


 
Fun activities in Prague for the kids.


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