Students have always held a prominent place in Czech society, and the tradition of their spring celebrations goes back to the 18th century when high-school students celebrated “Před Filipojakubskou Nocí” on April 28th by filling the parks with national pride and a lot of music.
With twelve universities located in the city, and a population of close of 120,000 at the five biggest schools alone, activities for students abound in Prague. Whether you are putting off exam-prep or just want to re-kindle that heady mix of freedom, self-expression, and idealism from your (distant?) early twenties, here are a few suggestions for partying like a student this spring.
The annual Prague Majáles open-air festival, which celebrates the “beauties of student life” and the approach of May, was reborn in 2004 following a long communist-imposed hiatus after students elected American poet Allen Ginsberg as Král Majáles (the King of May) in 1965. The state accused him of drunkenness, vandalism, and the propagation of homosexuality before exiling him and clamping down on Majáles.
Although its political agenda is more subdued these days, the fun factor is up and, now 10 years old, Majáles is the biggest Czech festival. Held on April 30th in Letñany, this year’s schedule comprises a music festival, contests presenting students’ skills and a sales fair.
On the morning of the 30th, the competing Krály will lead more than 1,000 students in a parade from the corner of Jungmannova and Vodičkova in Nové Město to Vltavská, accompanied by musicians and entertainers aboard decorated floats. The winning Král and Miss will be elected from among representatives of each of the five big Prague universities: Charles University (UK) , the University of Economics (VŠE), the Czech University of Life Sciences (ČZU), the Czech Technical University (ČVUT) and the Institute of Chemical Technology (VŠCHT).
Once the crowning is complete, follow the crowd to Letñany, where more than 60 performers, including Czech and Slovak musicians like Tomáš Klus, Chinaski and Horkýže Slíže and many student bands, will be providing entertainment for various musical tastes.
Monika Petrásková, one of the Majáles organizers, says that besides the entertainment provided by the music there will be a “Student City” with more than ten different zones, or “islands”. Each university will have their own island and all of them will offer attendees a unique experience.
In addition, there’ll be the “International Island”, a collection of different booths representing the homelands of expats living in Prague and the Czech Republic. The booths will be run by international student organizations, and the exchange students at the stands will prepare not only typical food but also activities from their home countries, so that visitors “will have the chance to ‘travel’ around the world to try different food and drinks and to experience different cultures,” Petrásková promises.
For other ways to live it up student-style, there are several websites that coordinate and promote events, like istudentzone.cz where Sandro Martins Valigy promises the hippest of parties. Offerings for 2014 have already included an Anti-Valentine’s Day party and Bloody Sexy Halloween event both held at club SaSaZu. An “All-in-White” party is slated for April 10.
One of the most comprehensive student lifestyle companies is Studenta Media. Studenta run a student portal at and publish a print magazine every other month, and both are good ways to discover a range of things from job opportunities and interview tips to various student-driven cultural events. On the list at the moment are gallery shows, festivals, street art, and reviews of street performers like Electroshock, a string band composed of students from ČVUT, who can be found on various bridges and in hotels around Prague.
In addition to sharing information about student events, Studenta also organizes them. A few are currently on the go, including the fourth annual “Dorm of the Year” contest, where students can vote for the best dorm. The winners will receive a picnic with 8,000 bottles of Gambrinus and 3,000 fresh sandwiches. If you are a student with a particularly well-appointed dorm, or a parent searching for inspiration to get the kids to tidy their bedrooms, check out the “Dorm Room of the Year”, where students upload pictures of their rooms to be judged by their peers for the chance of winning 2 Asus tablets.
One of the biggest Studenta contests is Miss VŠE, now in its fifth year. The current holder of the title is Barbora Jedličková, who won in November and will be representing VŠE at the Miss Majáles contest this month. The selection process for next year’s winner starts in September 2014, so if you are a female VŠE student and fancy a title, get preening!
Aside from the competitions, April is a big month for Studenta because of the annual light show in the Volha dorms at Jižní Město. On April 24th, light installations in the dorm windows will be set to a concert headlined by DJ Rockstar, and the promise of a rocking after-party in Hany Bany club is sure to draw a crowd.
Whatever your taste, April has something for everyone, so venture away from the beer gardens to experience some of the other gems that Prague has to offer. Take your Pilsner along.
What are the best student hang-outs and activities in Prague?