Prague is already gearing up for the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution
May 21, 2019: an estimated 50,000 protesters fill Prague's Wenceslas Square (via Wikimedia / Martin2035)

Prague is already gearing up for the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, and celebrations are already planned across Prague for November 17. As this is a significant number, the celebrations will be larger than usual.

Prague City Hall will be supporting events staged by a number of civic groups, rather than organizing its own. Coordination will mainly be handled by the group Festival svobody.

Festival svobody will bring together citizens’ initiatives not only in Prague but also in dozens of cities throughout the country.

“For years now, we have been bringing together major events in the capital while striving to support smaller events in the regions. It is important for us not to compete with each other, but on the contrary, to work together in the best possible way to ensure a positive and strong experience for the citizens on this important day,” Festival svobody Jan Gregar said.

The biggest events in Prague will take place in Albertov, organized by Charles University students, Národní třída, with its street festival Korzo Národní, and Wenceslas Square, with a Concert for the Future.

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This year, the three places will be connected by a large procession following the route of the student demonstrations from Nov. 17, 1989. The now traditional Sametového posvícení (Velvet Fair) procession, with large puppets and costumed participants, will also pass through the streets of Prague.

Martin Pikous of Díky, že můžem, the organizer of the Korzo Národní block party, said the goal is to organize a dignified and positive celebration of freedom that will wake people up to the good things gained after the Velvet Revolution. “We strive to embrace everything in such a way so it attracts even those who have not experienced the Revolution or totalitarianism,” he said.

The Post Bellum group will organize an audiovisual installation at Národní třída as well as the annual Memory of the Nation award, given out at the National Theater.

The National Museum is preparing a video mapping for the Historical Building on Wenceslas Square. The Václav Havel Library, the Polish Institute in Prague and the Shoah Memorial will also prepare programs.

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Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates) will be the patron of some of the events. “Public events, organized by citizens from the bottom-up, always have a great deal of energy and bring people together. That is why I am very pleased to support these efforts,” Hřib said.

“On November 17, the commemorative celebrations will take place in different places and in different forms, but in mutual coordination and connected with the same idea. Especially I enjoy the great interest of young people in organizing celebrations. They prove that they feel responsible for social events and support democratic values,” he added.

City Councilor Hana Třeštíková (Praha sobě), responsible for culture, said she is pleased that there are already a number of initiatives celebrating freedom. “Thanks to them, November 17 will takes place in the streets of Prague in a lively and friendly atmosphere. We have therefore decided to support these civic initiatives instead of our own larger events,” she said.

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“We have launched a separate grant program and have supported over 40 larger and smaller events, from concerts and gatherings to various exhibitions and film screenings. I look forward to meeting you in the streets,” she added.

City Councilor Hana Kordová Marvanová (STAN) is also helping to coordinate the celebrations. She participated in the events of November 17, 1989, and was among those prosecuted and imprisoned for opposing the Communist regime. She is currently in charge of establishing a museum about the dangers of totalitarianism.

“I will personally try to make the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution truly exceptional. We are also preparing at the Mayor’s Residence a welcome for the direct participants of the demonstrations and to all who have pushed to live today in democracy and freedom,” she said.

More information will be available closer to the events at the website of Festival Svobody.

Raymond Johnston

Prague-based journalist with over three decades of media experience writing about culture, business, and travel. Folktale and legend expert, and avid photographer. Follow him on Instagram at @raymondjohnston4 or visit his blog magicbohemia.com.

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