Music and Art in Eastern Europe: Q&A with a Prague expert
Part II of our “Peer Into Prague” series. Check out Part I here, where Lucia, resident Prague travel expert, discusses regional cuisine, sightseeing destinations, and where the locals go to eat, drink, and play.
What is Prague’s music scene like? Are there any summer festivals/events in Prague in 2014 that visitors should not miss?
Lucia: Music in Prague is incredible, from world-class classical concerts, to church and concert hall quartet concerts, to live music in pubs and jazz clubs. I should highlight the Prague Spring Festival in May and Dvorak Prague Festival in September for best classical music.
Great atmosphere can be found at the outdoor festival United Islands in June, where various bands play. It is located along the river in the central part of the city.
“Where new meets old,” Lucia says of St. Vitus Cathedral
I personally enjoy Signal Light Festival in October, when different buildings are lit by special audiovisual art techniques and mapping.
The best classical music outside of Prague is Smetana´s Litomysl in June.
In the intimate historical town of Ceský Krumlov, there is an outstanding International Music Festivalin July/August and the Five-Petaled Rose Celebration in June. At this time, the whole medieval city goes back in time, with residents dressing in the attire of noble knights and tournaments, jugglers and period dance.
Where should art lovers go in Prague?
The current art scene has gotten more and more interesting in the last 20 years. There are uncountable art galleries around the city!
Tyn Church from the gallery at U kamenneho zvonu
I would like to suggest a visit to Dox, including the gift store, for contemporary art. Also spend some time in Veletrzní Palace of National Gallery or Kampa Museum for Contemporary Art. It is good to check and see what kind of temporary exhibition is at Rudolfinum, where I recently saw exhibits from great world artists like Raqib Shaw.
The Piazzetta behind Nová Scena of National Theatre sometimes hosts activities, art and social events.
Local artists also scatter some street installations on the major squares and alleys throughout summer season. One example: David Cerný and his Horse in Lucerna Palace or Babies on Telecommunication tower.
What would you recommend a visitor do who wants to learn more about the lifestyle and culture of the city?
Go between locals, read the books, watch the movies. The easiest is to watch movies by some of the best Czech directors.
Jan Hřebejk made two great movies (Pupendoand Pelisky) about desperation and poverty before 1989, but with a funny view. Jan Sverak’s movie Kolya was awarded the Academy Award and Golden Globe as Best Foreign Language Film in 1996.
Great writers include Bohumil Hrabal, whose lyrical novel was made a movie, I Served the King of England, by phenomenal film director Jiri Menzl.
Today the most popular Czech writer is Michal Viewegh after director Filip Renc made one of his books into a comedy movie, Román pro ženy.
The movie All My Loved Oneslyrically talks about destiny of the Czech Jews.
Through these stories you get to understand better Czech history, humor and life. You get into our homes.
Maybe if you go to buy a book by Hrabal or Capek at the Akademia bookstore on Vaclavske Square, you will enjoy a local feeling. Just across the road in Svetozor passage, you can taste ice cream by Hajek cukrárna (cukr=sugar). We go there often with the kids when heading home from the playground next door in a Franciscan garden.
Lucia’s son, Jakub, in Letna park
Popular shopping locations in Prague?
Andel, a vibrant spot with a street market and shops, great pubs and clubs, and rising above it all is the glassy Andel office building, by Jean Nouvel. After this busy place, relax on Letna Hill, the public park where we go jogging, inlining or just to enjoy a picnic, weather permitting.
How about meeting with some our fashion designers? The best are Klara Nademlynska and Tatiana Kovarikova, who dress Czech stars. You can shop in their boutiques in the city center. Blanka Matragi is a well-known worldwide fashion designer who succesfully dresses the ladies in royal palaces in the Persian Gulf.
What is the number one reason to visit Prague?
I often hear people say ‘We want to see the history,‘ but at the end of the trip, the best thing for them is the great feeling of relaxing, leisure time, joy of life, learning about different cultures and tasting local foods.
They bring home from Prague not only pictures, but also unforgettable memories in their hearts.
Statue of St. George at Prague Castle
Don’t miss Part I of our Peer into Prague series: “How to Enjoy the City like a Local.” To learn more about excursions that Exeter International offers, please visit our website or contact us by phone at (813) 251-5355 / (800) 633-1008. Plan your travels to Scandinavia, Central or Eastern Europe, or Russia today through the leading luxury tour operator.