Czechs gear up for 100th birthday bash

The Czech Republic is gearing up for celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia. In Prague month-long birthday celebrations have already kicked off and will culminate in a gala weekend on October 27-28, featuring a military parade, concerts and outdoor happenings. I spoke to Vladimir Bláha, one of the co-organizers of the celebrations, about what’s in the pipeline.

Vladimír Bláha, photo: Ondřej TomšůVladimír Bláha, photo: Ondřej Tomšů “The festivities started on September 28th with the reopening of Prague’s famous astronomical clock on Old Town Square and will continue over the next four weekends culminating on the 27th and 28th of October when we will mark the anniversary proper of the foundation of Czechoslovakia.”

Can you mention some of the most interesting things that will be happening?

Prague’s astronomical clock, photo: ČTK/Ondřej DemlPrague’s astronomical clock, photo: ČTK/Ondřej Deml “There will be many theatre performances and outdoor happenings in the streets of Prague. One of them is organized by the Czech veteran cars club, it will focus on the 1930s and visitors will be able to enjoy veteran cars, period clothes and music from the 1930s.”

You said there would be people enacting events – what kind of events?

“We are working with actors and amateur actors and we would like to focus on the most important events in Czechoslovak history. So the 1930s, 1968, we want to create street performances that will depict the milestones of the country’s history.”

What are the events people should not miss?

“That’s definitely the culmination point of the festivities on October 27-28th. There will be the official re-opening of the National Museum with video-mapping on the façade of the building. There will be all-day concerts taking place simultaneously on several stages in Prague. Another big focus of interest will be in Evropská street and Dejvická street where people will be able to see a military parade, because the army and legionnaires played a crucial part in the founding of Czechoslovakia, there will be a stage on Náměstí republiky with festivities organized by the Czech Tourists Club, a pop music concert on Old Town Square featuring Czech and Slovak musicians and there will also be a stage on Wenceslas Square where there will be a video-mapping, as I already mentioned, and a birthday concert.”

National Museum, photo: Ondřej TomšůNational Museum, photo: Ondřej Tomšů Has the National Museum prepared anything special for visitors?

“Yes, it has. From October 28th till December 31st the museum will be open to visitors for free and there will be a Czech-Slovak exhibition focussing on our common history.”

Is there some kind of street party taking place? Something like a birthday bash?

“We are planning to decorate Prague in the national colours, we want to have Czech flags everywhere to create a celebratory atmosphere, because this is a once-in-a-lifetime celebration. And then there will be a number of concerts in different parts of Prague, so we are hoping that people will gather and take the time to enjoy themselves in the city centre –and of course visit the four stages that I mentioned – Dejvická, Náměstí republiky, Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square.”

And what is happening outside of Prague – will celebrations be held around the country?

“Yes, there will be a very rich program all over the Czech Republic. It is a nationwide celebration, so every Czech town and city has its own happening or concert, but the highlight of the celebrations will take place in Prague.”

What about Slovaks? To what extent are they taking part in the celebrations here?

“Yes, they will be represented. I already mentioned that Slovak music ensembles will be taking part in the concerts and the exhibition at the National Museum will document our common history, our years together in a common state.”

For more information about the centenary celebrations go to: www.spolecnestoleti.cz

On a 100th birthday I would expect fireworks. Will there be fireworks?

“Yes, we are preparing fireworks. They should celebrate our national colours and the national anthem will be part of the display.”