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Folk celebrations and festivals in the Czech Republic

Most colourful ball of the year
At this event you can leave your evening dress in elegant understated shades at home! At the 11th National Costume Ball held by the Folk Association of the Czech Republic ( ) in Žďár nad Sázavou you will only blend in bedecked in folk costume. Every year the theme is a different region, and this year (2. 2. 2008) it will be the turn of the Opava and Těšín areas of Silesia. Two ‘ cimbál’ players, around ten ensembles and several brass band groups will travel to the festival from the region.
Ride of the Kings – a once in a lifetime experience
Few would want to miss such a grand show. Boys on horses draped in ribbons ride through the village, calling out light-hearted verse in honour of the ‘king’. He is hidden in their midst and remains silent. A rose held tightly between his lips prevents him from speaking; an old woman’s costume and a richly decorated white horse underline his important position in the entourage. But he is just a boy, usually aged no more than 10–12 years old; and he will be king just once in his lifetime and the same rule applies to his entourage. In earlier times these were boys who had been called up into the army, though today they are just ordinary 18-year-olds. The Ride of the Kings (23.–25. 5. 2008), which takes place on a Sunday, is the climax of a three-day event in Vlčnov in South Moravia( ) which begins on the Friday with a competition to find the best performer of a Slovácko dance called the ‘verbuňk’. The Saturday sees audiences invited to performances of traditional ‘ cimbál’ music.
60 years of folklore in Strážnice
The folk festival in Strážnice ( ) has gained a unique reputation among folk events. It took place for the first time in 1946 and from a national event it has grown into an international affair with tens of ensembles converging on the town. The last weekend in June (26.–29. 6. 2008) sees the amphitheatre in the chateau park, the vineyards and open-air museum echo to the sound of music, dance and relaxing entertainment. Strážnice brings folk to audiences in its traditional form as well as in various other incarnations and styles. If you are into trying dances from around the world and singing and dancing to folk music, then this is the place for you! A traditional part of the programme is a competition to find the best performer of a Slovácko dance called ‘verbuňk’ which is judged by audiences themselves. This male dance was the first and as yet only nonmaterial piece of culture from the CzechRepublic to be recognised by UNESCO .
Folk in  Prague ?
Folk belongs out in the unspoilt countryside and open-air museums, not in the city. ‘But why not give the city a chance?’ asked the organisers of the first Prague Fair in 2004… and it was a success. Despite being a relative newcomer to the scene, the festival ( ) is one of the most popular and the performing ensembles are some of the most colourful in the country. Visitor potential is huge: The main stage at the Ovocný trh attracts passing tourists as well as Prague locals, and the festival with its handcrafts and culinary specialities is an unexpected bit of spice for both. Folk will return to Prague for the fifth time between the 26th and 31st August 2008.
Strakonice and the bagpipes
The name Švanda dudák will probably mean nothing to foreign visitors, but all Czech schoolchildren know very well that this celebrated musician hailed from Strakonice. The town has such a strong bagpipe tradition that since 1967 it has hosted an International Bagpipe Festival ( ). The 18th festival (21.–24. 8. 2008) will seethis peculiar instrument played on the courtyard of StrakoniceCastle, in the castle gardens and in a church. It will also feature the now traditional bagpipe parade through the town and evening performances.
Children and folk
In 1992 the Czech Republic celebrated what would have been the 400th birthday of Comenius, sometimes called the ‘teacher of nations’. At this time the idea was hatched of establishing an international festival of junior folk song and dance ensembles (11.–14. 9. 2008). And what better place to hold the event than the town of Luhačovice, one of the main centres of culture in Moravia, which lies in a very specific area of folk tradition called the Luhačovické zálesí. The interest among children in folklore can be seen from the numbers participating in the national Zpěváček event. Every year up to 6,000 singers below the age of 15 take part, performing folk songs. Only 50 of these actually take part in the final before a panel of judges in Velké Losiny (9.–11. 5. 2008).
Other events:
The ‘Rožnovská valaška’ international folk festival in Rožnov pod Radhoštěm (13.–15. 6. 2008)
Pilsen International Folk Festival (11.–15. 6. 2008)
Carlsbad International Folk Festival (4.–7. 9. 2008)
Ostrava International Folk Festival (18.–21. 12. 2008)
Detailed information on major folk events in the CzechRepublic is available from the Folk Association of the Czech Republic ( ). 



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