Matějská pouť: 10 things to know before you go to Prague's annual fun fair

Opening tomorrow, the annual event has a 400-plus-year history. From prices to food, here's what to expect when visiting St. Matthew's fun fair. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 23.02.2024 14:39:00 (updated on 25.02.2024) Reading time: 3 minutes

The fair has ancient roots

The roots of the fair can be traced back to the St. Matthew’s Pilgrimage, which dates back to 1595 when, during Rudolph II's reign in Prague, Pope Clement VIII granted plenipotentiary indulgences – forgiveness of temporal punishments for sins given to pilgrims. The pilgrimage was held near the former St. Matej church in Prague’s Hanspaulka area, which a news structure has since replaced. During the religious festival, fairs were held where necessary items and souvenirs were offered along the route.

It hasn't always been in this location

The secular part of the pilgrimage, initially centered around the church, gradually shifted along the pilgrim Way of the Cross route to the present-day Kulaťák and the vicinity of Hradčanská metro station. Later in the 1950s and 60s, festivities also took place in Letná, Modřany, and Břevnov. Since 1963, the pilgrimage has been located at the Prague Exhibition Grounds in Holešovice.

The oldest attraction is no longer in operation

The Cyklon roller coaster and 1981 Ferris wheel were once the highlights of St. Matthew’s Pilgrimage but were removed in 2018 (the structures were famously featured in Apple ads shot in Czechia in 2017). A Dutch Ferris wheel replaced the original.

There are more than 100 attractions

Today the fair offers around a hundred attractions, including the Booster centrifuge, Europe's largest, and the Bungee Catapult for adrenaline enthusiasts. Water attractions, the Super Mouse roller coaster, haunted castles, motion simulators, and as well merry-go-rounds, and bouncy castles total over 100 attractions that include bumper cars a haunted castle, and a shooting range. Adrenaline junkies will appreciate the Dutch Airborne and SuperMouse attractions.

Special events are planned for this year

A special children's day for handicapped or asylum home children is scheduled for March 18. To participate, visitors must present their ZTP or ZTP/P cards. Attractions are free from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., followed by a Křižík's Fountain concert featuring celebrity guests.

A fair ticket gets you a Bond discount

Additionally, the Bond in Motion display taking place at the exhibition and showcasing James Bond’s cars and other props can be visited at a 20-percent discount with a ticket from the fair until the end of March.

Admission will stay the same in 2024

The fair is open on weekdays (Tuesday to Friday) from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on weekends, including Easter Monday, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Weekdays offer free entry, while weekends and holidays have a CZK 30 admission fee (kids under 120 cm are free). Tickets can be purchased at multiple entrances, including the main one on U Výstaviště Street, Za Elektrárnou Street, and Stromovka Park. Alternatively, online ticket purchases are available through Ticketportal.

Rides cost extra, bring cash

Attractions at St. Matthew’s Pilgrimage come with increasingly heavy price tags thanks to inflation. In 2023, a 3-minute ride on a children’s train or a floor carousel cost CZK 70, while activities like 5 minutes on a trampoline or 6 minutes on a children’s slide were CZK 80. Larger rides, including the flying swan, cost CZK 80, though children under 2 accompanied by an adult are free.

Attractions like Extreme, Octopus, or Techno are available for around CZK 100. Bumper cars cost CZK 120 for a ride for two, while a solo ride on the Ferris wheel is priced at CZK 150. The most modern attractions from Holland, such as AirBorne, demand CZK 200 per ride, while Aeronaut and Base Jumper XXL cost CZK 150.

Refreshment prices are also on the rise

Traditional fair snacks gingerbread heart costs CZK 100 crowns, cotton candy on a stick ranges from CZK 50 to 80 based on size, and in a bucket prices vary from CZK 120 to 250 in a bucket. The classic langoustine can reach CZK 100 to 120. Hot dogs are CZK 40, fries CZK 70, and sausages CZK 120. A half-liter of raspberry lemonade is CZK 40 and a beer is CZK 60.

The fair heralds the arrival of spring

In Czech folklore, Matthew is associated with weather; there is a saying that "Saint Matthew breaks the ice,” indicating that his day is a sign of spring. The opening of the fair also heralds the arrival of animal rights activists. Last year, protesters rallied outside the park due to the pony rides; according to an Instagram post, there will be no horses at the fair this year.

Matějská puť takes place in the Prague Exhibition Grounds (Výstaviště) From Feb. 24 to April 14.

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