Honor the Velvet Revolution in Prague with a street festival, concerts, and a parade

For the first time in three years, events at Národní and Wenceslas Square will take place without restrictions.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 16.11.2022 09:44:00 (updated on 16.11.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

The Freedom Festival will mark the 33rd anniversary of the Velvet Revolution on Nov. 17 with events across Czechia. This year’s celebration of Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day, as the holiday is properly known, will make up for the past two years, which were scaled back due to Covid.

The day commemorates not only protests against the communist regime in 1989 but also student demonstrations in 1939 against the Nazi occupation.

Main events in Prague

The largest part of the Prague celebration will be at Korzo Národní, under this year's slogan “We must take care of freedom.” Events along Národní will start at around 10 a.m. and run throughout the day, with live music, exhibits, and performances at several points. Readings will take place at the plaza at the National Theatre, and a parked tram nearby will be converted into a clubhouse with activities. A retro phone booth playing recordings from people in difficult situations has also been installed on the plaza.

People can leave candles in front of the memorial on the street, which will have an honor guard of Scouts and Sokol members. The song “Modlitba pro Martu,” which was an anthem of the Velvet Revolution, will be sung at they symbolic time 17:11 (5:11 p.m) by Berenika Kohoutová in front of Metro Palace.

People leave candles in front of the Nov. 17 memorial. Photo: David Stejkal.
People leave candles in front of the Nov. 17 memorial. Photo: David Stejkal.

Simultaneous events will take place from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Albertov, where student protests began in 1989, with choir performances, speeches by university rectors, and debates.

Pussy Riot headlines a free concert

The Concert for Future (Koncert pro budoucnost) will start on Wenceslas Square at 4:30 p.m. The headliner will be the punk band Pussy Riot. Other top acts to appear include pop star Ben Cristovao featuring singer David Koller, Lenka Dusilová Band, and world music group Čhave Romane.


“We took the peaceful situation of the last 33 years for granted. That is why we would like to open a debate with citizens about what peace actually means to us. … It is not only in the context of the war in Ukraine that it is important to ask this question. Together we want to find an answer, which is certainly not easy,” concert spokesman Jan Gregar said.

March for peace

The traditional satirical masked march called Sametové posvícení (Velvet Carnival) will go through the center, and people can join in at the back. Their motto is “The trip is not over yet!” and will focus on Ukrainian refugees. The parade starts at Kampa at 3 p.m., crosses Charles Bridge, goes to Národní, and then reaches the campus at Hybernská.

Another march that people can join is the March for Democracy, which will begin at 3 p.m. in Albertov and eventually make its way to Wenceslas Square in time for the concert. The goal of the march is to unite the country. Its moot is a quote from First Republic President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk: “Patriotism is love towards one's own nation, not hatred towards others.”

Recognize the past and look to the future

In the evening, the Memory of Nations awards will be presented in the National Theatre starting at 8 p.m. The ceremony will be broadcast on ČT2. This year, Post Bellum will award five people whose lives were affected by totalitarian regimes such as Ukrainian dissident Myroslav Marynovyck, who spent seven years in a forced labor camp and five years in banishment in Kazakhstan in the 1970s and 1980s.

Festival organizers also started collecting signatures on the petition Three Steps for Three Years, calling on MPs to contribute to the free future of the Czech Republic before the next general election scheduled in 2025. They will continue to gather signatures by end-November

The first step calls for the country to keep supporting Ukraine by supporting organizations providing social services and fighting against incitement to hatred. The second step deals with climate change and state support for renewable energy sources, and the third point calls for a reform of the school system for the 21st century.

Other events taking place during the day include a brunch, a hot wine tasting, an art auction, and programs at Můstek and Na Příkopě.  

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