Prague’s Charles Bridge to light up in the colors of the Ukrainian flag

The Signal festival will celebrate the International Day of Light with a laser show at the Czech capital's most famous landmark.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 10.05.2022 11:05:00 (updated on 10.05.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Laser beams will cross Prague’s iconic Charles Bridge on May 13 and 14 from 8 pm to midnight to mark the International Day of Light. The event, which is being staged by the organizers of the Signal festival of light art, is meant to highlight the role of science but will also symbolically use the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

The beams linking Prague's historical Old Town with Malá Strana on the opposite side of the Vltava river will mark the 62 years since the first laser beam was fired on May 16, 1960, by American physicist and engineer Theodore Maiman.

The festival is staging the project in cooperation with the ELI Beamlines international research center.

“The Signal festival and ELI Beamlines want to symbolically draw attention to the key importance of science for the whole society. From the very beginning we have always been interested in the possibilities of science and technical progress,” Signal festival director Martin Pošta said.

Rays of light will cross Charles bridge this weekend. Photo: Piaristi
Rays of light will cross Charles bridge this weekend. Photo: Piaristi

“In addition, the festival will celebrate 10 years this year. The laser beam that connects the two towers of Charles Bridge will thus recall our beginnings in the very center of the city. By celebrating International Day of Light, we will also start the year-round celebration of our anniversary,” he added.

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Charles Bridge was the site of an installation in the first signal festival in 2013. The Signal Festival will have its 10th edition this year from Oct. 13 to 16 with some installations in Prague's Old Town.

Rays of light will cross Charles Bridge this weekend. Photo: Piaristi
Rays of light will cross Charles Bridge this weekend. Photo: Piaristi

Having lasers on Charles Bridge is symbolic because the bridge was the pinnacle of technological progress in its time. The lasers will connect science and technology across the centuries. Mixing the latest technologies with picturesque Prague or connecting between old and new have been prominent themes of the Signal festival.

This will be the second time the Signal festival has commemorated the International Day of Light with a laser. Last year, the festival stationed a blue laser in the Petřín Lookout Tower, aiming at the Academy of Sciences on Národní třída.

Laser at the Petřín Tower. (Photo: Raymond Johnston)
Laser at the Petřín Tower. (Photo: Raymond Johnston)

In 2017, May 16 was established by UNESCO as the International Day of Light. The following year, it was celebrated worldwide. The Charles Bridge event will be a few days earlier on the weekend to give more people the opportunity to see it.

ELI Beamlines, which opened in 2018, is a European research center where an international team of scientists operates some of the most intensive laser systems in the world. The center’s unique tools allow researchers to make advances not only in physics and materials sciences but also in biomedicine and laboratory astrophysics.

The Signal festival presents works by renowned foreign and Czech artists in the field of light design, visual and digital art, artificial intelligence, and conceptual art. It has become the most visited cultural event in the Czech Republic.

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