Prague Pride prepares its largest program yet, but mayor scales back rainbow displays

Prague City Hall will still display the rainbow flag, but won't hang them in the streets or illuminate the Petřín tower with rainbow colors.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 18.07.2023 10:29:00 (updated on 18.07.2023) Reading time: 4 minutes

This year's Prague Pride will offer 190 events, the highest in its entire history, and a rich musical program. The number of official festival venues increases to seven, with many more hosting related events. The festival itself takes place from Aug. 7 to 13, with the Rainbow Parade held Aug. 12.

Rainbow flags will not hang in the streets this year

But some traditions will be scaled back. This year, Prague will not hang rainbow flags in the streets, illuminate the Petřín tower with rainbow colors, or paint the crosswalk at Mariánské náměstí multicolored. There won't be any ceremonial event to hang the rainbow flag outside the City Hall, although the flag itself will be placed there.

This is due to a decision by Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, who is the main patron of the festival. He said that he supports the festival and that the city provided funds for the non-profit activities, but as mayor, he cannot support the more commercial aspects.

"Just like every year, Prague continues the tradition of hoisting the rainbow flag. I am very pleased that this tradition was started during my first mayoral mandate. It is a step by which the metropolis shows respect for the interests of all its residents, including minorities," he said. The first Prague Pride was held in 2011, when Svoboda was also mayor. 

On the other hand, Svoboda voted in parliament to support a constitutional amendment enshrining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Prague Pride festival director Kamila Fröhlichová said that sends the wrong signal to LGBT+ people.

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"However, we believe that, despite some differing opinions, the mayor will remain on the side of LGBT+ people, whose equality he supports in many areas," Prague Pride festival director Kamila Fröhlichová said.

Big opening concert

The festival opens on Aug. 7 in the Pride Village on Střelecký ostrov. The main star of the evening will be the Irish singer-songwriter Ailbhe Reddy. Norwegian DJ iDJa will present the Sami musical tradition and combine traditional songs with disco and house music. Buenos Aires musician Juana Rozas will combine hyper pop, gabber, and house with elements of Argentine folklore.

After 10 p.m. the fun will move a few meters further to the Pride Club in the underground K-Kafe right on Střelecký ostrov.

Another musical event is the Listening Evening on Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. at Pride Life. This will create a space for music that needs concentration and quieter contemplation, with an emphasis on queer music, of course. It will offer the Prague duo Joska & Kiki and Slovak singer ERØ.

On Friday, Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. Pride Village belongs to the Nora Waacking Inferno party. Dancers from the Imperial House of Waacking Czech Chapter will recreate the club atmosphere of 1970s gay bars in Los Angeles and offer a disco, dance performance, and fashion show.

International guests and hot topics

Several special guests are coming to Prague Pride. An important figure from the field of human rights protection is Lenny Emson, executive director of the Transgender Europe organization, which covers over 200 member organizations from 48 countries in Europe and Central Asia promoting diversity and the rights of trans people. Lenny Emson is also the director of KyivPride.

The young Chinese artist Jinxiao Zhou, currently studying in the Netherlands, will bring his art project The Art of Loving Ourselves to the Czech audience. He sees his artistic work as a process, the goal of which is to understand oneself and gain self-love.

A number of festival events will explore the topic of traditions, which is this year’s theme. Most of the discussions and lectures are in Czech, with a few exceptions for international topics with visiting guests. The online schedule of events can be filtered for language.

The Electric Sheep Book Bar in Vinohrady has several English-friendly events including bingo with drag queens on Aug. 9 and a pub quiz with drag queens on Aug. 11.

Prague Pride will present several exhibitions that will be on display in the Pride Gallery in Langhans Center on Vodičková Street. Ukrainian photographer Anton Shebetko will present a collection of portraits of LGBTQ+ veterans of the war in Donbas titled We Were Here. Most queer soldiers captured on camera were afraid of revealing their identities, and each of them had a different opinion about pride parades and coming out.

Six stages and performers from all over Europe

The festival highlight is the Rainbow Parade from Wenceslas Square to Letná Plain. For ecological reasons, cars with internal combustion engines and dance cars powered by generators will not be used. The diversity of the parade will be enriched by the presence of the Škoda Enyaq Coupé Respectline rainbow electric car, whose exterior and interior are decorated with special design elements.

Six music stages will be waiting in Letná for the party after the parade. "This year's selection of performers covers not only this year's theme of traditions but also opens up fundamental topics of (self) love, pride, the need for care, or the need for political and social activism. In addition, the vast majority of foreign performers will perform in the Czech Republic for the very first time," says dramaturgical duo Jana Patočková and Šimon Holý.

Within the Pride Park, people will also be able to visit the stands for non-profit organizations and an inflatable pink church. Saturday's program continues after 10 p.m. with the official after-party in Gabriel Loci in Smíchov with a lineup of international and local DJs.

Aside from the mayor, the other festival patrons are Interior Minister Vít Rakušan, Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský, Regional Development Minister Ivan Bartoš, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Markéta Pekarová Adamová, Prague 1 Mayor Terezie Radoměřská and Prague 7 Deputy Mayor Hana Třeštíková.

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