What’s Happening in Prague on November 17?

On November 17, Czechs commemorate student demonstrations under the Nazi occupation in 1939 and against the Communist regime in 1989. 

The latter led to the so-called Velvet Revolution which culminated in the appointment of the country’s first non-communist government in more than four decades and the election of Vaclav Havel, a playwright turned dissident, to the post of president.

Several concerts, exhibitions, parades, discussions, author’s readings as well as lectures will be held in Prague and other towns or villages in the Czech Republic.

Korzo Národní is the biggest organized celebration of the Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day in Prague.

It takes place on Národní street, where a student demonstration started the Velvet Revolution. The program of the event consists of various artistic performances on the street – theatre, performances, exhibitions, audiovisual installations, and discussions with the local media.

The gallery Topic salon, located on Národní, will be displaying an exhibition from 9am to 6pm called 21 děl pro Ukrajinu. The works belong to three famous Ukrainian artists and are now being shown in Prague after previous displays in Berlin and Paris.

Aside from Korzo Národní, the Festival of Freedom has also become a mainstay of Czechia’s November 17 celebrations. The main part of the festival’s programme will be taking place in Prague.

November 17 is not just a date connected to the Velvet Revolution. 50 years earlier, the same day saw the Nazi’s arrest over a thousand university students and teachers, as well as executing nine student leaders after closing down Czech universities. Every year sees many Czech students and lecturers gather at Prague 2’s Albertov Street to commemorate those events and mark International Students’ Day.

There will also naturally be remembrance events taking place at the nearby Hlávkova kolej, where Jan Opletal lived. A memorial gathering will be held there organised by the Hlávkova Foundation.

Another main event will be the Concert for the Future, an annual reminder of democratic values, especially human freedom, and the legacy of the Velvet Revolution.

The five-hour concert takes place symbolically on Wenceslas Square, the same place where the final fall of the communist regime began on November 17, 33 years ago.

At Rudolfinum will take place the Velvet Revolution Concerts. For the occasion, the season’s artists-in-residence have chosen songs by Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel and the final symphony of Gustav Mahler – a hymn celebrating life and humanity. You can find more info here

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