Navalis festivities commemorate Saint John of Nepomuk, a famous Christian martyr and a patron saint of the province of Bohemia. The celebrated Czech martyr is renowned as the patron saint of rivers and bridges as well as the protector against floods and natural disasters. One of the best-known statues of St. John of Nepomuk is located on the Charles bridge and dates back to the 17th century. These baroque celebrations, whose origins can be traced back to the first half of the 17th century, have been hugely well attended by the local community and pilgrims from all around the country. Navalis take place every year on the 15th of May, the day before the feast day of Saint John of Nepomuk.
Linked to the original baroque tradition, contemporary celebrations include a ceremonial holy mass in St. Vitus cathedral, a procession, a baroque water concert with fireworks on the Vltava river, close to the Charles bridge. Every year there are numerous special events, such as a folklore festival, a regatta of historical and dragon boats, markets, lectures and exhibitions. Venetian gondoliers regularly take part in the event and amaze visitors with their captivating songs. Find more information and the program of celebrations in “What´s on in Prague”.
International Music Festival Prague Spring is the largest and the oldest classical music festival in the Czech republic, which showcases the most renowned performing artists, symphony orchestras and chamber music ensembles.
The first festival was held in 1946 when the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra was celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. The Prague Spring begins annually on May 12, on the anniversary of the death of Bedřich Smetana, and ends on June 4. Visitors can enjoy classical music, jazz, world and experimental music of the highest artistic quality in the unique concert venues, such as the Smetana Hall of the Municipal House or Rudolfinum´s Dvořák Hall. The festival traditionally opens with the cycle of six tone poems, entitled Má Vlast (My Country) and closes with Ludwig van Beethoven´s Symphony No. 9.
The official festival´s web site notes that the festival has witnessed tempestuous times, political and social upheavals, important cultural and historical events and music taste changes but it always found enough listeners willing to appreciate the real artistic quality.
In the Czech republic, May is regarded as the most romantic month of the year or „the time of love“ (the phrase used in a romantic poem „May“ by Karel Hynek Mácha). People often stroll through city parks and gardens and enjoy the nature awakening. It is customary to kiss girls under the tree in blossom on May 1. At this time of the year Prague offers numerous festivals and food & drink events.
Traditional student´s spring celebrations called “Majáles” are held in May. These open-air festivals are boisterous celebrations of spring, love, student´s life. Prague Food Festival at the Royal gardens of the Prague castle, which is dedicated to promoting international and quality Czech cuisine, attracts large crowds. There are excellent beer drinking opportunities in May in Prague, such as the Czech beer festivals in Letná park or Festival of small breweries at the Břevnov Monastery. Prague Náplavka (Hořejší, Dvořákovo, Rašínovo, Masarykovo nábřeží) comes alive for numerous events from dance parties, to parades to the family-friendly festivals, e.g. Ratolest. A cool block party called Korzo Krymská takes place in a picturesque Vršovice neighbourhood and includes concerts, theatre and dance performances, live DJs and activities for kids.
For the complete list of Prague May festivals, programmes and accompanying events, visit “What´s on in Prague”.