Prague

There's an old saying in the Czech Republic which goes, "Co Čech, to muzikant" (Every Czech is a musician). That might be stretching it a bit, but as visitors to Prague quickly realize, culture and performing arts are right at the heart of this beautiful city and its residents.

Music constantly drifts across the cobbled streets in Old Town; theater shows pop up in parks in the balmy summer months; and the calendar is chockablock with world-beating film festivals. And the best part? The affordable ticket prices. It’s almost criminal to come to this city and not take in a performance, from opera to ballet, when they are so accessible.

Prague’s musical history is a rich and varied one, from hometown composers like Antonín Dvořák or Bedřich Smetana to expats like Mozart, whose Don Giovanni made its debut here in 1787 and is still performed regularly. You can also catch the work of more modern Czech composers like Bohuslav Martinů, or even Vladimir Franz, the head-to-toe tattooed composer who gave more seasoned politicians a run for their money in recent presidential elections.

There’s something particularly lovely about the regular classical music performances that take place in ancient churches dotted around the city too, but do follow the recommendations to ensure you’re getting the best of the bunch.

And it’s not all classical. The avant-garde is alive and kicking in the Czech capital, from its youthful theater troupes, some of which perform in English, to a recent crop of thoughtful filmmakers. Interesting modern dance performances also sit alongside more traditional forms. Both the National Theater and State Opera have their own ballet companies staging a mix of classic and contemporary pieces.

Opera is a major draw in Prague too, both for locals and tourists thanks to the English subtitles on most performances. While the snooty exclusivity of opera found elsewhere is eschewed here, do make sure you still dress up to fit in with the regulars.

Even if you aren’t normally a culture vulture, consider taking in a performance while you are in town. The shows are world-class and many of the concert halls are jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Note: big theaters and concert halls go dark in July and August; luckily there are festivals aplenty to keep the "magic" of art alive in Prague year-round.

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  • 1. 4+4 Days in Motion

    Festivals

    One of the more creative festivals on the Prague circuit, the 4+4 Days in Motion festival offers art projects, installations, performances,...Read More

  • 2. Days of European Film

    Festivals

    Fans of foreign films have a chance to catch up on recent English-subtitled efforts in Days of European Film, which happens every April in Prague...Read More

  • 3. Febiofest

    Festivals

    One of the largest film festivals in Central Europe, with hundreds of screenings in Prague and its sister festival in Slovakia, Febiofest runs...Read More

  • 4. International Organ Festival

    Staré Mesto | Festivals

    The lovely organ in Bazilika sv. Jakuba attracts noted international musicians for the annual International Organ Festival, which runs from...Read More

  • 5. Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

    Festivals

    The most important film festival in the Czech Republic is in an ornate spa town in West Bohemia. The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival...Read More

  • 6. Khamoro Festival

    Festivals

    Celebrating Roma culture and diversity, the Khamoro Festival offers music, dance, and film. Romany (Gypsy) bands have become a hot item on the...Read More

  • 7. Mezi ploty

    Bohnice | Festivals

    From amateur to professional, entertainers of all kinds descend on the grounds of a mental health institution for Mezi ploty—the festival between...Read More

  • 8. One World Human Rights Film Festival

    Festivals

    The One World Human Rights Festival could be handily subtitled "films that will make you think." It showcases work dedicated to human rights...Read More

  • 9. Prague Fringe Festival

    Festivals

    There isn't much English-language theater in the Czech capital. An exception is the annual Prague Fringe Festival, which began in 2002 and has...Read More

  • 10. Prague Spring

    Festivals

    Since 1946 Prague Spring has been the main event of the classical season, and usually runs from the end of May to the start of June. Conductors...Read More

  • 11. Tanec Praha

    Festivals

    European contemporary dance and movement is celebrated at Tanec Praha. Lasting for about a month every May–June, renowned companies from all...Read More

  • 12. United Islands of Prague

    Festivals

    Rockers, this festival is for you! Located on the peaceful, pretty islands of the Vltava, an often underutilized aspect of Prague, the festival...Read More

  • 13. Velký sál, Lucerna

    Nové Mesto | Festivals

    Part of the fascinating Lucerna complex, the Velký sál is a beautiful art nouveau ballroom with a big main floor and some loges. It hosts medium...Read More

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