“Let the Games begin!”
Something along that line was announced in Czech when the appointed VIP officiated the opening of the 3 days celebrations of annual Five Petalled Rose Celebrations. And I had the wonderful opportunity of being here for the 22-24 June 2012 event.
The small town of Cesky Krumlov, a UNESCO World Heritage site, comes alive every year during this time. A town with less than 15,000 population ballooned up during the festival, attracting both local & international visitors.
There will be heaps of people dressed up in historical costumes, groups of musicians & entertainers performing at various sites, and market stalls selling lotsa hand-made crafts and food.
One of the interesting features of the event is the people in costumes. As visitors who dressed up in historical costumes get to enjoy the festival for free (CZK200 for other adults), there are plenty of people watching to be done. Some dressed up in elegant Renaissance and strolled the streets with a somewhat pompous air. Many do enjoy the attention and gladly entertain requests for picture taking. Whereas there are others who prefer the laid-back commoner costumes, that would have been more favourable during the afternoon heat.
(Elegantly dressed up family)
(People dressed up in more comfortable commoner costume)
Most of the performances took place on Friday & Saturday. Various entertainers delighted visitors with songs, dances, comedy, plays etc. For people who enjoy more music & dances, you will be content with staying put at Castle courtyard, Svornosti Square and Siroka Street. There’s also entertainment focused for children at the Brewery Gardens. Centre of festival was at Svornosti Square where you can sit down comfortably on the benches provided and enjoy some food & drinks while watching the show. Whereas I preferred the intimate setting of Siroka Street where musicians played just along the street alongside the audiences.
(One of my favourite musical groups – Lakoma Barka performing at Siroka Street)
(Monadria Polygamica entertaining audiences at Siroka Street with their flag juggling skills & humourous camaraderie)
Some of key performances during the weekend include:-
– Pub “U Petrova Voka” where many of the event performers take part in a sketch set in a pub. Groups take turn to show off their talents in between of all the merry-making and drinking.
– Historical Costumed Procession through the town from Horni Street to Brewery Gardens. Best place to watch it was at Svornosti Square as groups stopped briefly for a short introduction by the MC on stage.
– Live Chess – play where a chess game with live figures was played out for the “royal” audiences. Sadly it was disrupted midway when the heavens decide to open & pour down on us. Pity those who became soaked in their heavy costumes.
– Musical matinee on the last day to cap off the weekend celebrations. Beautiful musical pieces by the Krumlov chamber orchestra & Municipal singing choir Perchta. Always a joy to savour the local talents on home ground.
(Snapshot of the performers during Pub “U Petrova Voka” play at Svornosti Square)
(Young pawn looking nervous during the Live Chess play)
One of the big show not to be missed was the midnight Festive Fireworks. The fireworks were set off along the river just below the Castle. Good vantage points include the bridge connecting town centre to the castle, and open space just outside Ruze Hotel. The fireworks lasted about 10minutes, and was accompanied to a symphonic poem Vltava by Bedrich Smetana, a very famous Czech composer.
For a small town, Cesky Krumlov is filled with many restaurants and pubs to fulfill visitor’s gastronomy delights. Always good to check out the food stalls at Svornosti Square where many local Czech food is prepared fresh onsite. One of the food stall sold very good trdelnik, traditional sweet dessert baked on a rotating spit over open fire was especially crispy and filled with nuts.
(Delicious & crispy trdelnik being roasted at the stall @ Svornosti Square)
Some of the good places sampled were:-
– Restaurace Lab at Svornosti Square. The restaurant served up wonderful trout dish, just cooked to perfection and tender duck. Also serves up different types of draught beers.
– U Dwau Maryi (The 2 Marys) @ 104, Parkan Street. Sample their “Old Bohemian Feast” where selection of traditional carbs is served alongside meats such as rabbit, pheasant and chicken. Owners have also preserved many of the old architecture – making it a nice place to chill out.
– Monnalisa café @ Hradedni that serves up nice Italian gelato.
Cesky Krumlov is also home to the Eggenberg brewery. The brewery offers tours of their factory and also houses a restaurant that apparently served up decent food. Didn’t really have much time to check it out, and wasn’t too tempted with the limited selection of beers on tap (4 types only). My benchmark would be the array of draught beers at the end of the Carlsberg brewery tour @ Copenhagen.
Another wonderful place to check out during the festival is the Historical Marketplace at the Castle Courtyard. Many little stalls selling variety of things that are mostly hand-made. Crafts range from pottery items such as mugs & plates to little musical instruments. People can also buy items to dress up for the next festival with the array of linen clothing, leather belts and bags and jewellery.
(At one corner of the Historical Marketplace at Castle Courtyard)
Overall, the small town is a wonderful place to come for a weekend. Even without the bustling carnival atmosphere, travellers have plenty of interesting places to visit and good food to sample. And also do check out the rafting activity that is ideal to spend the hot day and seeing the town and countryside from a different perspective. Otherwise, it is soothing to just walk and get lost in the network of streets. Also opportunity to find some odd art pieces on the walls or chance upon a unique shop.
(View of Cesky Krumlov town with the famous Castle town & buildings in the background)
Cesky Krumlov is situated 180 km from Praque. It is about 3 hours bus ride from Na Knizeci Station. Check out travel options on http://jizdnirady.idnes.cz/vlakyautobusy/spojeni/