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It’s here again – the Velvet Weekend is coming!

November 6, 2019


Do you recall that time of euphoria? Thirty years ago when the Czech and Slovak nation united and said a clear NO to the Communist government? Let’s celebrate this round anniversary together and remember Václav Havel, the first democratically elected president of Czechoslovakia after 1989.

On Monday 11 November the conference Europe Without the Iron Curtain: 30 Years of Freedom, organised by Czech Radio Plus in cooperation with the Václav Havel Library, will take place at the New Building of the National Museum, focused on the development of liberal democracy in Central Europe and the Western world in the last three decades. The director of the Václav Havel Library, Michael Žantovský, will deliver an opening address looking at the role played by Václav Havel in the Velvet Revolution. Also due to speak are former Polish president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lech Wałęsa, former Czech prime minister and president Václav Klaus and Slovak diplomat and presidential candidate Magda Vášáryová, as well as Professor Jiří Přibáň of Cardiff University, Fidesz party co-founder Tamás Deutsch and Adam Michnik, editor-in-chief of daily Gazeta Wyborcza.

At the Václav Havel Library the same day, the well-known actress Libuše Šafránková will read from Nikdy není pozdě na šťastné dětství (It’s Never too Late for a Happy Childhood), a memoir by Beatrice Landovská, daughter of actor Pavel Landovský.

On Saturday, the day before November 17, visitors to the farmers’ market on Vítězné náměstí in Prague’s Dejvice will be able to savour some dishes from the recently published Václav Havel Cookbook, such as “boar on fallow deer”, a number of his famous goulashes and the unrivalled “Lukashenka’s rage”. The Library’s programme will close with the Theatre Night, which will offer both aficionados and passers-by a performance of Havel’s play The Garden Party.

A day later, on the actual anniversary of 17 November, there will be a Live Czech Radio Broadcast from the Václav Havel Library featuring a discussion on current Czech politics with Cyril Höschl, Jan Švejnar and Bohumil Pečinka. All afternoon the VH Library will be open to the public while it will also be possible to view Havel’s stylized living room on Václav Havel Square, with participants set to include Dagmar Havlová, Václav Marhoul, Michael Kocáb, Tomáš Etzler, Kovy and Karel Schwarzenberg.

In the evening library director Michael Žantovský will give a speech about the legacy of Václav Havel during the Festival of Freedom event on Wenceslas Square.

The hallowed evening of November 17 will culminate with a gathering entitled It’s Back Again at the Činoherní klub theatre, where Civic Forum was born before going on to lead the revolution to victory and open a new, democratic chapter in Czech history. Our guests will be Timothy Garton Ash, Edward Lucas, Martin Palouš, Alexandr Vondra, Michael Žantovský, representatives of Million Moments for Democracy and other civic groups as well as many others. Musical accompaniment will be provided by Jiří Černý’s Civic Disco and singer-songwriter Vladimír Merta.


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