While I currently live in the north of UK, I grew up in the south of Czech Republic and always love returning to the region. If you are planning on visiting the Czech Republic, this time of the year is a particularly good time to head to the south of the country. The Five-petalled Rose Celebrations are held in the charming historical town of Cesky Krumlov.
What are Five-petalled Rose Celebrations
Admiteddly a bit of a tongue twister, the name of the celebrations is a nod to the family crest of the house of Rosenberg, the noble family who ruled the area from the 13th to 17th century. The celebrations are a renaissance fair commemorating the time when the Rosenbergs flourished the most, the 16th century, all at the backdrop of the beautiful Cesky Krumlov.
The celebrations typically take place on a June weekend, starting on a Friday and wrapping up on the Sunday. In 2015, the festival will be held from 19th till 21st June.
Cesky Krumlov is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is worth a visit at any given time of the year. It was built in the 13th century and the town centre retains much of it’s olden days charm, attracting travellers from far and locals alike. While this of course means you’ll have to deal with a fair share of tourists, it’s not difficult to imagine the place back in the days of it’s former glory under the Rosenberg rain (naturally if you come during the Rose Celebration season this takes even less imagination).
The town deserves a post of its own – this is bound to come in the near future – but to leave you with a small taster, Cesky Krumlov’s highlights feature a large castle complex in the renaissance and baroque style, complete with a bear pit, and an open-air revolving auditorium at the heart of the castle’s majestic gardens.
The best way to get to Cesky Krumlov from Prague is hands down by Student Agency bus. Forget all you know about travelling by bus. Student Agency coaches are more comfortable than most planes, you get your own personal TV entertainment unit on most journeys and you’re also entitled to free hot drinks. The buses leave almost each our from the bus station Na Knizeci (underground station Andel) and will take you to Cesky Krumlov in under 3 hours. The journey to Cesky Krumlov – Spicak (closer to the town centre than the Cesky Krumlov bus station) cost €7.60 or 200 CZK – make sure to book in advance.
There is no need to buy tickets in advance, you simply get them at town centre gates. The festival takes place all over the historical old town, so if you are headed to the centre you will need a ticket even if you don’t intend to see any of the festival attraction.
You can buy an individual ticket for Friday only (100 CZK – approximately €3.60 or £3) or for Saturday only for double the price. A ticket for both days is a great value as it costs you the exact same amount as a ticket for Saturday only (200 CZK – approximately €7.20 or £6). Sundays are free as most of the programme is over.
If you are wearing a period appropriate costume, entry is free. However, the organisers take this quite seriously and a homemade costume will not cut it, meaning you would need to invest a fair amount of money in your costume and make sure it fits the 16th century. For those who have a desire to turn into noble men and ladies of the court but are not in possession of period outfits, costumes can be hired directly at the festival.
The entire town centre changes into a ray of 16th century noblemen, renaissance singers and dancers, knights and traditional food and mead merchants, so there is no wrong way to experience the celebrations. However, you want to be lookout for:
- The nighttime fire-lit procession – A parade of historical characters walk through the town centre at nighttime while carrying torches. This typically takes place on the Friday evening and is a magical experience. Make sure to find a good spot about half an hour before the procession starts to be able to get the best view.
- Daytime procession – Much like the above, except during daytime so you get a better look at the participant’s costumes. It also normally involves more horses as there is no fire present. The daytime procession is most likely to be happening on the Saturday afternoon. Same rules apply – grab your seats early!
- Fireworks – Fireworks normally take place on the Saturday at midnight and are best viewed from the riverbank. Note that there is no public transport from Cesky Krumlov around this time, so if you want to enjoy the fireworks you’re best off staying the night. Book early as all hotels get incredibly busy during the festival.
- Live chess – This is not considered one of the main events, but it’s one of my personal favourites. Live actors in period costumes take place of the chess pieces in a dramatic play. Variations of live chess occur each year, there is typically a larger story involved in the performance and the match usually takes place in the castle gardens.
Visit the festival website for detailed events programme for 2015 and procession routes: http://www.slavnostipetilisteruze.eu/en/