The big Bohemian apple
The city that never sleeps takes the party to the street with beer and sausage
Posted: October 2, 2013
Courtesy Photo: Nicole Zahour
The Czech Street Festival takes place in New York City Saturday, Oct. 5, and offers visitors the opportunity to sample some Czech food and drink.
The Czech Center in New York City is hosting the 15th Czech Street Festival Saturday, Oct. 5 on Manhattan's Upper East Side.
The day, which draws thousands of visitors every year at the beginning of fall, is filled with Czech food and drink, as well as souvenirs, workshops and performances that introduce the ever-growing number of visitors to the richness of the country's culture.
Pavla Niklová, director of the Czech Center New York, told The Prague Post, "We believe the festival has become a great occasion for people to meet, hang around, listen to some music, taste Czech beer and come back for some more events."
The festival takes place on East 73rd Street, between 1st Avenue and 2nd Avenue, in front of the historically significant Bohemian National Hall, which belongs to the Czech government and is celebrating the fifth anniversary since it re-opened in 2008 following extensive renovation.
When: Saturday, Oct. 5, noon-5 p.m.
Where: East 73rd Street, Upper East Side, New York City
Some of the events scheduled for the day include live performances by the Pajtasi Dulcimer Band and the Roma musician and activist Petra Gelbart, as well as puppet theater by renowned puppeteer Vít Hořejš. Children from the Czech and Slovak School of the Bohemian Hall in Astoria, Queens, will also perform onstage.
The Staropramen brewery is one of the main sponsors of the events, and besides hosting the evening's party in the ballroom of the Bohemian National Hall, a case of its beer is up for grabs in the raffle. The raffle is completely free, and the main prize is a trip for two to Prague. This Staropramen party will also feature the Tata Bojs band, celebrating their 20th anniversary this year.
This is an event that is not targeted exclusively at expats but is meant to give people an idea of what the Bohemian lands have to offer - which explains in part why the trip to Prague is the raffle's main prize.
"The crowd is truly international: Czechs, Americans, other Europeans, New Yorkers," Niklová said. "Families love events that include programs for kids, and the Upper East Side ... is a residential district with many families with children. And it is also true that some Czechs come to the festival from distant parts of the city."
Last year, the festival attracted some 4,000 visitors who relished late-summer temperatures that climbed into the mid-20s, and this year promises to deliver similarly mild weather.
Niklová said the Czech Center New York aims "to be a lively arts center that is a part of New York's cultural map," and besides organizing the annual street festival and collaborating with other European cultural institutes on a European film festival, the center also runs the Czech Center Gallery, where at present the world-famous Czech artist Magdalena Jetelová has a solo exhibition, including one entirely new piece made especially for the gallery.
As far as Czech music is concerned, the center assists with the preparation of concert series - from classical to alternative music - and in February helped to organize the first concert of avant-garde musician Iva Bittová's new trio, Eviyan, with Gyan Riley and Evan Ziporyn.
If you are in the Big Apple come Oct. 5, be sure to swing by the Czech Street Festival for a taste of Bohemia. The same street even features a Czech hospoda.
André Crous can be reached at