Galerie Harfa’s Third Anniversary

The shopping centre Galerie Harfa will celebrate its third anniversary this weekend

This weekend the unique shopping/entertainment centre Galerie Harfa will celebrate its third anniversary with three days of special events and discounts for visitors.

The huge centre in Prague 9, opposite Českomoravská metro station and next to the O2 arena, opened on the 11th of November at 11.11am in 2010, and therefore its birthday celebrations will start this Saturday and conclude on Monday 11th November. Shopping centre birthdays may not usually be something to get excited about but Harfa is more than just another dull building housing various shops, which is reflected in its birthday plans.

“We distribute vouchers for three days for all shops, so people get an opportunity to start their Christmas shopping early,” says centre director Pavel Skorčík. “It is a tradition, we did it on the first year anniversary and last year, and on top of that we have some culture programs.”

The culture items start on Saturday afternoon at 3pm with a band quartet, including a harp, playing songs from Karel Kryl and a birthday cake unveiling at 4.30pm. On Sunday there will be a dance performance by Qaša from 2 until 6pm, with the cake at 3.30pm, while Monday sees a musical afternoon with David Deyl between 4 and 6.30pm with the final birthday cake at 5.30pm. It should be a fun weekend and show how far not just the centre but the area has come in three years.

“On the ground of the centre was a big machinery works before that manufactured railway carriages,” continues Pavel. “Within 500m of Harfa there are now a thousand new residential units that are built or under construction. Prague 9 is the only part of Prague with an increasing number of residents. This quarter is getting richer and richer because people are moving in and it creates a new catchment area.”

There are shopping malls in the centre and on the edge of Prague but fewer in the more residential areas. One of the main reasons they chose Prague 9 was because of its increasing population, transport links and findings from surveys that show the most popular reason people visit shopping malls is due to their location. Of course being next to the massive O2 arena didn’t damage their choice either.

“The O2 arena opened in 2004 and is really great as it attracts so many people from all over Prague and the Czech Republic. People come for music and sporting events such as the Davis Cup. In summer they had an under 19 basketballworld championship  so we had visitors from the USA and South America too. You can spend thousands on advertising billboards but it may not help as much as being next to the arena does.”

The DinoPark on the roof is another big draw that was voted best tourist attraction in Prague in 2011. The owners of the Dino Park in Plzeň met with the mall owners as there wasn’t one in the capital and reached an agreement. There was also the intention for people to be able to look all the way through the glass in the building from one street to another so the shopping centre doesn’t appear as one big obstacle.

“Sometimes we believe we entertain people more than they shop. In summer we had a summer open theatre on the roof with performances every day for two months and in winter it becomes an ice rink, which could be used by public for free . We are not a normal shopping mall because of that, the DinoPark, Monkey’s Gym (which is a fun gym for children) and places like Artistico which is a supermarket for art with original paintings for people who don’t like buying in galleries.”

There is District Prague too, which has over 50 PCs and organises computer game tournaments every weekend with people coming from all over Europe to take part. For the first time next week a McDonald’s will be opening upstairs in the centre, as Pavel explains every year in their survey people always say that is what they miss most. Birthday parties are also available to arrange with the variety of entertainment places available.

“Half a year ago we established a program where people have a menu on the website and choose which attractions they want to go to and then we organise the party. Children take about ten friends and everything is half price as part of the scheme, which is reasonable.”

“In November we open a special shop that make traditional christmas glass baubles or balls ?,” says Pavel. “They open a shop here and show the history of the factory process and on weekends have workshops where people can decorate a bauble. It is harder for their business now with competition from China with  plastic ones.” Before that the interior and exterior of the centre will be having a Christmas makeover with a big tree at the entrance, lights and other decorations.

And as last hint  -In February next year the roof is going to have 10 to 15 ice sculptors working with a block of ice and tools from chain saw to brush creating sculptures along the theme of the Winter Olympics.

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