Plzeň celebrates its World War II liberation

Free concerts, a military convoy and a parachuting competition are highlights

This weekend marks 74 years since the West Bohemian city of Plzeň was liberated by American forces at the end of World War II.

Most of what is now the Czech Republic, including Prague, was liberated by Soviet forces. Western Bohemia was an exception.

Liberation Festival Pilsen 2019 (Slavnosti svobody Plzeň) runs May 3–6 and will feature camps with historical military equipment, workshops, open-air concerts, a military convoy and a concert by the Swedish heavy metal band Sabaton, performing with a male choir. The latter concert, held at Amphitheater Lochotín, requires tickets, while most of the other events are free.

As in past years, there will be music productions at Plzeň’s náměstí Republiky, the amphitheater at the Plzeň Plaza Shopping Center and the 2nd Infantry Division camp in Křižíkovy sady.

The stage at Náměstí Republiky will have Čechomor as the headline act May 4 and Hradišťan & Jiří Pavlica on May 5.

New this year, aside from the May 4 Sabaton concert, is an international sporting event for paratroopers in Borský Park and an outdoor exhibition dedicated to the Czechoslovak Independent Armored Brigade.

The convoy of military historical vehicles is one of the highlights of the weekend. It takes place May 5 from 11 am and arrives at náměstí Republiky at about 12:30 pm.

This year there will be a large-screen projection next to the stage on náměstí Republiky showing the convoy’s progress toward the square as well as some historical images. Video of the convoy will also be streamed over Facebook.

From May 3 to 5, Borský Park will be occupied by skydivers. They will compete in sport parachuting based on the accuracy of landing. A Eurocopter AS350B2 helicopter will take the parachutists up. Participation has been confirmed by athletes from Germany, the UK, Poland, Finland, the Netherlands, Austria, Slovenia and France.

An outdoor exhibition in Smetanovy sady will commemorate the role of the Czechoslovak Independent Armored Brigade. One of the members of this brigade, 92-year-old Josef Švarc, who was one of the youngest soldiers at the time of the siege of Dunkirk, will visit Freedom Celebrations this year.

The exhibition will run May 2–30.

Guided tours of Plzeň in the times of liberation have been prepared by the Tourist Information Center. They will bring not only information concerning 1945, but also changes in the post-war years.

Note that all the events take place in and around Plzeň, even though some locations have the same names as ones in Prague.

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