Matějská pouť starts soon but future is uncertain

The mayor wants the fair to improve if it is to continue at the same spot

For more hundreds of years, the end of winter has been connected to Matějská pouť, a fair that now brings carnival rides and other attractions to the city. While this year's edition starts soon, its fate in future years is up in the air.

The 54th edition of the fair at Prague's Výstaviště in Holešovice begins Feb. 25 and runs daily except Mondays until April 17. It will have some 120 attractions from the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Germany and other countries. Popular items include haunted houses, roller coasters and other adrenalin rides. There are also stands with food, candy and toys.

New this year is that admission from Tuesdays through Fridays is free. On Saturdays and Sundays it is Kč 30, with children up to 120 cm free. The annual day for disabled children is on March 20. Křižík Fountain will have shows by the group Medúza on Saturdays and Sundays.

The fair has its historical roots in religious pilgrimage for St Matthew, whose Czech name day is Feb. 24. Historically the fair's roots go back 422 years, but currently it is completely secular.

But Výstaviště is about to undergo a large multi-year renovation, and it is unclear whether Matějská pouť will be returning once the exhibition grounds are rebuilt.

Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO) has expressed her dismay with the fair in the past. “Its quality is not good and has not changed for the better. I'm not talking just about the quality of attractions, but about all the services offered. Just go there and look. Everything is a huge mess and it looks like you have gone back in time,” she has told the media. She wants the fair to improve so it is something the city can be proud of.

She also says that the argument that the fair must be at Holešovice does not hold water. The fair had been in numerous places before setting down at Výstaviště in the early 1960s. The city has not yet specified any possible alternative locations. Krnáčová said that focusing on ways to improve the fair should come before talks of possible relocation.

Jan Wolf, the city councilor for culture, says that the fair should remain at Výstaviště and that a permanent amusement park could be built in the area, with four or five rides that are there year round, such as a new Ferris wheel.

Some other councilors agree and also suggest that a permanent circus tent could be at the location. The site, for example, could host high-quality New Circus and acrobatic acts similar to the popular summer festival Letní Letná.

The renovation of Výstaviště will be in three phases and take about five years. Buildings such as the Lapidarium and Bohemia restaurant will be renovated. Grills will be installed along with sculptures, water features such as fountains, and exercise options.

For more information on this year's Matějská pouť visit www.matejskapout.cz and www.facebook.com.


Related Articles:
Výstaviště renovation starting - Prague.TV 23.01.2017
Renovations planned for Výstaviště - Prague.TV 24.11.2016

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