Karel Vrána has lived in Braník for almost twenty years and he likes this Prague district. “It’s a bit rural here, people know each other here. Maybe that’s why the festival is so successful here, because friends and acquaintances are able to agree on something,” he says. At the Braník Sobě festival, he is in charge of the smaller Kubrt scene, named after the amateur theater he co-founded.
Protest against the invasion of developers
The first idea to organize a festival in Braník came about twelve years ago. “Originally, it was supposed to be a protest against the invasion of developers, but over time it somehow got away from us and the festival grew into what it is today. And it was connected to the initiative Experience the city differently,” recalls Karel Vrána. “However, it is not the only such event in our locality. Branické vlnění in Vlnítá ulica also takes place here, and the Zvoneček puppet theater organizes the event “Experience Jílovská differently,” he calculates.
Hana Štrossová has lived in Braník for thirty years and has attended this event every year since its inception. “It’s always a colorful, nice day that I spend with my family and friends. People meet here and that’s a beauty. I like that many neighbors offer their products that we don’t normally see. Various events for children are also nice,” says the woman, who says she wouldn’t trade living in Braník for anything, because it’s beautiful here.
At the festival, she likes the performances of Demago Theater – Jiří Maryško, Branické vši and concerts. According to her, the children’s zone is very creative every year, which is a colorful self-experiential show of various skills.
Second and (or) third weekend
The neighborhood festivities “Experience the city differently” originated in Prague, but last year they were already held in 42 cities and towns. For the first time, local people organized them in, for example, České Budějovice, Bílina, Chotěboř or Přerov. In Prague, the festivities were premiered in locations such as Ve Smečká in Prague 1, in Jeseniová Street in Prague 3, in Arbesov náměstí in Prague 5, in Kamenická in Prague 7, but also in more peripheral areas such as Čimice, Prosek or Uhříněves.
Every year, these neighborhood events take place on the third weekend in September, but Braník is an exceptional front-runner already a week earlier. So this year already this Saturday.
Street festivals “Experience the city differently” have been bringing neighbors together and enlivening public space since 2006. Even before covid, in 2019, they were held in 85 places in Prague and in 31 other cities. Last year they were already held in 42 cities and towns.
Neighborhood festivities are held under this banner every year on the third weekend in September. However, some will take place a week earlier, such as Braník Sobě, an event in Americká street in Prague 2 or in Zahradní Město in Prague 10. Some will take place later, such as U Vysočanského pivovar in Prague from 9 to 18 September or in Barrandová on 24 September .
“The festival in Braník started and is still a neighborhood celebration. It’s just gradually growing,” says co-organizer Petra Handlová, who highlights the enthusiasm of the volunteers dedicated to preparing the program half a year in advance. “For me personally, the festival is a wonderful event that starts autumn and the return to the school year. And above all, after a crazy summer, home to Braník. Just a heart,” he adds.
Among the big attractions of the larger stage here this year will be Divadlo Sklep – Selection from gazebos or Vítkov’s Quartet. “They play their roughly fifteen songs from the 80s all the time, but when I saw them a few years ago in Trutnov, the audience roared with happiness,” points out Karel Vrána from the smaller, Kubrt’s stage.
The defender lives for himself, the tenth time
The forefather of the Branice festival is Luděk Listík, who previously organized various bagels in the local cult bar Kulovna. “Starting with themed masquerade evenings and ending with theater parties,” recalls Karel Vrána. “From May 2010, the regular election of the king of Branica took place here, combined with a lantern parade and evening musical festivities. This is how the Los Culos band, which is a frequent guest at the festival, visited Braník for the first time,” he says. Už jme doma, Garage, Hudba Praha or The Tap Tap also performed here.
Karel Vrána is traditionally in charge of his smaller, Kubrt scene. “It is named after the Kubrt Theatre, which I co-founded. Nowadays, singers, such as Mirek Kemel, or small theaters – Buchty a loutky, Divadlo Demago, perform on Kubert’s stage. And the stars include Anatol Svahilec – the king of Czech slam poetry,” he says. This year, the Kubrt Theater itself will perform the children’s fairy tale How to Domesticate a Tractor, and the friendly Branické lice will offer a western detective story for adults called Sleepy Hole.
This year, Divadlo Bravo!, which runs the traditional Branické Theater, is joining the festival. “The festival will start on Friday with two performances right here. Athletes, do-it-yourselfers, firefighters and other volunteers also take part in the event. It wouldn’t work without them,” says Karel Vrána. This year, he is looking forward to something new – an author’s reading. “My friend and star of domestic fantasy František Kotleta is about to arrive,” smiles Vrána. The aforementioned author has already sold more than four hundred thousand books, each of his brutal titles sells an average of twenty thousand copies.
Experience the city differently
“The fundamental difference compared to ordinary street festivals is the emphasis placed on locality. It is about revitalizing your own street or square, to maintain the main idea of the event, involve local organizations, residents, businesses, organizations, clubs, parishes, etc. to the maximum extent possible,” says the codex of the umbrella organization Experience the City Differently. Nevertheless, the children from the neighborhood who traditionally sell homemade lemonade or self-made sweets are joined by professional sellers.
“I have experience with similar events because I go to the markets every weekend. I know the festival in Braník, but this year I will be selling at it for the first time,” says Alena Vorhemusová, who offers Slovak-type cheeses, as well as honey and beeswax candles. She enjoys that similar type of events become a space for meeting. “Perhaps it was an absolutely wonderful Emperor’s Day in Kadani. People look forward to it all year round, the city and the surrounding area lives by it. Now we were in Žatec temporarily and the same thing again – people stop by, meet each other, have time for each other,” he points out.
Not only festivities, but also housing
Seznam Zprávy captured more than a year’s experience of five men and five women who together created community housing on the outskirts of Prague.
Saleswoman Eva, who sells pewter jewelry and sewn and crocheted clothes and bags, says that Braník is special in her eyes. “I go to fairs and markets in smaller towns, but I don’t know of a similar event. “I see Braník as an important neighborhood meeting, as well as a social event,” he adds.
For fleas and plants
The event itself in Braník is already live on social networks, one of them reads: “The neighborhood flea market is looking for a seller.” Get rid of your dusty and unnecessary treasures with pleasure and send them on to make you happy! Become a seller at the flea market, which will be held as part of the Braník Sobě festival, and sell or trade your things.
For great success, the so-called Green Swap for all indoor plant lovers will once again be part of the flea market. “Take the surplus of different plants, their cuttings or seeds with you so that we can exchange them. If a plant is not doing well at home, you can donate it to someone. This is an exchange – none of the above is subject to sale,” the organizers write.
And beware – the search for skilled bakers for the Branice gingerbread stand is still ongoing: “By selling your goodies, which you donate, you will support the festival. Thank you for creating it with us!” Where? In Bezová street and surroundings.
For the record: The author of the article has lived in Braník, Prague, for over ten years. He will be away this weekend, so he won’t be able to enjoy the neighborhood festivities, but otherwise he won’t be allowed to go to Braník.