The 30-year anniversary of the Velvet Revolution culminates today, November 17. Concerts, processions and debates, will be taking place in cities across the Czech Republic.
On November 17, 1989, student protesters filled the streets of Prague. It was eight days after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Striking actors in Prague opened theater stages only for public discussions, and university and performing arts students went on strike. Homemade posters and proclamations were posted in public spaces, and actors read a proclamation by the students and artists to audiences, calling for a general strike on 27 November.
In Prague, the Civic Forum (OF), which called for a change of the regime, was created. It was led by Václav Havel and other dissidents from Charter 77.
The students were joined in the coming days by Czechoslovak citizens of all ages. By Nov. 20, a half-million Czechs and Slovaks filled Prague’s streets and took over Wenceslas Square. The Communists were forced out.
Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, Miloš Jakeš, invited the so-called People’s Militia to Prague. They received weapons and ammunition.
Havel met with VPN representative Peter Zajac, marking the very first meeting between the two opposition movements. PM Ladislav Adamec agreed to meet with the representatives of the opposition, but on the condition that Havel would not be present.
Some 200,000 people demonstrated in Wenceslas Square in Prague.
Havel told the demonstration in Prague said that there was no way back to the totalitarian regime. The Minister of Defense also delivered a television address in which he called for an end to the demonstrations, but also declared that the army would not take action against the Czechoslovak people.
Alexander Dubcek appeared on the Melantrich balcony with Vaclav Havel. The meeting broke up with chants of “Dubcek to the Castle” and calls for another mass demonstration on the larger Letna plain.
Miloš Jakeš, the General Secretary of Communist Party resigned.
Half a million people attended a massive demonstration in Letna. This time the crowd were addressed by the Prime Minister Ladislav Adamec.
A two hour symbolic general strike takes place. It would take place at midday and students volunteered to man crucial shift work and emergency services, so that production and public safety would not suffer. The strike action was successful – over 50% of the entire population stopped working.
Representatives of OF, VPN, the federal parliament and PM Adamec met in Prague. Adamec promised to introduce the government by December 3. They discussed the release of political prisoners and the abolishment of articles about the leading role of the party and the Marxism-Leninism doctrine.
Parliament voted in favor of the legislation and also abolished the provision that made Marxist-Leninist ideology a mandatory part of school curriculum. After ten days of non-violent protest, the the Party had lost their stranglehold on the Czechoslovak state.
The Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact issued separate statements condemning their invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.
Adamec resigns as Prime Minister.
After he swore in a new government of opposition activists and moderate Communists under Communist Prime Minister Marian Calfa, Husak finally stepped down as president.
Havel appears on television and announces he would accept the presidency, but only until free elections can be held.
Disturbing the Peace, a book which records an extended conversation between Havel and Karel Hvizdala (a Czech journalist living in Bonn, Germany), is released. The publisher, Melantrich, has put together and released the book in an unprecedented ten days.
Havel is unanimously elected President of Czechoslovakia by the parliament.
Albertov and Národní třída in Prague are symbols of November 17th and this year they will become essential places to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the Velvet Revolution.
The Freedom Festival, as the citizens’ initiative calls the set of events, will occur on Sunday 17 November in Albertov and then follow up with a series of other events. See what happens and where.
A memorial procession on the route of the student manifestation on 17 November 1989. It is organized by the Freedom Festival initiative and ART Prometheus.
- When: November 17, starts at 14:30 on Albertov for approximately 2.5 hours.
- Route: Albertov – Na Slupi – Přemyslova – In the Fortress – the circuit at Vyšehrad – In the Fortress – Vratislavova – Vnislavova – Subway railway bridge at Výtoň- Rašínovo Embankment – Masarykovo Embankment – ends at Národní třída.
Free November: Commemorating November 17 at Albertov
Meetings of academics, students and citizens, concerts, discussions, presentations of student activities. Organized by: Center of Associations, Students and Graduates of Charles University.
- When: November 17, starts at 9:00 until 14:30 approximately.
During the day, student clubs will present their activities at Albertov, several discussions will take place, and there will be a chance to see a unique exhibition of 17 stories of 17 November from 17 faculties of Charles University.
Satirical parade of masks, performers and musicians through the centre of Prague. Organized by: FORUM association
- When: November 17, starts at 14:00 at Kampa for approximately 3.5 hours.
- Route: Kampa – Maltese Square – Charles Bridge – Smetana Embankment – Národní třída – Na Perštýně – Jilská – Old Town Square – Celetná – Hybernská (ending in the courtyard of the Hybernská Campus).
A multimedia exhibition in a unique space in Letná. Organized by Shoah Memorial Prague o.p.s.
- Where: Letná Plain (opposite Generali Arena)
- Opening hours: 10:00 – 18:00. Open until the end of November.
The memory of a Nation: 1989
Projection and light installation on Národní třída
- Where: Národní třída
- When: November 17, at 17:00, 18:45 or 20:00
This year’s memory of the nation is preparing a stunning light installation and projection at Národní třída. Light, sound, atmosphere, but mainly stories related to the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. The screening is presented by Memory of Nation in collaboration with 3dsense and the association Díky, že můžem.
Nation Memory Awards
The award ceremony for personalities who have shown in their lives honour, freedom and human dignity. Organized by: Post Bellum, o.p.s.
- Where: National Theater
- When: November 17, at 20:00
ČT2, STV and ČRo Plus will broadcast the National Memory Awards live
This year’s laureates are Władysław Frasyniuk (Poland), László Regéczy-Nagy (Hungary), Dietrich Koch (Germany), Dalma Špitzerová (Slovakia) and Miroslav Hampl (Czech Republic).
Concert for the future
Concerts and speeches on Wenceslas Square. Organized by: Nerudný fest.cz
- When: November 17, 16:30 – 22:00
- Performers: Mig 21, Tata Bojs, Buty, Vypsaná fiXa, Aneta Langerová, Vltava, Už jsme doma, Lenka Dusilová, Matěj Ruppert, Poletíme?, Bára Zmeková, Thom Artway, František Černý and Karel Holas from Čechomor, Circus Brothers or Skety.
- Speakers: William Luers (USA), Michael Žantovský, Šimon Pánek, Jiří Přibáň, Václav Malý, Petr Pavel, Jan Kysela, Nora Fridrichová, Lída Rakušanová, Eva Dudová, Anna Hogenová, Lucie Smolková, Tomáš Halík, Jáchym Topol, Martin Mejstřík, Hynek Čermák, David Klimeš and Rosťa and Šimon Novák.
Great street party in Národní třída. Organized by: Association Díky, že můžem.
- Where: Národní třída
- When: November 17, 10:00 – 22:00 outdoors / followed by concerts at Rock Café and FAMU Club
Throughout the day there will be a rich program on several stages and the street, in addition to concerts and theatres, exhibitions, children’s program, lectures and workshops.
Light, sound, but mainly stories related to the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. A stunning light show will take place along Národní třída on November 17th.
About Korzo Národní
Korzo Národní is the biggest and longest continually organized celebration of the Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day in Prague. Since 2014, it takes place on Národní street, where a massive student demonstration started the Velvet Revolution on the 17th of November 1989, which subsequently led to the fall of the communist regime.
The festival program consists of various artistic performances on the street, such as music concerts, theater performances for children and adults, photography exhibitions, educational events, authors‘ readings, representation of NGOs and much more. All events run from 10 am to 10 pm and are followed by an afterparty in the music club Rock Café. This year will perform David Koller, Aneta Langerová, Tata Bojs, Prago Union, Dagmar Pecková, Michael Kocáb, Dagmar Havlová, Václav Marhoul and more.
Let’s walk along the route of the student manifestation which triggered the events of the Velvet Revolution exactly 30 years ago! On 17th November we will reconstruct the student parade from Albertov to Národní St. Everybody can join us. Along the way, you will experience the atmosphere and learn what and where happened on that fateful day.
You can find the official program here
The first demonstrations took place in January 1989. Protesters marking 20 years since Jan Palach self-immolated in protest against the Soviet-led invasion of 1968 were brutally dispersed by police.
The next protest was held on October 28, 1989, the anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia in 1918.
November 17, 1989: the biggest protest for 20 years.
On November 19, riot police blocked a bridge to prevent protesters marching to Prague Castle.
On November 21, more than 200,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Prague for a fifth consecutive day of protests.
Vaclav Havel addressed the massive crowd from a balcony overlooking Wenceslas Square.
Half a million people came to listen to speeches from Havel and other opposition leaders.
Wenceslas Square, December 19, 1989.
On December 29, 1989, Vaclav Havel and his wife, Olga, greeted citizens at Prague Castle after being appointed by the Federal Assembly as the new president of Czechoslovakia
December 31, 1989.
In order to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic is going to open for the public Liechtenstein Palace at the Kampa, a historic palace built in the late 17th century, renovated in 1864.
Liechtenstein Palace is one of the most beautiful and largest palaces in Prague. It´s used for representative purposes by The Office of the Government of the Czech Republic.
On the second floor, there are apartments, in which stayed, for example, Spanish King Juan Carlos with his wife Sofie, British Queen Elisabeth II, Japanese Emperor Akihito with Empress Michiko. The halls and salons in the basement are used for working meetings and friendly gatherings.
Between 1979 and 1991 the palace was renovated according to the project of architect B. Fuchse jr. and adapted to serve the purposes of the Government Presidium. Its premises were enlarged by one basement level and the peripheral walls were secured against the threat of slipping down into the Vltava river
From 1895 the palace belonged to the Prague Municipality, which used it for a variety of official purposes, and made several adaptations. The enclosing wall was pulled down in 1941 – 1942, and after World War II the garden became a public park.
The disastrous floods in 2002 devastated the ground floor premises, and the palace had to undergo another, costly renovation.
More info here