Czech Republic – Let there be Light!
October. Autumn is in full swing. The leaves are turning fiery. The flip-flops are being used increasingly sparingly. The amount of daylight is getting shorter, with evenings becoming longer.
Don’t panic, though. Though some opportunities are lost with the end of our Indian summer, others are being created. One such example is Prague’s spectacular SIGNAL light festival, which took place this weekend, bringing bright and colourful light to the increasingly long night.
The idea of the four-day festival is to showcase Prague’s rich architectural heritage and combine it with more modern art ideas. Prague’s most famous buildings and areas, such as the Old Town square and the Charles Bridge, are just two of many locations which undergo a visual transformation once the sun has set.
Certain buildings are selected in advance and a ‘mapping’ company will spend time creating a display unique to one particular building. Indeed, the shows are not transferable to the other sites in the city. Shows last a short time, between five and ten minutes, and are on loop so it is possible to see many shows over the course of an evening.
Our first destination in the dark was the church at Namesti Miru. A large crowd gathered as each petal projected onto the clock face disappeared, counting down to the start of the show. The clock face soon transformed itself into a blinking eye.
There were some very impressive effects being projected from a distant building onto the spires and main part of the church. The lights were able to bring the church to life, making it bulge and shrink. Later in the show the bricks also seemed to start emerging out from the church, creating an amazing 3D effect.
From Namesti Miru we walked, via a pub of course, a short distance to the famous Old Town Square, where another light show was to be shown. The obvious place to beam this would have been on the world-renowned astronomical clock, yet for some reason the famous timepiece remained dark throughout. Instead, one of the lesser-known buildings was the subject of a bright light makeover.
As with all of the shows we saw, it was unique and solely for the building it was dramatically altering. This display, by a different mapping company, utilised a variety of colours to bring the building to life.
Our next location was one of Prague’s main libraries, which has six Greco-Roman statues standing over its large, looming doors. The idea of this light show was to tell the story of each of these figures. We watched it twice and still had no clue as to what was going on.
There are many shows around the city; it isn't really possible to enjoy them all. We walked past an interactive light show at the base of one of the towers of the Charles Bridge. A person would blow into a tube, which would them transmit a beam of light towards the tower and display a pattern on the old stones. The line was too long to consider waiting in, though it did look like a lot of fun.
The best show we saw was our last, and absolutely worth the long walk from the town centre. We arrived at the end of a light show in the grounds of the Kafka museum. The applause from spectacle-clad men and women which greeted its conclusion suggested that it would be worth investing in the 3D glasses being sold at the entrance.
In true Kafka style, it was incredibly weird and difficult to describe. Best just watch the videos…
I really enjoyed seeing the spectacular effects of the show. Whether modern art is your cup of tea or not, this festival is a great way to see the main attractions of Prague in – excuse the pun – a whole new light.
Love you all