It is always interesting to experience new aspects of Czech culture. One interesting aspect I was able to observe this weekend was Majáles, a music festival held right here in Hradec Kralove. Translated literally, it means “Rag Day”, which freaked me out at first. I wasn’t sure if it was a day for homeless people to unite in their lack of clean clothing or a day for all the women in the area of menstruating-age to celebrate the one day of the year their cycles synchronized. Luckily, it was none of those things. Known as a student festival, it is a day-long event that hosts many different Czech bands. Even though I’m not actually a student, I decided to go and see what it was all about.
Entering the festival, I could see that… it wasn’t all that difficult than an American music festival. Granted, I’ve only been to one music festival in the US before, but it had all the familiar sights – food vendors, souvenir vendors, and most importantly, drink vendors. That was where we headed first, because what is a music festival without a little beverage in tow?
Perhaps one difference between an American festival – Majáles had the wonderful idea to sell their beer in souvenir glasses. You pay a deposit on this glass when you buy your first beer, and can get that money back when you are done drinking for the night. However, if you want to keep your glass, simply keep it and forfeit your money. This prevented the ground from turning into a plastic cup burial ground, which made it much easier to walk around.
After purchasing our beer, we waded towards the front of the first stage to listen to a band. It was a gentle rock with a bit of funk and a lot of pizzazz, and everyone seemed to know the lyrics (minus us). That was ok, because it was nice to just savor the fresh air and sunlight.
As it got later, people got drunker, and in typical fashion, began passing out in places. Luckily, no vomit occurred, though there were a couple of beer spill incidents that splashed me. I also almost got stepped on a few times due to people thrashing around at the second stage, which seemed to have music better suited for the younger crowd.
Eventually, we met up with Ari’s friend Jan, got some snacks (I got homemade potato chips, Ari got Trdelnik, and Jan got Chinese noodles), and then headed over to watch the last band perform. Overall, it was a great day and we were lucky to have such balmy weather. Conclusion: People all over the world know how to party. It makes me a little sad that I am missing the much larger festival happening here in Hradec Kralove in July – Rock for People. This festival has world-renowned bands that I might actually know a little more about, like 30 Seconds to Mars, Queens of the Stone Age, and some others. Alas, I will be walking through the Spanish countryside if all is going well, so I’m not going to be too disappointed.