This year the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival will take place from 20 to 28 August and it will be its 55th edition. It was cancelled owing to anti-epidemic measures in 2020 but the organisers decided to hold it this year, albeit on postponed dates. So, the biggest film event in the Czech Republic starts! If you are fans of the silver screen, make sure that you don’t miss this category A festival. We’ll also give you some advice on what you can visit in the environs of Karlovy Vary.
How time passed with the festivalThe festival’s beginnings date back to 1946, when it was opened for the first time as a non-competition festival and it took place in Mariánské Lázně and Karlovy Vary. Thus, it’s the second-oldest European film festival. It was held once a year in the period from 1959 to 1993. During that time its venue moved into Hotel Thermal in Karlovy Vary, which was built in the 1970s and nowadays it’s a beautiful example of Brutalist architecture. Figuratively speaking, it took a breath of fresh air in the 1990s and became what it is now. During one summer week, Karlovy Vary is completely absorbed by the festival atmosphere. There are lots of people everywhere and concerts, parties, ceremonies, press conferences and, of course, film screenings take place. You may come across both Central European and global celebrities here.
The festival todayA lot of people praise the fact that the festival is democratic, that there are not only luxury parties for sponsors but also that it is backpackers, who sleep in tents and early in the morning stand in the queue to get tickets for individual showings, that are the main driving force of the festival. However, if you prefer comfort, the festival is naturally ready to satisfy even the most demanding spectators. How about the films? Screenings in Karlovy Vary take place in many locations, and the festival presents around 200 new films every year – roughly a third of them in a world or European premiere.
The opening film of this year’s edition will be the world premiere of the biographical drama about a four-time Olympic winner, Zátopek, on 20 August. The 55th edition of the festival will present a total of 32 film premieres and the spectators will also be able to see a tribute to The Film Foundation, which was founded by the classic of American cinematography, Martin Scorsese, in 1990. The screens of Karlovy Vary cinemas will show ten unique pictures made between the 1930s and the 1990s, giving an idea of the cinematography of the US, Côte D’Ivoire, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Taiwan, and Morocco.
Where you can go after the festivalKarlovy Vary is situated in the so-called Spa Triangle along with Mariánské Lázně and Františkovy Lázně. So, you can approach your stay as relaxation for your body and soul. There’re countless options where you can put yourselves up and get healing treatments. However, when staying in Karlovy Vary at least don’t forget to complement your fluid intake by the mineral water from the local warm freely accessible springs. The water contains forty-seven elements needed for the organism. It demonstrably has beneficial effects on the digestive system, metabolism, improving the immunity to genetic and civilisation stress, on the musculoskeletal system and on the overall cleansing of the organism.
Those who are fairly adventurous do have lots of options in western Bohemia in the environs of Karlovy Vary as well. For example, you can visit the nearby town of Loket. The picturesque small town has been guarded by a mighty medieval castle for 800 years. You can explore the castle from its cellars up to the lookout gallery of the highest tower.
The city of Karlovy Vary lies in the middle of wooded hills. So, you don’t have to go too far on trips in the great outdoors. Nevertheless, if you would like to see something unique, visit the Soos nature reserve. It isn’t a large area but it is interesting as it features still active mud volcanoes. You won’t find any other place of this kind in the Czech Republic.
In addition, there are the Ore Mountains to the north of Karlovy Vary. The old mining landscape in the Ore Mountains has been recently inscribed as UNESCO Heritage. So, set out to follow in the footsteps of old-time miners!