Prague: Alternative Venues
Charting the alternative scene in Prague can be a little tricky. Some venues come blazing out of the blue only to wane a couple of weeks later. That’s why we’ve picked time-proven establishments and places with growth potential. Simply put, the very places where we love to go to have fun and meet new people.
Snug between an eight-track railway line and a motorway is a seemingly grungy industrial building with two red cars hanging off its façade like meat. MeetFactory is the brainchild project of Czech artist David Černý, whose evocative art installations are found scattered all over Prague. In its more than 15-year existence, MeetFactory has made its name as an independent center for contemporary art, where the visual arts meet theatre, music, as well as interdisciplinary and experimental platforms.
Cross Club is today somewhat of an alternative legend, attracting both local and out-of-town guests to enjoy the best of the domestic and global electronic scene. On two stages here you’ll find a real mishmash of musical styles from dnb, reggae, ska, through dub, to tekno sound systems. Not to be overlooked is the futuristic decor by František ‘Plaster’ Chmelík that permeates through the labyrinth of corridors and corners and quizzically captivates, increasingly so into the small hours.
Sometimes all it takes is an unconventional idea, a little determination to persevere to the end, and a little bit of money to begin with. The same is true of the Containall – a sheet-metal container parked in the summer season in the beautiful surroundings of Stromovka Royal Game Reserve. The programme, in addition to summer film screenings, comprises theatre performances, live music, workshops and sporting events. You can play football, beach volleyball, table tennis, pétanque, Swedish kubb or partake in regular yoga classes. It is just the place to spend a summer (early) evening, what with all the rustling trees and starry sky overhead.
Downtown Prague’s embankments become the liveliest social gathering places along the Vltava river during the summer months. And there are plenty of reasons. Some are attracted to the plethora of goings-on throughout the year – from farmers’ markets to a palette of cultural, sports and gastronomic events. Others are drawn here by the views of Hradčany, Vyšehrad and other Prague sights or by romantic walks at dusk along the nearby islands.
Karlín Barracks / Kasárna Karlín
Where troops once marched by the hundred, many now go to have fun. Thanks to its prime location and multifunctional use made of the building, the barracks draw in visitors across the generations. The central courtyard is where the action is; a giant sandbox, a summer cinema, a mini lookout tower, a fire-pit, a bar and a beach volleyball pitch. The original military pool has become a stylish café, the garages have morphed into a music club, and there’s also a great gallery. Don’t hesitate for too long before you visit. The barracks are to become the Palace of Justice, but should keep going as they are until 2020.
Pragovka is the perfect example of how of an unsightly and unused industrial building can be reborn and repurposed. In what is literally the art district are dozens of artists of all disciplines – painters, sculptors, photographers, fashion designers and more. The proprietors’ contagious enthusiasm means there’s constantly something going on here, though never a yawn. Currently there are several galleries, a great café, the Prague’s largest craft beer garden etc,.
Prague’s art campus, simply without equal. This project, jointly run by Charles University and Prague City Council aims to connect the public with the university’s activities. You’ll find an end-to-end sequence of exhibitions, diverse gastro events, festivals, foreign language publishers’ sales, and other gatherings. The campus includes a cosy quadrangle with a community garden, a cinema hall and the student-friendly ‘Café Hlína’.
The creative centrepiece of Holešovice, an industrial feast for the eyes and a place that’s always buzzing. That’s one way to sum up this multifunctional retreat with its excellent central café, galleries, mini-cinema, diverse shops and event hall. A small town within a city, so to speak.
Spoilsports might say this street is past its heyday, but Krymská street has even quite recently been dubbed the epicentre of the alternative scene and editors were falling over themselves to compare it to New York’s East Village, the Kreuzberg in Berlin or Camden in London. So, maybe the crowds have waned, but this street has kept its pizzazz. Its centrepiece remains the retro café ‘Café V lese’ with a music club below, an underground watering hole aka ‘Sběrné suroviny’ or the annual Krymská Korso major event.
Partyzánská 18/23, Prague 7 – Holešovice
This ship used to rock lazily along the Elbe River full of gravel and sand. Nowadays, from April to late October it lies at anchor in Holešovice near the Troja bridge, far from the madding crowd of the city. The ship’s raw industrial looks might make you a little uneasy, but having withstood dozens of parties and concerts its poise and stability are quite assured. In essence, this is a venue for music of all sorts of subtypes, as well as an occasional bit of theatre or a flea-market.
Finding your perfect culture and entertainment fix in Prague will be a breeze with our brochure, outlining not only Prague’s temples of culture, but also suggestions for events, alternative and independent venues, contemporary art in public spaces and other reasons for making Prague your cultural destination. The guide is available free of charge from our tourist information centres; you can also download it free or order it from our e-shop