Prague, July 1 (CTK) – Thousands of members of the Sokol gymnastic union, from both the Czech Republic and abroad, marched through the city centre accompanied by music bands on Sunday and opened the 16th Sokol festival that will be held in Prague this week.
The festival will last six days and remember 100 years from the foundation of the independent Czechoslovak state.
The organisers said before the march they expect up to 13,000 participants.
Sokol movement members from abroad headed the march and they included people from Slovakia, Serbia, Switzerland, Denmark, the United States and Australia. They were followed by Sokol members from all parts of the Czech Republic.
This evening, Sokol theatre company will perform the Nasi furianti (Our Young Bucks) classical Czech comedy play, which was first staged in 1887, in the National Theatre in Prague. This will be for the first time since 1883 that an amateur troupe will be performing in the theatre.
The Sokol festival will offer a number of cultural, social and sport events. On Thursday and Friday, it will culminate with collective gymnastic performances in which some 15,000 people will participate.
The Sokol organisation was founded in 1862, its slogan being “a sound mind in a sound body.” Its festivals became an important part of Czech social life. Two of its festivals even turned in a clear political manifestation. In July 1938, the 10th festival showed the determination of Czechoslovak people to defend themselves against the increasing Nazi threat. Ten years later, the festival was a strong but again futile protest against the Czechoslovak Communist coup of February 1948.