Prague to Vienna on Foot: Tabor Meetings Festival

A series of posts following David and Gail as they walk 480 kilometers from Prague to Vienna in 2014.

September 17, 2014

Tabor was the first of several planned rest stops as we traversed the Prague-Vienna Greenway. A day away from walking in exchange for city sightseeing. It was by happy coincidence that we arrived in Tabor, an outstanding medieval city on its own, at the start of the annual Tabor Meetings Festival. It all started quietly on Friday afternoon.

We had arrived and checked into a non-westernized version of the Best Western hotel, pretty much the only reasonably priced accommodation available during the festival. We walked into the old city to the main square where the food and beer and mulled wine stall had already been set up. At the time, attendance was timid. We found our seats for the evening, a variety show to kick-off the festival. Grab a good Czech beer, a spicy pork dish, a large potato pancake and wait for the action on the large stage now dominating the historic square. Several marching bands from Tabor and neighboring cities take the stage, doing renditions of Billy Joel and Neil Diamond classics. Their performances emphasis the “meetings” in the festival title, a gathering of like minded folk from Tabor and Konstanz, Germany that has taken place over the past thirty years. Later comes local tenor and all round folk hero Jan Vacik, finishing his folk set with Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. We feel like screaming out “he’s our guy” but we don’t. We are after all the quintessential polite Canadians. But everyone gets into it, like honorary Canadians, as Jan goes quiet allowing the crowd to fill in the chorus it knows so well. He brings on a spectacular mezzo-soprano who does a wonderful tour of opera highlights followed by a duet on the Andrea Bocelli hit. A few official speeches and fanfares later, the evening ends with a major fireworks extravaganza, lit at one side of the square, shot directly over head, with debris floating down to the crowd below. And this is when we look around to find the this medieval fair absolutely packed with people. The festival is on!

Next day, our day off, is spent circulating around the city and the many festival events focussing on its medieval past. We see jousting, medieval musicians, puppet shows, kids learning essential medieval survival skills, such as crossbow and the bow and arrow target practice. It was all great fun and brought an already great historical city to life. 

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