Smell of cotton candy, laughter and shouting from attractions, pounding disco music – this all inherently belongs to Matějská pouť, traditionally held at Výstaviště, Praha for over 50 years. For adults in Prague it is a sign of the beginning of spring, for children an exhilarating feeling of joy.
The tradition of Matějská pouť has its roots in the Czech Lands since 1595, primarily associated with Saint Matěj. Throughout the years, its religious intention has obviously changed and the visitors today would hardly spot a hint of a spiritual atmosphere. But the custom to open on traditional Matěj’s name day, February 25, has lasted till now.
The current area, along with domestic and foreign attractions also offers stands with typical fast food. And because feeling queasy after visiting this popular amusement park has become a kind of habit, this local junk food is a must-try. Cotton candy is without a surprise a starter, followed by Czech potato pancake bramborák. Deep-fried Hungarian pancake langoš is usually the main course, and as a dessert sweet candy called žužu or peanut nougat known by the name of Turkish honey (turecký med) may be served. Besides a stomach ache, Matějská pouť bears another tradition – gingerbread hearts and shooting at paper roses. The second old Bohemian custom is usually associated with couples in love. The men try to shoot at the most beautiful rose, which serves as a sign of love for their partner. However, local sellers are often cunning and it can be hard to hit the aim. Thus, young ladies might have to settle just for the purchased gingerbread heart.
Aside from the culinary experience, newbies must also try local traditional attractions such as the roller coaster Cyklon (also the oldest attraction), merry-go-round or the haunted castle. But there are of course new and foreign attractions that have through the years gained great popularity. Those from the Netherlands are especially admired by young people. Such attractions combine elements of amusement as well as suspense. Visitors interested in such an experience should then definitely give the centrifuge Booster or the catapult Bungee a try.
Matějská pouť will be in Prague from February 25 till April 17, and will be open every day except Monday. On the weekends, visitors have to pay a symbolical 30 Czech korunas to get in. Nevertheless, sneaky locals know that Výstaviště, Praha has a few unguarded holes in the fence 😉
Photo courtesy of Carolina Soldati