Václav Struhár

One of the world's largest artistic carousels with giant puppets spun into Western Bohemian Plzeň in early September.

That is how the city famous for the production of beer started its transformation into the European Capital of Culture 2015.

Next year will be rich in extraordinary events in the Czech Republic. Traditional festivals or celebrations shall be topped off in May by the World Championship in Ice Hockey, meanwhile West Bohemian Plzeň shall become the cultural capital of Europe.

The project, which starts January 17, will offer more than 50 large shows and over 600 other events during the year. However, you can bask in the unique atmosphere of the city even
this year, thanks to the magical carousel from France, which marks the transformation of Plzeň into a European cultural centre.

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Le Manège Carré Sénart was brought to the Czech Republic in nine trucks. The original carousel with puppets by the French artist François Delarozière has adorned Plzeň square since the beginning of September. The square became only the seventh place in the world where the carousel with magical creatures has spun.

For three months, the French attraction open its visitors to a world of imagination and playfulness, while also being a small taste of what’s to come in the grand program of the entire series of events "Plzeň - European Capital of Culture 2015".

The cultural feast shall begin in January and with it the new circus season. The opening ceremony of the Plzeň 2015 project will include a new circus performed by top Swiss acrobat David Dimitri. The January ceremony on the square will be preceded by processions from the five parts of the city, inspired by the traditions of Plzeň, moving back to the cultural halls, pubs or music clubs from the centre for the evening celebrations.

But if you miss the opening ceremony of the new circus season you can enjoy it throughout the entire year. The colourful circus tents will be spread in various neighborhoods of Plzeň, which will feature eight of the top ensembles from all around the world. Acrobatics of the highest caliber will be offered in January by the French troupe Cirque Trottola, while their countrymen, the Famous Burattini Family, build their performances on rough street humour.

The youngest representative of the new circus in Plzeň, the MagdaClan from Italy, shall combine a strong story with an incredible artistic performance. They are recent graduates from the circus school in Turin, brimming with energy and ideas, as evidenced by their performance ERA - Sonnet for Clown. You will be able to compare the European acrobatic feats in the summer with the art of the Canadian troupe Cirque Alfonse, which complements their performances with live music. The final exclamation point of the new circus season will be the Acoreacro group, which shall perform in Plzeň in early November.

Together with the opening ceremony on January 17 the first profile exhibition of Jiří Trnka will begin, later supplemented by an interactive exhibition of his book The Garden (Zahrada).

However, the world-renowned artist and director of animated films will not be the only Plzeň native featured by the local gallery next year. For the first time in Europe the valuable collection of Maori portraits by Bohumír Lindauer arrives. Lindauer, a painter who was born in Plzeň in the 19th century, is one of the important representatives of the New Zealand
art. Forty unique paintings will be exhibited next summer at the West Bohemian Gallery.

At the time of Plzeň presidency, you also should not miss out on the series of exhibitions devoted to the works of Ladislav Sutnar, one of the founders of the world of graphic design. A native of Plzeň, he emigrated to the United States in 1939, where he was awarded several design awards and the prestigious Medal of the Association of professional graphic designers for his work.

The rich cultural year 2015 will also be complemented by an exhibition of the best painters of fin de siècle and European modernism, as well as West Bohemian Baroque exhibitions.

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In the capital of beer, culture will of course pulse at every step, not just in the galleries. In the streets of Plzeň in February you will encounter a light art installation, which in May will be replaced by celebrations of the liberation of the city by the American army.

The spectacular parade will be reminiscent of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. In the summer months, selected monuments from the Plzeň region of music, dance, theatre and even fireworks in the Baroque style will come to life again. The nine-week festival is to draw attention to West Bohemian architectural treasures of the
decorative art direction.

Art is also dominated by industrial buildings in the form of a series of events held under the name 'Factories of Imagination'. In the space of the former power station there will be an exhibition of contemporary European design in April as well as a program in the former paper mill or the empty transport company depot. In addition, this year in Plzeň a new theatere for 650 spectators will be opened, which at the time of cultural presidency will bring a prestigious cultural venue for the International Theatre Festival, part of the
opening ceremony, as well as several productions.