International Festival of Contemporary Circus and Theatre
Since its very beginning, the festival has presented the crème de la crème of international contemporary circus. It also systematically supports the local circus scene and has helped numerous artists enter the world of circus tents.
Letní Letná 2022
Festival in its 19th edition
During the 19 years of its existence, Letní Letná Festival has been featuring new acts from both Czech and international scene of contemporary circus. This year, the audience returned to the festival area of Letenské sady in large numbers. The 19th edition of the international showcase of contemporary circus and theatre attracted over 60,000 visitors. From August 11 to August 31, the festival area hosted 208 performances full of acrobatics, a program for children, and various workshops. In total, the program offered more than two hundred events for the festival’s attendees.
The festival opened with the Swedish ensemble Cirkus Cirkör, a well-known and well-loved act in Czechia, performing a slightly adjusted version of their famous hit ‘Knitting Peace’. They once again proved to be the local fans’ favourites and enjoyed sold-out shows and standing ovations throughout the festival. The second international ensemble, the vivacious Compañía de Circo „eia“, didn’t fall behind their Scandinavian colleagues and quickly captured the audience with their vigorousness. Their performance ‘Nuye’ at the end of the festival managed to fill the main festival circus tent to the brim. A legend in the field, Johann Le Guillerm, brought to Letenské sady his experimental laboratory from which he’s been pushing the boundaries of contemporary circus for many years. Monckton, Peden & Votkin from New Zealand, USA, and Finland, respectively, arrived to Letná with their optimistic performance ‘Optimismi’, and Thula Moon, an acrobat from Hawaii, arrived with her solo performance ‘Through the Truth’. In total, Letní Letná hosted artists from 18 countries.
An integral part of Letní Letná is a festival of Czech contemporary circus which features new productions by top Czech ensembles and performers every year. It also gives opportunities to students of Czech circus schools to showcase their art and talent. A large portion of the program of Letní Letná is dedicated to contemporary Czech circus each year. This year, the scene opened with the ensemble AirGym Art Company and their new performance ‘NonSen(s)’. Their successful premiere was followed by a sold-out performance of ‘Hotel Laputa’. Another sold-out show was enjoyed by the popular Losers Cirque Company who had the Czech scene tent for two evenings. Both their productions, ‘Grandiózní’ and ‘Konkurz’, proved that Czech contemporary circus scene is on par with the international scene. Another speciality of this year was a large representation of female artists, including 6 solo performances. A total of 24 performances appeared at the Czech scene, featuring ensembles Losers Cirque Company, AirGym Art Company, Bratři v Tricku, Žongléros Ansámbl, The Same Self, and solo performers Eliška Brtnická, Ariadna Vendelová, Lenka Švolíková, Klára Hajdinová, and Ondřej Holba. The scene also featured student performances from circus schools CIRQUEON, KD Mlejn, Cirkus LeGrando (Brno), and Žongléros (Pilsen).
When we were starting out, I frankly believed that contemporary circus was beautiful, free-minded, romantic, creative and exciting. I believed that it had a future and that it made sense to let the public know. And I am confident this still applies!
The Letní Letná festival has celebrated its 15th birthday. Since its creation it has taught Czechs to love circus artists.
Prague's Letní Letná festival brings international and Czech acts which inspire the audience to create their own definitions of contemporary circus. And every year, these definitions are challenged.
Contemporary circus is a widely accessible genre, which makes it an easy starting point. Yet, disregarding the criterion of quality may be equally harmful in this field as in any other. Looking back at the thirteen editions of Letní Letná, there is no single item that wouldn’t reach the quality bar. A unique phenomenon, indeed.
Since 2015 Letní Letná has held the EFFE label – Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe. The label was created by European Festivals Association. In total 23 Czech festivals received it for period 2019 - 2021.