For four days, the town of Kyjov becomes the center of the oldest folklore festival in the Czech Republic aiming to revive folk traditions and customs of the Moravian region. It is the time of a year when local people mingle with visitors while listening to folk songs and enjoying a glass of wine. The festival dates back to 1921 and since then it has become a popular event. It takes place every four years in the month of August.
All four days are dedicated to folk music, dancing, various parades and folk fair along with evening shows and art exhibitions.
Here are some of the highlights of the festival:
The hoisting of the Maypole
The hoisting of the Maypole symbolizes the beginning of the festival. The event itself is accompanied by the sounds of the folk songs performed by the brass band and folk singers. As the Maypole is hoisted the crowd breaks into cheer and the celebrations can begin.
The folk fair gives visitors an opportunity to buy traditional handiwork products from pottery, wicker products or glass products with local motifs and also offers tasting of the local specialties especially various types of wine and cheese. There is a fair programme for both adults and children too.
Parade in folk costumes
Hundreds of people dressed in traditional folk costumes from all over the region join the parade to exhibit the long-forgotten beauty of the folk fashion and to join the bands in singing and dancing.
The Ride of the Kings
The Ride of the Kings is the biggest event of the festival. The ceremony opens with religious service in local church. After the mayor of the town gives his approval the Ride can begin. The „King“ and his company ride through town for few hours stopping by the designated places on the way. The Ride is performed by young men. The „King“ himself is dressed in feminine clothing (as a disguise), has a partially covered face and holds a red rose in his mouth. The event entered UNESCO Representative List of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
The Maypole Felling
By lowering the Maypole on the last day the whole festival is concluded. As usually it is joined by singers and dancers as well as the mayor. It is a long-lasting event with the Maypole being lowered inch by inch to the ground. When it is done, the children run up to the Maypole and take one of the colourful ribbons that are tied there as a reminder of the festival.