The Infamous Prague Beer Festival
The main Prague Beer Festival on Letna did not run in 2019 due to scheduling issues. If it runs in 2020 I’ll update this post or I’ll publish other options as I find them.
Beer Drinking Record Holders and Always Will Be
Czechs drink more beer per capita than any other country in the world and will do forever unless Bavaria declares independence from Germany so when the Czechs have a beer festival you’d better pay attention.
When is the Prague Beer Festival?
2019 was cancelled. I will update here for 2020 if it goes ahead or I will list other options.
Where is it and What are the Opening Times?
After a number of years of moving around different locations in the city it looks like they have settled on an area called Letna. If you are using Google Maps then search for “Letenske Sady” and specifically you want the “Letenske Plan” area (it’s signposted). If you stood outside the Hotel Intercontinental and looked to the opposite side of the river then that is Letna Park and the Prague Beer Festival is in the park so allow 15-20 minutes to walk to it from there or 20-25 minutes to get there from the Old Town Square. It opens at midday and closes at midnight everyday of the festival period. Kids from 0-15 have free admission as do ZTP cardholders (Czech disabled permit).
How does it work?
Whether you’ve made online ticket reservations or you’ve just turned up at the gate, you’ll receive a single card which contains both your entry ticket and your first consumption card with credit (if you purchased that option) on the card. The first thing you’ll do is tear off the consumption card part so you separate it from the entry ticket. You’ll keep the entry ticket part and use it for each day that you want to attend the Prague Beer Festival.
Now the “consumption card”. The festival is cashless so if you want to buy food or drink you will give the vendor your consumption card and they will write codes on your card depending on what you ordered (drink on one side, food on the other). You continue in this way until 1) your card has no more space in which case you pay your bill and get another card to continue or 2) that you’ve finished for the day and you now have to settle your bill. At the festival exit point are cashier booths where you will give your consumption card and they will give you the bill. Credit cards and cash accepted. Now I know what you’re thinking, lose the card and you won’t have to pay. Wrong. As with any card system, if you lose the consumption card there is a fixed fine. Last time I was here it was CZK5000. Enough to cover even the most expensive options that the card could take.
The VIP area offers “Premium” table service which means you can order just about any food and drink available at the Prague Beer Festival and have it served to your table. There are 150 places available at any given time and reservation is based both on availability and the size of the group as priority is given to groups larger than six. I generally don’t use this option as I prefer the freedom to sit in different places i.e. closer to the music or in the sun etc.
Prague Beer Festival Entry Packages
CZK100 at the ticket office
You pay your CZK100 and get your entry ticket and your consumption card which gets you access ONLY to the regular Festival. You CANNOT reserve a table online. You CANNOT access the VIP area. There is no credit on the consumption card.
CZK400 at the ticket office
You pay your CZK400 and get your entry ticket and your consumption card. You CANNOT reserve a table online. You CAN access the VIP area. There is no credit on the consumption card.
CZK750 online 24 hours before arrival
This gives you entry only to the regular Festival. The consumption card has a CZK650 credit. If you exceed the credit amount then you pay the difference when you exit. If you do not spend the full CZK650 then you are refunded what you have not used. You CAN reserve a standard table online. You CANNOT access the VIP area.
CZK1050 online 24 hours before arrival
This gives you entry to the regular Festival and VIP area. The consumption card has a CZK650 credit. If you exceed the credit amount then you pay the difference when you exit. If you do not spend the full CZK650 then you are refunded what you have not used. You CAN reserve a standard or VIP table online. You CAN access the VIP area.
And So to the Prague Beer Festival
All of the above was just so you know exactly which package to ask for so as not to waste your eating and drinking time. People who went to the early festivals would have had to go to the outer reaches of the Prague metro system. They would have found a selection of beers from the major brewers here, pub food and non-refundable “tollars”. How times have changed. Nowadays the Prague Beer Festival has been elevated to the top table. More regional breweries, central location and the cuisine is a magnet for foodies who want to try the many types of food so expect the gourmet action to be running neck and neck with the beer.
There are several covered beer tents and one central food tent plus uncovered areas so you are looking at a festival size of just over half a football pitch.
When drinking just remember that the 0.3L glass is considered “small”, the 0.5L glass is the regular size here but you can also choose the 1L version (if available). That’s twice the normal volume even for a large Czech Beer so just make sure you drink quick or it will go flat.
I think the menu is pretty good. Nice selection, obviously priced for the Prague Beer Festival but there are many Czech staples and presentation is light years better than it used to be. The webpage currently lists many guest breweries so that will equate to at least 200 different beers to try.
Letna Park is a good location for the Prague Beer Festival. Close enough to the centre to make it walkable. Far enough away to want to go here for a reason.
No table-hogging allowed and as usual, you ask to sit down if somebody else is on the same bench or table. Clean up your own mess. Keep the swearing to a minimum. Don’t break the glasses. Stay just within your limits. Respect the staff. Don’t lose your card.
Further information and advance tickets sales are on the Prague Beer Festival webpage.