Arctic Festival 2023

Arctic Festival 2023 (5th edition, 17/9–31/12/2023)

The Arctic Festival 2023 took place in a very limited version from the middle of September to the end of 2023. It started on 17 September with an unusual happening – the ascent of the Spitzberg Mountain (749 m) in Bärenfels, Germany. About 30 polar enthusiasts (some of them with skis under their arms) decided to climb the mountain with a specific name in honour of Teplice native Julius von Payer, a polar researcher, mountaineer, cartographer and painter who traveled to Svalbard (Spitzbergen) several times as a member of various polar expeditions and during the North Pole Expedition 150 years ago, he discovered a new archipelago – the Franz Joseph Land. The second reason for the Spitzberg Mountain ascent was the fact that the logistics base of the Czech scientific infrastructure in Longyearbyen in Svalbard bears the name of this famous painter of polar regions – the Julius Payer House. PHOTOS from the ascent are here.

The traditional scientific conference was missing from the AF 2023 programme, because most of the Czech polar scientist (more than 60!) were fully involved in the preparation of a comprehensive monograph entitled THE ARCTIC, which will be published in 2025 by the Academia publishing house. However, the cultural dimension of the AF was preserved – see the traditional AF 2023 Poster, designed by Martin Velíšek and Míra Wanek. Detailed information about the programme (only in Czech) is available on the website

On 7–24 November, the UNIJAZZ Reading Room (Prague 3) hosted an exhibition of illustrations by Martin Velíšek (known for his former visualisation of Greenlandic myths and legends) for the Czech translation of Greenlandic fairy tales and legends called The Dog with a Bun. On 21 November the book launch took place at the same place. It included the UJD concert for the 60th birthday of Martin Velíšek (Míra Wanek, frontman of UJD, is a co-founder of the Arctic Festival). PHOTOS from the event are here.

The main host of the event was translator Zdeněk Lyčka
and the public was entertained by painter Martin Velíšek (photo © Jan Křikava).
Concert of the UJD music group for the 60th birthday of Martin Velíšek, a non-playing member of UJD (photo © Jan Křikava).

On 23 November, the Arctic Film Day took place in the Atlas Cinema (Prague 8). The following films from Estonia, Sweden, Norway and Iceland were screened:

The Winds of the Milky Way (FI/HU 1977, 52 min, directed by Lennart Meri)
Historjá – Stitches for Sápmi (SE 2022, 87 min, directed by Thomas Jackson)
Pathfinder (NO 1987, 86 min, directed by Nils Gaup)
Icelandic gratuates of FAMU (IS/CZ 2004, 110 min, 7 IS directors)

Notice board of the Municipal Library in Prague with AF 2023 poster.

On 29 November, the Municipal Library in Prague – Hradčany branch (Prague 1) hosted a reading from the book The Dog with a Bun / Greenlandic Fairy Tales and Legends, and the opening of the book illustration exhibition of the same name by Martin Velíšek. The exhibition could be viewed until 29 December.

On 13 December, the Municipal Library in Prague (Mariánské náměstí, Prague 1) hosted an evening dedicated to the Nordic books of the Argo publishing house in the Myths, Fairy Tales and Legends edition, which was organized by the Scandinavian House under the title Nordic Fairy Tales and Legends.

Sad news at the end: Ing. Luděk Volf, a longtime sponsor of the Arctic Festival and our good friend, died suddenly on 27 December 2023, at the age of only 55. We remember him with respect.

7 January 2024

Zdeněk Lyčka, founder and main organizer of the Arctic Festival