Bratislava’s May Festival marks its 10th anniversary

The free festival opens the season of open-air festivals in the capital

Majáles traditionally draws thousands of people. Majáles traditionally draws thousands of people. (Source: Sme)

The 10th multi-genre festival, Bratislavský Majáles or Bratislava’s May Festival, will again open the season of large open-air festivals in the Slovak capital, starting this year on Friday May 5. There will be a series of live concerts, a market selling hand-made products, a programme for families with children, discussions, a huge firework and more. Following previous tradition, it will be held at the Tyršovo embankment on the right bank of the Danube River, close to the Old Bridge.

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The festival will again host the crème de la crème of the Slovak music scene.

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“We prefer those bands who give entertaining live concerts, do not have a problem playing on a big stage and have in their repertoires songs, which people can sing along to,” Pavol Murín, the chairman of the organising civic association Bratislavský Majáles, told The Slovak Spectator.

Among such bands he ranks, for example, Hex, Para, Billy Barman (fresh holder of the Slovak music Radio Head Award), Le Payaco, Vidiek and Medial Banana.

During the first day of the festival the organisers, in association with Bratislava city council, the Bratislava Self-governing Region, and the Old Town council have tuned the atmosphere on the main stage a bit more towards alternative tones.

“This year we will welcome Fúzy Múzy but also one of the most wanted representatives of the contemporary Slovak hiphop scene Tóno S.,” said Murín. “Simply said, in the words of one of our fans, it will again be a kind of ‘cultivated main stream’.”

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But also fans of rock, punk, reagge, ska, indie pop and indie folk will find something for them in the programme.

Tenth Event

Even though this year’s festival is an anniversary, the organisers have not prepared anything special except for a good vibe and a quality programme.

“It is because the only real income of the festival comes from the food and drinks that visitors buy in the gastro zone,” said Milan Vajda from the Bratislavský Majáles association, adding that the festival has kept one good feature from its very beginning - free entry. “And because it is an open-air festival, our income is also very dependant on the weather. Each year we are immensely glad that we manage to organise it at all.”

Discussions in Café Europa

An inseparable part of Bratislavský Majáles is the Café Europa tent. Each year it shelters discussions initiated by the European Committee Representation Office in Slovakia.

“It deals with topics of European togetherness that are attractive to us,” said Vajda.

This year participants will discuss three topics. The first one will be, 'With Erasmus into the World' and the second one is titled, 'Europe on the Crossroad'. The theme of the third one, the so-called mayor’s discussion, will be 'How Transport in Bratislava Will Change'.

Discussions will be moderated by Michal Havran, Jakub Ptačin and Vladimír Bilčík. Among those taking part will be Bratislava Mayor Ivo Nesrovnal, head of the EC representation office Dušan Chrenek, MP František Šebej, actress Eva Sakálová and EurActiv analyst Radovan Geist.

Landerer park

The Old Town council will use the festival to present the future look of the public park at Šafárikovo Square. The first phase of revitalisation of the space and the building of the Landerer Park will start soon.

Read also: Šafárikovo Square will be changed into city meadow Read more 

Bike as part of the festival

Along with the three-day concert marathon, during which 14 bands will perform in total and the discussion forum, part of the festival will be a cycle ride called Župná dvadsiatka. It will start on Sunday, May 7 at 11:00 at Tyršovo embankment. Registration will be open from 9:00. There are two circuits – the longer one will cover 26 kilometres and the shorter one, designed especially for less experienced cyclists and families with children, will be 19 kilometres.

The cross-border ride will start at the Tyršovo embankment and will cross into the Austrian villages of Berg and Kitsee. From the latter it will follow the cyclopath along the Slovak-Austrian border towards the border crossing in Berg. After a short ride atop the bay it will end at the Tyršovo embankment.

“We expect the arrival of the first cyclists around 13:00,” said the organisers.

In the Park, for Children and Families, organisers have prepared a two-day programme with theatre, a circus, the adrenaline entertainment, Bumperball and various workshops.

Those hungry or thirsty will be able to refresh themselves in the Festival Kozlovna gastro zone.

“Without good drinks and meals, a stay at the embankment lasting several hours would be unimaginable,” said Murín.

But the climax of the festival will be not be food or drink but an enormous firework that will last for almost 10-minutes. It will be fired directly from a ship in the middle of the Danube River on Sunday, May 7, at around 21:45 and will be accompanied by the famous Blue Danube waltz by Strauss. People can watch it from both banks of the river.

Weather will decide

As in the case of other open-air festivals, it will be the weather which will decide how many people will attend.

“During pleasant spring weather we expect roughly 30,000-35,000 visitors in total during all three days,” said Vajda. “The most people will arrive certainly on Sunday night to see the firework; at that time the visitor rate is usually around 15,000-17,000.”

Organisers estimate that in total, more than one quarter of a million people have attended the festival since 2008.

No alternative during rain

“Bratislavský Majáles is a classic open-air festival; in other words – it does not have any ‘dry’ alternative such as moving into a house of culture,” said Murín, adding that in any case, the festival would then lose its specific atmosphere.

Thus the festival will take place in almost any weather barring natural calamities but organisers do not exclude small adjustments in the programme in case of heavy rain, a storm or strong wind.

“But the weather has mostly behaved kindly to the festival since 2008,” said Murín. “We believe that when we were forced to cancel part of the Saturday programme on the main stage because of security reasons and the fireworks due to persistent rain and strong gusts of wind two years ago, we have had our share of bad luck for several years in advance.”


Friday, May 5

17:20 Fúzy Múzy

18:30 Tono S.

19:40 Saténové Ruky

21:00 Billy Barman

Saturday, May 6

15:35 Genius Locci

17:00 Vec

17:55 Bad Karma Boy

19:25 Medial Banana

20:50 Para

Sunday, May 7

15:20 La3no Cubano

19:10 Vidiek \\ Le Payaco \\ Vrbovskí Víťazi

20:40 Hex

21:45 Firework

Friday, Saturday, Sunday:

Café Europa,

Gastro zone Festivalová Kozlovna

Street Food

Park for children and parents

Cycle ride Župná Dvadsiatka

Entrance is free to all events.

For more information go to (in Slovak only).

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