Advice before a visit
How are programmes arranged?
Programme venues open to visitors 60 minutes before the start. On entry it is necessary to present a valid ticket, and if you have utilised some form of discount provide proof of your entitlement. There are discounts for all programmes for the health and physically handicapped. Only on marked programmes is it possible to use a discount for children up to 15 and students, and children have to prove their age only in disputed situations with their passport or some kind of official pass with a photograph and students with a student card or student’s index. If for a programme there is a discount for holders of payment or benefit cards, this card must be shown.
For security reasons you may be searched on entry. It is forbidden to bring into programme venues weapons, corrosive substances and any item considered to be dangerous and might be used as a weapon. It is also forbidden to bring into the auditorium pets and vessels unless they are plastic.
With some programmes it is possible to visit an overture – an educational lecture in the castle riding hall, preparing you for the programme. It begins 60 minutes before the start and lasts for half an hour. Unfortunatelly, those lectures are mostly in Czech and there is no translation available.
Before the programme you can take refreshments at a stand, by a programme or festival catalogue, a recording, books, various souvenirs or possibly a mac or umbrella. On entry to the auditorium you will get a free copy of the current edition of Festival News, which you can read in your place. Look for your place in time, especially if you have tickets for the middle of the auditorium in the castle courtyard (places Nos. 15-40), where the rows are very long. The best time to take your seats is signalled to you by the first tones of Bedřich Smetana’s Czech Song. This has three parts, and after the first listeners with places in the middle should take their seats, after the second those on the edges, and after the third the doors to the auditorium are closed and the musicians enter. From this point entry to the auditorium is forbidden, those coming late will only be seated during applause at accessible places on the edges of the auditorium, or possibly to the castle arcades. They can take up their places only during the intermission.
While you will be asked to switch off the ring tone on your mobile phones, it would be best to do this immediately on entering the auditorium. There is perhaps nothing more embarrassing then if your phone rings and the entire auditorium turns to look at you (rightly!) with contempt. Before the beginning of the programme and in the intermission you can use your mobile to read information provided by the festival application (unfortunatelly only available in Czech). In it you can find among other things the complete programme and information on the works, the composers and the participants. During the programme you must not use the telephone in any way, photography and recording is forbidden, and writing SMSs and surfing the internet is not only antisocial but the light emitted will disturb your neighbour. During the programme smoking is of course forbidden as is disturbing people in any way. A visitor who interrupts the programme by talking loudly or their behaviour does not follow the prohibition on making sound or image recordings, may be expelled from the auditorium without the right to a refund.
Especially during hot days some listeners may feel sick. The organisers, fire brigade and paramedics carefully watch the auditorium throughout the programme and so all that is needed is to raise your hand to gain their attention and summon help quickly. Use the toilets in the castle courtyard during the programme only when absolutely essential; during the intermission large capacity toilets are available behind the cafeteria El-lamino.
Concerts usually have intermissions, the only exceptions being concerts with the performance of a single work. Opera performances sometimes have two or even more intermissions. During these you can stretch your legs, there are refreshment stands available and toilets. Smoking is permitted only outside the buildings. During programmes taking place in the castle premises you can visit the Birth Apartment of Bedřich Smetana for a reduced fee. Towards the end of the intermission, which usually lasts 20 minutes, once more the festival jingle will be heard three times.
Frequently visitors to classical music concerts know that you do not clap between movements of a cyclic work. However sometimes even they do not know a perfectly performed work and so do not know which part is being performed and how many movements remain to the end. Even those who have purchased and studied the programme can find the counting of movements played by the composers prescribed “attacca”, that is a continuation to the next movement without a pause. On concerts at Smetana’s Litomyšl in the castle courtyard there is usually a list of movements with an indication of the one being currently played on a LED panel next to the podium. You will not make a mistake however if you begin to clap in the moment when the conductor raises his hands and turns to face the audience. There is no need to rush; a moment of silence at the end of a work only makes the experience of a well-performed piece more powerful. And remember that a standing ovation is not a standard part of every programme. It should not be a habit but rather an expression of truly exceptional emotion, which prompts you to leap from your seat!
What to Wear?
While customs change with time and are not the same throughout the world, in this country it is still the habit when attending programmes of classical music to choose formal evening attire. This means for men a dark suit with a shirt and tie, and for ladies a dress or skirt to below the knee or formal costume. The choice of shoes is a little more complicated. While heels are part of formal attire, practically all of Litomyšl is paved with historic tiles with wide gaps and the castle courtyards are scattered with gravel. Hence, it is best to avoid stiletto heels.
Dress code requirements are not so strict concerning family programmes, concerts with overlaps to other genres, afternoon shows for young people and the like, but you can never choose shorts, a t-shirt and sports or beach shoes. A visitor clad like this may not be admitted to the auditorium at all!
For "open air" programmes held in the courtyard of Litomyšl Castle, where despite the possibility of roofing it still remains outdoor environment with its magic but also its downside, the clothing needs to be adapted to the current weather forecasts and possibly supplemented with a plaid or a jacket. Although ushers will lend you a blanket on request free of charge, it is always a good idea to get ready for the falling night chill.
If you are holding tickets for sector "C" in the marginal parts of the auditorium, count on the rain even when the roof is in place. Slight drops may fly in with mild rain, and during rainstorms these places are significantly exposed to rainfall. An umbrella or a raincoat may always come in handy.
You can check what the weather above Litomyšl looks like before visiting the show on meteo websites such as pocasi.idnes.cz.
Wheelchair Users at the Festival
Festival auditoriums feature space reserved for 2 to 4 wheelchairs and an adequate number of seats in their proximity is provided for their escorts. However, tickets with a 50% discount for disabled persons – wheelchair users and their escorts cannot be bought or booked online, instead they must be ordered by phone at +420 461 616 070. Access to the auditorium in the castle courtyard, in the castle riding hall and in the Piarist Temple of the Finding of the Holy Cross is wheelchair-friendly, and there are barrier-free toilets on the premises of the castle. The entrance to the Smetana House is accessible by means of a lift from the back of the building - please contact organisers well ahead of your arrival. Limited access for wheelchairs is for some types of programmes in the Chapter Church of the Raising of the Holy Cross, please get informed in advance. Unfortunately, the premises of the chateau in Nové Hrady are not barrier-free, visiting the evening with programme running in various parts of the premises, and in case of bad weather also the necessity of ascending to the third floor of the building is physically demanding and in no case can it be recommended to persons with reduced mobility.
What about Kids and the Festival?
The organisers of the festival have always been thinking of young visitors and there is always at least one special programme for little children (first grade of elementary school) and several programmes suitable for older pupils and students. In these shows, young audiences are offered a discount, however, everyone, even the smallest kid, must have their own ticket. Definitely no festival programme is suitable for infants or toddlers. When selecting a show, parents should consider carefully whether it matches the age and temper of their child. Some children are more receptive to the music and story on the stage, while others won’t hold their attention and need to move all the time; this is not a measure of their intelligence or quality of education. Everything has its own time and an effort to bring a child to the art by visiting a festival programme can be counterproductive and make its attitude towards music go wrong for a long time. In addition, in a programme that is not primarily intended for a child audience, the experience of other visitors will be wasted by every little disturbance from a tired kid. No child discount is offered for such shows and organisers do not recommend access to children under the age of ten. This is also a subject matter of the Organiser’s Conditions, and a visitor who disrupts the programme by loud expressions or by ill behaviour may be shown out from the auditorium without any refund. The ideal option is therefore to visit the Festival Gardens, where a concurrent program takes place in an informal environment, accompanied by children's activities during weekends.
An option for attending a show without making your offspring sick of incomprehensibly boring music, is the possibility of having them looked after directly on the premises of the castle. Surely it is an option just for the braver ones, but the Litomyšl Family Centre offers you to take care of your children professionally, using qualified, reliable and extremely kind "nannies". Our mini-kindergarten offers:
- all-day care
- time flexibility and forthcoming attitude
- qualified staff with everyday experience in childminding
- full-fledged meals throughout the day with an emphasis on keeping the drinking regime
- a relaxing regime tailored to each child according to its habits and the wishes of its parents.
Most of Smetana's Litomyšl programmes take place in the courtyard of the Litomyšl Castle called, hence they are "open-air". A concert during a mildly warm summer evening has an inimitable atmosphere, but the heavens are not always in our favour and sometimes the show can be affected by poor weather. For such an event, a unique technical structure has been built in the courtyard that can cover almost the entire auditorium with canopy roof in just a few minutes. Therefore, our programmes are held in any weather conditions. If the rain is stronger and the raindrops start drumming on the roof and significantly interfere with the listening, the programme may be interrupted and continue after such a forced intermission, or to the start of the programme may be postponed. Only in case of exceptionally strong persistent rain accompanied by a storm, the show can be prematurely terminated or may not even start at all. In such a case, your tickets will be refunded, see chapter "Ticket Refund" in the Ticket Purchasing section. In order to protect the masonry of the castle, which in itself is an extremely valuable heritage sight, the retractable roof does not cover the entire courtyard, therefore the rain can reach the side areas of the auditorium. These seats are in the cheapest sector and if you have tickets for these seats, you should bear this in mind. A raincoat is an ideal option, and an umbrella can be opened at the end of each row.
Every visitor can borrow a blanket against the cold free of charge from the ushers. It is advisable to pick it up at the entrance even though the evening seems warm; when the night falls and the temperature gets low, it is really pleasant to wrap yourself into it.
What to do if you’re in trouble? Lost and found
We will do our best to make your Litomyšl visit bring you only pleasure. You can leave all your concerns to us. All our ushers wear a uniform dress with ties or scarves in festival colours; they are ready to help or advise you in every respect. In the Smetana's Litomyšl office, located above the entrance to the castle compound, helpful assistants are waiting for you all the time, able to solve almost every problem. For example, they were able to arrange an extraordinary evening opening of a local shoe store so that a visitor could buy replacement shoes instead of those that his wife "forgot to pack". The telephone number is +420 461 612 575. Here you can also report the loss of an item, or hand in a found one. The items found are stored and are ready to be picked up by their owner for two months.