Prague Gears up for the 25th Anniversary of the Velvet Revolution

This year, November 17th marks the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, when student protests peacefully brought down communist rule in the then Czechoslovakia. Changes were simultaneously taking place in neighboring communist countries, and the beginning of December saw the border barriers with West Germany and Austria taken down. Václav Havel was elected president of Czechoslovakia in late December 1989.

The country has undergone too many changes to count in the last quarter of a century. A nation where, not so long ago, things like much-coveted blue jeans and bananas were nowhere to be found, has had to find its place in an ever more materialistic society, while still honoring its rich past and traditions.

To celebrate 25 years of democracy, many events will be taking place around Prague before, during, and after the Velvet anniversary. Many of these can be stumbled upon simply by walking through the city center.

There will of course be chances to brush-up on Czechoslovak history or get a glimpse into what life was like under communism. Special events range from photography exhibitions and classical concerts to film premieres and book readings on the topic of the country's newfound freedom.

On the day of the 17th, Czech university students will enact a commemorative march in Prague 1, as they do each year, from Albertov to Národní Třida. And a multitude of candles will be lit throughout the city, beneath memorials and plaques, in remembrance of the events that occurred during this historic time.

The atmosphere around the city and the many chances to glance back into the 1990s in this fascinating country -- when hope for a new and different life was invariably mixed with deep political and social change -- are guaranteed to be very memorable.