Film festival



Karlovy Vary International Film Festival


Every year, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, the most prestigious film festival in Central and Eastern Europe, transforms the spa town into an imaginary epicentre of world cinema. Reuniting film professionals, Hollywood stars and film aficionados, the festival offers two hundred films, a rich off-programme, and an unparalleled atmosphere.

The Thermal Hotel hosts a large part of the film screenings as well as dozens of international directors, filmmakers, actors, and actresses. Leonardo DiCaprio, Jude Law, Helen Mirren, Uma Thurman, John Malkovich, and other film stars have walked the red carpet in front of the hotel. Come to enjoy a film premiere as well!


What does the festival have to offer?

The festival offers a varied film mix ranging from new releases by globally renowned directors to debuts by emerging filmmakers. The Main Competition presents feature-length live action films and documentaries. The East of the West Competition section focuses on second feature films, debuts, and documentaries from Central and Eastern Europe and countries from the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and North Africa.

The festival also features retrospectives dedicated to world cinema icons, thematic sections, the best from international film festivals or the immensely popular midnight screenings. Aside from films, audiences also get to enjoy a rich off-programme including Q&As with filmmakers, lectures, workshops, exhibitions, concerts, and parties.


Stay at the hotel of the stars during the festival

Want to enjoy the festival up close? Book your film festival stay at the Thermal Hotel. When the festival’s president Jiří Bartoška said: “If you don’t stay at the Thermal Hotel during the festival, you were not here,” he was not wrong. Soak up the glamorous atmosphere – wake up in a renovated, modern room and, before heading off to your screening, enjoy a copious breakfast or spa which are included in your room rate.

Festival offers

Book your special festival package today

Superior Rooms

Superior Rooms

Do you like comfort and panoramic views? The modern, renovated Superior Rooms offer both. Stay in the very heart of Karlovy Vary and enjoy your stay at the hotel of movie stars.

from 60 € person / night


Getting to the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

By bus or train

Use bus or train to comfortably travel to Karlovy Vary from any part of the Czech Republic. Both the bus and train station are a 15-minute walk from the Thermal Hotel. Find your connection at

By car

Driving to Karlovy Vary is also a comfortable option. During the festival, the Hotel Thermal’s car parks are reserved for hotel guests but the city’s public car parks, such as Nábřeží Jana Palacha or Tržnice, remain available.

By air

There are regular flights from Turkey and Russia to the Karlovy Vary Airport: Regular daily buses run from Václav Havel Airport in Prague directly to Karlovy Vary Trains to Karlovy Vary depart from the Main Train Station and buses from the Florenc Main Bus Terminal located in central Prague.


Going to a screening. Tickets, festival pass and other tips

Going to a festival screening requires a bit of preparation and luck. Here are some tips: You should first decide between regular tickets and a festival pass which entitles you to free tickets to three screenings a day and gives you access to press conferences and KVIFF Talks (Q&As with guests) and other events on the off-programme. Both the pass and the tickets can be purchased at festival ticket offices located around the Thermal Hotel and in the city centre.

Individual ticket (without a Festival Pass)
Admission: 130 CZK
Discount admission: 100 CZK* (for students, seniors 65+ and disability card holders)

KVIFF festival pass and ticket prices

Festival pass Discounted festival pass
for students, seniors
and disability card holders
1 day CZK 420 CZK 360
3 days CZK 980 CZK 740
5 days CZK 1450 CZK 1100
Whole festival CZK 1990 CZK 1690

With the festival pass you can book tickets for the following day via a text message. The bookings open at 7am and if you want to get your ticket, you should be quick. You can then pick up your booked tickets at the ticket office.

Regular tickets for the current or the next day are available at ticket offices which open at 8am. Popular screenings often sell out already in the morning. Therefore, you should be among the first in the queue. The tickets cost CZK 80 per screening, reduced tickets are for CZK 60.

Online ticket bookings open one week before the festival. Moreover, these tickets disappear withing seconds or minutes, so do not forget to check the online bookings opening date on and book your tickets immediately. The ticket costs CZK 80. You can book maximum two tickets per screening for up to four screenings a day and then pick your tickets at a ticket office during the festival.

If you have not scored a ticket using the options above, this is what you can do:

If you have the festival pass you do not need a ticket. Just go to the queue in front of the cinema and wait. Before the beginning of the screening, organizers let people in to take the empty seats. Often their number is surprisingly high. For less attractive films, there is no need to book a ticket, just come to the cinema before the screening. This strategy unfortunately does not work with blockbusters.

Unclaimed tickets return to ticket offices one hour before the beginning of the screening. Usually, there are not many of them, but you might get lucky and get an unclaimed ticket for the screening of your choice. The festival pass does not apply to these tickets which cost CZK 80.

You can also try your luck at the message board located next to the Thermal Hotel main ticket office. People pin their ticket exchange or sale offers and sometimes even actual tickets to the board.

Even though the system might sound complicated to festival newbies, you will soon get the hang of it. It is best to combine several ticket booking options. Online booking is the ideal option if you are planning to go to the first days of the festival. And when you get there, you can buy the festival pass or rely on text message bookings or on your luck queuing in front of the cinema.



International film festival history

The history of one of the world’s oldest film festivals started in 1946 in Mariánské Lázně. Two years later, the festival became competitive and awarded its first Crystal Globe to the Polish film The Last Stage. In 1949, the festival permanently moved to Karlovy Vary. Due to a lack of place a decision was made to build the Thermal festival palace, a sufficiently large and representative venue comparable to its international counterparts.

In 1956, the festival was recognized as a Category A festival, joining the ranks of top world film festivals. Architect couple Věra Machoninová and Vladimír Machonin’s modern project design with Brutalist elements was selected for the planned Thermal Hotel complex. Cinemas in the newly built Thermal complex first welcomed audiences in 1978. The films screened were, with some exceptions in times of relative freedom, conforming to the communist ideology of the time. With the post-1989 arrival of democracy the festival stagnated. It was Jiří Bartoška and Eva Zaoralová’s team that put it back on the map of top film festivals in 1994. The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is currently a prestigious event enjoyed by both professional and non-professional audiences. The Guardian, a leading British newspaper, even put it on the list of six best European film festivals.

Festival offers

Want to make your visit of the 55th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival extra special?

Stay at the Thermal Hotel, the festival’s centre. Book one of our special festival packages in time.

Superior Rooms

Superior Rooms

Do you like comfort and panoramic views? The modern, renovated Superior Rooms offer both. Stay in the very heart of Karlovy Vary and enjoy your stay at the hotel of movie stars.

from 60 € person / night

One-time 2-hour free entry to the outdoor pool including sauna world for each night of your stay.
Choose from our offer of stays

Special offers - SPA HOTEL THERMAL ****, Karlovy Vary

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