Masopust 2005

Where to catch the Czech Mardi Gras in Prague

Like Mardi Gras in New Orleans or Carnival in Rio, Masopust is a traditional Czech celebration held in the days leading up to Lent.

The word Masopust means "to give up meat" and, traditionally, it's a last chance to feast (predominantly on pork) before the fasting and penitence begin.

Like many Christian festivals, though, Masopust incorporates elements of much older traditions, involving fertility rites and celebrating the coming of spring.

Those elements live on in the masks and costumes traditionally worn by revelers, representing various mythical characters and creatures.

Prague's biggest Masopust celebration takes place in the Žižkov district (Prague 3), where festivities, halted by the communists in the 1960s, were resumed in 1993.

This year festivities run from Saturday, February 5th until Tuesday, February 8th, at a variety of Žižkov locations.

On Saturday, a children's afternoon at Palác Akropolis is followed by a concert at the same venue, featuring Laura a její tygři, Tam Tam Batucada, and the Tam Tam Orchestra.

In keeping with Masopust's main theme - a world turned upside-down - Sunday sees officials from Prague 3 city hall put to work in the kitchen, preparing various delicacies for the people of Prague at the U vystřelenýho oka pub.

The action returns to Akropolis on Monday night, with a concert by legendary Czech rock band The Plastic People of the Universe.

But the main event - the parade - is reserved for Shrove Tuesday (8th), beginning at 1pm on Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad square.

Accompanied by various musicians, drummers and jugglers, and with plenty of stops along the way for free beer and pork, the parade slowly winds its way back to JzP, where, later in the evening, a free outdoor rock concert features Aleš Brichta, Pavla Kapitánová, and Doctor P.P.

Žižkov, however, isn't the only Prague district to celebrate Masopust.

There are also celebrations in the Malá Strana/Hradčany area of Prague 1, where the main parade takes place on Saturday 5th, allowing people who'd otherwise be at work to join the revelry.

After congregating outside the U Černého vola pub at 1:30pm, the parade visits several other hostelries on its way to Kampa island, where there'll be live music and refreshment stands from noon until 6pm.

There's also a Masopust celebration in Prague 6-Břevnov.

  • Read an article about last year's Masopust in Žižkov
  • Video on YouTube

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