Masopust, the Czech version of Mardi Gras, falls on February 25 this year, and celebrations in and around Prague start even earlier.
The date of the event changes every year, as it is linked to Easter, another movable feast. Masopust is the Tuesday right before Ash Wednesday, the start of the six-week religious season of Lent when Christians who follow the Western calendar are supposed to embrace austerity. Easter Sunday this year falls on April 12.
The word Masopust comes from the Czech words for meat (maso) and fasting (půst). Other names for the day are Carneval or Carnival, coming from the Latin word for meat, Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, which is another reference to an excess of meat, and Shrove Tuesday, relating to being absolved or shriven of sins. Pork feasts (vepřové hody) and traditional pig stickings (zabijačka) take place this time of year in association with masopust activities.
A number of festivities began in late January, including an ongoing series of masopust-themed markets at The Prague Market in Holešovice (the next one is February 1). The biggest annual celebration in Prague is in Žižkov, but many other neighborhoods have their own events. Roztocký, just north of Prague, also hosts a festival worth traveling to. If you want to sample the pork delicacies of the season Kuchyň at Prague Castle hosts a traditional feast February 15.
Žižkov celebrates the event for the 27th time, culminating in a big parade that snakes through the neighborhood on February 25. It begins at náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad, at 4 pm with music from Lovesong Orchestra and departs at 5 pm. The parade ends at náměstí Radost na Žižkově, in front of FK Viktoria Stadion, where the winner of the best costume will be announced and refreshments will be available.
Before that, on February 22, there will be a feast with traditional Czech food plus wine and beer from microbreweries, events for children, and live music at the market at náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad from 8 am to 2 pm. At KC Vozovna there is a children’s afternoon from 1 pm to 4 pm.
The next day, February 23, there is pork feast at U Vystřelenýho oka from noon to 5 pm and a children’s day at kino Aero from 3 pm to 5 pm.
Another long-running celebration is at Břevnov, in its 26th year. A parade starts at the intersection of Bělohorská and Pod Královkou at 3:45 pm on February 25 and goes down Bělohorská to Břevnov Monastery, where there will be food and beverages, music, and prizes for the best children’s costumes. The Anděl pedestrian zone gets in on the act February 26 with food, organ-playing, and mask-making for kids.
Many other celebrations are substantially before the actual Shrove Tuesday, and a few outliers come after when people should have already stopped partying and started repenting.
Malá Strana’s event is aimed more at adults than children. People gather at 1 pm of February 8 in front of U Černého vola on Loretánské náměstí and make their way down Nerudova Street, stopping at pubs along the way. The group ends up at Kampa sometime after 3 pm for food, music, and more alcohol.
Jižní Město’s festivities are aimed more at families. A parade starts at the Opatov metro stop at 2 pm on February 8. For children to get ready, there is workshop for masks at 10 am at KC Zahrada. After the parade, there are fairy tales and songs in Czech at KC Matky Terezy for a small admission fee.
Roztocký Masopust 2020 has its parade on February 15, with events starting at 11 am and the parade at 2:30 pm, headed to Holý vrch, where it will meet with other parades from Únětice and Suchdol.
The Suchdol Masopust parade starts at 2 pm at Suchdolské náměstí. The day ends with entertainment in a big top tent in Roztocký’s Žalov neighborhood. The parades are free, but there is an admission fee of 280 CZK for the tent, but children under 15 are free.
For people who would rather stay closer to Prague’s center, the Karlín district also has its celebration on February 15. A parade starts at 1 pm at Kaizlovy sady, near Invalidovna, and goes to Karlínské náměstí where there will be music, magic, acrobatics, and fairy tales.
Also jumping the gun, Chvalský zámek in Horní Počernice, with a parade at 2 pm on February 16. People who register in advance over Facebook and wear an animal-themed costume will get special access to dressing areas and an art print. The Molechet Association, which is one of the organizers, hopes to encourage more traditional costumes and fewer robots or superheroes.
Prague 5 will have a late celebration, on Wednesday, February 26, which is technically already Lent. The pedestrian zone at Anděl will have sausages and other refreshments from 8 am to 6 pm, plus a costume workshop for kids.
Radotín has their Masopust on February 29 starting at noon at náměstí sv. Petra a Pavla. This is combined with the legend of Horymír and his faithful horse Šemík, who will arrive around 4:15 pm.
The last event is the Břevnov Masked Ball at Hotel Pyramida, on February 29 at 7 pm. The theme this year is Monsters and Ghosts, but costumes are not required. Music will be by the band Vitamín. Admission is 290 CZK.
Prague 2020 masopust calendar:
Facebook event for Holešovice Market Masopust
Facebook event for Roztocký Masopust
Website for Roztocký Masopust
Facebook event for Suchdol Masopust
Website for Suchdol Masopust
Facebook event for Karlín Masopust
Facebook event for Holešovice Market Masopust
Facebook event for Chvalský zámek
Facebook event for Masopust at Anděl pedestrian zone
Where will you celebrate masopust this year?