Carnevale Praha 2011

Masks, beautiful costumes, lots of treats - break free from February´s winter gloom

It´s like a high class Halloween for grown-ups – masks, beautiful costumes, lots of treats…Carnevale Praha is here, and, for 12 days at least, you can break free from February´s winter gloom.

While Carnivals are held all over the world, many prefer to head to warmer locales (i.e. Rio) or more famous ones (i.e. New Orleans, Venice). But the Carnival tradition dates back to medieval times in the Bohemian lands, according to festival director Zlatuše Müller. She says its roots were in old Czech traditions and allegorical festivities. She and her husband began this incarnation in 1997 and have watched it steadily grow in size and scope over the years.”

We searched the archives and conducted historical research and over time we found a strong traditional social phenomenon, similar to Italy where this phenomenon (the phenomenon of Carnival or Mardi gras if you want), has its origins,” she said. “I think it’s just that Carnival is an integral part of our social and cultural history and that was the final impetus for putting the project into operation.”

There´s a variety of great stuff going on and there truly is something for everyone: fancy dress balls, baroque concerts, a food festival, children´s parties, parade…the list goes on. There´s a detailed program at the end of the article (correct at publication time – please check their website for any changes and more details) but we´ve highlighted some of bigger events here.

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There are two new aspects to this year´s Carnevale, an Infocentrum and a series of Baroque concerts. The Infocentrum (Colloredo-Mannsfeld palace, Karlova 2, Prague 1) offers information on Carnevale activities, ticket sales as well as mask sales. Stop by just to check out the stunning building it´s housed in – a Rococo palace built in 1735. The Baroque soirees are an exciting element, designed to bring more of an historic atmosphere to the events.

“This year we are intensely focused on Baroque culture,” said Müller. “Musicians, singers and dancers in period costumes and masks will present music, arias and a reconstruction of dance and ballet from the famous operas of the 17th and 18th centuries.”

The concerts are held in the just as glorious (and not open so often) Clam-Gallas Palace (Husova 20, Prague 1). The two biggies of Carnevale are the balls, also both held at Clam-Gallas Palace. The first is on opening day, February 25. Called Bellarie, it´s billed as an extravaganza night in masks in which you can enter a world of fantasy, music and joy. Costumes and masks are required. To send you off into Lent on a note of excess, attend the Crystal Ball on March 5 – a great Baroque night of masks.

For activities on a smaller scale, on February 26 is the opening of the city gates to Carnevale with a “meeting of the masks” at Old Town Hall. There will be other mask events daily at 3pm and 6pm also on Old Town Square from February 26-March 8. For the young hedonist, Amoretto held on February 27th offers a carnival atmosphere for children complete with games and a mask competition. Running through the two weeks is also the Cuisine d’Alchimiste, a food fest held in conjunction with partner restaurants.

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“The aim is to link food with other cultural activities,” said Müller. “Restaurants, on the basis of their experience and creativity, create menus and place them into the carnival period, which makes us really happy.”
Currently, only four restaurants are participating, and they haven´t revealed their menus. Don´t worry about your lack of Baroque costume – rentals are available at the Boudoir open at the weekends in Pachtuv palace (Karolíny Světlé 34, Prague 1). Following is an event schedule by date. The infocentrum is open daily during Carnevale´s run (February 25-March 8) from 12:00-19:00 for more information or to buy tickets, email or phone 739 477 063.

February 26
16:00: Overture – meeting of the masks in front of Old Town Hall and then opening of the city gates to Carnevale at the Old Town Bridge Tower.
19:30: Bellarie – Baroque concert and dinner. Dress code is glamour costume and masks. Tickets 660 CZK for the concert, for the concert and dinner, 3960 CZK.

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February 27
15:00-17:00: Amoretto Carnival party for children. Tickets are 220 CZK per child without a mask, 110 CZK per child with a mask or a family ticket for 550 CZK 2 adults + 2 children with masks.

February 28
20:00: Segreto – Baroque concert and dance performance. Tickets 550 CZK.

March 1
20:00: Segreto – Baroque concert and dance performance. Tickets 550 CZK.

March 2
20:00: Segreto – Baroque concert and dance performance. Tickets 550 CZK.

March 3
20:00: Segreto – Baroque concert and dance performance. Tickets 550 CZK.

March 4
20:00: Segreto – Baroque concert and dance performance. Tickets 550 CZK.

March 5
19:30: Crystal Ball – Magnificent Baroque ball in costumes and masks. Tickets: All inclusive, including dinner and program, 7200 CZK. After dinner ticket, 3600 CZK.

March 6
20:00: Segreto – Baroque concert and dance performance. Tickets 550 CZK.

March 7
20:00: Segreto – Baroque concert and dance performance. Tickets 550 CZK.

Will you be attending any of the events from this year´s Carnevale? Have you attended in the past? Let us know through the form below!

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