Masopust is the Czech celebration of Mardi Gras! The people of Prague call it Masopust! However internationally it is known as the Prague Bohemian Carnival, Prague Carnival or Carnevale Praha. It is celebrated every year across the Czech Republic, to mark the end of winter.
What is Masopust?
‘Masopust’ is an old Czech word that means ‘meat fast’. It essentially is the Czech word for Carnival or Mardi Gras. ‘Masopustní průvod’ translates to Shrovetide in English. Masopust is celebrated all over the Czech Republic and is the period of feasting and fun before the start of Lent.
Masopust is the oldest continuous holiday celebration in the lands now known as the Czech Republic. It has immense historical significance and the traditions and meaning have been passed down through the generations, for over 700 years.
Masopust dates back to the 13th century and is celebrated every year to usher out winter and celebrate the arrival of spring.
When is Masopust Prague?
Masopust Prague is celebrated on different dates every year. Masopust Prague can happen any time between February 1st and March 7th. It is a pre-Lenten festival and always occurs in the lead up to Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent!). The biggest parties and celebrations take place the weekend prior to Ash Wednesday, with Shrove Tuesday being the biggest day of celebrating.
In 2024, Masopust Prague will take place between February 8 until Ash Wednesday which calls on February 14, 2024. However, a few pre-carnival celebrations can begin as early as January.
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How do they celebrate in the Masopust Prague?
Masopust celebrates life, history and tradition. It is all about having fun, singing, dancing, feasting, and forgetting your worries for a few days. It is a festival of fantasy and revives historical carnival celebrations that have been occurring since the Middle Ages.
Prague carnival will delight you with colorful costumed parades, endless parties, masked characters, theater performances, old crafts, carnival balls, dances, operas, concerts, activities for the kids, exhibitions and many other surprises.
Indulging in delicious foods and drinking a lot are a huge part of carnival. Many restaurants will recreate the delicious dishes and treats that were consumed in medieval times.
Traditional Masopust celebrations in the Middle Ages would see Groups of Men in traditional carnival costumes travel door to door in the village, singing and dancing in exchange for alcohol, pork or sweets. The tradition is similar to Halloween’s trick or treat.
These traditional Masopust traditions are still celebrated almost the same as they were 700 years ago in the village of Hlinecko, located about 150 kilometers from Prague. Hilencko Masopust has even been recognized by UNESCO as being an intangible cultural heritage of humanity!
Today the singing, dancing, alcohol, and roasted pig still play a big role in the modern carnival celebrations witnessed at the Prague Bohemian Carnival.
Where do they celebrate Masopust Prague?
Where does Masopust take place? Masopust Prague takes place in Prague, the largest city and capital of the Czech Republic. The Prague Bohemian Carnival tries to revive the spirit of the traditional medieval Masopust celebrations that took place throughout the streets as well as noble places.
Masopust Prague honors that and the celebrations occur in both outdoor and indoor settings. Carnival events held in public places are usually free and occur in streets, squares, and romantic bridges all over Prague, often surrounded by incredible monuments.
There are also numerous indoor events held in palaces, theaters, museums and galleries all over Prague. Indoor events are usually private events that you must pay to attend, such as the concerts and balls held at the Clam-Gallas Palace. Many shops and restaurants host fabulous carnival celebrations across the city.
Masopust Prague Shrove Tuesday
Shrove Tuesday is the climax of carnival celebrations in Prague. The streets and squares of this capital city are transformed into a fantasy festival that is filled with color, costumes, masks and floats.
Colorful parades made up with traditional folk carnival costumes wind their way through the city. Traditional carnival characters dressed in both human and animal costumes such as devils, farmers, herders, sheep, dogs and pigs, are joined with musicians who sing and dance along the procession. After the parades there are lively carnival celebrations occurring in Žižkov and Jiřího z Poděbrad square.
Some Masopust Prague Shrove Tuesday Celebrations include:
Masopust Shrove Tuesday Celebrations at the Little Quarter 2024
- Date: 13/02/2024
- Time: 1pm to 6pm with the parade arriving at Kampa approx. 4pm
- Cost: Free entry
Traditional Masopust celebrations take place in the Little Quarter with a procession beginning at Loretanske Square and finishing in Kampa. Masked participants will meet at 1pm in the front of the Black Ox Inn and continue towards Kampa stopping at restaurants, pubs, shops located in Thunovská, Mostecka, Malostranske square and Nerudova.
For more information, please go here: sopmsh.estranky.cz
Jihoměstský Masopust 2024 Celebrations at KC Zahrada, South City Prague
- Date: 13/02/2024
- Time: From 2pm
- Cost: Free entry
A very popular Prague Masopust Carnival Procession will begin around 2pm on Shrove Tuesday. The procession will make its way through Metro Opatoc, Central Park and KC Matka Tereza. All masked participants are welcome and the event is free to attend!
For more information, please go here: www.kczahrada.cz
Masopust Shrove Tuesday Celebrations at Letna
- Date: 13/02/2024
- Time: From 12:30pm until 8pm.
- Location: Event begins in front of the National Technical Museum
- Cost: Free entry
Letna Prague Carnival celebrations invites all visitors to come and enjoy authentic Masopust celebrations. The program is filled with fun and entertainment for the whole family. There is live music, dancing, theater performances, carnival games, stilt walkers and costumed characters. You can also purchase many carnival delicacies such as pork specialties, fried donuts and spirits.
The Letna Carnival Parade of Masks will be held winding its way through numerous cultural institutions, including the National Technical Museum, Letka Club, Museum of Agriculture, Letenska vodarna, Scarabeus Gallery, the Coffee Museum.
Theater performances for the whole family will take place in the Letka Hall from 4:00pm. There are also carnival exhibitions and magic performances held in the exhibition tower. The children’s choir will be performing in the Letenska vodarna.
For more information, please go here: www.facebook.com/letenskymasopust
Where to stay for Masopust Prague?
Prague has plenty of accommodation to suit all budgets and comfort, and is very easy to get around, so you can’t go wrong.
If you are looking for accommodation for Masopust Prague then we highly recommend staying in the heart of the action near Žižkov, which is the heart of the carnival celebrations.
Top Things to do at Masopust Prague
Masquerade balls, costumed parades, street parties, Baroque opera, live music, Czech folk dancing, there is no shortage of carnival activities.
If you are lucky enough to be in Prague during carnival then here is what you should not miss!
Watch the Masopust Carnival Parades!
The city is filled with colorful parades that wind through the streets of Prague. They are held to ensure happiness for the year ahead and are one of the most exciting things you can do at Prague Masopust!
The Parades are filled with floats, masked and costumed Czech folk characters, who dance, sing and jump to honor the ancient farming rituals. They are playful, cheerful and a joy to watch. Carnival parades can be found in the areas of Hlubočepy, Dubeč, Ctěnice and Břevnov.
The Žižkov Carnival Parade is one of the best parades at Prague Masopust. It begins at Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad and sees a procession of floats, costumed characters and musicians make their way through the heart of Žižkov, followed by spectators en masse.
One of the largest and most exciting parades to take place occurs just past the Prague Zoo in a suburb called Roztoky. The Roztoky Carnival Parade is larger than life for both the locals and visitors who are famous for their wild costumes and massive parade that winds through the town and into the Czech countryside.
Another great parade is the Prague Carnival Floating Parade held on the Vltava aboard a boat. Whilst floating down the river, you can admire all the colors of this festival.
Live Music & Entertainment at Jiřího z Poděbrad
There are numerous parties, concerts and parties across the city. However, we recommend heading to the beautiful Jiřího z Poděbrad square. The square is home to a large-scale celebration with a stage set up for entertainment and live music, and you can enjoy numerous concerts, from Baroque opera performances, to Czech folk dances, and even some DJs for the late-night party goers.
Indulge in decadent Food and Drink
One of the most important Masopust traditions is enjoying an abundance of rich and decadent food and drink. Carnival was the last chance to indulge in rich foods, prior to abstaining for the 40 days of Lent.
Carnival favorites can be sampled at restaurants and markets throughout Prague. Meat from suckling pigs is one of the main delicacies that along with the sugar-dusted donut treats, have been a carnival staple for centuries.
Copious amounts of alcohol is consumed with many local breweries offering special Masopust brews.
Visit the Žižkov neighborhood
The Žižkov neighborhood holds the loudest celebrations during Prague Carnival. There is an epic carnival parade with puppets, floats and impressive costumes.
Throughout carnival, there are lots of festivities occurring in Jiřího z Poděbrad Square. The square is home to live music, lots of delicious food and drink, street parties and costumed characters. An epic firework display is also held at Park U Viktorky Žižkov.
Get into Costume and Wear a Mask!
While it is not essential, we highly recommend getting into the carnival spirit by wearing a mask and costume. Locals both young and old get dressed up during carnival. You will see costumes and masks everywhere during Masopust as they are not limited to the parade, but seen in street parties, masked balls and village markets.
There are no rules of thumb, however generally the more colorful your outfit, the better! You will see lots of Czech folkloric carnival costumes during Masopust. Look out for mythical creatures, folkloric characters, animals, devils, jesters, or even parodies of politicians. It is possible to rent costumes and masks of Czech folklore characters from the Central Bohemian Museum.
Attend a Masked Ball!
In addition to the fun on the streets, there are a number of fancy masked balls and carnival celebrations. Why not attend a traditional Masquerade Ball that is held in the Baroque Clam-Gallas Palace, where both Beethoven and Mozart once played. Elegant costumes, classical music and fine dining lets you experience how the aristocrats celebrated during carnivals in the past.
Visit the Vinohrady Masopust Market
One of the best things about carnival is indulging in all the delicious food and drinks. We recommend heading to the Vinohrady Masopust Market that takes place in Tyl Square throughout the entire duration of Masopust. There are so many delicious foods and drinks you can consume. There is also an excellent program of folk performances and you can even pick yourself up a carnival souvenir, or two.
How to get to Masopust Prague?
Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic and located in the heart of Europe. This makes it easily reachable by most means of transport. There are many trains and buses directly into Prague from all over Europe.
Additionally, numerous airlines fly directly to Prague Václav Havel Airport from New York, London, and other major European cities.