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Mardi Gras will enliven the Czech Republic

Merry, colourful and diverse…. Such is Mardi Gras in the Czech Republic. Mask parades and other interesting folk traditions await you in many places.

That’s just another reason to visit the Czech Republic on February.

Bohemian Carnevale
Bohemian Carnevale, which continues a long historical tradition of spectacular allegorical celebrations, is held in Prague during the Mardi Gras period every year. This year the metropolis will be taken over by carnival from 5 to 16 February. Visitors can enjoy a varied programme both under the open sky and in the likes of palaces, museums, theatres and restaurants. Important events this year include a royal baroque masked ball and a Sunday carnival afternoon for children. New this year is the Carnevale Prague information centre and shop on Zlatá Street, where you can find up-to-date information on the celebrations and buy carnival masks from the Franzis Wussin atelier.

Mardi Gras in UNESCO cities
Apart from Prague, Mardi Gras amusement will be found also in other UNESCO cities. The streets of Český Krumlov will witness a procession of carnival masks on 16 February. In the historical city of Telč you will meet costumed people on 14 February. Mardi Gras is also a good time to visit the Lednice-Valtice area in South Moravia. The city of Lednice will enjoy carnival merrymaking as well as a hog-butchering celebration on 6 February.

Celebrations in open-air museums
You can get a good taste of Mardi Gras also in the open-air museums. The Wallachian open-air museum in Rožnov pod Radhoštěm (in Moravia’s Zlín Region) boasts of being the largest and oldest open-air museum in central Europe. The Mardi Gras festival kicks off there on 6 February. In addition to the varied folklore programme,visitors will be drawn to the wide range of very fresh pork products and other delicacies. You can look forward to the naming of the winner in the competition for “Best Wallachian Sausage”. Here, just as in many other places, at the end of the festival you will be able to witness the traditional burying of the bass, which symbolizes the end of celebrations and the beginning of Lent.
In the open-air museum at Veselý Kopec in the Hlinecko area (Pardubice Region), you will see the Mardi Gras procession on 30 January and examine all the traditional masks, such as the motley one (wearing a white suit with bits of coloured cloth sewn all over it), men masquerading as women, chimney sweeps, and others. Visitors should be prepared for various tricks during the procession. Smearing people’s faces with a special “grease” has been one of them from time immemorial.
Mardi Gras processions and masks in the Hlinecko area could become world famous in future, as they are candidates for inclusion in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Sword dancing in Strání
In Moravia, the Mardi Gras festival is called fašank and you can experience original celebrations in the village of Strání. Head for the Fašank Festival of Carnival Traditions from 12 to 16 February. It features folklore ensembles from Moravia, Bohemia, Slovakia and Belgium, and carnival is just one of several parts on the programme. The greatest attraction here, though, is the local sword dance. This dance, as the name suggests, is performed with swords that are made of wood and adorned with studs and metal rings. Sword dances of similar nature are also performed in other villages in Moravia and abroad, but people from Strání boast that their sword dance is preserved in a truly rich form.

Smetana Days and Mardi Gras
In Pilsen the city’s biggest music festival, dubbed Smetana Days, is held from 15 to 21 March. It includes various exceptional events, and carnival is one of these. A procession of masks and an old-fashioned Bohemian hog-butchering are scheduled for 21 February.

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Date 27.11.2015

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