Carnevale

The Prague Post

For six days, revelry rules in Prague

“No one can really tell who you are under the mask. You can afford to do things, of course within the bounds of propriety, you would not normally do.”

So says Katerina Matásková, Bohemian Carnevale’s director of communications and marketing, and she’s absolutely right. Carnevale is the time to lose all your inhibitions, and with a theme of “Be whatever you want to be,” Prague’s six-day observance of the pre-Lenten holiday this year offers the perfect opportunity.

In the unlikely event you need a rationalization, keep in mind that getting wild and crazy this time of year has a long and venerable history.

“Carnevale has been a European cultural tradition for centuries, especially during the Renaissance,” Matásková explains. “Big Carnevale celebrations were taking place at this time, especially when the emperor’s seat was Prague.”

Seeking to re-create the intense partying, Bohemian Carnevale has an impressive lineup of activities for young and old alike. Many of the events will be taking place at Clam-Gallas Palace in Old Town. Highlights include the Boudoir, where you can rent wigs, masks and costumes for your transformation. A photo studio onsite will allow you to document the experience. There will also be a design installation, music and mask-making workshops.

But, like a true Bohemian, Carnevale isn’t staying in one place. Out on the streets, there will be revelry and parades.

“We have 50 special guests from Sardinia and they will be parading through Prague Feb. 1 and 2 in their traditional masks,” Matásková says. “These are archaic masks reminiscent of pagan rituals, and I have to say the parade is impressive.”

Another highlight recommended by Matásková is the Carneball, which takes place at Clam-Gallas Palace the evening of Feb. 2. “It is the essence of high-style Baroque carnival celebrations,” she says.

And what would a proper Carnevale be without food?

“Food is an integral part of all the celebrations,” Matásková notes. “If your stomach is empty, you are not in the mood to party.”

Bohemian Carnevale has signed up about 30 Prague restaurants (a full list can be found on the Web site) to prepare special Carnevale and tasting menus. Also new this year is a Carnevale Pass to all the events, the price of which includes Carnevale vouchers, called bony, for the participating restaurants.

Children can have their own kind of fun in a specially designated children’s room at Clam-Gallas Palace, and will have a chance to make their own masks and join in the parades. A children’s ball, Amoretto, will be held at Clam-Gallas the afternoon of Feb. 3.

In short, this is an opportunity for everyone in the family to indulge and have fun.

“We want people to play and entertain themselves, to be a part of Carnevale,” Matásková says. “We would like to make Prague bright and shiny for at least a week at this gray time of year.”