The Good Times Roll in a Colorful Quarter of Prague

The New York Times

Of the pre-Lenten carnivals called Masopust in Prague, the one in the neighborhood of Zizkov is among the city’s most colorful and distinct.

“To a certain extent, it is different from other popular carnivals because it is a display of the Zizkov independent culture,” said Pavel Sladkovsky, the deputy mayor of the Prague 3 municipal district. “It refers to famous personalities and characters of this specific Prague quarter, which is often compared to Montmartre in Paris.”

The good times roll from Saturday through Tuesday, starting with a mask competition and a concert on Saturday followed by dance and other shows throughout the weekend. One highlight, Mr. Sladkovsky said, is a Moravian ensemble’s performance of a dance that is on the UNESCO cultural heritage list. Fat Tuesday’s roster includes a traditional pig roast on the main square, then the Masopust parade and final mask competition.

This is Prague 3’s 19th annual Masopust. Mr. Sladkovsky estimates that 3,000 to 5,000 people attend every year, but says that narrowing down a precise figure is difficult because “during the parade people are joining it continuously or leaving it to visit the pubs, and after they join in again.”

Mr. Sladkovsky has theories as to why the neighborhood’s Masopust is so popular.

“Because it is different, sensuous and natural; it is a display of independent culture,” he said. “The reason why is the fact Zizkov is different from the rest of the capital; it is a merry, playful, bohemian quarter, full of pubs, bars and restaurants — and artists and liberal people that are very proud of it.”