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Carnival

Carnevale Praha

The Prague Carnevale 2016 is a Bohemian event, an Amadeus-style carnival full of surprises. The festival begins with a masquerade on January 29, and ends with a concert of Baroque music at the Clam-Gallas Palace.

The traditional masks meeting takes place at the Old Town Square on January 30, at 15:00 – this is the event that marks the official opening of the carnival. It is followed by the masquerade at 20:00, when there will also be live music performances, as well as food tastings. Some of the most interesting events of the day include the competition for the best mask, and the Race of the Golden Pig. The same day, in the grand residence of the Clam-Gallas Palace, you can attend the concert “In the Gardens of Goddess Pomona,” featuring the Opera Barocca ensemble and soprano Jana Bínová Koucká, under the artistic direction of cellist Ondřej Michal. To attend the concert you need to wear a costume and mask.

Carnevale Praha Masks

A group of people wearing traditional masks at Carnevale Praha 2015, courtesy the official page of the event on Facebook.

The rich program of this year’s edition makes this one of the most promising carnivals in the Czech capital. There will be a Mardi Gras soiree on the 6th and the 7th of February at the palace, after baroque music concerts, part of the famous Prague Opera Barocca, as well as a concert and matinee on January 31. The official carnival stages in the Old Town and Wenceslas Squares will feature theatrical and acrobatic performances hourly for the whole duration of the festival.

There is also a special ball for the smallest attendees, gondola tours on the Vltava, and romantic, Baroque-style carriage rides on the streets of the old town. Don’t worry if you don’t own a costume and mask, there are rentals available at Boudoiru Franzise Wussina, where you will find sublime Baroque dresses and accessories. Here you can also buy handmade original masks.

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Budapest in winter

Farsang, the carnival season in Hungary, kicked off January 6, and will last till February 10, just before the Fat Thursday (Torkos Csütörtök). It is a special time for the locals, but also for tourists who can attend a variety of events that celebrate authentic local traditions. Among these, you shouldn’t miss the Busójárás in Mohács, which is well worth it the day trip from Budapest.

This end-of-winter festival takes place at the beginning of February, from the 4th till the 9th. The festival was added to UNESCO’s representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009.

devils

The “devils” (Busós) take to the streets of Mohács: fantastic, pagan creatures, who play and dance. There’s music and dance, plus a great choice of local delicacies to tame your hunger, plus busópálinka for the daring ones. This is not only an occasion to party: it is believed that the Busós scare off the winter cold. There will be many interesting events, including pipers and Buso demonstrations, followed by a Busó boat crossing of the Danube. The main amphitheater is set in Széchenyi tér. This is where you can see folk dances, and live folk performances. Here is where the Busós come on horses and on carts, gathering to start the free carnival.

If you are a woman, this celebration may appear a bit strange for you, because one of the main occupations of the Busós is to tease women. The Busós also dance kóló with the girls and the women, and their jokes are not always “appropriate.” Do not feel offended, though: this is not personal, it’s tradition. Embrace the spirit of the party, and have fun. You will never know who is behind the mask of the Busó – it can be anyone. A true Busó never reveals his identity.