Criminal science as the main theme of this year's Zizkov Carnival

Photo: CTK

The 'Masopust' - or Carnival - in Prague's Zizkov quarter is set to come to a climax on Tuesday. 'Masopust' always takes place towards the end of winter, before the start of Lent. And though many Czechs no longer celebrate it, the tradition of 'Masopust' is slowly making a comeback. The Zizkov Town Hall has been organizing its own carnival for 14 years.

The five-day festival opened with music and a series of short theatre performances on Friday in the presence of the mayor of Zizkov Milena Kozumplikova, Interior Minister Ivan Langer, and Police President Vladislav Husak. Every year the masopust celebrations have a different theme. This year's theme is criminal science, explaining the presence of the latter bigwigs. I asked the organizer of the Zizkov carnival, Jaroslav Brabec, what inspired the Zizkov counselors to choose criminal science as the main theme of this year's carnival.

'The Sinful People of the City of Prague'
"This year's Zizkov carnival observes the 130th anniversary of the birth of Police Counselor Vacatko, whose real name was Josef Vanasek. He lived from 1877 to 1938 and was active in several of Prague's quarters including Zizkov. He devoted all his life to criminal science and, while in office, he substantially contributed to its development in the Czech lands."

Czech TV has popularized Police Counselor Vacatko in several TV series, such as 'The Sinful People of the City of Prague' and 'The History of Criminal Science', with Vacatko as the main character and Zizkov as the setting of many of the stories. A substantial part of the carnival programme is, therefore, inspired by Vacatko's life and fights between 'criminal elements' and 'defenders of the law'. The programme also includes an exhibition of posters, concerts of several local music bands and film screenings. But, above all, the carnival is a real feast, with one of the Zizkov restaurants cooking carnival specialties for the participants.

Photo: CTK
The Zizkov carnival will end on Tuesday with a final parade starting at 4 o'clock on Jiri z Podebrad Square and ending in the Parukarka park late in the evening. Kathleen, an American tourist, has already decided to take part in it and join the other two or three thousand people with masks.

Photo: CTK
"I'm most looking forward to the parade on Tuesday, because I hear the most about it and I've only seen pictures of it. But it looks really interesting and it reminds me of festivals in Mardi Gras."

Are you yourself going to wear a mask?

"Yes, definitely. I've heard that it's very encouraged. I only have a simple mask for myself because I wasn't sure of what kind of mask to get. I've seen pictures of very exotic-looking masks, but I think this time I will attend the parade and see what more experienced people have and then I will know more for if I'm here next year."

And are you going to take any friends along?

"Yes, I hope so. I will definitely encourage my friends. I think I have plenty of ways to convince them that it's a good idea to come if there's an offering of such interesting things to see, and beer, et cetera!"