What is the Velvet Carnival?

The Velvet Carnival draws inspiration from the Swiss carnival tradition, observed in Basel and called Fasnacht. The essence of this carnival is rather different than the masopust festivities we are used to from Czech villages and neighbourhoods. In Basel people are organised into cliques and start planning months in advance, selecting hot topics from the past year – whether a political event of international calibre or a local Swiss scandal – and then processing them critically and visually. Fasnacht, which lasts three days and three nights, is a beloved annual display of how society reflects upon its current situation in a way that is both fun and sophisticated. We can say that it fulfils the role of an important cleansing ritual for the city.

The Velvet Carnival also offers the opportunity for people to make a statement about societal issues in a creative manner. We feel the need to honour 17 November, the day when we commemorate the Velvet Revolution – the end of the communist regime and the start of freedom. Instead of just nostalgically laying wreaths or holding often aggressive extremist demonstrations, we want to offer people a new alternative – to celebrate their acquired freedom in a sophisticated and joyous manner that also reflects upon this freedom critically. The satirical approach and language of theatre allows us to look at complex societal issues from a point of view we often do not have access to in our everyday lives.

We now have two years behind us. The first included eight organisations and over one hundred fifty masks in the procession, with several talks and two workshops. Thirteen initiatives took part in the parade in the second year and we counted nearly three hundred masks, which were made at four week-long workshops organised by our initiative, as well as individually at the spaces and studios of the organisations and artists. What will it be this year? Come and see on 17.11.2014 in the Prague city centre.