Things to do in Venice – Carnival

Artisan colouring a venetian carnival mask

The most colorful festival of the year comes back between January 27 and February 13

Walking through the suggestive streets and canals of Venice, you have certainly noticed some particular crafts. We are talking about decorated masks. They could be just for eyes or for the whole face, painted in white or with bright colors, adorned with feathers, glitters, tiaras or even eccentric wigs… Anyway, people have typically used them for centuries during Carnival in the Lagoon. So, if your customers have planned their Venice holidays in February or if they are in Carnival mood… without booking a Carnival cruise 😉 , recommend they don’t miss mask parades.

By Jacob + Katie Schwarz, via Youtube

Costume Events & Parades

Carnival costume parades, in Venice, are a serious thing. These are some of the most popular and suggestive free shows in the city.

  • Festa Veneziana on the Water: on January 27 and 28, the canal Rio di Cannaregio becomes a water stage for decorated boats and masks, like in this video by Venezia Unica:

By Venezia Unica, via Youtube

  • Festa delle Marie: on February 3, twelve costume Venetian girls take part in a historical 300-character parade. It will reach the central square Piazza San Marco at 4:00 pm, from San Pietro di Castello. Just recently Bruno Tosi has restored the Medieval tradition of a group of elegantly dressed young Venetians, adorned with magnificent jewels on loan by the State for their wedding. Every year, one of these girls is designated for the Flight of the Angel of the following Carnival.
  • The Flight of the Angel: on February 4, a charming girl descends along a rope from St. Mark’s Bell Tower to the Doge, in the middle of the square Piazza San Marco. The Flight is a modern reconstruction of the first performances of 16th-century acrobats and represents the official beginning of Venice historical Carnival. Here’s what happened last year:

By Venezia Unica, via Youtube

For the map and the calendar of all the events, also in the nearby islands, check the websites of Carnevale Venezia 2018 and Carnevale di Venezia.

But… what’s Carnival exactly?

Carnival, in Italian Carnevale, is a costume festival deeply rooted in centuries-old traditions. It probably derives from Ancient Roman Saturnalia. Those religious celebrations and purifications rites were related to the passing of the seasons, to the end of winter and of the old year. For sure, Carnival represents an important part of the Catholic Calendar. It is the time between Christmastime and Lent. This is the reason why it’s the time for parties, disguise and breaking rules, before religious meditation and penitence.

Why in Venice?

All Italy usually celebrate Carnival, but Venice has one of the most famous and magnificent traditions since the Middle Ages. It’s certainly due to its unique suggestive settings. But it has always been part of its fame and identity of a wealthy, free and festive city, where everybody could take to the streets disguised by a pretty Carnival mask and be greeted with a friendly «Buongiorno, Mascherina».

By Vincent Montreuil, via Youtube


Video credits: Jacob + Katie Schwarz, Venezia Unica, Vincent Montreuil, via Youtube.