Venice Carnival(Carnevale di Venezia) is one of the most famous and most popular annual events in Venice (Italy). Carnival attracts large number of tourists in Venice. Nobody knows exact number of tourists these days in the city, but it is believed that during the carnival the city is visited by three million people.
Many colorful events are held on the streets of Venice during the Carnival. Street musicians, theater and circus artists perform in many places of the city. Artists and musicians from many countries come to the carnival. You will find a lot of people in carnival costumes and masks these days on the streets of Venice. As a rule, they are happy to pose for tourists (you can make beautiful pictures) for free. Many tourists also buy a mask and become the carnival participants.
Carnival of Venice is held every year at the beginning of the year. The carnival dates are changed every year and depends on the day, which will take place Easter. The Carnival ends with the Christian celebration of Lent, forty days before Easter, on Shrove Tuesday (Martedì Grasso or Mardi Gras), the day before Ash Wednesday. Carnival begins on Saturday, about ten days before that date. (In recent years, carnival events are starting just a week earlier.)
Some tourists believe that the time of the carnival is not the best time for sightseeing in Venice. The streets of Venice can be very crowded these days. Winter weather can be cool. The best solution is to come to Venice twice: at the festival and at other times of the year.
The next carnival in Venice will take place from January 27 to February 13, 2024. Learn more.
The first documentary mention of the carnival in Venice belongs to 1094. However, the carnival traditions have much more ancient history and have their roots in pagan celebrations. It is believed that carnival was held annually from 1162. In 1296 Carnival was declared a public holiday. In the Middle Ages, carnival lasted six weeks, starting on December 26.
At that time, during the carnival, in some sense the line between the higher and lower classes was blurred. People could afford what was unacceptable in another time under the cover of the masks (once a year, it is acceptable to have no brakes). But the masks were used also by criminals, and there was constant struggle against it.
In the XVIII century the Venetian Carnival fell into decline and was almost forgotten for many years.
The carnival revival began in the late 20th century. Since 1979, the Venice Carnival is one of the brightest events in Italy. The Italian Government and the Municipality of Venice use carnival to attract tourists.
Carnival starts by holiday “Festa delle Marie” (Feast of Mary), which has a long tradition. The holiday is usually performed in the second half of the day, the first Saturday of the carnival. Twelve girls, accompanied by a long procession, walk from the Church of San Pietro di Castello to Piazza San Marco. “Mary of the year” is chosen among those beautiful girls.
Also the so-called Angel Flight is also performed at the first Sunday of the carnival at noon at St. Mark's Square. Dressed in a beautiful costume girl goes down on a rope from the tower to the Piazza San Marco.
You can come here with own costume or buy ready-made mask on the street in Venice (prices start at 5 euros).
There are several types of traditional Venetian masks:
- “Bauta” is white mask covering whole face. It is usually worn with a black cloak. The mask used by both by men and women.
- “Columbine” is a female mask (half-mask), decorated with feathers.
- “Moretti” is a black velvet oval female mask. The mask kept by mouth (for specialized package detail). A woman in a mask could not speak.
- “Cat” (Gatto) is mask depicting cats.
- “Doctor” (Doctor of the Plague, Medico della Peste). Earlier this mask was worn only by doctors during the plague.
Every men lie but if you give them a mask they will be sincere. (Oscar Wilde.)
If you are planning to visit Venice Carnival, then it will be useful to see a calendar of events on the official website of the carnival. The largest number of events of the carnival is held in the city center, at St Mark's Square and the surrounding streets. You can select and book hotel in Venice (Italy) for advance here.
This page has photos taken during my visit to Venice in February 2013.
Walking through the streets and squares of Venice and just watching what's happening is not the best way to spend time during the carnival. It will be much more exciting to put on a carnival costume, mask and become one of the participants of the carnival. You will get unforgettable emotions, memories and photos. Carnival costume or mask you can buy, rent, or even do it yourself. Information about one of the company of costumes and masks.
- Hotels in Venice - you can choose and book it online. It is better to do in advance at carnival days.
- Hotel searching and booking can be done easily online. You can get information about the prices and availability of rooms.
- Map of Venice can be useful if you are planning a trip to Venice.
- You can also buy a plane ticket in the Internet. We propose to compare two online ticketing systems.
- Choose and book a guided tour in Venice.