The Redentore festival is one of the most beloved Venice events, really appreciated by the venetians. It is a full weekend of festivities and celebrations that culminates with the magnificent fireworks that are reflected in the lagoon, leaving open-mouthed even those who attend the show every year.On the third Sunday of July, Venice celebrates Redentore.
The origins of the Redeemer festival: Venice and the end of the plague
The Redeemer festival has its origins in one of the darkest and most terrifying moments for the entire Venice history: the plague of the 16th century. At that time, Venice was a “metropolis” with 180 thousand inhabitants. In just two years, from 1575 to 1577, the plague killed almost a third of them, claiming as many as 50,000 victims, of which the famous painter Titian.
For the whole city it was a frightening and tragic two-year period: the land of the islands was no longer sufficient to bury all the dead and they began to bury one dead on top of another. The fear of contagion was everywhere and there was no scientific knowledge to effectively combat the epidemic. Often superstition and religious faith were simply used. The terrible days of the plague are still remembered by the famous Venetian mask of the plague doctor, invented to protect himself from the epidemic.
In 1576, the Senate, without solution to eradicate the epidemic, decided to ask for divine help by erecting a church on the island of Giudecca: the church of the Redeemer (one of the most famous works by Jacopo Andrea Palladio). In May 1977, the first stone of the church was laid. In july of the same year the doge declare the outbreak of the plague. In order to thank the redeeming Christ for the grace received, celebration and procession were organized. To cross the “canale della Giudecca” and reach the church of the Redeemer on foot, a pontoon bridge made of boats was created. It was the beginning of the festa del redentore, 5 centuries ago.
Il redentore takes place every third Sunday in July. It is still a religious celebration and popular one with the tradition of the votive bridge and the fireworks. The floating walkway is built on the Saturday before the festival. It is a sort of impressive and entertaining artistic installation that remains a great attraction and allows once a year to get to the giudecca on foot.
The official beginning of the celebrations takes place at the opening of the catwalk with the blessing of the Patriarch of Venice, from the steps of the Redeemer church. Then follows an evening mass presided over by the Patriarch. The famous fireworks display at 11.30 p.m. and then another mass at midnight and a half. The last mass of the Redeemer takes place on Sunday morning at 8.00 a.m. After the mass, the festival ends with three regattas during which historic Venetian boats compete.
Festa del redentore 2019
For most visitors, the main attractions are the crossing of the canal on the catwalk, the beautiful fireworks in the basin of San Marco and the final regattas. In reality the whole city lives a festive atmosphere all the time. Visiting Venice in those days gives the opportunity to experience the city in a completely different way than the Carnival because the participation is deeply felt by the citizens who evokes a very important historical event.
This year the “festa del redentore 2019” begin on Saturday, July 20.
- Saturday, July 20: blessing of the patriarch and opening of the raft bridge. Afterwards, will be presented the crews who will compete in the regatta of Venetian rowing. At 23.30 will begin the fireworks display.
- Sunday, July 21: from 4 to 6 pm there are three races, one of which is reserved for young people, with pupparini and gondolas with two oars. At 7 pm takes place as a closing ceremony the Holy Votive Mass at the Redeemer church.
Il redentore: where to see thefireworks
Towards evening, while St Mark’s Square is packed with visitors, St Mark’s Basin is filled with boats decorated with lights and decorations. Inside the boats, people eat traditional Venetian dishes, such as pasta and beans and sardines in saor. In the festive atmosphere there are music, dances and orchestras, street artists and lots of fun, until the climax of the evening with fireworks. This fireworks display is one of the most famous in the world and is the highlight of the entire weekend! It’s 40 minutes of pure magic.
It’s 40 minutes of pure magic in front of the San Marco basin. Know that there are a lot of people and that the boats available are very limited. Reserve in advance if you want to see the fires from the water. If you prefer to admire the fireworks of the Redentore from the shore, we suggest you to arrive well in advance from the early afternoon, Riva degli Schiavoni, the Giudecca or the Zattere are the most popular areas.
Venice fireworks on a boat
To really live the redeemer festival, we highly recommend to join a boat party that will allow you to have the best perspective on Venice fireworks. If you have Venetian friends with their own little boat, the places are really numbered and if you can snatch a place, you’re really lucky! The logistical problem you’ll face is how to manage emergency pee when you are in the dock for hours…!
At Vivovenetia, we organize a feast on a boat. Program? From 5.30 pm, let’s begin our navigation in the venetian lagoon … You will be served an aperitif in the panoramic terrace and enjoy the sunset in good company. When the sun goes down, we offer a nice seated dinner with high quality menu. There are three places where you can embark: San Marco, Punta Sabbioni and Fusina. We have a reserved place in Riva degli schiavoni to admire the fireworks: fabulous view is guaranteed!
Boat rental and private parties for the Redentore
If you are a group and you want to rent a boat for the redeemer to organize your event as you want, we can certainly help you. Many of our partners have boats of all kinds: bragozzo, ecological boat, sailboat, etc.. Know that you need to organise yourself in time if you want to have the choice. If you’re at last minute, maybe we can still get something out for you… contact us!
If you want to know more about other events in Venice, please see our sections:
- New Year’s Eve in Venice
- Venice Biennale
- Historical Regatta
- Feast of the Sensa
- Venice Exhibitions