Always one of the top ten world attractions, we are about to tell you about the Queen party of What to do in Venice : the “Carnevale di Venezia“.
We are certain that you already have heard about it… but are you sure you know the truth and story behind the carnival? We would like to tell you here about Carnival from the Venetian perspective. The shows in the historic center are really many, beautiful and spectacular, but often the real party is among the streets, in the squares, in the inns and especially in many of the Venetian palaces.
Mask yourself, mix with the crowd, taste “fritole” and galani (traditional sweets of the “Carnevale” held in Venice, Italy),arm yourself with confetti and follow the guide to Venice’s most famous event.
When is Carnival in Venice ?
The dates of Carnival change every year because they follow the liturgical calendar. Starting from about forty days before Easter you will already see some masks appearing, the streets covered with confetti and the pastry shops start serving carnival specialties.
But it is really 15 days before Ash Wednesday when the real party begins.
Venice Carnival 2024 will be from Saturday 27 January to Tuesday 13 February.
Pay attention and keep an eye on the calendar when you are planning your break although more and more shows and parties are organized on Saturday nights, on Fat Thursday and Shrove Tuesday (Martedì Grasso in italian) are the days not to miss!
Venice Carnival events 2024
- Grand opening – Venetian Water parade with decorated boat in Rio di Cannaregio in the Cannaregio district
- Procession and Feast of the Marys, departure from San Piero di Castello at 2:30 p.m. and arrival in St. Mark’s Square at 4 p.m.
- Volo dell’Angelo (Flight of the Angel) from the St Mark’s Bell Tower in Piazza San Marco
- Giovedì grasso (Fat thursday)
- Volo dell’aquila (Flight of the eagle) in Saint Mark’s Square
- Shrove Tuesday (Pancake day)- double appointment in St. Mark’s Square with the Flight of the Lion and the final of the most beautiful mask contest
Keep an eye also on the programming of the Mestre Carnival Street show: jugglers, trampolines, theater, music and other street performers will liven up the center of Mestre in the two final weekends for a series of engaging shows suitable for all ages! The mainland of Venice celebrates carnival too!
CARNIVAL OF VENICE: ONCE IN A LIFETIME EXPERIENCE !
Venice masked ball
Discover the unique atmosphere of a Venetian masked ball to celebrate Carnival!
As a rule, this is a themed evening, and to participate you will have to follow the dress code as announced at the time of booking. The program includes various artistic performances, cocktails, dinner and finally an “after dinner party” with music.
These parties are highly popular and often sell out months before the event.
Get ready for the complete program of the 2024 edition of the Venice Carnival masquerade balls>!
Venice Carnival costumes
Typical Venetian Carnival Costumes date back to the second half of the 16th century. You can find faithful historical reproductions in Venice ateliers. Among the various types of costumes available, the most famous are the Costumes Commedia dell’Arte with characters of the traditional Italian theater like the great Venetian, Carlo Goldoni.
The 18th century Venice saw the greatest splendor of Venice and its historic Carnival and it is visible in the costumes of this period. The 18th century was the century of Carlo Goldoni, but also of Giacomo Casanova and of great painters such as GianBattista Tiepolo and Canaletto.
If you really want to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the party it is absolutely essential to dress up. In fact, Carnival would not be the same without masks costumes and if people did not wear masks. Don’t be shy, get out of the house already prepared and dressed with wigs, swords, wings, cloaks and confetti: the party starts on the streets!
Venetian carnival masks
Colorful, fascinating, they are the result of a craft and artistic work that has evolved over hundreds of years. It comes to life with the ambition of offering the wearer the power to hide his or her name, social class, religion and any kind of social identification, in other words freedom!
Among the models of Venetian mask that have entered the posterity, we find without fail :
La Bautà: often worn with a three-pointed hat (tricolo) and a long cape, this rectangular mask has the power to distort the voice of the wearer, and therefore to say without fear what one thinks.
The Moreta: kind of the opposite of the bautà, this mask takes away the voice of the woman who wears it. Since she has to hold the mask with her lips, the woman cannot speak. Some say that it is the absolute symbol of femininity, others remain speechless…
Other masks to remember are the famous mask of the ‘plague doctor’, Il ‘mattacino’, and the Commedia dell’Arte masks reflecting the stereotypes of the society of the time, of which the best known today is Harlequin.
Venice Carnival history
How, when and why Venetian people started to wear masks in Venice? Well, there is not a straight answer to this question! Seems like a certain Ulrich II von Treven, Patriarch of Aquileia was involved…
The first official document that declares it a public holiday dates back to 1296, although the first written mention dates back to 1094.
The more sumptuous historical period for Venice Carnival has been the 18th century with characters like Casanova.
Find out where it all began in our dedicated article “6 things you didn’t know about Venice Carnival History“
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Carnival is just one of the events of the year to mark on your calendar; all year round there is much more to do and explore in Venice!