Carnival in venice | tourist information
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.
- Unfortunately, the Venice Carnival was held in virtual format in 2021.
- Venice Carnival 2022 may be held from from February 12 to March 01 (but we are not sure).
For more information about
Venice Carnival 2022 please
visit this page.
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:
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 2021.
Read more about Italy, about Rome, about popular tourist destinations in Europe. See also: tourist map of the world.
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.
Contemporary venetian carnival
The opening ceremony begins in one of the areas of Venice — Cannaregio. At 19:00, boats begin to sail along one of the canals, in which artists, musicians, acrobats and dancers demonstrate their skills. The procession is accompanied by music and lighting effects, while hungry spectators can sample Venetian cuisine.
During the carnival, which lasts 18 days, people participate in:
- Feast of Mary — a procession in which 12 girls in ancient costumes walk from the church of San Pietro di Castello to St. Mark’s Square, where the election of «Mary of the Year» will take place.
- Feast of all Venetians
- «Flight of the Angel»: a girl who has tried on the image of an angel descends the rope from the bell tower of St. Mark’s Square
- In Mestre (a suburb of Venice), a man dressed as a donkey flies from the window of the town hall
- Competitions for the best mask and costume
- Costumed nightly dinners and dances, etc.
There are 3 main hypotheses about how and when the first Venice Carnival took place:
- One of the main ones takes us to the beginning of the second millennium, at a time when trade cooperation between Byzantium and Venice was established — this union could be marked by large-scale festivities (1094)
- The second hypothesis was based on a story that happened a century earlier: the pirates took away the Venetian girls, but the suitors managed to save them and return them home — this is a joyful event and formed the basis of the carnival (998)
- The third version is the victory of the Venetians over the Patriarch Ulrico (1162).
The celebration was officially legalized in 1296. The Senate of Venice announced that from now on the last day before fasting (in Orthodoxy, by the way, this is Maslenitsa) will be the day of the carnival. From the very first years, the celebration was gaining scope and luxury.
History of the holiday
The Venetian Carnival has its origins in ancient Rome. Every year the Romans celebrated Saturnalia, a pagan remembrance of the god Saturn, the patron saint of agriculture. The celebration took place in December, the post-harvest time at the winter solstice.
And in chariots, people drove around the cities figures of idols, thanks to them or begging for fertility, deliverance from diseases, epidemics and cataclysms. The cabbies accompanying the chariots dressed as brightly and cheerfully as possible so that the idols had a good mood.
How carnival started? — answers
it was started by the African slaves. it was like rebellion to
there slave-master and mock them at the same time.
Life hacks from experienced
- It is better to visit the carnival, which is held in the autumn-spring time, in the summer there is a real bathhouse
- Check out the schedule of events in advance
- During the festival, housing prices increase significantly. Try to settle in Mestre — a suburb of Venice: you will have to spend more time on the road, but you will be able to save significantly
- Better to choose an apartment with a kitchen to save money on restaurants too
- Do not hesitate to take pictures with passers-by in fancy costumes — they only welcome this
- Walk as much as possible and try to attend as many events as possible!
When was carnival started? — answers
During the Saturnalia period, as today during the carnival, social statuses and regalia were erased, all estates became equal to each other — ordinary people had fun on a par with their masters. So that no one was embarrassed or afraid of the consequences of the carnival, people wore masks — in this case, the person did not know who was in front of him.
Later, already in Venice, the masks got another meaning: if a woman went on a spree until morning, and a man was carried away by a beautiful young lady, he covered himself with a mask and avoided gossip. The Venetians liked this so much that they began to wear masks outside the carnival.