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All You Need To Know About The Annual Venice Carnival

The two week long festival held annually is one festival you shouldn't miss. Here is all you need to know about this festival.

The annual Venice Carnival (or “Carnevale”) is one of the biggest celebrations in Italy. It is a two-week-long annual festival which is held in the month of February. The whole city gets in their most festive and colorful mood during this extravagant festival that is world-famous for its elaborate costume masks. Prepare yourself to be surrounded with parades, concerts, markets, and of course the ornate Venetian masks! But what exactly is Venice carnival celebrated for? When did it start? Don’t worry; we’re here to answer all your questions!

Venice Carnival
Carnival in Venice, with boats in the Grand Canal

Why Is Venice Carnival Celebrated?

The carnival is said to have begun in the year 1162, for the celebration of Venice Republic’s victory over its enemy: The Patriarch of Aquileia, Ulrico di Treven. To honor and celebrate their victory, the people of Venice gathered in Saint Mark’s Square (San Marco Square) to dance. Ever since then, the victory is celebrated by the people in the streets of the floating city.

The Venice Carnival History

Held for the first time in the 11th century, the Carnival quickly became an official event during the Renaissance and came to be known as a famous symbol for Venice. From the 11th century, the carnival was carried on for several centuries until it was outlawed in 1797. During this time, the Republic of Venice fell to the hands of the Holy Roman Emperor Francis II (and later Austria) who banned both the carnival and mask-wearing.

After a long absence, (almost a 200-year break) the carnival was brought back in the late 1970s. The Italian government helped Venice to reconnect with its festival heritage in order to rejuvenate the culture and economy of Venice. The Carnival has resurrected thanks to the efforts of both costume and mask-makers, and the Italian city’s tourism industry also saw a marked surge of interest. The Carnival has since been celebrated every year, drawing as many as three million visitors into the city every year and is the most anticipated event in the metropolitan city, Venice.

Venice Carnival Masks

One of the most striking features of this carnival is the Venetian Carnival masks. These masks are a centuries-old tradition of Venice and the Carnival is incomplete without these famous masks. Venetian Carnival masks provide anonymity to citizens for a few days to indulge in things they want to do without getting caught. Venetian masks are generally made of leather, porcelain or using the original glass technique with each mask having a symbolic or practical function. Venetian masks have bright colors or gold and silver on them and are decorated with fur, gems, crystals and feathers. Their intricate designs and baroque style decorations makes these masks stand out.

Some of the most popular masks are the Bauta masks which are worn both by men and women. It covers the entire face but leaves a space open below just for eating and talking. Then there is the Colombina Mask, also called the half mask as it covers only the eyes. Another popular one is the Gnaga mask which is worn by men to disguise as women. The Plague Doctor mask which comes with a long-beak nose and the Volto masks which are plain white covering the entire face are equally popular.

Venice Carnival
Venetian masks

Venice Carnival 2022 Events And Program Schedule

This Carnival of Venice takes place in the days leading up to Lent, and specifically during the weeks leading up to Shrove Tuesday (which is forty days before Easter). Venice Carnival 2022 is going to run from 12th February to 1st March.

February 13, 2022: Venetian Water Festival (La Festa Veneziana sull’acqua) (Rio di Cannaregio)

February 19, 2022: Festa delle Marie (via Garibaldi), Time: 2:30pm – 4:00pm

February 20 2022: The Flight of the Angel (St Mark’s Square), Time: Midday, 12:00pm

February 27, 2022: The Flight of the Eagle (St Mark’s Bell Tower), Time: 12:00pm

February 27, 2022: Final of the competition, The Most Beautiful Mask (St Mark’s Square)

February 28, 2022: The Most Beautiful Mask Competition – children’s edition (St Mark’s Square)

March 1, 2022: Award Ceremony of the Maria of the Carnival (St Mark’s Square)

March 1, 2022: ‘Svolo del Leon’ (St Mark’s Square)

There is no specific entry fee for the Carnival. However, there will be some carnival activities and events that will require a fee, but you can always choose whether you want to attend it or not. Particularly the opulent masquerade balls might require invitations and might have steep ticket prices, there will also be many others, like the candle-lit parade of boats, concerts, and street performances, which are free and open to the public. For more information on carnival time, carnival tickets, carnival dates and all public events associated with the carnival, visit the official website of the Carnevale di Venezia.

Keep These Points In Mind To Get The Most Of Your Venice Carnival

  •         Plan and book ahead to get the best deals. With millions of people attending the carnival, there are high chances that the hotels can sell out almost a year in advance.
  •         Venice Carnival dates keep changing every year depending on when Lent begins.
  •         To have the best Carnival experience, wear a costume or at least a mask.
  •         If you are finding it difficult to find one, your hotel may be able to arrange a costume rental or vendor.
  •         This Carnival is very festive and crowded, so don’t get stressed out because of the huge crowds.
  •         Carnival festivities happening outside of the city of Venice too, do explore the other areas as well.
  •         Venice Carnival is a winter event and can get very cold or rainy. The daily temperature is around 4°C, highs of 7°C and lows of 0.5°C. So dress accordingly!
  •         There can be flooding in parts of the city sometimes. Keep an eye on weather forecasts.

 Also Read: Italy Hit With The Worst Rainstorm. Venice Submerged And In A State of Calamity

Everyone must experience the Carnival at least once in their lifetime. Hope this article will help you plan the best vacation possible!

Venice Carnival

There is no specific entry fee for the Carnival. However, there would be some events that will require a fee, but you can always choose whether you want to attend it or not. Particularly the opulent masquerade balls might require invitations and might have steep ticket prices, there will also be many others, like the candle-lit parade of boats, concerts, and street performances, which are free and open to the public. Here’s a link to the Carnival’s 2020 Programme Schedule.

How long is Carnival in Venice?

The Carnival in Venice is celebrated for around two weeks.

Is Venice crowded during Carnival?

Yes, Venice is crowded not only during the carnival but even in the off-season.

What is happening in Italy?

The most happening thing in Italy is the Venice Carnival.

What is a Moretta mask?

The moretta mask is round and covered with black velvet reserved exclusively for women.

What happens at Venice carnival?

Celebrations include, renowned mask parades, street parties and grand masquerade balls that vary from year to year.

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