Italy’s most popular masked carnival takes place every February in Venice. This year’s event is a one-of-a-kind celebration that marries the past with the present in a series of fun-filled events. Baroque Access finds out what’s happening in 2017
If you’re planning to visit the romantic Italian City of Canals, February during Carnevale is a great time to be there. You can combine your trip to coincide with Valentine’s Day to reap all the benefits and enjoy an exciting celebration at the same time.
Venice Carnevale takes place this year from 11 to 28 February, offering the opportunity to enjoy an exciting getaway in one of Europe’s most exquisite cities. During this time, every day and well into the night, the city’s winding alleyways and its famous canals are packed with people. The scene resembles an historical film, with masked revelers dressed up in 18th Century costumes posing, dancing and preening.
Venice comes alive during Carnevale; there’s a never-ending fun, party atmosphere where visitors and residents alike party till the wee hours and enjoy a selection of action-packed events.
On 11 February, Venice Carnevale will kick off with a two-day Festa Venesiana, a fun-filled festival that is known for its masked regattas, a stunning procession of decorated boats and gondolas that make their way down the spectacular Grand Canal. The official opening includes a masked parade that starts from St Mark’s Square and winds through the narrow streets.
This is followed by a competition to find the Best Masked Costume and then, on 18 February, the famous Festa Delle Marie takes place. This exciting parade begins at San Pietro di Castello at 2.30pm, when revelers parade along via Garibaldi and Riva degli Schiavoni, reaching San Marco Square where a stage is set up at 4pm. During this performance, the audience is introduced to the 12 Marais, 12 beautiful Venetian girls who are offered magnificent jewels as a bridal dowry.
The charming Festa Venesiana actually takes place over several days prior to the final parade, giving visitors to Venice the opportunity to see a wide selection of colorful Venetian period costumes. It culminates on 18 February with a parade of the 12 girls who have been chosen over the previous days.
Another spectacular highlight is the Doge’s Ball, or Masked Ball, which is open to the public – all you need to do to be admitted is don a mask and a period costume. And it would help if you could dance like they used to in the 15th Century! This year there are also several official dinner shows and balls open to the public on various nights at 9pm where guests enjoy a traditional menu, thrilling performances of international artists and a backdrop of the magnificent Grand Canal.
Other popular festivities include a series of mock military events and a number of theatrical and musical performances, all of which are held in St Mark’s Square. These include medieval football matches played in period costumes. A parade of the best and worst period costumes is also held in the square
Venice’s Carnival is the best example of an event where time stands still to combine tradition, culture and varied entertainment. The most exciting days of the festival are definitely on weekends, culminating in the highlight, which is the weekend before Carnevale finishes.
During this final weekend, the noise reaches a crescendo, and the partying goes up a notch. Carnevale is an extravagant celebration of the end of winter and the start of spring, and there is no better way to enjoy it than in Venice.