Venice Carnival, Venice, Italy

The carnival of Italy or the “Carnevale di Venezia” is an amazing celebration which is unique in the world. It is unique because it has some magical and charming characteristics, found nowhere else in the world. During this celebration, people of Venice wear Venetian masks and have masquerade parties.The boat parades, food stalls, the street magic shows and vendors, all can feel magical!

It has traditional and cultural significance, that started centuries ago. Each year, thousands of tourists gather to experience the magic of the Venice Carnival, Italy. Here is a brief guide for your pleasure.

Venice Carnival, Venice, Italy

What is the Venice Carnival, Venice, Italy?

Venice Carnival is the “Mardi Gras” of Italy. It is a top Carnival in Italy. It is the biggest celebration that lasts for two weeks. The carnival is accompanied by many other events like street concerts, masquerade balls, candle-lit parade of boats, and street performances. It reaches its climax on the day of Carnival or Shrove Tuesday. In Italian, the ending day is called  the “Martedi Grasso,” or Fat Tuesday. 

This festival draws thousands of people from all over the world. Usually the weekend before the Fat Tuesday is the busiest, with most parties and events. However, throughout the whole carnival season, the city of Venice lights up with parties.

Venice Carnival, Venice, Italy

Some Key Facts About the Venice Carnival, Venice, Italy:

  • This festival began as a tradition of the noble to hide behind costumes and masks, and celebrate with common people. 
  • According to popular belief, the celebrations started as Venice became a republic. 
  • Most people use costumes and fashion trends of the 18th century in the carnival because this is the time when the carnival reached its maximum magnificence.  
  • When Napoleon Bonaparte attacked Venice, in 1796, the festival was prohibited as a measure to forestall conspiracies against him.
  • The carnival festivities began again in 1979. 
  • Not all parties and events are open to tourists. Even though hundreds or thousands of tourists gather in Venice every year, some of the masquerade parties are kept private and require a steep entry fee. 
Venice Carnival, Venice, Italy

The Venice Carnival, Venice, Italy – A Short Overview:

The Carnival of Venice (Italian: Carnevale di Venezia) is a spectacular, two week long festival in Venice, Italy. The carnival lasts for two weeks and ends with the Christian celebration of Lent, the Shrove Tuesday. The end day is actually called “Martedì Grasso” or Mardi Gras.  During this time, the city of Venice turns into a party city, with masquerade balls, candle lit boats, street concerts, dances, and food stalls everywhere. This festival is tied to their traditions and customs. It also has historical meaning for the people of Italy. This celebration is particularly famous around the world due to its elaborate use of masks and costumes. 

Venice Carnival, Venice, Italy

The History of The Venice Carnival, Venice, Italy:

The idea of this carnival arose from the fact that foods like meat, sugar and fat were prohibited, 40 days before the Lent. So, the people of Venice came up with this idea to consume all their food and beverages before Lent, and hence the idea of a carnival. The celebrations started in 1162, when people of Venice had their victory over the “Patriarch of Aquileia.”

Venice Carnival, Venice, Italy

The tradition of masks and costume goes a long way back, all the way back in 1268. By the time of renaissance, masks and costumes became a part of their carnival tradition. However, after Napoleon attacked Venice, the party was called off, and wearing masks was prohibited to prevent conspiracies against him. In the 1930s, Mussolini banned the carnival. In the 1970s, the celebrations started again due to a protest from the artisans. 

When is the festival celebrated?

The festival starts in late February or early March and ends 40 days before Easter on Shrove Tuesday. The grand affair is held annually and lasts for two weeks. It starts on a Saturday and ends on a Tuesday of the following week. For example, the festival started on Saturday, January 30, and ended on Tuesday, February 16. In 2021, the festival will begin on Saturday, January 30, and end on Tuesday, February 16. The dates of the carnival depends on the following Easter. So, the dates of carnival changes each year.

Where is the Venice Carnival Celebrated?

The Carnival takes place in St Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy. It is an unique celebration in the world. It is filled with fun, tradition, and love. The streets get filled with concerts, shows, music, dance and local street vendors. There are also places where you can only enter through special invitation and some places you need tickets to enter. However, you can enjoy a whole lot of parades, costumes, people and gatherings which are open to the public.  

Venice Carnival, Venice, Italy

Essential tips to help enjoy the Festival:

  • Make sure you’re prepared for the cold weather. The celebration takes place in the middle of winter, so it’s usually pretty cold.
  • The festival lasts for two weeks, so pack your luggage accordingly. 
  • Plan ahead and make proper reservations. This festival in Venice can draw thousands of tourists from around the world. It might be difficult to find good accommodation in time.
  • The date of the carnival depends on the following Easter. So, the dates of carnival changes each year. 
  • If you are trying to be economical, avoid going to the expensive balls. Instead, enjoy the festivities outdoors, watching the parades, street shows, and fireworks.
  • Plarn for walking outdoors for a long time, so invest in a pair of comfortable shoes. 
  • Book your transportation from the airport, rather than depending on the local public transportation systems. It will be a lot safer and easier. 
  • Navigating through the canals can be difficult and dangerous for first time visitors. 
  • Make use of your hotel room or cafeteria restrooms before entering the carnival. 
  • Be friendly and polite to people. Respect each other’s space and culture. 
  • Make sure to take photos and be prepared to take photos for others! People will also want to take your picture if they like your costume – it’s all part of the culture.
Venice Carnival, Venice, Italy

Safety Concerns During the Festival:

  • Venice is considered fairly safe for tourists. You can walk around the city without much safety concerns. 
  • There are some cases of pickpocketing during the packed hours of the carnival.
  • Invest in some travel safety accessories to hide your valuables during your travel. 
  • The safest option during the cold winter is to choose a hotel near the railway station in the upper part of town, or Piazzale Roma.
  • Make sure you have enough health coverage before you go.
  • Make sure you understand the local culture and customs. New comers are most susceptible to potential dangers in the area. Get help from your hotel’s tourist department if needed.

Venice Carnival 2021 Programme – Dates & Events

Saturday, 8th February 2021

  • 7:00pm – 10:00pm Venice Carnival Opening Ceremony 2020. Venice Carnival opens with the traditional Venetian Water Festival @ Rio de Cannaregio.

Sunday, 9th February 2021

  • 10:30pm – 1:00pm Water Parade departs Dogana da Mar in front of la Madonna della Salute Church, and will arrive at the Tre Archi Bridge on Cannaregio Canal, 30 minutes later.

Saturday, 15th February 2021

  • 2:30pm – 4:00pm The Festa delle Marie: Beginning at San Pietro di Castello Church and continues to Saint-Mark Square
  • 4:30pm- 6:30pm Mestre Carnival Street Show @ Piazza Ferretto.
  • 9:00pm – 2:00am Official Carnival Dinner and Ball 2020 in Love @ Cannaregio

Sunday, 16th February 2021

  • 11:00am – 1:00pm The Best Masked Contest – Daily Contest @ Saint-Mark Square
  • 12:00pm – 1:00pm The Flight of the Angel will occur from Saint-Mark Square Bell Tower
  • Mestre Carnival Street Show @ Piazza Ferretto.

Monday 17th February 2021

  • 11:00am – 1:00pm The Best Masked Contest – Daily Contest @ Saint-Mark Square

Tuesday, 18th February 2021

  • 11:00am – 1:00pm The Best Masked Contest – Daily Contest @ Saint-Mark Square

Wednesday, 19th February 2021

  • 11:00am – 1:00pm The Best Masked Contest – Daily Contest @ Saint-Mark Square

Fat Thursday, 20th February 2021

  • 11:00am – 1:00pm The Best Masked Contest – Grand Final Qualifiers @ Saint-Mark Square
  • 3:00pm & 5:00pm Ballata delle Maschere con Il Taglio della Testa al Toro
  • 3:00pm – 10:00pm Burano’s Carnival on the Burano Island.
  • The Re-enactment of the Victory of doge Vitale Michiel II over the patriarch Ulrico of Aquileia & 12 rebel feudatories
  • 9:00pm – 2:00am Official Carnival Dinner and Ball 2020 in Love @ Cannaregio

Friday, 21st February 2021

  • 11:00am – 1:00pm The Best Masked Contest – Grand Final Qualifiers @ Saint-Mark Square
  • 3:00pm & 5:00pm Nicolotti e Castellani @ San Marco square
  • 8:00pm The Santa Chiara Glass Slippers Masquerade Ball at Venice Carnival “A Carnival Fairy Tale” 3° edition

Saturday, 22nd February 2021

  • 11:00am – 1:00pm The Best Masked Contest – Grand Final Qualifiers @ Saint-Mark Square
  • 3:00pm & 5:00pm Marghera cart parade in Piazza Mercato
  • 3:00pm & 5:00pm The Best Masked Contest – Grand Final Qualifiers @ Saint-Mark Square
  • 9:00pm – 2:00am Official Carnival Dinner and Ball 2020 in Love @ Cannaregio

Sunday, 23rd February 2021

  • 12:00 – 1:00pm Eagle Flight @ Saint-Mark Square Bell Tower
  • 11:30am – 1:00pm The Donkey’s Flight from the Tower in Piazza Ferrett
  • 2:30pm The Grand Final Masked Costume Contest Award Ceremony @ Saint-Mark Square.
  • 2:20pm Regata Sprint di Carnevale @ Ca’ Vendramin Calergi and ends at Rialto
  • 3:00pm- 5:00pm – Carnevale Campaltino
  • 9:00pm – 2:00am Official Carnival Dinner and Ball 2020 in Love @ Cannaregio

Monday, 24th February 2021

  • 11:00am – 1:00pm The Best Masked Contest – Daily Contest @ Saint-Mark Square
  • 11:00am – 1:00pm Children’s Best Masked Costume Contest Award Ceremony @ Saint-Mark Square.
  • 3:00pm – 5:00pm The Best Masked Contest – Daily Contest @ Saint-Mark Square
  • 9:00pm – 2:00am Official Carnival Dinner and Ball 2020 in Love @ Cannaregio

Shrove Tuesday, 25th February 2021

  • 11:00am – 1:00pm The Best Masked Contest – Daily Contest @ Saint-Mark Square
  • 2:45pm 53rd Edition of the Children’s Carnival of Zelarino @ streets of Zelarino
  • 3:00pm – 5:00pm The Best Masked Contest – Daily Contest @ Saint-Mark Square
  • 4:00pm The Festa delle Marie 2020 Award Ceremony @ Saint-Mark Square.
  • 5:00pm Lion Flight from Saint-Mark Square Bell Tower
  • 9:00pm – 2:00am Official Carnival Dinner and Ball 2020 in Love @ Cannaregio

The Dates of the Next Venice Carnivals:

  • Venice Carnival 2022: from Saturday 19 February to Tuesday 1 March 2022.
  • Venice Carnival 2023: from Saturday 11 to Tuesday 21 February 2023.

The Venice Carnival, Italy – could be an experience of lifetime. Nothing like this exists anywhere else in the world. It has cultural heritage and history, it has joy and tradition, all rolled into one. You’ll surely enjoy the carnival filled with colors. Everything you experience in this two week long carnival will feel magical – the bright colored boat parades, the masks, the costumes, the street shows, food and vendors. This is a must see event, don’t miss!