Celebrate Carnevale di Venezia 2020

Carnevale di Venezia is an annual festival held in the Italian city of Venice. The festival coincides with the Catholic tradition of Lent and ends annually on Shrove Tuesday.

The Carnival has become one of the most famous in the world, largely due to the extravagant costumes and masks on display. Elaborate 18th-century designs fill the city’s streets and squares, while millions of people flock to join the festivities.

History of Carnevale

Carnevale is held in the lead up to the start of Lent. During the forty days of lent parties were prohibited, as was eating sugar, meat and fats. In order to prepare for the tradition, people would try to get rid of all their rich foods and drink. The easiest way to do this was by having lavish parties, and thus Carnevale was born.

The first instance of Carnevale traces back to 1162, however, the festivities haven’t been running non-stop since then. In the mid-18th century, Carnevale had all but vanished. The festivities had slowly faded away, and in the 1930s Mussolini had banned the celebrations completely. It wasn’t until the 1970s that Carnevale was revived. Initially revived as a tourism ploy, Carnevale has returned to its lavish routes.

Attending Carnevale

The first week of Carnevale is typically not as vibrant as the second week. We definitely recommended visiting during the second week of festivities to experience the glitz and glamour the carnival is known for.

If you’re planning to attend Carnevale then planning ahead is absolutely key to your enjoyment. Hotels will typically have Carnevale surcharges and book out well in advance. We recommend looking for reputable hotels in Venice for your stay. Alternatively, there is plenty of accommodation just outside of the main city area. There are plenty of accommodation options in the surrounding suburbs and ample public transport heading towards Venice. Busses and taxis may get caught in traffic however bus tickets are relatively cheap. There is also a train taking you right to the entrance.

Carnevale is famous for its vibrancy, and it is best experienced in costume. People wear very elaborate costumes and masks; however, you can easily find inexpensive masks throughout Venice. Pop on a mask and enjoy the anonymity of Carnevale. If you want to splurge out on a costume rental, then be sure to book well in advance. Your accommodation reception should be able to point you in the direction of a costume vendor.

Carnevale is by far the busiest time of year to be in Venice and the streets become incredibly busy. However, it is not a rowdy event, so please be sure to be respectful and patient. Additionally, you should be sure to not allow yourself to drink too much and cause a ruckus. Finally, remember that Carnevale is a winter event, so come prepared for the cold and potentially some rain. Be sure to check weather forecasts and ensure you have appropriate attire.

Events at Carnevale

Though the city is alive with activity, there are a few key events you simply cannot miss! There is a huge combination of public and private events for you to enjoy.

  • Venetian Feast on Water

    The Venetian Feast on Water is the official opening of Carnevale. The parade on water is filled with music, colour, and light. The first day of the feast sees the Cannaregio Canal the place to be. Get to the banks early and wait for daylight to fade and the lit boats to arrive. The next morning the parade continues down the Grand Canal. Venetian boats flow down the canal spectacularly decorated and with their rowers in costume. Following the parade, street stalls sell traditional delicacies and wine.

  • Festa delle Marie

    On February 12, 973 12 young Venetian girls had their marriages consecrated. They were given beautiful dresses and lavish jewels to wear in celebration. However, pirates came and abducted the girls, stealing their jewels and burying their bodies at sea. In order to commemorate them each year, 12 girls are carried through the city to churches. They are paraded to the Doge in St. Mark’s square where they are presented to the public. Across the festival, they make public appearances and the public votes for a ‘winning’ Maria. This Maria will become the Angel at the next Flight of the Angel.

  • Flight of the Angel

    The Flight of the Angel is held on the first day of Carnevale and is a homage to a Turkish acrobat’s skill. The acrobat tightrope walked from a boat and to the top of St Mark’s Tower, then to the Doge Palace. At the time Venetians were stupefied by the feat and it was revived with the revival of Carnevale.

  • Costume Parade

    The costume parade, held in St Mark’s square, is the perfect place to see many amazing costumes at once. Parades occur each day of the festival before the best costume is awarded by a panel of judges on the final day. Anyone can enter the parade and it is free, so if you’ve dressed up and feel like showing off be sure to join in!

  • People Watching

    Potentially the best way to experience Carnevale is to simply wander around Venice and people watch. You’ll come across free public events and plenty of jaw-dropping street artists and costumes.

  • Private events and Balls

    Throughout Carnevale, there are many ticketed events and balls for you to attend. Tickets can be quite pricey so do your research and ensure that your booking an event that will meet your expectations. There are often one-off events at each Carnevale too, so keep an eye out for those too.

Experience it for yourself!

The main festivities of Carnevale 2020 are running from February 20 to February 25 in 2020.

Related article: What Are Some Typical Dishes From Venice?

Language »