Venice is well-known for its unique beauty and romantic atmosphere that seem to have stood still in time.
One festivity that has become tradition in this beautiful city and has captured the attention of thousands of tourists is the Venice Carnival. This carnival is characterised, among other things, by the majestic, vibrantly coloured costumes and elegant masks worn those taking part in the festivities.
The Venice Carnival dates back to the 13th century and reached the peak of its splendour in the 18th century. Although there was a period when it was completely prohibited, since 1979 it has been an official celebration. It lasts for ten days and normally takes place in February or March.
Masks have always been an important feature of the Carnival and in its early days, they allowed nobles to mix with commoners without being noticed and to enjoy pleasures that, due to their social position, were often unavailable to them.
Over the years, these activities became more popular and events began that are now a vital part of the festivities. These include the Best Mask Contest, the Marie Parade (Festa delle Marie) and the Flight of the Angel (Volo dell’Angelo).
If you decide to visit Venice during the celebration of this fabulous Carnival, I recommend that you read this article to make sure you don’t miss out on anything.
Plan your trip:
Although thousands of tourists visit Venice all year round, Carnival time is the most popular time to visit. For this reason, you shouldn’t wait until the last minute to organise your trip.
You also need to bear in mind that, although the Carnival always takes place in the months of February or March, the exact dates are likely to vary from year to year.
It is also important to remember that the Venice Carnival takes place in the winter, so don’t forget to pack suitable clothes!
Masks and costumes:
As I have already mentioned, the Venice Carnival is characterised by its masks and costumes. Even nowadays many of the masks that were popular in the Carnival’s early days can still be seen, especially the “maschera nobile” and the “maschera del galeone”, which are mainly white, gold and silver.
Although many different costumes are available, from the most elaborate to the simplest designs, the most popular are still those similar to the characteristic models from the Carnival’s early years, flamboyantly decorated with feathers, veils and hats.
If you don’t have a mask with you, you can always buy one in the city. There are also street makeup artists who can paint your face with any design you choose.
Many events have become a traditional part of the festivities. One example is the Best Mask Contest. More than a contest, this event is the perfect opportunity to see true works of art represented in a plethora of masks. Anyone can take part and at the end of the day, the best, most beautiful mask wins a prize.
Another popular event that takes place during the Carnival every year is the ¨Marie Parade¨ (Festa delle Marie). Although today’s celebration is very different from what it was in the Carnival’s early days, this is one of the most popular events. When the Carnival began, it was tradition to choose twelve maidens of marrying age and to give them a dowry to pay for their wedding. Nowadays, the “Marie Parade” is a parade with twelve beautiful Venetian girls wearing traditional costumes. The girl considered to be the most beautiful is chosen to be the “Maria” of the year.
The “Flight of the Angel” (Volo dell’Angelo) is another popular and captivating event of the Carnival. This event consists of the descent of the previous year’s winner of the “Marie Parade” on a zip wire from the top of St. Mark’s Tower to a stage set up in the Doge’s Palace, where the Carnival’s opening ceremony takes place.
Like all century-old popular celebrations, the Venice Carnival is the perfect opportunity to try out the city’s typical dishes.
Dishes such as “frittelle” (Venetian fritters), ¨galani¨ or ¨castagnole¨, are some of the most popular treats during Carnival time.
The Venice Carnival is one of the best options if you are planning an unforgettable holiday and want to learn more about the culture and traditions of the people of Venice. I hope this information helps you organise the essentials of your trip, so that you can enjoy your stay in the marvellous city of Venice to the full.