What is it:
The Venice Carnival (Carnevale) is an annual festival and public celebration held in Venice, which was first celebrated in the 11th century. It starts around two weeks before Ash Wednesday and ends on Shrove Tuesday, the day before the start of Lent, and takes its name from the Latin for ‘goodbye to meat’. Established by the Venetian oligarchy, its objective was fun and merrymaking, a period in which to enjoy live music and parade around the city. Now Carnevale helps to boost tourism in the city and provides an excuse for locals and visitors alike to dress up in masks and costumes, while paying homage to the city’s traditions.
When to visit:
Traditional food and drinks as well as themed water shows are a feature from the opening day of Carnival, but the main events take place from 7 February. The Volo dell’Angelo or ‘flight of the angel’ on 8 February sees a pretty girl dressed as Colombina glide on a zip-wire from the Campanile to the centre of Piazza San Marco. Key events will also take place inside the Arsenale, Venice’s impressive historic shipyard where musical and dance performances will accompany fireworks and fountains. The last week of the carnival is an explosion of parties, shows and performances. Don’t miss out on Mardi Gras, the grand finale of the Carnival of Venice.
What to wear:
A Venetian mask is a must when visiting the city during the Carnival period. There are many mask shops throughout Venice supplying numerous designs and styles. The most common and iconic is the volto, a white mask that cover the whole face, but more opulent designs are also available. The Columbina, Bauta and Medico della Peste are other recognisable offerings. For other style inspirations, take a look at our gallery here.