šŸ‡®šŸ‡¹ Venice Carnival

There is no other place in the world that celebrates carnival like Venice! This article is filled with loads of useful information, tips, advice and valuable insight to help you plan the best Venetian vacation possible!


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    Your Essential Guide to the 2024 Venice Carnival

    Venice Carnival is one of the most famous carnival celebrations in the world. Every year 3 million people descend upon this floating city to soak up the iconic scenery, admire the extravagant costumes and masks, and be part of an electric atmosphere.

    There is no other place in the world that celebratesĀ carnival like Venice, and everyone must experience it at least once in their lifetime!

    What is the date for the 2024 Venice Carnival?

    The 2024 Venice Carnival dates will run Saturday, February 3, 2024 ā€“ Tuesday 23, February 2024.Ā However, there are some pre-carnival events taking place the week before, starting on February 4, 2023.

    Venice CarnivalĀ always finishes onĀ Shrove Tuesday, the day beforeĀ Ash WednesdayĀ which is the last allowed day when one can indulge in gluttony, excess and debauchery, before the 40 days of Lent will begin.

    The final weekend of Venice Carnival is said to be the best time to attend. So, from Fat Thursday (GiovedƬ Grasso) until Shrove Tuesday (MartedƬ Grasso), is when the best events occur. It is also the busiest time to be in Venice for Carnival.

    What is Carnival in Venice?

    venice carnival

    Well letā€™s start off with clarifying, what is carnival? CarnivalĀ is an annualĀ ChristianĀ celebration that typically occurs before the onset ofĀ LentĀ and generally involves a public celebration of some kind.

    These public celebrations typically includeĀ street parties,Ā parades, ballsĀ or some other form of entertainment. LentĀ is a time of fasting and sacrifice, a farewell from all bodily pleasures for forty days before Easter.

    So, what is Venice Carnival? Venice CarnivalĀ is an annualĀ pre-LentenĀ celebration that is held in Venice, Italy. It runs for the two weeks prior to Ash Wednesday and is filled with a plethora of events like masquerade balls, parties, parades, historical re-enactments and plenty of revelry.

    The elaborate costumes and masks are the essence of Venice Carnival, and people flock from around the world to get their fancy-dress fix. The iconic scenery ofĀ VeniceĀ creates the most magical backdrop for theĀ costumedĀ participants and transforms the city into an enchanting and spellbinding place.

    Carnival in VeniceĀ feels like it has been suspended in time between the past and present.Ā Venice Carnival allows you to experience carnival how the Venetians would have done hundreds of years ago.

    A Brief History of Venice Carnival

    venice carnival

    Venice Carnival is one of the oldest carnivals in the world, in fact the first documented mention was back in 1094. Carnival was a Catholic tradition, a period of feasting, excess and extravagant celebration before the start of Lent, which is 40 days of fasting and sacrifice in the lead up to Easter.

    By the 18thĀ century theĀ Venice CarnivalĀ reached its maximum splendor. It was a celebration that knew no bounds.Ā CarnivalĀ had also gained international recognition and attracted visitors from all over Europe.Ā VeniceĀ was the pleasure playground of Europe and was known for living the good life. It was also the center of gambling, essentially the Las Vegas of its day.

    VenetiansĀ unabashedly took part in lots of debauchery and revelry during carnival. They were able to get away with a lot of things that you couldnā€™t get away with because their identity and sins were concealed behind theirĀ masks. There were lots of wild parties, illicit liaisons, gambling, sleeping around and bloody bullfights. During this period,Ā carnivalĀ would last for six months! It was also during this period that the famous adventurer, artist and ā€˜womanizerā€™ GiacomoĀ CasanovaĀ lived inĀ Venice.

    When Napoleon and his troops invadedĀ VeniceĀ in 1797 carnival was banned. This happened again in a later occupation by the Austrian Empire, which officially saw the end ofĀ Veniceā€™sĀ long reign of independence and carnival was banned. This ban lasted over 200 years and was only relatively recently revived in 1979. Venice Carnival quickly returned to its glory days as it is now one of the most famous and popular carnivals in the world.

    Related: Read our in-depth guide about the history of Venice Carnival?

    What to do during the Venice Carnival?

    venice carnival

    Venice is always an exciting city to be in, but Venice during the Carnival is spellbinding! Embrace it and let yourself be carried away by the energy, enthusiasm, craziness, magic, charm and jubilation that isĀ Venice Carnival. Imagine, for the whole of carnival, the streets are filled with masqueraders dressed in the most extravagant and elaborate costumes and masks.

    Walk around the city and watch street performances or admire the gorgeousĀ costumes and magnificent masks that Venice is famous for. You can greet theĀ maskedĀ characters and pose for a photo or dress up yourself and be part of it. You will feel like you have stepped back in time because there are no modern buildings to spoil the illusion.

    Or you spend the evening attending one of the many private parties or masquerade balls. You could always go see an opera or concert or go on a Venice Pub Crawl or watch one of the awesome historical re-enactments and shows. Or simply just exploreĀ VeniceĀ and see some of its ancient sights and sounds.

    You can also watch some of the amazing free entertainment that is available during carnival. There are numerousĀ parades, theater performances, comedy shows and live music throughout the whole city. Of course, there are impeccable dining options and you must try some of the local cuisine.

    Why not have some romance in the city, countless generations of impassioned lovers over the centuries have exclaimed that there is no better place than Venice for romance. Experience a candlelit dinner, explore a palace, go on a gondola ride for two, or have a romantic tryst under the moonlight.

    You may be interested: 12 Things to Do and See at Venice Carnival

    Top things to do at Venice Carnival

    Venice CarnivalĀ is both a public and privateĀ carnival celebration. During the day you can watch free public events and admire the grandĀ costumes. But during the nightĀ masquerade ballsĀ and parties take place in private Venetian Palaces.Ā 

    Here are some of the best events, parties, balls and carnival tours to do atĀ Venice Carnival:

    Best Masquerade Balls

    • The Glass Slippers Masquerade Ball the Glass Cathedral
    • Venetian Reflections Masquerade Ball by Nicolao Atelier of Stefano NicolaoĀ 
    • Carnival in Love Grand Ball (purchase tickets here)
    • The Ball of Dreams (purchase tickets here)Ā 

    Top ToursĀ 

    Fun Events

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    Top Workshops

    Related:Ā The Best Things to See and Do in Venice

    Venice Carnival Masks

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    Venetian MasksĀ are the hallmark ofĀ Venice Carnival. You cannot mention Venice Carnival without talking about the famous marks. For two weeks every yearĀ VeniceĀ transforms into a runway that features an endlessĀ paradeĀ of gorgeous 18thĀ centuryĀ masksĀ andĀ costumes. WearingĀ masksĀ is a tradition that is as old asĀ Venice CarnivalĀ itself.Ā 

    Venetian masks are recognized by their intricate design, baroque style decorations and feature bright colors or gold and silver. For centuries the masksĀ wereĀ papier-macheĀ and decorated with fur, gems, crystals and feathers.

    The most popularĀ masksĀ are theĀ Bauta masksĀ which cover the entire face but leave space below for eating and talking. TheĀ Colombina Mask is another favorite which only covers the eyes. Then there is theĀ Plague Doctor maskĀ which has a long-beak nose. And theĀ Volto masks which are plain white and cover the full face and are often worn with black hooded capes.

    Suggested Reading: Everything you need to know about Venetian Masks!

    Why do people wear masks at Venice Carnival?

    venice carnival

    Why do people wear masks to Venice Carnival?Ā Venice CarnivalĀ reinterpreted ancient Roman and Greek festivals that saw people dress inĀ masksĀ andĀ costumesĀ to hide differences in social class. With aĀ maskĀ and a hooded cape, you couldnā€™t tell if you were chatting with a noble man or not.

    Venetian Carnival masksĀ also provided anonymity for a few weeks. By becoming anonymous citizens were allowed to indulge in some debauchery. They could gamble freely, or a married person could indulge in some hanky-panky without getting caught.

    Even if you donā€™t dress up most people attending will get into theĀ carnivalĀ spirit and purchase aĀ maskĀ to wear around town.Ā Venetian MasksĀ are the hallmark ofĀ Venice CarnivalĀ and wearing aĀ maskĀ is a tradition that is as old asĀ Venice CarnivalĀ itself. So even if you donā€™t feel like dressing up, it is an absolute must to put on aĀ mask!

    You will notice that there is a siege of cheap made-in-China plasticĀ masksĀ aroundĀ Venice.Ā There are only a few places remaining in the city where local Venice artisansā€™ handcraft traditional carnival masks, using traditions that date back to the XIV century.

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    Venice Carnival Costumes

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    Along with theĀ Venetian MasksĀ you will witness the most gorgeous costumesĀ worn duringĀ Venice Carnival. The most popular costumesĀ worn duringĀ Venice Carnival are traditional 18thĀ centuryĀ VeniceĀ lords and ladies. Another popularĀ costumeĀ is whenĀ masksĀ are worn under black hooded capes.

    Most costumed participantsĀ really make an effort to get into character and play their part. The periodĀ costumesĀ will transport you back to another era and let you experience how carnival would have been celebrated centuries ago, during a time when carnival lasted 6 months and masks were used to conceal your identity and sins.

    There are also plenty ofĀ costumedĀ participants who will put a more modern or creative spin into the outfits they wear. Not everyone goes all out wearing costumes and prefers to instead admire them. Most people attendingĀ Venice CarnivalĀ will just end up buying aĀ maskĀ to wear around town.

    What to Wear at Venice Carnival?

    Wondering what to wear for Venice Carnival?Ā Do you have to wear costumes at Venice Carnival?Ā Most tourists donā€™t dress up forĀ Venice CarnivalĀ and instead prefer to just admire the gorgeous 18th centuryĀ costumes, hooded capes and incredibleĀ masks.Ā 

    If you want to dress up and be part of theĀ costumedĀ fun, then go for it! Some people take dressing up very seriously and completely immerse themselves inĀ costumeĀ and spend months planning. There areĀ costumeĀ shops all over the city that rentĀ costumesĀ if you want to go all out.

    Venice CarnivalĀ is meant to be a fun, relaxed experience, so just wear whatever you feel the most comfortable in. If you think you will feel a little self-conscious in periodĀ costumes,Ā then opt for aĀ mask.Ā Venice CarnivalĀ isnā€™t complete without donning aĀ mask.Ā There are hundreds ofĀ masksĀ shops and street vendors selling beautifulĀ Venetian masksĀ duringĀ carnivalĀ and most tourists will buy one.

    Find out more:Ā Venice Carnival Costumes

    St Markā€™s Square – Public shows and entertainment

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    If the tickets and costumeĀ hire required for theĀ masquerade ballsĀ is a bit too much on the bank account, then donā€™t worry there are plenty of events for free duringĀ Venice Carnival. Most of the free entertainment takes place in St Markā€™s Square, which is the center of all Venice Carnival. A programme of the weekā€™s events and shows will be displayed on notice boards around St Markā€™s Square. Ā 

    A large stage is hoisted in the square, which will be where you can watch the daily masked costumeĀ runway shows, live music, theatre performances, comedy shows and more. The must-see events held inĀ St Markā€™s SquareĀ is the award ceremony for the bestĀ masked costumes, the ā€˜Flight of the Angelā€™Ā and the ā€˜Festa delle Marieā€™, which are the most popular free carnival events.

    There are also plenty of modernĀ carnivalĀ celebrations with DJ sets andĀ street parties that take place in the square. And to add to the excitement, at the end of the day celebrations will culminate in an epic firework display that occurs above St. Marks.

    Venice Carnival Masquerade Balls

    venice carnival

    Venice CarnivalĀ is famous for itsĀ private partiesĀ andĀ masquerade balls.Ā MostĀ ballsĀ andĀ partiesĀ are authentic 18thĀ centuryĀ VenetianĀ events that are still held in a similar manner to how they were in the past. If you want to make your visit to Venice Carnival extra special and memorable it is worth attending one of these glamorous events!

    Some of theseĀ partiesĀ are so exclusive that even Cinderellaā€™s fairy godmother would have difficulty getting you in. They take place in ancientĀ VenetianĀ palaces and buildings. Time stands still at theĀ BallsĀ and allows guests to jump back 300 years into a world of ancient splendor.

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    Most of these have a historical costumeĀ dress code, so you wonā€™t get in without a mask and an haute couture period costume. Most balls involve dinner, drinks, entertainment and musical performances. Purchasing a ticket and a costume to many of these balls can be quite expensive, but it truly is the ultimate carnival experience!

    What Venice Carnival Balls should I attend?

    Here are some of the best 2023 Venice Carnival Masquerade Balls to attend:

    The Santa Chiara Glass Slippers Masquerade BallĀ 

    The Glass Cathedral Presents: The Santa Chiara Glass Slippers Masquerade Ball.

    ā€œA Carnival Fairy Taleā€ on February 17, 2023. The theme of this exclusive ball is based on the fairy-tale of Cinderella and her glass slipper, as she has to hurry home before midnight and leaves her glass slipper behind. This sophisticated ball will transport you straight into a Fairy Tale. You can expect an enchanting evening filled with magic, romance and desire! TheĀ Santa Chiara Glass Slippers Masquerade Ball takes place in The Glass Cathedral ā€“ Santa Chiara, a beautiful magical place that dates back to 1236.

    Venetian Reflections Masquerade Ball by Nicolao Atelier of Stefano Nicolao

    Venetian Reflections is the theme for this exclusive and luxurious Masquerade Ball by Nicolao Atelier and Stefano Nicolao. This carnival party will take place on February 19, 2022 at Palazzo Labia. The shows and animations are all directed by Maestro Nicolao Stefano creating an unforgettable evening. Nicolao will dress the participants in the most incredible costumes, that will create an exceptional atmosphere for the guests.

    Carnival in Love Grand Ball

    The Grand Ball Carnival in love is an exclusive masquerade ball that will take place in the Palazzo Ca ‘Zen ai Frari on Saturday February 18, 2023. The theme for this event is ” Le Miroir Magique “. Run by the Russolo Family, this is another unforgettable night in a beautiful baroque palace.

    The Ball of Dreams

    The annual Ball of Dreams takes place on 11th February 2023 in the medieval Palazzo Contarini and re-creates an enchanting atmosphere from bygone eras. There is a gourmet dinner, drinks, dancing and a wonderful party.

    Where to stay in Venice during the Carnival?

    Venice CarnivalĀ attracts three million visitors, so it is very important that you book at least six months in advance to get better choices, prices and availability. There are definitely a few things to consider when booking accommodation because there are many differences between neighborhoods. Do you want to be near the action, or maybe you will need to take a water taxi back to your hotel?Ā 

    TheĀ San MarcoĀ districtĀ orĀ CannaregioĀ is where most of the action occurs but is of course more expensive and crowded. If you want less crowds and more budget friendly accommodation then considerĀ Veniceā€™sĀ other neighborhoods likeĀ Castello, Dorsoduro, Mestre,Ā Santa Croce, San Polo, Giudecca or Lido.

    • San Marco District:Ā St. Markā€™s Square is the center of all the carnival action. This is the place to stay if you want to be close to everything. This district is also home to most of Veniceā€™s iconic attractions and monuments. There is no shortage of accommodation options, particularly 5 star hotels. However, this is the most expensive area in Venice. Check accommodation in San Marco here.
    • The Cannaregio District:Ā This district is located very close to St. Markā€™s Square and has plenty of accommodation options from five-star hotels to smaller ones. Cannaregio is filled with quiet canals, cost restaurants and trendy bars. It is still one of the more expensive areas in Venice. Find accommodation in Cannaregio.
    • Castello:Ā This area is about a 15-minute walk to St Markā€™s Square. This area can provide you an escape from the crowds and is a great option to save money as it offers plenty of budget accommodation. Check accommodation in Castello.Ā 
    • Santa Croce:Ā Is a longer walk to reach St Markā€™s Square and all the Venice Carnival activities. However, it is a great option for those wanting to save money as it has plenty of cheaper accommodation. The area is quite industrial and more modern than other districts. Check accommodation in Santa Croce
    • Dorsoduro:Ā Sitting in Eastern Venice, this is a long walk to St Markā€™s Square and all the Venice Carnival activities. However, it is a fraction of the costs and a lot less crowds. It has some great bars and restaurants and cheaper accommodation options. Check accommodation in Dorsoduro
    • Giudecca:Ā Considered the hipster part of the island that sits opposite the Dorsoduro district. It has been taken over by hipsters and is home to lots of hostels and cheap accommodation options. Check accommodation options in Giudecca.

    Check out Booking.com for the best accommodation deals for Venice Carnival.

    Read Our In-depth Guide: Where to stay in Venice during Carnival?

    Venice Carnival 2024 Programme ā€“ Dates & Events


    La Festa Veneziana sullā€™acqua – Venetian Water Festival

    venice carnival

    La Festa Veneziana sullā€™acqua is the Grand opening of the Venice Carnival and runs over two days on the first weekend of carnival. These events are very popular, with both tourists and locals. So, if you plan on going, play it safe and arrive early, we recommend arriving at least one to two hours before it starts.

    2024 in Rio di Cannaregio TBA

    The official start is on Saturday which begins with a spectacular water show. Festa Veneziana is truly a show that promises to enchant you with an array of aquatic performances, costumes, Venetian masks and alluring music. Crowds are delighted by the beautiful artistic boats that parade through the waters.

    2024 in the Grand Canal TBA

    Sunday begins with the first regatta of carnival, the Regata delle Columbine. Beginning at 10:30am it starts at the Grand Canal and finishes in Cannaregio, where there are lots of food stalls serving delicious venetian treats and mulled wine, which is helpful for beating the cold weather.

    Festa delle Marie – The Marie Festival

    • Where: The ā€˜Marie paradeā€™ departs from San Pietro in Castello and follows Via Garibaldi finishing at St Markā€™s Square.

    Parade Route: The ā€˜Marie parade’ departs from San Pietro in Castello and follows Via Garibaldi finishing at St Markā€™s Square.

    This traditional event ā€œFesta delle Marieā€, is a must for those who love historical re-enactments and are interested in learning all about the history of the city. It refers to the purification of Mary, a day when all the marriages were blessed. The Venetian Doge would offer a dowry to 12 beautiful but poor Venetian girls.

    But, in 973, pirates kidnapped the twelve Mariesā€™ and their jewelry during the ceremony. To commemorate this event a parade occurs where the 12 lovely girls are paraded through the streets to give thanks to the Virgin Mary for her help in rescuing the girls. It is one of the main carnival parades and locals and tourists flood St. Markā€™s Square to watch.

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    After the parade, an award ceremony for the winner occurs on the last day of Carnival in St Markā€™s Square with the girls arriving by boat and leaving from Camp San Giacomo dellā€™Orio. The winner of the parade will go on to be the person that jumps out of the Bell Tower at the following year’s Flight of the Angel.

    Il Volo dellā€™Angelo – Flight of the Angel

    venice carnival

    • Where: St Markā€™s Square

    Il Volo dellā€™AngeloĀ also known asĀ The Flight of the AngelĀ is one of the highlights ofĀ Venice Carnival.Ā This event actually dates back to the originalĀ carnivalsĀ that occurred during theĀ La SerenissmaĀ period. It is the event that officially kicks offĀ Venice CarnivalĀ and is also one of the most popular free events atĀ Venice Carnival, so if you want to witness it, get there early.

    It takes place at midday on the first Sunday ofĀ carnival. Promptly at the strike of 12 noon, an acrobat will leap off theĀ San Marco Bell TowerĀ and fly through the air, landing in the middle ofĀ Saint Markā€™s SquareĀ to the delight of the crowd.

    The event first started back in the 16thĀ century when a daring Turkish acrobat caused quite the stir by succeeding to walk on a rope that was anchored to a boat in front of theĀ Piazza San Marco, all the way up to the top of theĀ Bell Tower. He also paid homage to theĀ DogeĀ when he reached the balcony of theĀ Palazzo DucaleĀ during his descent.

    The crowds were so impressed that this stunt became an annual tradition that was repeated by tightrope walkers every year. Unfortunately, an acrobat fell to his death during the stunt in 1759 and the event was outlawed from furtherĀ carnivals,Ā only to be revived in 1979 after two centuries of abandonment.

    Today the winner of the previous yearā€™sĀ Festa della MarieĀ gets the honor of dressing up in periodĀ costumesĀ and descending along a zip line from the bell tower.

    Fat Thursday – The re-enactment of the victory of doge Vitale Michiel II

    Another highlight of Venice Carnival is Fat Thursday. In Venice this day was dedicated to the memory of the victory of doge Vitale Michiel II, against the Patriarch of Aquileia, who had conquered Grado, which was a move that was deliberately done with the intent to bring Venice under German subjugation. The Doge reacted quickly, sending a fleet to Grado, which he surrounded and successfully captured.

    TheĀ Patriarch,Ā seven hundred soldiers and 12 rebel landlords were captured and taken back to Venice. The Pope however wanted to re-establish peace and demanded the men be released. In exchange every year Aquileia would have to send one bull, twelve pigs, and 12 loaves of bread to Venice as a form of compensation.

    The animals were seen to symbolize the Patriarch (the bull) and the 12 rebel lords (the pigs) and every year a public ceremony was held to commemorate the victory. The animals were publicly taunted before the bullā€™s head was cut off. All the animals were slaughtered, cooked and distributed amongst the people during the celebrations.

    This is where that Venetian expression ā€œto cut off the bullā€™s headā€, came from. It means to settle a matter once and for all. The ceremony is still performed today, but donā€™t worry they no longer use a real bull.

    Flight of the Eagle – Volo dellā€™Aquila

    • Location: Saint Mark’s Square

    Flight of the EagleĀ known as Volo dellā€™Aquila in Italian, is another spectacular flight that takes place from St Markā€™s Bell Tower. It is always executed by a surprise guest. In 2019 it was Adriana Fontana, a Short Track champion with 8 Olympic Medals!Ā  Other protagonists over the years have included Giusy Versace, Carolina Kostner, Fabrizia Dā€™Ottavio and famous bass player Saturnino Celani.

    Flight of the Donkey ā€“ Volo dellā€™Asino

    • Location: Piazza Ferretto ā€“ Mestre, Italia

    Flight of the donkeyĀ is a grotesque parody of the famousĀ Flight of the AngelĀ which takes place in Mestre. It essentially aims to poke fun at that event. The event was born as a mere joke in 2002 when the President of the Mandragola association convinced an actor to dress as a donkey and lower himself from the Tower of Via Poerio.

    In the following years numerous personalities became the donkey like figure skater Giulia Cotogno, rowing champion Nicola Dallā€™Acqua and Luigi Sicuranza. The parody eventually became an annual tradition and is certainly a funny event to watch.

    Best Masked Costume Competition

    • Location: Saint-Mark Square

    Masks are what makes Venice Carnival so unique. Entire costumes are created around the selection of a mask. This tradition dates back to the 5th century. Masquerades come from all over the world to take part in this tradition.

    The Best Masked Costume Competition takes place daily at 11:00am daily during the 10 days of carnival, and the daily winners will then go on to participate in the final parade held on the last Sunday of carnival.

    The daily masked costume parades are one of the best free events and provide ample photo opportunities. Striking and elegant masquerades strut their stuff in St Marks Squares to the admiration of the crowds.

    But donā€™t just watch the parade, why not be in the parade! Yes, that is right, anyone can take part, and it is completely free to enter. You donā€™t even have to worry about stage fright as you will be hidden behind your mask. If you are traveling to Venice with your kids, they even had a chance to participate with separate slots for the children.

    Grand Final Masked Costume Contest Award Ceremony

    • Location: Saint-Mark Square.

    In the finale, you will see the best of the best. All the daily winners will go in front of a jury composed of experts, who will deliberate and announce two winners in the two different categories. The first is Best Masked Costume and the second is Best Masked Costume in accordance with the selected theme for that yearā€™s carnival.

    The Festa delle Marie Award Ceremony

    • Location: Piazza San Marco

    An award ceremony will take place to crown this yearā€™s winning ā€œMariaā€. It will take place in San Marco Square. The 12 Marieā€™s will arrive by boat and then exit from Campo San Giacomo dellā€™Orio. The crowning ceremony for the winning Maria will commence at 4pm.

    The Final Act Svolo del Leone – the Flight of the Lion

    • Location: Piazza San Marco
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    A Lion is the official symbol of the city. The official final activity of the Venice Carnival is theĀ flight of the Lion of San Marco, which has been painted on a large canvas. At the end of carnival, it gets hoisted from the square to the top of Bell Tower, while the 12 Mariesā€™ and the Doge salute the flag. Following this there is a magnificent firework show that can be seen from practically every spot in the city.

    Ice Skating at Venice Carnival

    Ice Skating is one of the most beloved traditions in Venice and is on every single day of Carnival. Thousands of locals and tourists will enjoy ice skating in Camp San Polo. It is fun and the perfect way to spend a romantic winter day.

    Vivaldi Venice Carnival Concert

    A trip to Venice isnā€™t complete without immersing yourself in the music of 18th century Venice. During this time, Venice was the ā€˜Las Vegasā€™ of the world. It was the pleasure capital and a time when there were loads of dances, concerts, balls and parties. Late-night revelry used to take place inside Veniceā€™s churches and concert halls. The music of that time was classical music. Venetian-born Antonio Vivaldi, who had originally been an ordained priest, gave up priesthood and instead followed his passion for music. Today he is recognized as one of the greatest Baroque composers and his influence has spread across the world. Attending a Vivaldi concert is one of the most special events you can do during your visit to Venice Carnival.Ā 

    You can purchase tickets to a Vivaldi Four Seasons Concert Ticket at the Vivaldi Church here

    Indulge your sweet tooth with lots of delicious Venetian treats

    CarnivalĀ is historically the period that precedes 40 days of Lent prior to Easter. It is a time when you can indulge, particularly with food, before the long period of abstinence and sacrifice begins.Ā Venice CarnivalĀ had a reputation for its decadence and overindulgence, so this is your opportunity to overindulge in some delicious Venice Carnival Foods and not feel bad.

    A localĀ VenetianĀ specialty that you absolutely must try duringĀ carnivalĀ is calledĀ Fritelle,Ā which is another tradition fromĀ La Serenissma, and literally means fritters. It is a type of fried donut that begins showing up a few weeks prior toĀ carnival.Ā It can be filled or not, rolled in cane sugar or dusted with powdered sugar. The Nutella filled ones, as well as the chocolate cream and rum ones are very popular, and they disappear as soon asĀ carnivalĀ ends.

    In fact, they were so popular that it was declared the national desert, and only an exclusive amount of people were allowed to make them. To become one of those people you could only do it by birth right, if your father made them. Today they are in almost every pastry shop inĀ Venice.

    The otherĀ VenetianĀ dessert that you absolutely must try is theĀ galani. This is a type of deep-fried flat pastry.Ā  Another traditional desert is a plate ofĀ castagnole. These are little fried balls of dough, served with icing sugar. If you have a sweet tooth, then you are going to love indulging in these sweet delicacies.

    Suggested Reading: All About Venice Carnival Desserts

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    Go on a Venice Carnival Pub Crawl

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    A great alternative to theĀ Masked BallsĀ is to go on aĀ Venice Carnival Pub Crawl, orĀ giro dā€™ombraĀ as it is referred to inĀ Italian.Ā It is actually a veryĀ VenetianĀ thing to do and a tradition that has been going on for centuries. TheĀ VenetiansĀ would often move from bar to bar (bacaro to bacaro) and enjoyĀ Venetian tapas, drink good wine and socialize.

    BecauseĀ Venice CarnivalĀ is more active in the daytime, there isnā€™t too much of a nightlife scene. So, a pub crawl is a great way to spend an evening out. Dress in your finest and join fellow travelers from around the world as you are taken to some of theĀ best bars in Venice. You must try someĀ Venetian SpritzĀ as well as some of the great wines that come from theĀ Veneto region.

    You can purchase a ticket for a Venice Carnival Pub Crawl here.

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    Venice Carnival Tips

    1. Book Early! We cannot stress this enough! You will be joining millions of other people from around the world so planning ahead will ensure you get the best deals. This applies to your accommodation, plane tickets, carnival events and even restaurants!
    2. Public bathrooms are tricky to come by especially if your hotel isnā€™t close. Use the restroom whenever you stop at a restaurant or cafĆ©.
    3. Venice Carnival is a winter event and the daily temperature is around 4Ā°C (39Ā°F), highs of 7Ā°C (45Ā°F) and lows of 0.5Ā°C (33Ā°F)! It also may be rainy. So warm clothing is essential! Think hats, scarves and gloves!
    4. If you are wearing a costume, then be prepared for lots of people wanting photos with you, especially if your costume is very elaborate. Also, if you are the one asking others for a photo then just be mindful of their time.
    5. Remember, Venice Carnival can be very crowded, so donā€™t get stressed out by the crowds. Lots of people just contribute to the atmosphere!
    6. Although most of the events take place around Piazza San Marco, we highly recommend breaking away from the crowds and wandering around the city. There are carnival events held in almost every neighborhood. Venice Carnival is a festive and elegant affair, but it’s not a rowdy scene like you would find at Rio Carnival.
    7. Fat Thursday to Shrove Tuesday is considered the best time to visit Venice Carnival and when the most popular events occur, and when most of the crowds visit. There is still plenty of entertainment and carnival events on before this week so if you want to enjoy carnival without the crowds this is when we recommend going.
    8. Be warned that there can sometimes be flooding in parts of the city, you can still get around as there are walkways that are placed along the main paths. You can consult the tide forecast page for the latest news and updates at the Tide Monitoring and Forecast Centre of Venice.

    How much is Venice Carnival?

    venice carnival

    It is a hard question to answer because you can do Venice Carnival on a budget, if you stay at a hotel a little further away from the action or get a good deal booking in advance, then you can save a lot of money. There are plenty of cheap places to eat around Venice and you can even make a costume without spending too much money.

    Honestly one of the biggest misconceptions about attending Venice Carnival is that itā€™s expensive! Ā From free guided museum tours, to free shows, free costume parades, free live music, to special video projections, there is so much stuff to do that wonā€™t cost you a penny!

    šŸ‡¬šŸ‡§ Notting Hill Carnival

    However,Ā if youā€™d like to attend one of the privateĀ partiesĀ andĀ balls thenĀ you must have deep pockets because these tickets are very pricey. TheĀ ballsĀ range from a few hundred to thousands of euros and can even cost more than your trip to Venice. Do your research and you can have an excellent time at Venice Carnival on any budget.

    How to get to Venice Carnival?

    • By Plane: You can fly to Marco Polo Airport which sits about 10km north of Venice. It is one of the biggest and busiest airports in northern Italy.
    • By Bus: It is possible to get there by bus, but you must know that as motorized road transport in Venice is forbidden you can only get as far as Piazzale Roma, the main bus terminal. From there you need to transfer and take a vaporetto, which is a water bus to get deeper into Venice.
    • By Train:Ā All the rail connections in Venice will end at the Santa Lucia Train Station also known as the Ferrovia Venezia Santa Lucia, in Italian. This station is located within the lagoon and is the main terminal where most trains come from the rest of Europe and other cities in Europe. Another major train station is located in Mestre or Ferrovia Venezia Mestre as it’s known in Italian. This is located back on the mainland.
    • By Car: As motorized car traffic in Venice is not allowed it defeats the purpose of arriving by car. Visitors must leave their car in one of the car parks located in Piazzale Roma. It’s important to note that parking is not free either.

    Book your Hotel and Flight for the Venice Carnival


    Where to Eat at Venice?

    Now it is hard for us to give you a list of good restaurants inĀ VeniceĀ because honestly there are so many you are spoilt for choice. But in saying that it is also easy to find very bad overpriced food thereĀ too! Our key advice is to research restaurants before you arrive and even make some restaurant bookings in advance, especially for the cafes and restaurants aroundĀ St.Ā Markā€™s SquareĀ because they fill upĀ quicklyĀ and can also be quite expensive.

    To avoid the tourist trap restaurants a good indicator is if someone is outside the restaurant trying to lure you in with a tourist menu whilst offering a free bellini, we recommend to keep on walking. Or if you are offered a menu with pictures and it is in several different languages, it is a pretty goodĀ indicationĀ that you are not about to be served authentic, fresh food.

    Also donā€™t overlook some of the tiny bacari, they only hold a dozen or so people but can have some surprisingly good food. Order some Cicchetti, which are small dishes like tapas, shared with friends over a glass of wine. Cicchetti Bars have their ownĀ specialtiesĀ and are known to have some of the best dishes around. So, donā€™t ignore these small assuming places.

    Of course, you are inĀ Italy, the home of pizza and pasta, but whilst inĀ VeniceĀ you must try some of the local food that is available in this region.Ā VeniceĀ is home to excellent seafood! Make sure that you have at least one seafood dish during your stay!

    You may be interested:Ā Check out our Foodies Guide to Venice.

    We recommend:Ā 

    How to get around Venice Carnival

    Venice is unique compared to other cities as you can easily get lost in its maze-like picturesque streets. The strength of Venice is its water way, Venice is completely surrounded by water. Venice consists of 121 islands that are connected by 435 bridges, separated from the Adriatic Sea by a lagoon and a series of islands.

    You can actually get around Venice on foot, itā€™s a great way to discover the island and get lost amongst the beautiful buildings, alleys and squares. All you need is a good map and a good pair of shoes! Yellow signs on the side of buildings will always give directions to the main points of the city like San Marco etc.

    If you prefer not to walk then you can always catch the vaporetto, the water buses that is Veniceā€™s public transport. You will find all the information about lines, fares and timetables on the ACTV website who manage the service. Also, you can pre-purchase your tickets through https://www.veneziaunica.it/ or through their app. You can also just purchase a ticket on board. You can download a map with all the Venice waterway routes here.

    Of course, there are ways to get around the city. An option is a gondola that go from one bank to another. Gondola ferries are located in San Marcuola, San Samuele, Santa Maria del Giglio, Santa Sofia, Punta della Dogana and San TomĆ . For tourists it costs about ā‚¬ 2.00.Ā 

    Is Venice Carnival Safe?

    Venice is not at all considered a dangerous city. For the most part you can walk safely around by canals and campos. However, there is some petty crime with pickpocketing. Venice tends to be at its most packed during carnival and pickpockets tend to gravitate towards heavily congested areas.

    Acqua alta is periods of high water which occur in winter because of the tidal waters and strong winds. During these times they say to the safest option is to choose a hotel in the upper part of town, near the railway station or Piazzale Roma.

    Highly Recommended! ā€“ Viareggio Carnival!

    Whatā€™s more fun than celebrating carnival once, is celebrating it twice! We highly recommend that if you are already planning on attending Venice Carnival that you also head to Tuscany and attend Viareggio Carnival which is one of the worldā€™s most renowned carnivals. This Italian town puts on a carnival that is like nothing else in the world! What separates this carnival from the rest, is their awe-inspiring floats! Viareggio Carnival holds the title of having the ā€˜worldā€™s best carnival floats!ā€™ No other carnival even comes close!

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