Everything You Need to Know About The Viareggio Floats & Float Parade

Masks, music, costumes, wine, food and floats! It’s that time of year again when the tradition of Carnival arrives in Italy again! So, it is time to dress up in your best costume and mask, forget about your worries and celebrate life! And no celebration is bigger or livelier than Viareggio Carnival! One of the most important and re-owned carnivals in the world with its grander float parade!
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    ▷ Where is the Viareggio Carnival Parade?

    The Viareggio Carnival Parade takes place in a ring-like circuit that is about 2km long, on the seaside avenue of Viareggio, and is best known as La Passeggiata. The Viareggio Carnival and its Passeggiata transform into a true open air Museum, where there are no barriers, and the floats move freely among the spectators!

    viareggio floats

    ▷ How does the Viareggio Carnival Parade work?

    The highlight of Viareggio Carnival is the Carnival Float Parade known as the corsi mascherati! Every year, three cannon shots are fired into the sea which signals for the parade of floats to begin. Every parade is composed of 14 floats. There are 9 floats in the first category (the largest floats), 5 in the second category. As well as 9 group masquerades and 8 single masquerades.

    How does the Viareggio Carnival Parade work? During the parade they all compete in a fierce competition between all the floats and masquerades. At stake is the honour and livelihoods of many people! Each parade has a different jury which votes on the winning floats. On the very last day of carnival, it all ends with a proclamation of the winners!

    The Viareggio Float Parades compete in a system which is like many sporting leagues. In any two years whoever receives the least points from the first category is pushed into the second category. And whoever wins from the second category moves up to the first!

    ▷ The Viareggio Carnival Floats – The Best in the World!

    The Viareggio Carnival floats are huge! In fact, they are the world’s largest floats, so big that they are often taller than many of the buildings along the promenade. People are generally shocked when they see them for the first time, impressed by their sheer size. But the floats are also incredibly beautiful and extremely complex! It takes an entire year to create them!

    The basic material used to construct the floats is paper mâché or carta a calco. Generally speaking the biggest papier-maché floats will weigh about forty tonnes, be around 15 meters long, 10 meters wide and over 30 meters high! The only limit to the floats sizes is the width of the streets they navigate!

    The floats are able to move via ingenious mechanisms and are always animated with awesome music and dances.  Each float has a band playing live music on it and around 200 dancers! Who wave, cheer and dance for the crowds, all in costume, and in harmony with the chosen theme of the float! The dancers enliven the scene, passing mere inches in front of you.

    While they parade along the seafront, the float is animated from within by a crew of around 20 people, who operate the mechanisms that make heads on the float turn, mouths open and smile, eyes roll, arms and legs move, or if it is a bird it will be able to spread their wings any little details can come to life!

    They are created with ancient knowledge that goes back to the ancient ‘trionfi’ (war-victory feastings) of the Renaissance, adhering to the building techniques used to construct large sailing boats. They are an absolute pride of Viareggio traditions and it is impossible for any visitor experiencing these travelling theatres to not be swept up in the emotion created by this living art form.

    ▷ The Carrista

    The creativity and craftsmanship of the floats, their vast scale and the attention to detail is truly impressive. Behind this extraordinary work are the masterful Viareggio float builders! Many of whom have inherited their craftsmanship from their parents or grandparents. Knowledge and family secrets have been passed down through the generations and is still continued on with dedication and pride!

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    The carrista is the Italian word for these master artisans. The carristas know how to amaze the audiences as well as challenge each other with their astonishing technical and artistic creations! The carrista is a sculpture, an engineer, an artisan and a carpenter. But above all else the carrista is an artist! Almost every carrista is born and raised in Viareggio or its surroundings.

    Building these floats is no simple task! An intensive creative and manual process are necessary to create these masterpieces.  They take a whole year to create, with around 3-4 months dedicated to designing them and around 6 months to construct them!

    There are over 25 craft enterprises in Viareggio and around 1000 people involved in the creation of these masterpieces. Floats are created with the help of many volunteers who support the buildings in intensive manual labour. After paying their dues for a year, they are often given the chance to build a single mask that will be judged in the parade. They can then move up to winning group masks in the second category, until they compete as first category float makers.

    ▷ The Subject and Satire!

    Constructing a float is about more than just creating something beautiful! Every float has a meaning behind it. The creators express their passions and thoughts through their art! While every year Viareggio Carnival has one overall theme, each parade float portrays its own message and story through the craftsmanship!

    Since the very beginning Viareggio Carnival has always been an event for public amusement. Its floats carried messages about public issues. Back in 1899, a float made fun of a secret treaty Italy had signed. In 1912 another float criticised Italian foreign policy. The force these political statements had was so powerful that the event became censored during Mussolini’s reign. Thankfully today censorship no longer exists!

    What makes Viareggio Carnival stand out against other carnival celebrations around the world is the sharp political satire that is depicted in the floats. Often linked to contemporary issues like climate change, immigration, environmental issues, politics, the bureaucracy that plagues the Italian system, racism, the economic crisis and so on.

    Regardless of what issue or subject is being portrayed they are always depicted using satire and humour. The floats confront heated issues head-on while managing to laugh at them, too! Every participant performs with humour, creativity and colours. The floats provide an invitation to rediscover oneself!  Every tiny detail in the float usually represents a wider concept.

    The floats often feature caricatured depictions of figures from cultural, political and environmental spheres. The towering characters are often whimsical, allegorical, funny, mythological, satirical or often known faces of domestic and international politics, show business or historical figures.

    The figures are stunning in their visual artistry! They come to life by the sophisticated machinery that lets them move their face and limbs. The accompanied dancers also precede and follow each float dressed and dancing in a style that evokes the subject of their float.

    One famous float that was seen around the world, making headlines in all the newspapers, was the Viareggio Carnival Trump Float that was created for Carnevale back in 2019 by float designer Umberto Cinquini. He conceived a theme with Donald Trump commanding a Los Vegas-style saloon, which was populated by gun-happy cowboys and cheerleaders.

    ▷ Viareggio Carnevale Tickets

    How much is Viareggio Carnival? Entrance to the Carnival celebration in Viareggio costs €20 for an adult, except the Thursday parade which costs 15 euros. Entrance is free for young children up to 1.2 meters in height and €15 for the rest. If you’d like a seat in the metal bleachers, you can purchase an additional ticket for €15 plus the entrance fee of €20.

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    You can also buy cumulative Viareggio Carnival tickets for all 6 parades which costs much less: €35 euros for adults and €25 for kids if bought prior to 6th January 2021. After that it will cost 40 for adults and 30 for kids.

    If you would like a seat in the metal stands in Piazza Mazzini located in the central part of the parade route where the judges sit, which offer an elevated view of the parade it requires advance booking of at least 20 days. It can be done via fax +39 0584/580771 or e-mail biglietteria@ilcarnevale.com and costs 15 euros in addition to the entry ticket.

    However, we recommend sticking with the crowd where the floats move amongst you. It is such a great vibe and atmosphere and you are able to move around. The floats are so tall that you don’t need to worry about crowds blocking your view. However, the stands are a good option if you have mobility issues.

    ▷ Where can you buy tickets for Viareggio Carnival?

    You can buy your tickets on the day from the ticket booths on site or they can be pre-purchased online here.

    ▷ The 2021 Viareggio Carnival Floats have been revealed!

    Every year millions flock to this Tuscan town because of their amazing carnival floats! Which are stunning, awe-inspiring masterpieces! These floats have been wowing audiences for years and 2021 will be no exception.  

    The Viareggio artists through the use of satire and allegory mock the weaknesses, strength, vices and virtues of our society. This next edition of carnival, the story focuses on contemporaneity, with a positive look towards the future. The health emergency of coronavirus, the danger of extinction of the indigenous peoples of Brazil and the social situation and US policy stand out among the issues addressed by the manufacturers.

    They will pay tribute to a lot of famous people and among the characters represented on the allegorical constructions include Charlie Chaplin, Luis Sepulveda , Anna Frank, Rita Levi Montalcini, Ezio Bosso, Merkel, Nelson Mandela, Giuseppe Conte, Pirandello, Luzzati, Puccini and Ariosto and Freddie Mercury.

    First Category Floats

    Once upon a time in America

    by Jacopo Allegrucci

    viareggio 2021-5

    “We have learned to fly like birds,  swim like fish, but we have not learned the art of living as brothers”. This was said by Martin Luther King last century. But in the America of today very little has changed. And the brutality of the grave episodes of 2020 testify that for the African American community, the American dream did not yet happen.


    by Alessandro ADVANCED

    viareggio 2021-6

    The indigenous peoples of Brazil, custodians of the knowledge of the Earth, have been threatened since the time of the Conquest by the corporate financial interests and they continue to resist. In July 2020 6,803 fires Amazon bushfires occurred, in the place richest in biodiversity. Incessantly attacked in the name of “economic development”. Chico Mendes’ words were prophetic: “At first I thought I was fighting for save the trees, then I thought I was fighting to save the rainforest of the Amazon. Now I understand that I am fighting for humanity.” We listen to the peoples of the forest who are telling us: “ixé aiku iké”, I’m here!

    Aisha Noel

    Below below

    by Luca Bertozzi

    viareggio 2021-7

    How many times have we been there you ask yourself: what will be there underneath? And we are being captured by theories and distrust. The constructor, using the sea as a metaphor of life, shows us what is really there below below. In the middle of the turtle community in travel we see that one moves away from the group, pushed by curiosity and scepticism, but stands in front of only nasty surprises.

    Artemis: nature rebels

    by Luigi Bonetti

    viareggio 2021-8

    The eternal struggle between good and evil, between death and life, has been going on since the dawn of time. And with the language of the mythological narrative the builder stages the battle for the survival that Demeter, goddess of the Earth, has waged against the demon of death. To fight is Artemis, who with strength and anger rushes against the enemy to be killed.

    Wonderful World

    by Umberto, Stefano, Michele Cinquini and Silvia Cirri

    viareggio 2021-9

    He sacrificed 27 years of his life locked up in a small cell, cultivating the hope of demonstrating to humanity that the world is actually a wonderful place. Nelson Mandela is the protagonist of this construction and today his message is stronger than ever.

    Get out of this body!!

    by Fabrizio Galli

    viareggio 2021-1

    The pandemic that has upset our time; the fight of the scientific world against the virus; the commitment of doctors and nurses to block its spread. Indelible images that tell the battle against the coronavirus, so small, but so powerful that it replicates itself in excess to form an unstoppable beast. The construction wants to reflect on how much happens and express the deepest gratitude to all health workers, heroes of our time, committed to freeing ourselves from this hellish nightmare.


    by Lebigre and Roger

    viareggio 2021-2

    While a bunch of haggard pot-bellied plutocrats he gloats by gorging himself on the latest economic and natural resources of the Earth, billions of people live in the balance between precariousness and poverty. To narrate this social injustice is Charlie Chaplin who, with his visionary irony and great humanity, has been able to depict in his films with great poetry the dignity of those who do not trade there for anything of their own integrity.

    It can be done

    by Luciano Tomei

    viareggio 2021-3

    A splash of color, good humor and positivity on a gray and sad world. That’s what invites us to be an imaginary painter at the center of the building, reminding us that “it can be done”, as the title of a famous song by Angelo Branduardi says. Because in the end the Carnival it is also this: to regenerate life after death.


    by Roberto Vannucci

    viareggio 2021-4

    A hymn to life. A hymn to feelings, to sensations, to desires and to the hopes that mark us since birth. A hymn to all that is dear and unique. Life is to be enjoyed in every instant. 

    Second Category Floats

    Be the change 

    By Priscilla Borri e Antonino Croci

    viareggio 2021-11

    Like a splendid lotus flower, which has always been a symbol of rebirth, Rita Levi Montalcini has represented the icon of change for over a century. She was responsible for the discovery of NGF protein initiating the development of neuroscience. They had to fight both against racial laws of 1938, as a Jew, and with the world of research, as a woman. Has dedicated her life to encourage young people in the search to be themselves protagonists of change. Right in the face of the health emergency … be the change!

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    By the Breschi Brothers

    viareggio 2021-12

    Applause, many and deserved, to all the Italians who with strength and the spirit of sacrifice dealt with the health emergency. The big tri-color symbolises Community, while the white clown in the center of the building and the masks representing the Regions, icons of a positive thought, express the moving solidarity, in which, after the lockdown, all of us are identified to raise our heads.


    By Marzia Etna and Matteo Lamanuzzi

    viareggio 2021-13

    After the great health and economic crisis, Europe would like to restart with a big party in footsteps of an imaginary Oktoberfest. Auspicious or impossible dream? It is the chancellor who starts German Angela Merkel, which still holds the ranks of the power in the Old Continent. However, because the leaders Italian, French, English and Spanish could end up swallowed by the party, they are drowned in beer.

    One, none and a hundred thousand

    by Carlo Lombardi

    viareggio 2021-14

    “You will learn the hard way that along your path you will encounter millions of masks every day and very few faces “. Inspired by the homonymous work by Luigi Pirandello, the builder invites us to reflect on the multitude of masks that everyday life leads us to wear, that we no longer recognize who we are, while our identity shatters into a hundred thousand. The construction is a metaphor for the life of today’s man, so changeable and illusory.

    The furious Orlando

    by Franco Malfatti

    viareggio 2021-10

    The lucid madness of contemporary society is the theme of this construction, told through the quote of the masterpiece of Ludovico Ariosto. Orlando goes crazy for love an loses the sense of reason. The fake news all around us triggers uncertainty, restlessness, insanity and confusion. 

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    Anne’s diary

    by Silvano Bianchi

    viareggio 2021-19

    Anne Frank, guilty of being Jewish, spent two years of her life hidden in secret quarters, writing her diary. Inside it tells fears, but also dreams and hopes for the future. Courageous and tolerant, despite her condition, she maintained trust in humanity. Today, like butterflies, her hopes still live free, through all of them people who dream of a better world.

    K’Arte game in Korte

    by Michele Canova with the artistic collaboration of Maestro Gionata Francesconi

    viareggio 2021-20

    Each card plays its lot and each court has its game. Kings and Queens, Footmen and Warriors deploy in a game that always has a risk and a charm of life. Ladies, knights and kings parade happily in a carousel of colors and conquests to be experienced together with loves and honors. They intertwine their glances towards the future while thinking that only beauty will save us. In this Carnival 2021 long live the K’Arte game in Korte. The construction is a tribute to Emanuele Luzzati on the centenary of his birth.

    You are my world

    by Edoardo Ceragioli

    viareggio 2021-21

    The message of the construction lies in the instinctive gesture of a little girl which protects the eyes of her teddy bear to prevent him from seeing the evils of the world. Man, himself because of these evils, he must realize that in front of horrors of our contemporaneity, it is necessary to awaken that awareness that in growing up, seems to be lost.

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    It flies only who dares to do it

    by Roberto De Leo and Vania Fornaciari

    viareggio 2021-22

    Today’s world still needs to dream; for this reason the tales are always current. Like those of Luis Sepulveda, which have amused and moved generations of readers. Love for nature, generosity, solidarity, memory and courage are the basis of his stories, to rediscover immortal values and bonds.

    Senators for life

    by Stefano Di Giusto

    viareggio 2021-23

    Those who sit on the armchairs of Palazzo Madama hardly want to leave. Over the many years Sena-worms have crept into holes to gnaw privileges. From the old idols they made the history of the Republic to the new ambitious senators who would like to occupy it forever, is the race for the most coveted chair open: that of senators for life. Who will manage to stay forever screwed to the coveted chair?

    A world of plastic

    by Giampiero Ghiselli and Maria Chiara Franceschini

    viareggio 2021-15

    Plastic has become one of the major pollution problems of our day. Millions of tons poison the seas and fish, putting our future at risk. The last hope is placed in children, the first victims of the abuse of plastic materials that their toys are made of. But also the first to welcome messages for a correct reuse, thanks to their boundlessness fantasy and their desire to become civilized adults, living in an ecological world.

    Madama Butterfly

    by Giacomo Marsili

    viareggio 2021-17

    Artistic tribute to the poignant love story told by the timeless Opera of Maestro Giacomo Puccini. The builder narrates, through the language of papier-mâché, the character of Cio Cio San, his cultural world, his virtues and passions. And in lightness of the butterfly the symbolism of a deep love that reaches the soul of life.

    The alternative family

    by Libero Maggini

    viareggio 2021-16

    The Addams family is alternative but classic at the same time, it is the icon to depict the debate on politics. From one side the right-thinking who only see the pre-made models and on the other, those who look more to the feeling of the form. In the middle are characters of the bizarre family more famous in literature and cinema, a little weird and grotesque but united when they grow up.

    Up close, no one is normal

    by Matteo Raciti

    viareggio 2021-18

    Mental diseases take an allegorical form and remind us of the importance of recognizing madness as an integral part of the human being. The opening scene is Marco Cavallo, the papier-mâché animal that in 1973 was the symbol of release for patients from the last psychiatric hospital run by Franco Basaglia in Trieste, representing the breakdown of the system by the so-called fools, who conquered the society of the presumed healthy.

    ▷ Individual Masquerades (Individuale mascherati)

    There are 10 Individual Masquerades at this year’s Viareggio Carnival. They have come up with some fantastic designs!

    Here are the 2021 Viareggio Carnival Individual Masquerades!


    by Federica Bonetti

    viareggio 2021-29

    I can not wait!

    by Susanna Carofiglio

    viareggio 2021-30

    Never United States

    by Andrea Giulio Ciaramitaro

    viareggio 2021-31

    What Count?

    by Michele Deledda

    viareggio 2021-32

    The hidden power

    by Michelangelo Francesconi

    viareggio 2021-33

    In the gold cage

    by Serena Mazzolini

    viareggio 2021-24

    The show must go on

    by Lorenzo Paoli

    viareggio 2021-25

    For those miserable euros

    by Andrea Scaccianoce

    viareggio 2021-26

    Kiss me again

    by Edoardo Spinetti

    viareggio 2021-27

    What a doll!

    by Alessandro and Paolo Vanni

    viareggio 2021-28


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