The carnival starts today and Venice is ready to celebrate it as always organizing a lot of events and celebrations.
More than a million people – with daily peaks of 150.000 persons – are expected to visit the city during the 18 days of the carnival from January 23 to February 9.
If you are planning to attend the carnival of Venice or you would like to do it but you don’t have the opportunity, here you will find information and tips to organize your visit or simply to dream it.
As every year St. Mark’s Square will be the heart of the carnival and the place of the main shows.
The 2016 carnival theme is “Arts and Trades”: mask makers, weavers, tailors and glass-makers will set up 18th century workshops on St. Mark’s Square and practice their craft live in front of the public, who can also follow the most delicate and less visible activities on a big screen. The aim is to demonstrate that the old arts and traditions in Venice, are real, unchanged over the centuries and still alive in the city.
- January 23-24 – District of Cannaregio: The “Festa veneziana” opens as usual the carnival. At 18:00 the Cannaregio Canal becomes a stage on the water with a show that every year enchants thousand spectators. On January 24 at 11:00 water parade of rowing boats along the Grand Canal and stands of Venetian food specialties organized in the district.
- January 30: The theme of this year’s Carnival begins. In each district of the city several workshops will be open to show the old Venetian arts and traditions. From today until February 9 every day (11:00 – 17:00) actors and masks will accompany the most important moments of the artisans’ activities in St. Mark’s Square. On January 30 will take place also the traditional “Festa delle Marie” that celebrates the homage that the Doge offered every year to twelve beautiful but poor venetian girls, offering them magnificent jewels for their bridal dowry. The walking parade will leave San Piero in Castello at 14:30 and arrive to St. Mark’s Square at 16:00.
- January 31 at 12:00: The “Flight of the Angel” is one of the most known events of the carnival. It takes place on St. Mark’s Square and goes back to the Serenissima period where a guest of Venice, flying along a rope from St. Mark’s bell tower to the center of the square, offered an homage to the Doge, who embraced him surrounded by a cheerful crowd. Nowadays the Angel is personified by a beautiful girl.
- February 07 at 12:00: The “Eagle Flight” is another important appointment of the carnival on St. Mark’s Square. Every year according to the tradition, the Eagle (normally a young and beautiful girl) descends from the bell tower to the square, that turns in a wonderful ballroom where historic dance groups recall the 18th and 19th centuries’ splendours.
- February 09 at 17:00: The carnival’s celebrations will close with the famous “Lion Flight”, when the loved symbol of the city, the winged Lion, will flight above the public waiting for it on St. Mark’s Square. This event seals the end of the carnival.
Where to see the carnival
During the carnival season events and celebrations will be organized throughout Venice and also in its surroundings and a lot of people will be expected: the most part during three week-ends of the period (23-24 January, 30-31 January and 6-7 February), on Shrove Thursday (4 February) and Shrove Tuesday (9 February).
If you do not like so much the crowd, you can enjoy the carnival in the same way walking far from St. Mark’s Square, Rialto Bridge and the Santa Lucia railway station – really crowed during the carnival – or visiting the city not on the busiest days.
Wherever you go you will find masks and costumes, celebrations and fun. This is the carnival of Venice, a show that lasted for hundreds of centuries that at least once in your life worth living. What are you waiting for? Wear your mask and enjoy the magic of the carnival or if you cannot simply dream it!