Dating back to the year 1162 when the Venetians danced in the Piazza San Marco to celebrate the victory of The Republic of Venice against the Patriarch of Aquileia. Today it has evolved into a week long annual Mardi-Gras celebration that transforms the city, with the end of the festival marking the beginning of Lent. The Italian festival has become known, and imitated around the world, for its masquerade masks which are worn by all.
The week begins with The Flight of the Angel, a tradition that dates back to the mid sixteenth century when a young acrobat walked a tightrope attached to a boat anchored in the canal to the top of the St Mark’s Bell Tower. This has grown into an opening celebration the involves a performer flying down from the bell tower attached to a rope.
The majority of the festivities take place in the centre of Venice, with elaborate parades full of floats literally floating through the city’s seemingly endless canal system. The Piazza San Marco transforms into a huge circus that plays host to shows and workshops during the day and live music and DJ sets in the evening.
You can also join in the festivities by entering one of the daily ‘Best Mask’ competitions. Dress in your best renaissance attire, adorned with feathers, hats and most importantly an Italian-masquerade style mask for your chance to be entered in the masquerade parade at the end of the week.
‘Carnivale is Venice’s answer to the Mardi Gras festivities that take place in Latin America. Expect the same flamboyant energy but with masquerade balls and parades on canals.’
The highlight of Carnevale though is the annual masquerade dinner and ball hosted at the historic Ca’ Vendramin Calergi. Richard Wagner composed some of his most renowned works whilst living in the building and the elegance and class of his renaissance era is revitalised every year with a 5 course wine-accompanied dinner, performances, and a casino followed by live music, a DJ, and cocktail bar until 2am. For travellers seeking an authentic renaissance masquerade ball, this is as close as it gets in the 21st Century.
Obviously the most popular way to get around in the city of canals is on one of the many ‘Vaporettos’ – water buses that operate a number of lines around the city and to-and-from the mainland. They operate 24 hours a day including a night line between midnight and 5am so you can explore the city at any time of day. Visitors under the age of 29 can grab a ‘Rolling Venice’ ticket, a special reduced rate, 3 day ticket.
As one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations, Venice has no end of accommodation options, from budget friendly hostels to luxurious and historical 5 star hotels such as The Gritti Palace. There are great transport links into the centre so consider some of the surrounding islands or staying on the coast of the mainland if you’re looking for more budget friendly options. Head to the map below for airbnb and hotels near the event.
The unique city Venice is an absolute bucket list place to visit and it’s filled with things to do and see. For the romantics out there a Gondola ride around the canals is a dream way to view the architecture and culture that’s dispersed around the city. The famous Basilica di San Marco looms over Piazza San Marco, the local square that floods regularly when the canals swell in the rain and is surrounded by shops, cafes, and restaurants. Doge’s Palace is just one of the city’s many museum that exhibits the rich history of Italy and art aficionados will love the Peggy Guggenheim.
The Venice Carnival will take place on 8th February – 25th February 2020.
Rad Season is providing you with hotels and Airbnbs at the lowest prices available online. Book your stay for Venice Carnival 2020 using the map below!
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