Viareggio Carnival 2023 otherwise known as Carnevale di Viareggio: Five days of epic float parades in Tuscany In the four weeks that lead up to Lent, Tuscany celebrated its Carnevale di Viareggio,which includes five whole days of parades that float down through the riviera area to the beach. One of the biggest events in Europe […]Viareggio Carnival 2023 55049 Viareggio, Province of Lucca, Italy Viareggio Tuscany Italy
In the four weeks that lead up to Lent, Tuscany celebrated its Carnevale di Viareggio,which includes five whole days of parades that float down through the riviera area to the beach. One of the biggest events in Europe in the lead up to Lent, these massive paper mache floats are created by artistic masters, depicting entertaining scenarios that include current politics and humour.
Tuscany becomes an open air theme park, with fun for all ages dressed up in masquerade, enjoying the food, floats, fireworks and music throughout the month. The floats route encompasses a complete closed circle around the city and artists and performers parade in conjunction with the floats, all playing their own music and dancing in costume.
These floats are also competing in a special competition in two categories: group floats and single floats. The winners and prizes are announced on the very last parade night.
“Enjoy five massive day of open air parades during the month before lent in Tuscany’s most rad, artistic and animated float celebrations.”
Carnevale di Viareggio is for everyone. Children and adults in the crowds arrived dressed up, all ready to have fun and join in. The open air festive spirit is catching and it all happens in very family friendly hours from afternoon to early evening, some nights culminating in fireworks.
As its one of the biggest traditions in Italy, expect that there will be lots of crowds. The actors, dancers and performers are of professional standard and very entertaining, they aim to get the crowds clapping and enjoying themselves.
The official symbol and masked character called Burlamacco is depicted on some of the floats. He wears a festive red and white checked suit and a black cape, complete with a cocked black and red hat.
This is a paid event and there is no option to view it for free. You must enter the ticketed closed-off area of the city and enjoy the festival with the crowds inside.
However, these floats are gigantic and its really easy to get a good look at them. Everyone is in consume and its a fun atmosphere that is contagious. Joining in won’t be hard!
Instead of just being a tourist you can dress up! People attend in full costume and masquerade. Wigs, hats, mask and face painting are all encouraged so you can go for it, if that’s your thing.
Coming out of winter, it can be quite cold in Tuscany.
Comfortable shoes are recommended for cobblestone streets.
Wear heavy pants and long dresses, hats, scarves and gloves.
Tickets for entry to the Piazza Mazzini are:
€20.00 for adults
€15.00 for children under 14 years old
Kids that measure under 1.2 metres are allowed to enter for free. (Get measuring)
All events over the month take place in the Promenade, beginning at Piazza Mazzini, it runs parallel down to the beach in Viareggio.
In 2023, these dates are February 4-25, 2023
February 4, 2023 – Saturday at 3pm – Opening Ceremony includes the very first giant float parade, and official welcome followed by fireworks and live music.
February 12, 2023 – Sunday at 3pm – 2nd giant float parade
Sunday at 5pm – Third evening giant float parade
February 16, 2023 – 3rd giant float parade
February 19, 2023 – Thursday at 6pm – 4th giant float parade which is an evening show followed by fireworks
February 21, 2023 – Sunday, Shrove Tuesday 3pm – 5th giant float parade
February 25, 2023 – Tuesday 3pm – 6th and finale float parade, which includes announcements of prizes and is followed by grand fireworks.
This carnival is so huge that it’s extremely professional and well organised. Entry will be orderly, there may be waiting in line, but organisers are very efficient at getting people through the gates.
People are overly friendly, will talk with you, hug you and even offer you a drink!
You can attend night street festivals during carnival time, its a great opportunity to get some unique local food for a great price.
Viareggio was a small fishing village and local holiday spot in the 19th century. Boat builders at the time would build paper mache masks on wood frames using clay during their spare time in the winter. These floats would be parades around the beach and streets for local families before Lent began.
The carnival of today began in 1873 when groups of artists and sculptors started to build exemplary floats. It morphed into a massive party put on for a happy and joy filled city. In the beginning it was held in Via Regina, which was in the centre of the old traditional part of town. At the beginning of the 20th century it began using the circuit down to the beach that it uses today for the over 1 million people that attend.
In WWI the carnival stopped and then reignited in 1921. Then it happened again in WWII and in 1946, it returned bigger and better than ever,
In 1930, the symbol of the carnival ‘Burlamacco’ was created by artisan Umberto Bonetti, which is still iconically tied with the modern event.
In 2001 the Cittadella del Carnevale was unveiled, a building complex which was architect designed that is dedicated to the creation and preservation of the carnival floats. The floats, which can cost up to 150,000 euro, are built in one of 16 hangars.
There are two museums in the Cittadella to showcase the carnival’s history, and one contains valuable collections of contemporary art.
Viareggio is a romantic seaside town, that contains an esplanade suited for exercise like walking and running. Bike riding is permitted and of course the high end brand name shopping that Italians love is available down the promenade.
Pineta di Ponente is described as the ‘central park’ of Viareggio. You can hire a bike or walk around this tree dotted lush green oasis. Ideal for picnics, relaxing and cooling down in the hot afternoons.
Special carnival pasties or fritters are the official Carnevale treat and they can be filled with delicate and light pastry cream filling. Savoury pasta up for grabs during carnival include Tortellini, Lasagna and gnocchi. Yummy!
Fly into Pisa Airport, then you can take a train or hire a car to Viareggio.
Viareggio is easy to reach by both car and train. The train station is located centrally in the town, so strolling to accommodation will be easy. The train is practical during Carnevale time.
Viareggio is on the Italian Riviera, meaning theres loads of rad accommodation options! Book early though, a million people visit Carnevale each year.
Want to stay in a Tuscan villa? When on the riviera…. Super host on airbnb Incantevole Bilocale in Villa has an entire 2 bedroom apartment to offer guests. Located 1km from the train station, it includes free parking and a complimentary bicycle to use while you stay. The clean modern apartment is sunny, simple and located close to the beach and a waterfall pool.
There are rental bikes, buses and walking options around the touristy town of Viareggio. There is parking for carnival, but it can be time consuming so it’s recommended to use the train station which is about a 15-20 minute walk from the promenade where the parades take place.
Plan ahead: Book your perfect trip with our Italy travel guide and destination information. Does Italy require a visa? Check the visa requirements before you get caught up during your travel.
Spend money wisely: Take public transport and dine in from time to time are common saving tips during traveling. How to spend money wisely in Italy? Make use of technology. There’s an app for everything.
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