Venice Carnival

Venice Carnival

Located in the northern part of Italy, Venice is known to foreigners primarily for its submerged streets. But not only gondola rides can be of interest to travelers: lovers of event tourism have the right to count on the annual entertainment events held in this northern city. We are, of course, talking about one of the most famous costumed actions - the Venetian carnival.

Located in the northern part of Italy, Venice is known to foreigners primarily for its submerged streets. But not only gondola rides can be of interest to travelers: lovers of event tourism have the right to count on the annual entertainment events held in this northern city. We are, of course, talking about one of the most famous costumed actions - the Venetian carnival.

Holiday history

The history of the Venetian carnival is rooted in the distant past: every year during the winter solstice after the harvest, the ancient Romans organized mass festivities in honor of the god Saturn, called the Saturnalia. It was then that the very concept of a carnival mask arose. The fact is that during mass celebrations, the slaves sat at the same table with their masters and, so that class prejudices did not spoil the fun, the faces of the feasting were hidden under masks.

How the name "carnival" itself appeared, has not yet been determined for certain. One of the most popular versions is the statement of the Catholic Church about the connection of the word "carnival" with the Latin "carne vale", which literally means "farewell to meat". In an attempt to adapt the pre-Christian celebration to the new faith, the Catholic Church used it to prepare for the strictest and longest fast of the year before Easter Sunday. The first written mention of the Venetian carnival dates back to 1094, and already in 1296 the Senate of the Republic of Venice declared the last day before Lent as an official holiday.

Festive carnival trends from the Venetians were "picked up" by residents of other cities and countries. The main attributes of any carnival action were masks and costumes, the main purpose of which was to hide social differences. Among the inhabitants of Venice themselves, Venetian carnival masks became so popular that they were worn not only on carnival, but also on ordinary days. Moreover, people were often hidden in order to commit very unseemly acts, such as theft. Because of this, the wearing of carnival masks in Venice outside of action was prohibited by the Catholic Church. And in 1608, a decree was issued, according to which, violating the decree, men were sentenced to a fine and two years in prison, and women were publicly flogged with rods in the city square.

The Venice Carnival became a real outlet for Italians who lived under the cruel oppression of religious prohibitions, and therefore nothing shameful and unlawful for a person in a suit and mask simply did not exist. Almost until the end of the 18th century, the carnival remained the brightest event in the public life of the Venetians, but then interest in it faded away. The history of the Venetian carnival found its continuation only in the second half of the 20th century.

Venetian Carnival Masks

The traditional symbol of the annual carnival action in Venice is the mask. In everyday life, the masks of the Venetian carnival were very popular: they resorted to their help, both during romantic dates and for actions related to breaking the law.

Leather, velvet and papier-mâché are the main materials used to make Venetian masks. The earliest carnival masks were unassuming and practical. But the modern masks of the Venetian carnival are a real work of art. They are decorated by hand using gold leaf and soil, decorated with feathers and precious stones. Most of the Venetian carnival masks are characters from the commedia dell'arte, a street performance very popular among the inhabitants of Italy.

One of the most popular masks was the bauta: it was worn not only by the poor, but also by those rich who wanted to "go out to the people," while remaining incognito. The slightly creepy design not only changed the owner's voice, but also allowed him to eat without removing the mask.

Ivrea Carnival, Piedmont

© Stefano Guid/Shutterstock

The old carnival in Ivrea is a colorful costume show, first organized in 1808 and dating back to ancient folk traditions. Since then, the carnival in this Piedmont town has been held almost every year.

For three days of the carnival, lines of carts pass through the streets of the city, musicians and orchestras pass by, including those invited from other regions of Italy and European countries. Every year the organizers of the carnival come up with some innovations, but the main program is invariably based on the traditional parade and the famous orange massacre.

The Battle for Oranges takes place on Sunday, Fat Monday, or Tuesday afternoon. This is the most spectacular part of the carnival, attracting the largest number of participants, despite the risk of getting a good bruise.

The battle unfolds in front of the theater and in the main squares of the city; two teams are fighting - people on carts and foot units. Spectators are protected from stray fruit shells by a high mesh. Carriages, harnessed by two or four horses in picturesque harness, carry a dozen soldiers in soft protective clothing and intimidating leather masks with iron bars on their faces.

Tricarico Carnival, Basilicata

In full accordance with ancient pastoralist rituals, during the carnival in Tricariko, masks are distilled from winter to summer pastures. The figures of Tori and Jovenke with bells around their necks are led by the shepherd Vaccaro. The "herd" in full force crosses the village, the local nobility joins the procession, and the passage of the carts and the burning of the effigy of Carnival ends the action.

Mamoyada Carnival, Sardinia

The Mamoyad Carnival is associated with ancient Sardinian rituals. The main characters are the masks of Isohadores and Mamutones. Issohadores is dressed in a red camisole, a white mask, wears a hat and a small scarf on his belt, and Mamutones is dressed in a sheep's skin, a black wooden mask and hung with heavy cow bells. Sometimes their total weight exceeds 30 kilograms!

Carnival in Viareggio, Tuscany

© Piergiovanni M/Shutterstock

The Carnevale di Venezia is joy, seduction, entertainment, luxury ... in one word: freedom! From small streets to Piazza San Marco, from stately palaces overlooking the Grand Canal and showcases of workshops selling antique dresses and masks, you will feel the holiday everywhere! Each year, the carnival includes a number of public entertainment events such as the Flight of the Angel, the Festival of Mary, Shows and processions on the water, Flight of the Lion, as well as a rich program of private masquerade balls, which we will discuss on this page.

And every year the theme of the carnival is different. In 2018, for example, it was dedicated to the circus, as a tribute to the great director Federico Fellini, t. he was a big fan of him. He was always attracted by amazement, skill, acrobatism and magic, a mixture of roles, skills and fantasies, giving vivid emotions!

So, Venice Carnival: dates for 2021 - what will be possible according to the program (depending on the orders of local authorities and the government in connection with anti Covid measures), what you need to watch out for, and how to participate. Consider right now!

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Dates: from 8 to 25 February 2020

The theme of the 2020 Venice Carnival will be announced at a later date.

Main events and public events of the Venice Carnival

February, Saturday

The grand opening of the 2020 Venice Carnival will take place on 8 and 9 February. The Venetian festival “La Festa Veneziana” is the main event of these days. Musicians and dancers will entertain the audience. Start: 18:00. Venue: Canaregio area.

February, Sunday

The second day of the “La Festa Veneziana” holiday. The water parade is the main event of the day. Colorfully decorated boats will sail along the Grand Canal in the Cannaregio area. Start: 11:00. Various entertainment, food and wine will be prepared for the public.

Saturday February

Start of the main event of the carnival (competition for the best carnival costume and the best mask) at the Gran Teatro stage in St. Mark's Square. The beginning of the Festa delle Marie festival. The Mary Festival will begin with a procession of participants. At 14:30, the participants and their companions will walk from San Piero di Castello along via Garibaldi and Riva degli Schiavoni to Piazza San Marco. At 16:00, the participants will be introduced to the public.

February, Sunday

Venice Carnival is an annual colorful spectacle, which 3 million tourists from all over the world seek to see. The tradition of carnivals in Venice dates back to the 12th century, the profession of "mask maker" (masters of making masks) was first established in 1436, and there was a time when residents wore masks not for a couple of weeks a year, but for months. That is, the carnival is an event that symbolizes Venice itself, a huge layer of its culture and history. This is the period when it is customary to have fun and eat goodies before the beginning of Lent. And this is a great chance to try on new looks and be in the center of everyone's attention.

However, changeable winter weather with its rains and winds, overpriced prices and crowds can spoil the impressions of both the carnival and the city itself. In the article, we will tell you about life hacks that we learned about based on personal experience visiting Venice during the days of the carnival. This information can be useful for you when planning a trip to the "Venetian Shrovetide".

Life hack When to go to the Venice Carnival

In terms of weather and the number of tourists, the best time to visit Venice is April-early May and the second half of September-early October. In summer Venice is like a sauna, in which thousands of tourists "sweat" together (the sensation is not the most pleasant), and in the midst of winter cold it often rains and it can even snow.

If you are already going to Venice in winter and are ready to endure the changeable winter weather, then you cannot imagine a more significant reason than carnival. The time of the carnival varies from year to year and depends on the date of the celebration of the main Christian holiday - Easter. In 2018, the carnival lasted from January 27 to February 13 (the last day of the carnival is called "Mardi Gras", or "Fat Tuesday"). In 2019, the Venice Carnival will take place from February 16 to March 5.

If possible, check the weather forecast in advance, and if it is unfavorable, try shifting your travel dates. Bad weather can greatly spoil the impressions of the carnival and Venice itself, which during this period seems especially gray, uncomfortable and shabby.

Piazza San Marco during the 2018 carnival: rain and strong winds dispersed all tourists

When planning a trip to the carnival, be sure to check the calendar of events (you can do this on the official website /). Usually most of them (for example, "Flight of the Angel", "Festival of Mary" or competition for the best mask) are held on weekends, as well as on the opening and closing days of the carnival. If you plan to visit only on weekdays, there is a risk of not seeing anything, since in the interval between weekends, especially if the weather is not lucky, the city seems to be dying out - there are no events or people in carnival masks.

On the other hand, if you come only for the weekend, you will find yourself in the thick of the tourist - all the streets, streets and squares of Venice will be crowded with crowds of people, and it will be difficult to just walk for your pleasure or visit some sights. If this is your first visit to Venice, allocate at least 4-5 days for it along with the weekend - then you will visit the carnival and have time to visit and see something.

Lifehack Hotels during the carnival - can you find cheaper?

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