Your Guide to Venice's Carnevale 2016
Carnival, or Carnevale, is just around the corner! For several weeks, Italy’s winter gloom is cleared away as celebrations, dancing and costume parades breathe exuberant life into Italian cities. This year Martedì Grasso falls on February 9th, and marks the culmination of festivities. So, for those hankering for a good party, put on your mask and start tossing coriandoli – it’s time to start celebrating! The most famous and extravagant place to spend Carnival is where it all began: Venice.
The 2016 Carnival of Venice runs from the 23rd of January to the 9th of February, and includes a program of gala dinners, parades, dances, masked balls and music events.
When to visit Carnevale
This year’s Carnevale events run from January 23rd – February 9th, 2016. However, keep in mind that the celebrations, crowds and atmosphere builds-up closer to Martedì Grasso. If you’re aiming for excitement, visit during the weekends, and in particular the last one, February 6th-7th.
CARNEVALE EVENT HIGHLIGHTS
Grand Opening Festivities
Carnevale opens with a bang on Saturday, January 23rd as thousands of people attend the grand opening in St. Mark's Square of the Venice Carnival. By Venice tradition, elaborately costumed Carnival-goers stroll through the canal-laced city showing off their finery, finished with hand-painted masks. Masks have been a part of Venice culture as far back as the 13th century, when people used them to hide their social class owing to the community’s strict caste system. The celebration goes on with the Festa Veneziana, Venetian Festival, from 6pm, with a carnival boat parade, food and wine tastings with emphasis on Venetian gastronomic specialties. The Festa Veneziana is split in two parts; the second one takes place on the 24th.
The Zombie Walk
Carnival will kick off on Saturday 23rd in a very non-traditional way. The halloween-imported Zombie Walk comes to Venice this year as the living dead will make their way from Zattere to Pescheria, near the Rialto bridge.
Volo dell’Angelo, The Flight of the Angel
The traditional Volo dell’Angelo will take place at the Gran Teatro in St. Mark’s Square on January 31st. The winner of last year’s "Festa delle Marie" beauty pageant will star as this year’s angel who will zip-line from the Campanile (Bell Tower) of St. Mark’s to the stage.
Flying Donkey & Flight of the Eagle
A constant stream of events flows throughout the day on February 7th, at St, Mark’s Square. This is the finale for the Most Beautiful Mask of Carnevale Competition, the Flying Donkey from the Tower of Piazza Ferretto in Mestre event and the Flight of the Eagle from the Bell Tower.
Nightly Events at the Arsenale
Each night, when the sun goes down, the party moves from St. Mark’s Square to Venice’s historic shipyard, the Arsenale. During the weekend of February 6th - 7th, and the last week from February 2nd to the 9th, the Arsenal will host a lineup of shows, re-enactments and music to keep Carnevale swinging throughout the night.
Parties and Masquerade Balls
While there is plenty to see in the streets and piazzas of Venice during Carnival, those keen on following the footsteps of Casanova may indulge in a lavish masked ball. Prepare to pop Prosecco and dance in candelabra-lit palaces while dressed in full costume. A ticket to one of these one-in-a-lifetime balls isn’t cheap. Starting at €500/person (without costume expense), the food, drink, music and location are the epitome of elegance. See the Official Venice of Carnival website for more information.
If you’re planning on visiting Venice during Carnival this year, download our free PDF schedule of events! Every performance, movie-screening and art exhibition is included to help you plan your fantastic Venice Carnival experience.
For the 2017 edition of the Carnival of Venice read here