If you’ve ever been to a Mardi Gras celebration you can almost imagine how wonderful the Venice Carnival is. The Venice Carnival is held every year in Venice to celebrate what the city was during the 18th century. Visiting this carnival is a very unique experience that is a must-see attraction if you find yourself in Venice, Italy during early February or March.
During the fourteen days leading up to Lent, locals and tourists alike line the streets of the city to participate in a collection of concerts, masquerade balls, and pageants. These parties include many people displaying costumes and masks to protect their identity while they are acting mischievously during the festivities. The masks are a tradition that date back to the 13th century when slaves and socialites would gather in the streets to attend festivals. The main purpose of the masks was to avoid social status becoming an issue during the nonstop partying.
Today, the carnival lasts for a much longer time period and attracts nearly one million visitors per year. People come from far and wide to not only see, but also participate in the activities. Many people come in very expensive outfits to join costume contests or just plain show off their costume to the other attendees. The event proves to be very profitable for both the city and many businesses located there. Hence, you will need to reserve accommodations early and be prepared to spend a substantial amount of money because this is one of the busiest times of the year for the city.
This Carnival is different from Mardi Gras because it is a family friendly experience that people of all ages can enjoy. You will find this to be a pleasant experience because even though the city is crowded, it still remains to be a rather laid back experience. People are there to have fun and don’t usually try to make trouble with other people.
There will be many activities to choose from that are set-up around the city. Some activities you will see include a carnival for children in the Cannaregio district, mask parades in St. Mark’s Square, boat and gondola parades along the Grand Canal, and a magnificent fireworks show on the last day to mark the end of the festival.
Regardless which activities you choose to take part in, you will have the most fun if you buy yourself a mask and let loose. There will be plenty of stores around the city that sell both affordable and expensive masks depending on your taste. These stores will also sell other costume pieces if you are interested in going all out. Once you arrive in the city it will not be hard to find a festival because even though the main festivities are usually centered around Piazza San Marco, there are usually events set-up in each Sestiere around Venice as well.
Remember that the Carnival is a winter event, so it is important to dress and pack accordingly. Check the dates of the carnival before making travel arrangements because the dates change every year. You should do plenty of research and be prepared for whatever fun the Carnival has in store for you!