People from all over the world flock to Venice to experience the biggest party in town and enjoy interesting costumes. The Carnival in Venice is famous for its carefully constructed costumes, colorfulness, sounds and numerous events.
We heartily recommend visiting the wonderful city on water during the annual carnival. You can experience the glamorous Venetian nights, interesting traditions and taste special carnival candy.
When can I experience the Carnival in Venice?
Presumably in the days just before Lent? Of course, but Venetians were not satisfied with only a few days of festivities so they start them a few weeks earlier. This year, they will be held from February 8 until February 25. Aficionados recommend visiting the city during the last weekend – there is so much more to enjoy in the days between Fat Thursday (Giovedì Grasso) and Shrove Tuesday (Martedì Grasso)! Let us warn you though – Visiting Venice during this period is not recommended if you are claustrophobic or very reserved since the city loosens up considerably and hosts almost 3 million visitors.
Dress as aristocrats …
… or cowboys, superheroes or pop stars. Any mask will do for a stroll around town. You may stop in one of the boutiques and add a nice accessory or friulane shoes to your wardrobe. But you will need a Venetian aristocrat costume if you plan on participating in any of the prestigious events.
Don’t forget the mask
A carnival costume is not complete without a mask. The mask is honestly the only thing you need to wear to be ready for the carnival.
Some masks originate from Commedie dell’arte, while others served a practical purpose, such as the plague doctor mask with its recognizable beak. The colombina mask covers only your eyes. You hold it up to your face by a baton. The bauta covers almost the entire face, leaving only the mouth open so you can still eat and talk. Moretta is a black velvet oval mask – patrician women used to hold it with their teeth.
Prestigious carnival events
There are many prestigious events during the Carnival in Venice. They are not accessible to just anybody. The admission price for the famous masquerade ball Il Ballo del Doge can reach eye-watering four figures. Acrobats and actors will entertain you during dinner, followed by the ball with music by DJs. The ball in the Ca’ Vendramin Calergi palace is slightly less expensive. The admission price is 500 €. Aside from the dinner and the ball, it features a gaming salon – you might be able to win back the admission price.
Something for every pocket
If the unbelievable prices of renting costumes and event admission prices scare you, there are many budget friendlier alternatives. Many free events are available during the carnival, beginning with the spectacular carnival water parade in Cannaregio. You can observe the Flight of the Angel where an unknown individual, dressed as an angel, flies along a rope from the San Marco bell tower to the middle of the square. Festa delle Marie is held in remembrance of the kidnapping and rescue of twelve brides.
Mingle with the locals
Move away from the crowds and go to a nearby square where the locals enjoy the carnival. There is a fun carousel for children at Riva degli Schiavoni where they can enjoy the rides and cotton candy. Campo San Giacomo dell’Orio, Campo Santa Margherita and Campo Vienna squares often feature DJ-nights. Just don’t be surprised if you see Batman and Tarzan talking about football at the bar.
Donuts are of course a big part of the pre-Lent period. Venice’s version of the donut is called frittella – with light cream filling and sugar glaze. Of course, a “healthier” version is available – with apple filling. Galani is also a kind of typical fried carnival pastry.
Have you really experienced the Carnival if you’re not covered with sugar and crumbs upon returning?
If you really want to get into the Carnival spirit, go to the St. Marks square. But if you don’t like crowds, avoid the areas around St. Mars square and Cannaregio and go to Castello or even one of the islands.
Don’t be surprised if there are sparse accommodation choices available at insane prices during the Carnival – this is one of the most interesting times to visit Venice. Maybe you should join an organized one-day tour so you won’t have to worry about accommodation.
Since there are so many people in the city during the carnival, driving is exhausting and finding a free parking spot is very difficult, therefore you can just take one of our InterCity buses to Venice.
Find your Carnival mask and come along!