Though many cities around the world offer Mardi Gras celebrations, no one does it quite like Venice. During Carnival of Venice, the world famous St. Mark’s Square is filled with women adorned in elegant gowns and detailed masks and men draped in flowing cloaks and wearing ornate disguises. Venice offers the perfect backdrop for these festive party goers.
The history of Carnival of Venice dates back to the 11th century. Venice was known to operate under a caste system. Carnival was a time where Venetians of varying social classes were able to mingle anonymously. The masks also gave attendees the ability to partake in undesirable activities without risk of being recognized. This Venetian tradition fell into decline in the 18th century. It was revived in the late 1970s and continues to be a popular Venice attraction today. Each year Venice welcomes more than 3 million visitors to its Carnival each year. I had the pleasure of attending the celebration a few years back. As an added bonus, the event that year was held during my February 14th birthday. It was the perfect setting for a Valentine’s Day/Birthday/Fat Tuesday celebration.
The Carnival of Venice is marked by live music in the main square, theatrical performances and street entertainers. There is a skating rink set up in Campo San Polo. You’ll want to be sure to watch the procession of decorated boats and gondolas as they make their way down the Grand Canal. The annual costume ball called Gran Ballo dell Maschere takes place in a different Venetian palace each year. Don’t miss the Volo dell’ Angelo (flight of an angel) where you will see the traditional Angel of Carnival fly on zip wire over St. Mark’s Square.
You can always take a break from people watching to see some of the sights Venice has to offer. Tour St. Mark’s Basilica or see Venice from the Grand Canal onboard the Vaporetto (water bus). You can tour Doge’s Palace and crossover the Bridge of Sighs. It goes without saying that no trip to Venice is complete without a gondola ride. If you are looking for that special souvenir, visit Murano Island and watch a glass blowing event or visit one of the other lagoon islands like the colorful island of Burano. Of course the best thing to do when in the Floating City is to just “get lost in Venice” by wandering around the quirky cobblestone streets and alleyways.
Start your New Year off right with a new adventure in one of I properties in . Add this annual Venetian celebration to your travel plans and watch how Carnival transforms Venice into even more of a magical place, if that’s even possible.
Thank you to Travel Blogger Lisa Medeiros. You can follow her on twitter @lisamedeiros_