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What to Expect in Venice’s Carnival 2017

This month, Venetians and visitors alike are in for a marvelous treat as the Carnival of Venice 2017 opens on the eleventh of February. This year’s theme is “CREATUM Vanity AF-fair” and revelers will be treated to numerous events all over the city, including costume and masquerade parties, parades, and street shows.

Opening Shows

The festivities typically open with La Festa Veneziana, which features a water parade and show as the main highlight. Just a bit past sunset on the 11th, the Rio di Cannaregio will transform into a water stage where performers dazzle the thousands of denizens that flock to the festival each year. This free show will be performed twice in the evening, with the first show happening at 6:00 PM, and the second at 8:00 PM.

Celebrations will continue on to the next day, February 12th, when the Coordinamento Associazioni Remiere di Voga alla Veneta (Venetian Rowing Associations) sail along the Canal Grande towards the district of Cannaregio. The event starts at 11:00 AM on the banks, and food and wine courtesy of the Associazione Esercenti Pubblici Esercizi (AEPE) will be offered at 12:00 noon. It’s definitely a grand scale event not to be missed.

If you happen to be lucky enough to be spending Valentine’s Day in Venice with your loved one, be sure not miss out on the February 14th events. “Lido in Love 3.0” is a special event during Carnevale at the appropriately named Love Market in Piazzala Santan Maria Elisabetta. From 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM, the area will be decked out in the spirit of romance and adventure. Take a couple selfie at one of the designated booths (complete with masks and costumes, in true Carnevale fashion), watch the Venetian couple masks parade happening at 4:30 PM, and wine and dine your partner at any of the participating establishments. Looking for a grander gesture? Say “ti amo” with an epic flashmob at the ACTV pier. At 5:30, a show will be performed for the benefit of charity organization ONEBILLIONRISING which advocates against violence on women.

Main Events

Revelries start to kick up a notch on the 18th with the opening of the main Carnevale events. Expect crowds to rush into St Mark’s Square during the Best Mask and Costume competition, where crafters will showcase their original creations on stage for judging. Participation is free, so if you’d like to show off your skills, simply visit the official Carnevale page to download and fill out the application form.

Also on the 18th, San Pietro di Castello will surely be abuzz when the traditional Festa delle Marie opens. Primarily a historical re-enactment, the parade tells the story of 12 young humble Venetian girls (also called “Marias”), all consecrated to be married on February 2nd, the day of the Purification of Mary. These 12 soon-to-be brides were given beautiful dresses to wear by the richer families in the area, and lent fine jewels from the treasury. Legend says that because they were dressed like queens, pirates kidnapped all 12 young women, but through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, they were rescued intact with all their finery. Since then, the city has commemorated the event in a walking parade that traverses the Via Garibaldi, to the Riva degli Schiavoni, ending at St. Mark’s Square.

Also expect street performances by troubadours, acrobats, dancers and musicians. A colorful stage will be set up at Piazza Ferretto and performances will begin from 4:00 to 7:00 PM, so make sure to catch a show or two.

Other Things to Watch Out

The Gallery of Wonders is the Official Dinner Show and Ball of the Venice carnival, and it is certainly a visual and gustatory experience that shouldn’t be missed. Running from the 18th of February to the 27th, this luxurious event will be held at the sumptuously-appointed Ca’ Vendramin Calergi palace and the dress code is, as per Carnevale tradition, masked. Your senses are sure to be delighted with what the event has to offer: a welcome drink, an indulgent five-course dinner, desserts and digestifs, as well as famous Italian coffee will be served. There will be exciting performances by international artists throughout the meal, and world-renowned DJs will spin the latest in dance and EDM after midnight when the tables are cleared. If hitting the dance floor isn’t your speed, you are encouraged to try your luck at the casino, a more relaxed option to end the night.

This is only a small sampling of the things you’ll be able to see and experience when you visit Venice during Carnevale.

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By Priscila Siano (266 Posts)

Priscila Siano is the Marketing Director of Tour Italy Now, an online tour operator specializing in Italy travel. She's a respected expert on making dream Italy vacations a reality for clients.

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