When to go, what to do and how much it costs? Here is everything you need to know about the Carnival of Venice
With a tradition of over eight centuries the Carnival of Venice is one of the most popular events in Italy and one of the biggest carnivals worldwide. It attracts thousands of tourists, not only from Europe but from all over the world. No wonder why. The Carnival is known for its astonishing, elegant and colorful costumes in one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world.
However, planning a visit to the Carnival of Venice is not an easy task. The city tends to become overcrowded and figuring out where to go, what to do and a basic itinerary is key for enjoying the most while visiting the city.
Planing a visit to the Carnival of Venice
Although February is not the best time for visiting Italy, many see the first months of the year a great time to visit this European country. Prices are way lower, overtourism is not a massive problem and in the southern part of the country, climate is mild enough, that you won’t have to suffer because of the hot weather.
However, there is another key reason to visit Venice in February: The Carnival of Venice takes place and promise all visitors a unique experience they will never forget.
There is no entrance fee for visiting the Carnival of Venice. People are just dressing up and celebrating all over the city during this 10-day festival. It is true that prices for staying in the city will increase 100-200%, but if you stay in nearby towns or even closer cities like Verona, you won’t end up paying up to 200 EUR a night.
The Carnival of Venice takes places in February each year. If you are planning to attend this wonderful festival soon, these are the dates for the upcoming events:
- 2020: From the 15th to 25th of February
- 2021: From the 6th to 16th of February
- 2022: From the 19th February to 1st of March
- 2023: From the 11th to 21st of February
- 2024: From the 3rd to 13th of February
What’s the story of the Carnival of Venice
The Carnival of Venice started around the 13th Century and it became rapidly one of the key events in Italy. These were events planned for public amusement and although it started for religious purposes, nowadays the carnival is seeing as an event for fun and to promote tourism
Masks are the main symbol of the Carnival. With many different ornaments, bright colors and unique style some of these masks represent the different people in Venice at the Renaissance period.
What started as a way to hide the wearer´s identity, has become over the past centuries not only a tradition, but also a symbol of the Carnival and a reason to feel brought back in time.
Events at the Carnival of Venice
Nowadays the Carnival of Venice is celebrated forty days before Easter on Shrove Tuesday, which is the day before Ash Wednesday.
Different events play a big role during the Carnival of Venice and although most events are free and take place at San Marco square, there are other private events travelers can pay a fee and visit.
With over 50 events during the 10-day period the carnival takes place, there is a lot to do and see. The official website of the Carnevale di Venezia has a full program for visitors to check out.
Travelers can also see the event map at the official website of Venice. There they can find the location of the different daily events taking place and plan their itinerary based on the location they want to visit.
Take into consideration that Venice will get extremely full and walking around in an isolated and magical city won’t happen.
Still, the beauty of all the performers wearing masks and the events all over the city will make you forget the masses of tourists around you and simply transport you to a new fantasy world.
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Carnival of Venice Events and Highlights
Before visiting Venice there are several questions you need to ask yourself:
- How many days are you planning to stay in the city
- Are you staying overnight in Venice or outside the city
- Are you visiting public events or free events
- In which area of the city are you planning to wander around
My friend Victoria visited Venice for a couple of days and decided to book an apartment of Airbnb outside the city. This not only safe her some costs, but she mentioned that going from Venice to mainland Italy was very easy and very comfortable.
She also booked an apartment located minutes walk from a train station. This helped her getting quicker to Venice when she wanted and skip the not very reliable Italian bus transportation system.
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According to different websites like Venice Events and Venice Insider, these are some of the best events to go during the Carnival of Venice in 2020:
- Grand Opening of the Venice Carnival – Sunday 17th of February
- Festa delle Marie Parade – Saturday 23th of February
- The Best Mask Contest
- Mascheranda Grand Ball – Sunday 3rd of March
Visiting Venice during carnival is a magical experience. You can either visit the city with a backpack and a good jacket or dress to impress. There is a special beauty about this city and although there are some ethical issues in visiting Venice and contribute to overtourism, as someone who already visited this magical city many times, I feel in the worst position to tell you not to visit Venice.