When: From 15th February to 4th March, 2014
Where: in Venice, Italy
Venice Carnival takes place in February, in the ten days leading up to Mardi Gras. Carnival, or Carnevale, has been celebrated for centuries throughout Italy. The name derives from the words carne – vale – ‘farewell to meat’ – which explains the function of the celebration: an opportunity to indulge and use up such treats before the start of Lent.
In modern Italy Carnevale is generally a time for children, who can dress up as their favorite cartoon characters such as Harry Potter or as animals. Sometimes the celebrations extend to organized events for the whole community, but on the whole it’s not a very important time for adults.
In Venice, however, the carnival is different. The Tourism Office and hoteliers invite their guests to wear a mask while visiting the city. Since 2008, Carnival has been organized for the first time by a consortium led by the Venice Casino. The consortium organizes many events in the city. These events are free and take place at St. Mark’s Square. Characters in costume parade and preen all day, happily posing for photographers’ array. Along the way you can find refreshment stalls with typical pancakes or drinks such as mulled wine or cocktails Bellini .
The grand opening celebration of Carnival takes place on the first Sunday with an event called “The Flight of the Angel” in memory of an old tradition. Since 2007, the consortium chooses a popular sport man or other, who “flies” from the bell tower St. Mark’s church to the stage on the opposite side of the square. Another great event organized by the consortium is the parade of costumes on a catwalk in St. Mark’s Square with people from all over the world. The festival ends with a big party and fireworks over St. Mark’s church.
If you’ve always had a secret desire to wear costumes, then Carnival is the perfect opportunity to indulge in without attracting stares. Masks, capes and wigs are easily purchased at many tourist shops and souvenir stalls . If you are looking for something more elaborate and authentic , you can visit one of the laboratories of paper Mache in Venice, where the masks of good quality are made by hand. The costumes can also be rent at stores throughout the city, but you have to book them. Do not miss a visit to the market of Venetian masks and costumes in Campo Santo Stefano. This small market is made up of some stalls with Venice masks craft workshops and costumes, and runs for the duration of the Carnival.
Carnival ends with Lent , forty days before Easter on Shrove Tuesday ( Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras ), the day before Ash Wednesday. It is said that the Carnival of Venice derived by a victory of the “Most Serene Republic” against the Patriarch of Aquileia, Ulrich for the year 1162. In honor of this victory, the people started to dance and do meetings in St. Mark’s Square. Carnival was born and became an official in the Renaissance. However, under the rule of the King of Austria, the festival was banned altogether in 1797 and the use of masks has become strictly prohibited. After a long absence, Carnival started again in 1979. Today, about 3 million visitors come to Venice every year for Carnival.
Masks have always been a main feature of the Venetian carnival. Venetian masks can be made of leather, porcelain or glass with the original technique . The original masks were rather simple in design , decoration, and often had a symbolic and practical function . Nowadays , most of them are made with the application of “chalk” and gold leaf and are all hand-painted with natural feathers and gems as decoration. You can find many kinds of masks in Venice Carnival. The most famous are Columbina and Arlecchino.
The carnival is so famous and important that it is also used as a background for video games such as Sly 3 and Assassin’s Creed II in 2005 and 2009.