Why visit Venice Carnival?
Italy’s Venice Carnival is a funny, crazy and exuberant eventset in one of the world’s most unique and beautiful cities – safe too, though beware pickpockets in the crowded square (Piazza) of San Marco.
For the ten days the city sees all sorts of normally sensible folk, including many families, as well wackos, weirdos and exhibitionists, dressing up in specially made costumes or outfits rented for the occasion, strutting their stuff around Venice’s centre.
The area is stuffed with both sightseers and snappers of pictures, but there are sufficient sights of both the costumed variety and of local architecture and artefacts to keep any visitor happy for quite a few days, if not the whole event.
Party on in front of Basilica di San Marco in the heart of Venice, Piazza San Marco.
The Carnival is a must-see for anyone remotely interested in Venice, fashion, style, excess or plain weirdness, with costumes ranging from elaborate formal Regency outfits, through bizarre and expensive designer kit, to bizarre and cheap home-made kit, to large family groups shuffling around all dressed as King Penguins. For the full flavour, rent a costume and go to a costume ball (the poshest is the Doge’s Ball).
A Plague doctor family at the Carnival. During the plagues that swept across Europe in the middle ages – especially the Black Death that killed about 70% of the population around 1348 – all sorts of remedies and protections were invented including these charming masks that Venetian doctors actually wore. We have no data on the success rate of these papier-maché masks.
Best days to visit Venice
The best costume sights are not so much at the beginning or end of the event, they pop up at the weekends when non-Venice Italians appear in all their finery. Weekends are thus the most crowded times too. . .
Italian comedian/mime artist Ennio Marchetto assembled this fabulous work of art.
This outfit is breaching the borders of sanity. The guy has clearly brought all his demons with him to the Carnival.
If you’ve already done Venice you could try a carnival in a different European location. There are excellent carnivals at Viareggio, Italy; Binche, Belgium; Nice, France; Cologne, Germany; Munich, Germany; gay Sitges (near Barcelona, Spain); or Seville’s Semana Santa for something completely different yet strangely similar.