Venice: 5 things you need to know about Carnival 2023

by Destination(s) Europe

📌 Read in / Lire en : Français (French)

Venice Carnival starts in mid-February and is a must-see in Europe, although this legendary city on the water has plenty to offer all year round. Venice had already built its international reputation by the 18th century, when visitors were attracted by the gambling houses, the carnival, and the wild parties. Let’s have a look at what is going to happen at the 2023 edition of the Venice Carnival.

When does this Carnival 2023 start?

February 11th, even if there is a pre-carnival which begins on February 4th. Strictly speaking, the festivities begin with the Feast of the Marys (La Festa delle Marie) when a procession should start from the Campo de San Pietro du Castello at 2:30 p.m. and arrive at the Piazza San Marco two hours later. It is the oldest festival in Venice, instituted to remember the victory of Venice at the end of the 10th century when pirates came to kidnap twelve young girls during the traditional Feast of Weddings in the church of San Pietro of the Castello.

Do not miss the parade on the water and the Flight of the Angel

In addition to the Fête des Maries, two other events have become unmissable over the decades. First, the parade on the water which takes place on the pre-Carnival Sunday -February 5th this year. A parade of brightly-decorated boats sail down the Rio di Cannaregio from 10:45 a.m. and then numerous food stalls open on the canal-side promenade.

Another festivity not to be missed is the Flight of the Angel. This dramatic re-enactment, takes place on the first Sunday of Carnival and sees a costumed angel hanging from a rope “fly” across St. Mark’s Square to greet the Doge.

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Watch out for high tides

Venice is first and foremost an idyllic setting, conducive to taking the most beautiful photos. But watch out for the rising waters! Venice’s high tides can trap you in your hotel for hours when the streets flood. In February, the risks are highest at the beginning and end of the month, right during the Carnival. This is called the Acqua Alta and although the phenomenon happen less often due to the placement of an artificial dike, it is still a risk.

How should you dress for Carnival?

Make a little effort! The Venetians sport elaborate costumes and masks and there is something to marvel at around every corner. For the best Carnival experience, you should at least wear a mask, if not a costume. They are not hard to find on the stalls of street merchants or in stores. Costume rentals are also commonplace. Ask your hotel, they will likely know a good address or could even organize it for you.

Dance at the biggest balls in Venice

In terms of romance, Venice has nothing to envy Paris for, especially when the city is dotted with balls as it is during Carnival. These often include dinner and the entertainment that goes with it. The prices varies: you can have fun for 30 euros or for 800! At the higher end of the scale, costume rental is included, and you will get to dance in one of the most beautiful palaces in the city.

Here is a small selection of the balls (in French) that will take place during Carnival 2023, and their prices. 

There you have it, our short list of the five things you need to know about the Venice Carnival 2023. Find all the articles dedicated to Serenissima by Destination(s) Europe on this page.

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