The origins of the Carnival in Venice are similar to many carnivals in the world. The Carnival starts on the last day before Lent. The origin of the festivities is the will to consume all the meat before Lent (Carne = meat Vale = farewell, hence, Carnival).
The Carnival has no obvious religious significance. It’s about drinking, disorder, roll reversing, blurring social status, costumes and masks, dancing, plays, parades and festivals all over town.
During Carnival people wear masks and costumes of different kinds: Costumes that symbolize characters from mythology, costumes related to nature, to legend, to styles and historic eras, to church characters, and to characters from the comedia del Arte. The most famous character in the Carnival of Venice is the doctor wearing black robe and white mask, born after the plague in Europe, when doctors were careful not to catch the disease from their patients.
In 1980 the Carnival tradition in Venice was renewed, after a long period. The Carnival is celebrated by costume parades, Gondola sailing, games and parties in the ancient palaces.
When, where and what?
The Carnival in Venice takes place each year on February, between 17-28 of the month.
During this period the streets fill with artists, acrobats and musicians and the whole city is filled with people and very lively.
Apart from all the action in the streets there are also private events such as masked balls and gala dinners.
Every year the carnival has a different topic. Last year the topic of the Carnival was theater. The topic for 2006 carnival is the dragon and the lion, and the carnival is dedicated to China.
The carnival of 2006 starts on February 23, and continues through February 28.
The events of the carnival in Venice include special activities for kids, and dancing for the young.
The official Venice Carnival website On this site you can also find links to organizers of the various balls that take place in Venice during the Carnival.