The venetian tradition that started in the XIIIth Century, allowed nobility to disguise themselves with masks to hide their identity and be mishcivieous, have secret relationships or climb socially without fear of being rejected because of looks.

Even though it was forbidden from 1797 to 1979, it’s renouned internationally because of its unique quality. This year it starts on January 23rd and lasts until February 9th. This edition’s motto is “Creatum, art and tradition”, and emphasizes on the festivity’s origin. Saturday the 23rd sets off with the Venetian Water Event, in the Grand Canal; where a regatta between troupes in costume is celebrated.

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Saturday, January 30th, the Carnival festivities are set off completely, because the big theatre in Piazza San Marco is opened. That is where all the costume parades with their respective contests, are set. That very same day, the 30th, the first great Costume and Mask Contest and the Festa delle Marie (a tribute to twelve beautiful and humble girls), are celebrated. In both events, tradition is the most important aspect; and we get to enjoy a showcasing of traditional venetian costumes.

27.02.2011 Venezia, Piazza San Marco. Carnevale di Venezia 2011: "Il volo dell'Angelo" (Silvia Bianchini). © Italo Greci/Unionpress

Next day, January’s 31st at 12h, Il Vollo Dell’Angelo is celebrated, where the costume contest winner descends in a wire from the Campanile bell tower. Undoubtedly, the most impressive scenery is the Piazza San Marco, since it’s where most of the costume and mask parades are set. If you are looking for the complete Venetian Carnival experience, though, you must go to one of the great theme balls. One of the best is the Valentine’s Grand Masquerade Ball, celebrated on February 6th. The booking prices for these balls change, but they start at 760€.

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Buying a mask is one of the most imporant details you cannot forget. Even if you choose to wear a modern evening dress, the mask is a necessity to be able to feel part of the Venetian night. You can buy them in many artisan boutiques in the city. We’ve chosen below some examples from Ca’ Macana, the best carnival mask boutique, where the pricing ranges from 19€ to 145€.

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If, on top of the mask, you choose to dress up in a traditional venetian costume, your best options are Monica Danielle, where you can buy the iconic venetian cape, and Pietro Longhi, for the traditional dress.

Finally, to complete your experience you must go to a venetian patisserie to try the typical carnival sweets, called Fritelle, a type of fritter that resembles the ones we eat in Spain for Lent, and can be filled in honey, chocolate or covered in powdered sugar.

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Honey Fritelle

We hope you got encouraged to wander through the streets of Venice as if you were in a Fairy Tale, decorated as if we travelled seven centuries back in time.