Behind The Masks A Guide To The Venice Carnival

Take your Time for the Original Signs is the theme of Venice Carnival 2023
On the Grand Canal in Venice
On the Grand Canal in Venice

One of the world's oldest carnivals is coming up soon. The two-week long Venice Carnival sees people from across the world attend the colourful affair famous for masks, costumes, dancers, and music. During the pandemic, the carnival was shut or scaled down. In 2023, it is coming back with a bang.

The pre-events have already begun. This Sunday, hundreds of decorated rowing boats took part in a traditional parade led by a boat carrying the iconic Pantegana,&nbspthe large rat made of paper mache, which transits during the carnival regatta in the Grand Canal.

The Origins

It is believed that the origins lie in the recognition of the Venice Republic's triumph against its adversary, the Patriarch of Aquileia. The Carnival of Venice was first held in 1162 in Saint Mark's Square (San Marco), where Venice residents came to dance and celebrate their win. Mussolini banned it in the 1930s it was revived in the late 1970s.

The Theme

&lsquoTake your time for the Original signs&rsquo is the theme of Venice Carnival 2023. It draws inspiration from constellations, from symbols of earth, water, fire, and air in a fanciful &lsquoZodiac&rsquo of originality and creativity.

The Dates

The dates for the 2023 Venice Carnival are from February 11, 2023, to Tuesday, March 21, 2023. There are some pre-carnival events taking place the week before, from February 4, 2023. The two weeks before Ash Wednesday are dedicated to the annual pre-Lent celebration, which includes a variety of activities like masquerade balls, parties, parades, historical re-enactments, and lots of fun. The Venice Carnival ends on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, the final day when indulgence, excess, and revelry are permitted before the 40 days of Lent start.

The Masks

Venetian masks were earlier made of&nbspleather,&nbspporcelain&nbspor&nbspglass.&nbspMost of the masks today are&nbspmade of hand-painted gesso&nbspor&nbsppapier-m&acircché,&nbspand decorated with feathers and gems.

The masks come in all shapes, colours, themes, and sizes.&nbspAnd there are many types of masks, but among the most expensve ones are the&nbsptraditional ones. Mask making is a cottage industry in Venice.

Costumed groups can be found in many squares in Venice, but the best displays of masked and costumed people can be found in and around Saint Mark's Square. 

Events To Look Forward To

The Glass Slippers, a Venice Carnival ball will be held in a magical location in the island of Murano, known for its traditional blown glass. Participants have a chance to win a Murano glass slipper. 

The Venetian Reflections Carnival Ball will be held in the setting of Tiepolo's frescoes in the prestigious Palazzo Labia. 

There will be lots of fun workshops and tours to take. For instance, creating your own carnival mask,&nbspor taking a Murano glass blowing workshop. You can also go on Burano lace-making tours by boat.

The Information

Where Venice, Italy

When Feb 11 - Feb 21, 2023

When To Go It is recommended to go during the final weekend of the Venice Carnival. The best events take place from Fat Thursday through Shrove Tuesday. Keep in mind that this is also the busiest time to visit Venice.

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