The origins

Carnival's roots delve into many traditions, from the Latin Saturnalia celebrations to the Greek Dionysos cults, which marked the transition from winter to spring and which used to resort to masks and other symbolical representations.
It was a period when all was apparently permitted, and it seemed to represent the myth of a topsy-turvy world.
In reality Carnival was also a form of rigid control over human pulsions, and the thrust towards excesses constituted a gracious concession for a given duration of time.
And in Venice, which was a society governed rigidly by a chosen few, it was necessary to give the lower classes an illusion of becoming like the powerful, even though with a masked countenance: social tensions were thus watered down, and consensus maintained.



A dilated Calendar
Carnival was particularly long. It normally began on December 26 and ended on Ash Wednesday, but often permission was granted to use masks beginning from October 1, and it was not unusual to hold parties and banquets even well into Lent.
Also, during the Sensa (Ascension) festivity, which lasted 15 days, masks and disguises were allowed.
In brief, Carnival lasted several months, and this has certainly contributed to the creation of the image of Venice as a city given to enjoyment.

The Ridotto
In this climate of amusement gaming could not be absent, and the Ridotto at St Moisé, the public gaming house run by the State, became one of the crucial places of Venetian Carnival.
Between 1638 (opening year) and 1774 (closing year) thousands of masked gamesters poured a river of ducats out of their pockets into the State coffers.
The Ridotto was open exclusively during Carnival (which however lasted for months), and the only persons exempted from wearing masks were croupiers, the so called barnabotti, impoverished Venetian aristocrats.


Carnival in the 18th century

In its last century of life, the Republic (which capitulated with the French invasion in 1797) may only seem to concentrate on the outer frivolous aspects of life, although reality was much more complex.
At this time, Carnival started to become a tourist attraction all over Europe, with its parties, plays, masks and theatres, and public Gaming House, welcoming thousands of curious visitors wanting to be part of such a peculiar and effervescent atmosphere: Venice became "The magnet of Europe":

Venice Carnival 2007

Friday, February 09, 2007 - Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"Carlo Goldoni"

As every year, event organizers of ball in costume inside historical palaces put their events inside our web site: browse them in our calendar of events.

  It will be a popular, widely spread and amusing Carnival. It will be an event involving the whole town and its citizens, as well as hundreds of thousands of guests.
The show offered to such a variegated multitude will be direct, immediate and emotional. Music, ballet, theatre, circus and all the arts dear to people's hearts, will be part of an event whose roots delve many centuries into the past.

In 2007 it will be the Tricentenary of our writer and playwright Carlo Goldoni, one of the most representative artists in our Venetian literary and theatrical tradition. And more than anyone else, he will represent the Carnival's "folklore", its popularity, its being "everybody's event", no one excluded

The leading thread of the coming Carnival took inspiration from an artcle in his memoirs. Goldoni and his company will travel virtually around the world to meet artists from every country.
It will be a mosaic of arts, a masquerade, made up of so many pieces, so many different, diversified, amusing themes.

The past edition experience has also been of service in programming this new event.
The most appealing shows in 2006? Undoubtedly the great Goran Bregovic and his splendid performance of the Taranta with an overwhelming "Pizzica" in St Mark's Square

Music in the world, to make the world dance.

St Mark's Square will feature more music for dancing, pop, folk, with international artists like Afro Celt Sound System, Bollywood Brass Band, Roy Paci and Aretuska, as well as many others.
We shall also witness a battle, with no dead or casualties, the "Marching Bands Collision". Latin-American bands will play on the go, bumping into Scottish bagpipe players, finishing with the extraordinary "Funk Off", the most famous Italian marching band, back from Umbria Jazz and the celebrated Orvieto Musical New Year's Eve.
In addition, a circus like a theatre with "Creatures" and the "Magic of Fire" directed by Chiarenza, and dozens of Commedia dell'Arte performances, on their typical small comedy stages, acting out centuries-old Venetian popular theatre.
A great event, "Venezia Suona" (Venice plays), will be a guest at Venice Carnival: dozens of musicians will perform around the streets in Cannaregio and not only, there will also be a concert by the Band of Venice, especially invented and created for our city by Gianantonio De Vincenzo and his friends from "Il Suono Improvviso".
We shall see a grand show procession by the most important costume atelier in Venice, Atelier Nicolao: hundreds of extraordinary costumes, as part of a display that will transform a woman into a rosebud...

Carnival 2007 will not only be new artists, but also new dates and new rendez-vous.

Febuary 9 will be "Venice Day". The town will welcome guests from the world, offering the best of its artistic expressions. The "Maries Fête", now refreshed and updated, will play an important part, then a grand concert from our best 18th century music tradition, Pantalone and Harlequin to entertain the public, ending with the Band of Venice to close a truly Venetian day.

The next day, 10 February, for the first time, children will be absolute masters in St Mark's Square. A great competition and procession for all elementary schools in Venice, stilts, clowns, fire-eaters. A kids' only musical concert with "La mente di Tetsuya", famed performers of cartoon soundtracks, ending with acrobats and the magic of "Creatures".
On Sunday we shall see a yet secret new "Angel", to start with a great week of entertainment, closing with grand firework music over St Mark's waterfront. An exceptional godmother who will confer the awards for the great international masked competition, an extraordinary beauty from the East ... the name cannot yet be revealed.

But Carnival will not only be St Mark's Square. Children will find their "Enchanted Wood" in Campo San Polo, with lots of animation and games, only for the smallest, while youngsters may enjoy music in Campo Bella Vienna, with the best trend groups of the moment, and nightbirds will have the Marittima to live through the night, and maybe, a yet secret new location at Castello...
Cannaregio will host the music by Venezia Suona, while Castello will be alight with theatre shows and a new itinerant suggestion, winding through the streets...

Mestre and its small revolution, finally with a distinct, definite, metropolitan identity.
A great novelty: the date.
Mestre Carnival will start a week later, on Sunday 18 February, when the baton borne by Carlo Goldoni will arrive over the Canal Salso by gondola and give the go-ahead to the "Donkey's Flight", a fun parody of the Venetian Angel!

Shrove Tuesday will be celebrated together in Venice, closing on Sunday 25 February after three days of music and dancing in Piazza Ferretto.

The entire city, islands, peninsula, and mainland will be disguised and animated by thousands of masked faces, popular music, and dancing to experience together.

"Is Venice the Carnival ? No Sirs, pardon me : Carnival is Venice!"




February  4 – 11 –18 – 20 and 25
Viareggio celebrates 134 years

of Carnival parades, culture and tourism



The 2007 Viareggio Carnival is a celebration in the name of peace, love and solidarity. The stars of these spectacular shows will once again be the huge paper maché floats and puppets, which will   parade along the famous "viali a mare", down the sea promenades, offering a wide programme of entertainment and fun for children and adults. At least 800.000 people are awaited in Viareggio!
 The huge floats, parading on February 4th, 11th, 18th, 20th and 25th, will include nine 1st category floats - the biggest ones (20 meters high, 14 meters wide) weighing about 40 tons each - two smaller 2nd category floats and two masquerades, plus an experimental float, as well as smaller floats from the town district festivals. The parade will also include folkloristic bands and performers from all over the world, besides the final massive fireworks display.
The biggest floats will carry about 200 people in costume, who will dance and throw confetti and candies. Other people will be inside the floats to manoeuvre the weights, the counter-weights and levers that will make the puppets move.
The paper maché puppets satirise public and political figures, such as the Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi and the leader of the opposition coalition, Silvio Berlusconi. The debates on the difficulties of the new government will be followed by representations of the Italian proud at the FIFA World Cup… In addition, some floats will put on scene more social issues, like transgenic food or the television generation… Of course the heroes of fairy-tales will not miss the parades and will surely meet children’s expectations.
Noteworthy is the programme of related events including a large number of shows and cultural events such as fun musical comedies in vernacular, a series of carnival menus available in the restaurants of the area, festivals in the various town neighbourhoods, as well as numerous masked balls held in the most fashionable discotheques and ballrooms. Among the huge programme of sporting events, the most important is the 59th International Junior Soccer Tournament Carnival Cup.
Carnival Foundation has also established a collaboration with Telethon, aiming at collecting funds for research on genetic diseases.
There will be discounts on the admission fee for those who will reach Viareggio by train.