Carnival, amongst history, tradition and entertainment

It is the most anticipated Venetian event of this season, and certainly, the most riveting one.

Its calendar, at least in Venice, is linked to Christian tradition and thus to the “falling” of Easter together with Ash Wednesday, on the calendar this year on the first of March, which begins Lent and thus a period of penitence.

The month of February will therefore see the city experiencing two different aspects, contrasting with each other: a romantic and reflective one, typical of the cold season, during its first part, and an exuberant, festive, sometimes transgressive one, during the second, dedicated to Carnival itself.

This great feast will thus begin on Saturday 18 with the first event linked to tradition, the Fête of the Marys, in memory of the tribute the Doge offered every year to twelve lovely girls chosen amongst the populace. It historical re-enactment will feature a procession in costume accompanying the chosen girls from the ancient basilica of St. Peter of Castello to St. Mark’s Square, to present them and invest one of them at the end with the title of most beautiful “Mary” in town.

On Sunday 19, instead, it will be the turn of the Flight of the Angel, a revisitation of the ancient Flight (or svolo) of the Turk, the event which officially opens the Carnival festivities with an exciting and scenographic flight of the Mary (in the guise of the Angel in this case) from the loggia up on St. Mark’s Bell Tower.

All the other events will take place between here and Shrove Tuesday on the 28th – marked by the election of the Mary for the 2017 edition and its shutdown signalled by the Flight of the Lion – including among others the Competition for the Best Mask, with its rendez-vous twice daily, and the great Giovedì Grasso Party with its spectacular conclusion of the Beheading of the Bull, the revisitation of an ancient anecdote dating back to the year 1162.

Among the many events following each other day by day, in a calendar which will continue to be updated right up to a few days prior to the commencement of the event, there will be no lack of parties and dinners in the palaces, true cult moments during the Venetian Carnival, when it will be possible to relive the sophistication, the opulence and the magic of ancient eighteenth century festivities.

Among them, we’ll remind you of two: the exclusive Doge Ball at the Pisani Moretta palace, described by the well-known magazine Vanity Fair as the “event every lover of beauty should take part in at least once in a lifetime” and The Gallery of marvels, the dinner-show that the Venice Casino will present in its venue at Ca’ Vendramin Calergi for the entire period of Carnival, within its Renaissance salons overlooking the Grand Canal.

The hub of the whole event will once again be St. Mark’s Square, let us remind you, the only actual piazza in town (all other open spaces in town are named campi, or fields). The theme and project initiated in the course of the latter edition will continue here, still acting as its leading thread. Creatum: the Fair of vanity will thus transform the square into a scenic machina populated by master craftsmen, who will make the atmosphere of Eighteenth century Venice come alive again with their workshops and their crafts, all framed by glimpses of bygone Venetian life enlivened by music and theatre shows.

Other locations will also act as the backdrop for the event: from the campi –an ice-skating rink is set up at San Polo for instance – to museums and theatres, which will contribute to the festivity with themed itineraries, guided tours and special opening hours, music and prose shows. Among the institutions particularly involved are La Fenice Theatre, the Carlo Goldoni Theatre, the City Museums Foundation and the Venice Biennale, the last present with its International KidsCarnival, rolled-out at the central Pavilion at the Giardini.

The great festivity will feature a prologue on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 February, with the traditional Venetian Fête taking place in the popular district of Cannaregio. Its suggestive rio (canal) of the same name will be the stage for a spectacle enchanting hundreds of spectators every year, who will be able to savour the first real atmosphere of the Venice Carnival in all senses, including taste.

Many other events will be added over the month to this great festival. Among them, we may point out the exhibitions dedicated to William Merritt Chase, to Hieronymus Bosch and to Rita Kernn-Larsen respectively at Ca’ Pesaro, at the Doge’s Palace and at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Let us remind you finally about the charity auction (4-5 February) promoted by Rotary and Inner Wheel in favour of AIL (Italian leukaemias Association) at the Bauer Hotel.

As usual, we are directing you to our inner pages for programmes and details.