Venice Carnival and other Venetian festivals

Among the many events that are held in the city every year, we definitely must mention the Carnival.

Every year the world-famous Carnival of Venice, that lasts for about ten days, attracts thousands of people in costume, who walk around the city showing off the elegance or the simplicity of their attire. The city is enlivened by street concerts, international events in the theatres, exhibitions and parties in the ancient Venetian palaces.

Certainly the festival that is most felt by the Venetians is the Festa del Redentore (the Feast of the Redeemer), in the third week of July. It began as a celebration for the end of a plague that had decimated the city in the 16th century, and now the Redentore (from the name of the votive church built on the Island of Giudecca for the occasion) is a magical evening. St. Mark’s Basin is alive with all kinds of boats, all decorated with lights and coloured garlands. In all of them everyone is celebrating, with abundant toasts, singing traditional songs. And towards midnight a firework display begins, lasting for about one hour, lighting up the whole city from above. The lagoon is coloured by the fireworks creating an atmosphere that is unique in the whole world. And often the party finishes on a beach, going on until dawn and greeting the new day with a dip in the sea.

Another absolutely unmissable festival is the Regata Storica with its procession of historical boats and with musicians dressed in period costumes that winds its way down the Grand Canal. The regatta crosses the city and from the canal banks everybody greets the boats with applause and cheering, both the allegorical historical ones, and the escort of boats from all the rowing clubs that still exist in Venice. After the procession an exhausting boat race begins going from S. Elena (at the far end of Venice) all along the Grand Canal with support like at a soccer stadium.

There are many other events that every year attract millions of visitors to Venice: the Vogalonga, in May, is a non-competitive regatta where thousands of rowing boats “race” along a route that crosses the lagoon and goes along the city’s canals. The boats that take part are exclusively powered by oars and are accompanied by many other types of similar boats from all over the world, that come from far away just to take part in this magic day.

And then there is Venice Marathon, the international marathon that ends in Venice, or the Marriage of the Sea celebration. But there are also many minor festivals, district feasts that every now and again enliven the different parts of the city, with concerts, dances, good food and wine.

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