Today’s Venice Carnival has become a large and spectacular tourist event, attracting thousands of visitors from all over the world who flock to the city to participate in this festival considered unique for its history, atmosphere and masks.
Traditionally, the most important days of the Venetian Carnival are Shrove Thursday and Shrove Tuesday, although the largest crowds are certainly registered during the weekends of the event. Since the beginning of the event, it has been characterised by certain moments that are repeated annually: ‘La Festa delle Marie‘ and ‘il Volo dell’Angelo‘. The Carnival opening parade cannot be missed, with performances by artists to inaugurate the joy and liveliness of the most colourful and famous period in Venice.
Past Carnival themes
The individual annual editions of Carnival have often been characterised by and dedicated to an underlying theme, which inspired the festivities and accompanying cultural events. Some editions have also been characterised by combinations and twinning with other Italian and European cities, thus providing further involvement of the event on an international level.
From 2008 to 2010 it was Sensation, 6 senses for 6 sestrieri, which attracted many residents also, curious to find out what the sixth sense was in St. Mark’s Square, the heart of the celebrations at each edition.
Then it changes again and moves closer to history: Ottocento – Da senso a Sissi, la città delle donne, recalling the anniversary of the Unification of Italy and the figure of women who made history.
In 2012, for example, it rediscovered the pleasure of dressing up: Life is theatre, everyone in mask! It is a time to reinterpret oneself and to transgress the rules.
The following year it focuses on a special ingredient that never fails: colour! And it is called Vivi i colori: colours are emotions!
In 2014, the fairy tale takes centre stage with The Fantastic Nature, an urban nature, in which monstrous and mythological creatures are to be found; while 2015 reveals a sweet and gluttonous side, and it was all about the World’s Greediest Festival! Sweets on every corner: fritters, buranelli, pan del Doge, and many more.
In 2016 it changes again to Creatum, the Carnival of Trades, highlighting the part of the Serenissima’s history with Venetian crafts and culture. In 2017 it changes again to Creatum, vanity (af)fair, the desire to appear and vanity, what will beauty ever be?
And in 2018 Creatum, Civitas ludens brings the mind and participants back to the game, as invention and fun in disguise.
The theme this time is twisted into Blame the moon, taking up the Shakespearean motto ‘All the Moon’s fault, when it gets too close to Earth it drives everyone mad’.
Play, love and madness, the themes that are dear to the craziest and most creative time of the year for 2020 peep out again. ‘Life is a game of madness in which the heart is always right’.
During the pandemic then, in 2021, it was Traditional, Emotional, Digital, for the first time reinventing itself in order to surprise the audience again and be there to bring joy and liveliness, using technology.
In 2022 it became Remember the future, opening the mind to surreal and unexpected scenarios.
Take your time for the original signs, dedicated to the zodiac and the world of fantasy and magic, the origins of creativity are the themes of the 2023 edition…
To the East: Marco Polo’s astonishing journey
This year’s Carnival takes place from 27 January to 13 February and the protagonist will be a famous traveller, who always provided excitement with his tale The Million.
Marco Polo was an important protagonist in the history of Venice. This year, in honour of the 700th anniversary of his death on 8 January 1324, Venice wanted to remember him for his very long voyage of discovery of the Orient and China. An educational journey across borders and cultures, unthinkable at the time, which changed the destiny of Marco, a young ambassador of Venice and the then known world.
Terra incognita, the magnificent aquatic spectacle with artists and performers will be held at the Arsenale to recall the vicissitudes and all the lessons he received as a traveller and official of the Great Khan, during his compulsory stay in the Empire.
There will also be a special Gala Dinner in honour of that historic moment, At the Court of the Great Khan.
There will be dancing and masquerade parties: the Doge’s Ball, Minuet Ball, Carnival Extravaganza, and many others.
And are you ready to experience it to the full and discover the wonders of this edition?