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How to Experience the Venice Carnival


How to Experience the Venice Carnival
Hi, I'm Zoë!

Zoë Smith is a British travel writer, editor, and digital content creator who has lived, worked, and traveled over six continents, and is currently based near Nantes, France. She has written for Rough Guides, CNN, and Culture Trip, and is digital editor at FrenchEntrée.

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Venice Carnival is one of Italy's most spectacular annual events—a riot of color, elaborate historical costumes, glamorous masquerade balls, and a week of live concerts, street parties, and entertainment. Here's everything you need to know before you go.

When to go

Venice Carnival dates and the best time to arrive.

Traditionally held around Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, at the start of Lent (40 days before Easter), Venice Carnival (Carnevale di Venezia) celebrations can last up to two weeks. There's a busy schedule of both free and ticketed events during the main week, but the biggest events—including the official parades and masked balls—take place over the final weekend.

How to go

Top Venice Carnival experiences for all travelers.

Get into the Carnival spirit by buying or renting a traditional costume or classic Venetian mask, joining one of the parades or street parties, and sampling traditional Carnival foods such as frittelle, a traditional sweet donut made only during the festivities. Carnival is also the ideal time to experience Venetian culture and traditions, so take part in a mask-making workshop, tour Venice's cicchetti bars for a bite to eat, cruise along the Grand Canal on a romantic Venice gondola ride, or attend an evening Carnival concert or dinner theater performance.

Masquerade street festivities are a staple of Venice's Carnival. Photo: Silvia Longhi / Viator

Things to know

Top tips for attending Venice Carnival.

  • St Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco) is the main hub of Carnival celebrations with daily parades, pageants, and other activities.

  • Most Carnival events, except for the masquerade balls and gala dinners, are free to attend.

  • Carnival falls during winter in Venice, so prepare for chilly weather and possible rain, with an average high of 46°F (8°C) in February.

More things to do in Venice during Carnival

Hi, I'm Zoë!

Zoë Smith is a British travel writer, editor, and digital content creator who has lived, worked, and traveled over six continents, and is currently based near Nantes, France. She has written for Rough Guides, CNN, and Culture Trip, and is digital editor at FrenchEntrée.

Keep exploring
See all Venice tours
1,284 tours & tickets
Things to do in Venice
See all things to do in Venice
Venice Neighborhood Guide
6 Must-See Venice Neighborhoods and How to Visit