Embrace some colour and glamour at the Carnival of Venice this January and February
For two weeks approaching Shrove Tuesday – Martedì Grasso for those in Italy, or the world famous Mardi Gras – Venice will once again be embracing some very serious dressing up for its own carnival that runs from January 27 to February 13 this year.
As you would expect from a city as exquisitely sculpted in elaborate detail, the world’s most celebrated and romantic canal city lures those wanting to celebrate in elegant surroundings, and with a definite level of panache – plus lots of flamboyant costumes. The mask is central of course, and although back in the olden days these were simple and white and worn to keep citizens anonymous in a packed city known for vice, today the more dazzling the better.
With around 3 million people expected to come to the city during the 2-week period, things can get crowded, though weekends and the final days are most popular. Even though teaming, these are also the best days to visit if you want to see the best of the show, and from Venice’s beautiful St Mark’s Square, which is a must despite the numbers, to a multitude of smaller “campi” and various spots in the city there will be much to ogle as you explore.
Away from the public spaces there are a number of exclusive evening events that fill fast – though tickets to the official dinner show and ball are still available through the carnival’s site. A spectacular way to experience “Carnevale”, this year’s party will be held in the stunning Ca’ Vendramin Calergi, right on the Grand Canal. There will be a sumptuous menu, shows to delight, and – given this is home to the Venice Casino – a gambling room to try your luck.
Dressing up is central to fitting in, and if like some you’ll be wanting to compete to win an award for the finest outfit this year, or at least be in the running, you’ll need to take things pretty seriously. Whether you take inspiration from the Commedia dell’arte, prefer the fantasy-themed, or stick to something more in the traditional 18th century vein, there are a number of ateliers offering the most exquisitely detailed and impressive costumes to rent or buy. Pietro Longhi, an atelier tucked away close to Venice’s oldest bridge, is a treasure trove of luxurious costumes, and by appointment only you can see Francesco Briggi’s deft and detailed creations and pick up what is just right for you.
Places to stay become harder and harder to secure, and of course prices can go through the roof. The opulence of carnival costumes is reflected in many of the city’s most iconic hotels, including the world-renowned Gritti, yet if you prefer to counter this with something more contemporary in design an excellent option is the Palazzina G. Housed in a 16th century building the interiors were reimagined by Philippe Starck (this was his first hotel in Italy), and offer a slick backdrop to call home during your stay. Grand Canal Suites have direct views over the famous waterway, with Superior Suites set on the principle piano nobile floor, while the magnificent 2-floor Presidential “JD” Suite offers ample space with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and 2 living areas. The hotel’s Krug Lounge is also a welcome haven, and with its hotel guests and members’ only policy you can sip the finest fizz away from the crowds.
A fancy-dress lover’s dream and then some, Carnival of Venice is not to be missed. With the very finest of costumes to tempt, masked balls that will have you dining and dancing the night away in style, and luxurious lodgings offering the most comfortable and indulgent of stays, start planning today to see this magical city flaunt its fabulous, fancy stuff.
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