1. Venice Carnival (Carnevale)
For two weeks leading to Shrove Tuesday (Martedi Grasso or Mardi Gras), the city is aglow with pageantry and the spectacle of Carnival. Many events centre on St. Mark’s Square, such as the highly-anticipated “Flight of the Angel” (Volo dell’Angelo), which sends a young beauty flying overhead via zip line, but celebration can be found in every neighbourhood and nook. Colourful parades on water and land, regatta boat races, kids’ fairs and free live performances keep the city abuzz, especially during weekends, but the ultimate Carnivale experience is attending a masquerade ball. Many are private and invitation-only, while others are ticketed affairs like the famously extravagant and expensive official ball held at Ca’ Vendramin Calergi on the Grand Canal. Hotels and guest houses can help arrange event tickets, costume rentals and photography sessions. Sign up for locally-led mask-making workshops for insight into the centuries-old tradition and a truly meaningful souvenir – your one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted Venetian mask.