For two weeks leading to Shrove Tuesday (Martedi Grasso or Mardi Gras), the city is aglow with pageantry and 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.
Home to such culture-defining experiences as the Carnevale and the Venice Biennale, it is no surprise that the best events in Venice draw approximately 30 million visiors to la Serenissima (the Serene Republic) each year.
With savvy planning, travellers can experience the city in full pageantry through a dizzying array of world-class things to do, festivals and events; Venetians revel in banding together to honor the city’s rich traditions as well as creating colourful new occasions to celebrate life on the lagoon.
At the forefront of everyone's Venetian plans is this year's Venice Biennale: the 58th International Art Exhibition, which happens every two years, will take over the town on May 11 through November 24, 2019. Ralph Rugoff, the current director of the Hayward Gallery in London, is set to curate the experience, this year titled "May You Live in Interesting Times."
With an event for nearly every imaginable occurrence, from honoring saints to spotlighting hotshot film makers, Venice proudly shares its unique culture with travellers seeking immersion beyond just the top museums and renowned restaurants. Being an active participant in local culture offers deeper perspective of the city and people as well as opportunities to meet and support artisans and mingle with residents.