Decadent parties, extravagant costumes, masquerade balls, exquisite masks… it must be time for Venice Carnival! But before you get dressed to the nines in your best ball gown, there are a few things to know about joining in on Italy’s biggest carnival.
Carnevale di Venezia is Italy’s biggest carnival celebration, where the romantic and ancient city comes alive in a flurry of historic costumes as revellers dress in their best ball gowns and roam the city for the final celebration before Lent. But for first-timer visitors, a Carnival experience can be a tad overwhelming. These tips should help you on your way, though!
1. It’s actually pretty cold
Carnival is celebrated in February, when Italy is in the midst of winter, so it’s important to keep this in mind when planning your trip – and your outfit! Check the forecast before you leave and remember to pack a sturdy umbrella for any sudden downpours. Don’t forget a warm jacket, either.
2. Carnival is one day, but the festivities can last weeks
Carnevale, or mardi gras, is held 40 days before Easter on Shrove Tuesday, but there’s plenty going on in the weeks leading up to the big day, too. If you want to avoid the big crowds but still get your Carnevale fix, opt to go in the earlier weeks; there will still be a great atmosphere, without the need to elbow your way through the masses. The final official day of Carnival is the busiest, and the week leading up to it is when you’ll find most events and activities take place.
After this huge celebration, the weeks following Carnival tend to be much quieter; it’s the final big blow-out before the fasting of Ash Wednesday and Lent begins, and Venice slows right down.
3. The date changes each year
Because the date for Carnival is guided by the following Easter, the date for the celebrations changes each year and can be anywhere from early February up to early March. In 2019, the date for Carnevale, the last day of celebrations, is on March 5.
4. You don’t need to attend an expensive ball to enjoy the festivities
There’s so much activity happening all around Venice; people will be walking the streets in elaborate costumes, music will playing, fireworks will illuminate the sky and there will be dancing in the streets, so if you don’t fancy shelling out hundreds of euros for a ticket to a masquerade ball with an equally pricey costume, you’ll still get to experience the joy and festivities of a Carnival celebration just by wandering the streets of Venice and making you way to St Mark’s Square, where most of the free-to-the-public activities are held.
If attending one of these grand balls is on your bucket list though, there are a number of official events you can purchase tickets for; but you’ll have to buy them well in advance. Check out the official Carnevale di Venezia website to see what takes your fancy.
5. Accommodation books out, so get in early
It’s a busy time of year in Venice, and hotels book out months before the celebrations, so be sure to organise yours well in advance. Organisers recommend booking your hotel or Airbnb about 12 months in advance to ensure you don’t miss out.
6. You should wear comfy shoes
Even if you’re dressing up in your best historical costume, chances are you’re going to be on your feet all day, so it’s imperative to ensure you’ve got a comfortable pair of shoes so that blisters and sore feet don’t ruin your experience.
7. You can book airport transfers on Jayride.com from Venice Airport
Venice sits on a complicated system of canals that can be difficult to navigate for first-time visitors. Save yourself the hassle of wondering just how on earth you’re going to get from Venice Airport to the city with a pre-booked airport transfer on Jayride.com. We work with local Venice airport transfer companies who know the city inside and out, so you can simply sit back and relax.
8. Venice is made of islands
121, in fact! What makes Venice so special is the surrounding water, and Venice is made up of lots of islands and canals, connected by 435 bridges. The best way to explore this intricate canal system is, of course, with a gondola ride.
9. Restrooms are few and far between
Make use of your hotel room and cafés as public restrooms are not a common sight in Venice, and if you do find one, chances are there will be a queue.
10. People will want to take photos
If you’ve decided to go all out and dress up, be prepared that people will want to take your photograph – it’s all part of the experience! The more dolled up you are, the more you’ll feel like a celebrity being snapped by the paparazzi. Likewise, you’ll no doubt want to take photos of some of the amazing costumes worn by other Carnival revellers; just remember to be polite and ask first.
Heading to Venice Carnival? Jayride.com operates in Italy, so you can enjoy a seamless travel experience to Venice Carnevale by booking an airport transfer between the airport and your hotel, and back again!