VENICE CARNIVAL DATES 2019 & MAIN EVENTS
The dates for Venice Carnival 2019 are from 16 February to 5 March 2019.
Here are some among the highlight events of the 2019 “Carnevale di Venezia”.
Note: For all events we give the Italian times, which are an hour later than the UK’s times.
Festa Veneziana on the Water – First Part
The vast Festa veneziana on the water always opens the Carnival. The venue is the Rio di Cannaregio, one of Venice’s most beautiful places.
The Grand Opening of the 2019 Venice Carnival is Saturday 16 February 2019 from 6pm to 10pm.
For the occasion the splendid setting of the Grand Canal at night literally becomes a water stage, with a display of floating structures smoothly moving on it.
And plenty more. Gigantic multicoloured jellyfish flying against the fabulous backdrop of Venetian palaces. Reflections of the water and of the lights on the dark walls of centuries-old buildings full of marvels. Boats driven by horses, ballerinas, flames.
Harlequins suspended in mid-air. Globes of air and light. Phantoms. Enormous, weightless butterfly-women dancing in the air. Magical white figures gliding on the water.
Rosy, jade, orange, turquoise, magenta, flamingo, indigo, ochre, peach, emerald, gold, aquamarine, crimson, lime, azure, carnation, pistachio, mauve, fuchsia, daffodil, juniper, ruby, purple lights. The balconies are full of them, the columns of their classical balustrades gleam with them.
Music, dance, joy along the Cannaregio shores.
The Festa Veneziana on the water is in two parts, one at night one by day.
The next day there will be the second part, and both pay homage to ancient local traditions.
Festa Veneziana on the Water – Second Part
Sunday 17 February from 10.30am to 2pm, the venue is Rio di Cannaregio.
This is a water parade of unique boats sailing along the Canal Grande to the folkloristic and picturesque district of Cannaregio that will be a spectacle for the people, with music, rhythm and stalls providing traditional Carnival and Venetian food delicacies and specialities.
Men in costume row boats and gondolas in the shape of swans, hens, tigers, and other animals. Then comes the boat with the symbol of Venice, the Lion of Saint Mark, as figurehead, holding the book of the evangelist who is the city’s patron saint, the author of the Gospel that bears his name.
The second part of the Festa Veneziana’s timetable is:
11am, entertainment starts on the banks;
12pm, water parade, with Venetian typical food and wine provided.
Best Mask Contest
Saturday 23 February from 11am to 1pm in Saint Mark’s Square you can be an actor in the show and parade in Piazza San Marco with your fancy dress.
Or you can just watch the contestants, the people in costumes, wigs, caps and masks, parade on stage, competing with each other in fantasy and imagination.
Festa delle Marie – the Parade
Every year on the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary, 2 February, the Festa delle Marie used to take place with the purpose of offering a dowry to very pretty girls, when the Doge of Venice gave prizes to the twelve most beautiful Venetian girls of poor origin, donating them splendid jewels as a bridal dowry. Today this is still evoked.
The parade will take place Saturday 23 February from 2.30pm to 4pm in Via Garibaldi.
The traditional “Festa delle Marie” will start at San Pietro di Castello at 2.30 pm, parade all along via Garibaldi and Riva degli Schiavoni and reach the St. Mark’s Square stage at 4pm, where the twelve “Marias” will be introduced to the crowd waiting for them.
This event occurs on different days, giving you the opportunity to admire the traditional Venetian period costumes.
Festa delle Marie
Saturday 23 February from 4pm to 5pm, after the Festa delle Marie parade, the twelve Marias will be in St. Mark’s Square.
The Flight of the Angel
Sunday 24 February from 12pm to 1pm in Saint Mark’s Square the Carnival Angel will fly down from the bell tower of St Mark’s Basilica, while the San Marco stage will be full of history and colours, when many traditional groups parade on stage in their beautiful costumes.
The event will be preceded by the “Corteo del Doge”, the Doge’s parade organised by the Consorzio Europeo Rievocazioni Storiche (Consortium of European Historical Re-enactment Societies), involving the Gruppo Storico “Le Maschere di Mario del ‘700 veneziano” (Historic Group “Mario’s Masks from Venetian ‘700s”).
The Flight of the Angel (“Volo dell’Angelo”) re-creates the Serenissima Republic of St Mark’s times, during which an unknown guest of Venice, flying along a rope from St Mark’s bell tower to the middle of the square, used to offer a homage to the Doge. The Angel will now do the same, greeted by the period costumes parades crowd of the Historical Re-enactments. The event concludes with the embrace of the Angel and the Doge, among scenographical effects.
As is tradition, the girl who won the 2018 edition of the “Festa delle Marie” beauty contest, Erika Chia, will be the Angel of the new Carnival 2019.
The Flight of the Eagle
The great spectacle of the Eagle Flight (“Volo dell’Aquila”) from St. Mark’s bell tower to Saint Mark’s Square stage will take place Sunday 3 March from 11am to 12pm.
It’s still not known who will play the 2019 Aquila, as the “flying” celebrity is always a surprise. The Eagle of the Carnival descends upon St. Mark’s bell tower and from there to the Gran Teatro, the stage erected in St Mark’s Square, the world’s most beautiful theatre, that will become a magnificent ballroom of 18th and 19th centuries’ splendours. Historical dance groups and associations, displaying stunning colours, costumes and movements, parade in front of the crowd and perform the minuet, square dances, gavotte and jigs.
The Best Masked Costume Contest – Award Ceremony
Sunday 3 March from 3pm to 5pm there will be a catwalk of the best fancy dresses in the middle of St Mark’s Square.
A jury composed by masked costumes experts will proclaim the two winners of the two categories: “Best Masked Costume” and “Best Masked Costume according to the theme of this Carnival edition”.
Festa delle Marie 2019 – Award Ceremony
Tuesday 5 March, Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday), from 4pm to 4.30pm in Saint Mark’s Square the award ceremony for the 2019 Carnival’s winning “Maria” will be staged. The twelve Marias will arrive here by boat, leaving from Campo San Giacomo dell’Orio.
At 4.30pm, the crowining ceremony of the most graceful damsel by the Doge.
The “Svolo del Leon”
The Flight of the Lion marks the closing of the 2019 Venice Carnival.
Tuesday 5 March from 5pm to 6pm St Mark’s Square will become once again an open-air theatre for the last time during this Carnival.
Celebrating and paying the highest tribute to the winged lion of St. Mark, the Leone di San Marco symbol of the city, a golden lion painted on red background on a vast canvas, lifted through a rope and pulley system, will fly up to Saint Mark’s bell tower over the audience in Piazza San Marco square.
To welcome him, on the San Marco stage the twelve Venetian young ladies, the Marias, will greet the huge flag.
The event is a great party and a ritual full of emotions, to say goodbye to the 2019 Carnival and hello to the 2020 Venice Carnival, which will last from Saturday 8th February to Tuesday 25th February.
Major Carnival events take place inside the Arsenale, Venice’s superb and under-used historic shipyard, whose immense spaces host fireworks on the water, night occasions, soirées, dining experiences with entertainment among the tables, water pageants, live music, theatre, magic, performances all night long, re-enactments, aerial acrobatics, deejay festivals, the Children’s Carnival events, street artists and bands.
Venice’s Carnevale is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful Carnivals in the world.
Unlike other Italian Carnivals, particularly Venice’s great rival, Viareggio Carnival, whose pièce de résistance or showpiece are gigantic artistic floats moving along the very long seafront promenade, the Carnival of Venice has its main focus on masks, historic costumes, heritage events, fancy dresses of extraordinary elegance, exceptional artistry and superior exquisiteness whose tradition goes back centuries.
Not surprisingly, most if not all events of Venice Carnival are coordinated by the Consortium of European Historical Re-enactment Societies.
And we must not forget events on water, the essential element of the city and its vital lymph, on which it floats, the lagoon on whose seabed Venice’s foundations rest.