Venice Carnival is a spectacle in the greatest sense of the word. The meticulously designed costumes and extravagant palace parties only add to an already breathtaking city landscape. If you’re wondering how to dress or where to stay, we have you covered. However, practicing your ballroom dance steps (not kidding, you might need them) is on you.
1. Underdressing is a high crime
Showing up without a mask and costume is okay if you only want to observe. But to be a part of the festival, not to mention get into the parties, you have to come fully decked out. Start looking at rental options now, before the best ones are taken.
2. Don’t go halfway
Costumes, parties, accommodations — if you commit to it, you have to do it all the way. Go ahead and pay top dollar if you can. The carnival was originally a pre-Lent splurge. It might not be wrong to honor the tradition.
3. Camera at the ready
Keep your phone or camera at the ready under your costume because you never know when or where you might see a costume that you just have to capture.
4. Know your history
The Carnival is designed to be a time warp. Reading a little about the history of the event and its role in Venetian culture will add an important dimension to your experience.
5. Don’t miss the Marias
The Festa delle Marie is a Venetian tradition in which twelve of the most beautiful Venetian girls are introduced to the carnival crowd and given jewels and the finest clothing made in the city. The tradition dates back to the tenth century and the girls have to go through a series of interviews to make sure they are up to the task of participating in such an important cultural tradition.
Venice is a walking city in every sense. Be ready to navigate almost everywhere on foot.
7. Carry a bag
Don’t expect your costume to come with pockets for your stuff. Having a mini backpack or something of that sort can be a lifesaver. You might even be able to hide it under your get-up.
8. Go on a walking tour
Walking tours like The Secrets of the Venice Carnival and the Life and Times of Giacomo Casanova are great ways to understand the history that comes with the carnival.
9. Book ahead
Venice offers some spectacular accommodations, but remember that the festival is a huge event and hotels will fill up fast. Check out accommodations early and beat the crowd.
10. Know before you go
Read the full Venice Carnival Guide to make sure you’re in the know. This isn’t the kind of event where you can be half-prepared.
It might sound redundant, but we really mean it. Don’t miss all the fun, private parties. Our favorites are Essence of Carnival and Hearts & Dreams, two exclusive events that will complete your Venice Carnival experience.