Venice Carnival - time for Masks & 5 Essential Things

Have you ever been to a Carnival? If you love parties then February is that month for a trip, to join the most elegant of them - the Carnival of Venice.

Once a year the city on water hosts maybe the oldest and glamorous costumed party, diving you into a magical atmosphere of medieval festivity.

Venice Carnival Venice Carnival - time for venetian masks and costumes. Image by © Natasha / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Masks, costumes and styled dresses, all mixed together on the Venetian Piazzas, enabling people to behave more freely and relaxing since no one knows your social status and personality. But be ready for the crowds. There are a lot of people. After all many want to participate in the Venice Carnival, or as they say in Italian - Carnevale di Venezia!

So, let's see how to be like a local among all these Venetian masks and performances. By the way locals doesn't like the carnival because of thousands of tourists, they even trying leave the city during the event. Well then, note down my check list of must haves and do's to feel yourself like a frequenter on this Venetian party.

What to Do & Must-haves for Venice Carnival

Now let's start with Must-haves and Do's for the Carnival in details

1 Proper Outfit - Venetian Masks, Costumes, Dresses

First of all you'll need a mask. Coming at the Carnival without it is like to come naked! There is a wide choice of masks in Venice, they are sold on every corner. Your task is to find the right one for you.

Venetian Masks Venetian Masks the first thing on the Carnival. Image by © J Duval / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A mask can hide either eyes only, or the whole face. Cheap ones can be found right on the streets. Usually they made in China and cost around €5. The quality is poor.

Original Venetian masks are handmade, created by a master. Such masks start at €20 minimum and up to €100+ . They made of papier mache, then a mask is being painted and decorated. Venetian makers sold their works in workshops, e.g. "Ca' del Sol" shop (address: Castello 4964, 30122 Venice; opposite Residenza De L'Osmarin).

If you'd like to complete the image, then costumes or dresses in order to get. There are 3 types of costumes: historical, bizarre or fancy and freestyle. The first type speaks for itself - men in wigs, women in lush dresses (this type is popular among older tourists). The second one is for cartoon/cinema heroes. And the third is when people themselves come up with forms.

Venice carnival costumes and dresses People wear costumes and dresses for the Carnival. Image by © Sergey Galyonkin / CC BY-SA 2.0)

2 Camera - capture the moment

Since you look right, next thing of must haves is a camera. Not so obvious as an outfit, but it is necessarily here. The Carnival lasts for about 15 days and most people jostling on the piazzas viewing masks of each other and photographing. In fact this is the meaning of the Carnival.

Nowadays a camera built-in into smartphones is enough, unless you have a good separate one. And making a shot is easy here, participants pose with no problems.

3 Visiting key events

During all Carnival people are dancing. On the streets are given concerts and costumed performances. You should be aware of main activities among this sea of fun. The best way to not miss anything interesting is to check daily schedules with the organizers.

Key events are: "Grand Opening", "Flight of the Angel", "Water parade", "The Best Masked Costume Contest" and "Silent regatta" along with endless entertainments each day.

venice carnival best venetian masks The Best Venetian masks to be chosen. Image by © Will Will / CC BY-ND 2.0

4 A Ticket to a Ball / Party

When the evening has come and you still don't want to bed, you have 2 ways to continue celebrations - go to a Ball or join a party, after all Venice doesn't sleep these days too.

Costumed balls or balls-masquerade are given in the old palaces. To get there you'll need a ticket and an appropriate appearance to pass the dress code - costumes and masks. Entry tickets vary from €200 to €1000+ .

Venice Carnival party, ball A ticket to a Venetian Ball/Party in order. Image by © Sergey Galyonkin / CC BY-SA-2.0

What are those balls look like, you ask? Well, guests gather by the tables and eat under the sounds of classical music. Then everyone learn to waltz. Some say it's boring.

And at night there is a free disco on San Marco. Loudly and fun.

5 Gondola ride and Souvenirs

No matter of the reason you are in Venice, a gondola ride is in order to do. It helps to feel the atmosphere of the unique city. There are 425 gondolas in total, with the price about €80 per hour to ride on one of them.

Gondola Ride during Venice Carnival Romantic Gondola Ride during Venice Carnival. Image by © Sergey Galyonkin / CC BY-SA 2.0

Did you know that Venice has no real sewage system (?!), and houses release their wastewaters straight into the city’s canals. Yup, it happens it smells bad here. Call it "local nuances" :)

Also you should/[may want to] bring a souvenir from Venice. Apart from a Carnival mask, the most popular topics are Venetian glass (aka Murano glass) and Burano lace. And again, the original product costs a lot. For example a simple vase made of Murano glass will cost you €500 or a small burano lace napkin for €200.

And finally, here are the answers for the two most frequent questions regarding the Carnival:

When to visit the Venice Carnival? (2019 dates)

In 2019 it will begin on Saturday, 16 February and lasts until Tuesday, 5 March. Because it longs more than two weeks, maybe the best option will be to visit the Carnival in a way to see more key events, which listed below. Btw, Venice is one of great Valentine's day Ideas of places to go

Where to stay cheap in Venice during the Carnival?

If you travel on a budget, then a cheap stay in Venice is the first task you need to resolve. Luckily, there are ways to save money. Catch a great lifehack: go outside the city, it's only 10 minutes by train (€1.25), to stay in a new, comfy and big hostel A&O Venice Mestre. Prices: dorm rooms - from €12/night; single rooms from €24/night. Address: Via Ca Marcello 19, Mestre district.

As a conclusion

Venice is an amazing place. Yes it is expensive and with its nuances, but the city's romantic atmosphere worth a visit. Especially during the Carnival, when the city becomes a magnificent decoration for it. Here, all those costumes and masks look naturally and charmingly.

Btw, about high prices, for those who is searching there is always will be alternatives - like hostels or a Traghetto for €2, which in fact the same Gondola, and rides you across the Grand Canal. Happy travels ;)

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