Live the Color of Venice Carnival

Venice Carnival or Carnevale Di Venezia, has been a celebrated Venetian symbol of its elusive decadence for centuries. The name is said to have come from the words carne vale meaning farewell to meat; this explanation shows the celebration’s function: an opportunity to indulge and use up such treats before the start of Lent. Celebrated in Italy and many places around the world 40 days before Easter, Carnival is a final party before Ash Wednesday and Lent. The date of Carnival festivals changes every year, and this because the date of Easter changes yearly. In 2013 the dates are 2nd - 12th February. During these two Carnival weekends, the city is very busy and there is a genuinely festive atmosphere.
The Carnival was first started in the early 14th century and was attended by members of the Italian royal family, people of high official positions and foreign dignitaries. The reason they used to wear masks was to conceal their identities.
Nowadays, the Italy Carnevale is a serious business for locals and even for all Italy. Stalls line the streets of Venice with hand-painted beautiful masks of all shapes and sizes, souvenirs, interesting costumes, traditional sweet galani pastries or cakes, mulled wine, local Bellini cocktails and the local speciality fritelle. But Carnevale Di Venezia is one excellent opportunity to see the best of Italy – nowhere else in Italy you will find so much color, history, art and joy as in Venice during the Carnival which is a time for children as well. They are carried and wheeled around town dressed in costumes - from cute fluffy animal suits to musketeers and Harry Potters, leaving a trail of confetti, sweets and silly string littering streets and piazzas.

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Being an inspiration and the perfect destination for designers and fashion lovers, Carnevale Di Venezia is also welcome for those who like to wear fancy dress – be yourself without attracting stares is fabulous. Masks, cloaks and wigs are easily purchased at countless tourist shops and souvenir stalls. The most popular Carnival mask is the bauta, the smooth white masks seen everywhere. But there are amazing designs that include feathers, gold leaf, and extravagant head pieces with jewels, ribbon, metals and fabric. For something more elaborate or authentic, visit one of Venice's papier-mâché workshops where good-quality masks are hand-crafted and very expensive. Costumes can be hired at shops throughout the city, but they may be in short supply if you don't book them promptly. For a one-stop Carnival shop, visit the Mercato delle maschere e dei costumi Veneziani, in Campo Santo Stefano. This little market is made up of stalls from some of Venice's artisan mask and costume workshops, and runs for the duration of the Carnival.
Each year the theme of the carnival changes. The 2013 Carnival’s theme is Live in Colour. During the Carnival a great array of entertainment take place around the principal public square of Venice - St. Mark's Square – and adjacent Piazzetta. Events for all ages run in the Piazza, open to everyone. Visitors can take a look on the schedule displayed directly on the notices around the square. But visitors will spend most of their time spotting the costumes. Costumed characters parade and preen throughout the day, happily posing in front of professional and amateur photographers. The costumes are simply amazing one better than the other, after half-an-hour's wandering you'll probably have your own favorites.
The grand opening celebration of the Carnival takes place on the first Sunday, with an event called Il volo dell'angelo. It is an adaptation of an old tradition which involves an angel swinging on harnesses from the bell tower into the Piazzetta San Marco. In the afternoon, also in this square, a big parade of costumes on a catwalk takes place. Every visitor who is costumed can join the parade. Participants from around the world are expected to live the intense colors of Venice Carnival!
Throughout the Carnival period there is also a plenty of balls. Tickets are generally expensive and should be booked in advance. Venice's opera house, La Fenice, and several of the smarter hotels also put on balls and parties. The end of the carnival is marked by the San Francesco della Vigna bells tolled slowly signifying the beginning of Lent.
Despite the fact that prices for Venice accommodation always reach high rates during this period, bookings also go through the roof. But if you are prepared to dig a little deeper, and make arrangements in good time, you can find budget places to stay.
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