Carnival of Venice
Masked Venetian © Andrew Stawarz
Originating in the 12th-century, the Carnival of Venice is one of the world's most famous festivals, and fills the whole city with musicians, acrobats, clowns, magicians, puppeteers, beautiful masks, elaborate costumes, and parades. People come from around the world to participate in masked balls and general festivities in the ancient Venetian tradition, and to enjoy theatrical performances, exhibitions and concerts along the canals, squares and the magnificent palaces of the city. The Carnival begins 14 days before Ash Wednesday and culminates in Mardi Gras on Shrove Tuesday. Carnival traditions are the same, but every year the theme is different. Masks are central to the Venetian celebrations, and although the reason they were originally worn is not certain, some historians argue that being in disguise allowed class distinctions to dissolve; the thrill of anonymity still plays a big role in the mystique of carnival. One of the biggest parties in the world, Carnival is a special time in Venice and the romance of the festival never seems to fade.
Venue: Centred on San Marco's Square
Date: 23 January to 9 February 2016