Venice Carnival 2023: when is it celebrated and how? Along with that of Viareggio and the Ambrosian one, which is celebrated in the city of Milan and its surroundings, the Venice Carnival is one of the most famous in Italy and throughout the world. It is a festivity with very ancient origins, which has been present in the lagoon city since 1094 and which has been transmitted over the centuries up to the present day, attracting thousands of visitors every year.
Carnival 2023 Venice: between modernity and tradition
The Carnival of Venice returns from February 4 to 21, 2023 and, even if the program is still being defined, there will be many activities proposed, like every year, including street performances, cultural initiatives, dinners, games and dances. For the lagoon city, it is a festival of very ancient origins, attested since the year 1000, even if it was only in the eighteenth century that the Carnival reached its maximum splendor, acquiring resonance all over the world. The essence of the party is the disguises and it is no coincidence that one of the symbols of Venice is precisely the mask, such as the Bauta, traditionally worn by both men and women as it ensured complete anonymity.
But apart from the tradition there are also some typical events of the Carnival period, such as the symbolic cutting of the bull’s head, which generally takes place on Shrove Thursday and is linked to the history of the Serenissima and the celebration of its victories, when a wooden machine for fireworks was set up in Piazza San Marco, while a procession of members of the guild of blacksmiths and butchers dragged three garlanded oxen before the Doge, who cut off their heads. A rite to which a proverbial motto is also linked: cutting the bull’s head means removing obstacles, since with the cut then every fight was put to an end and the show ended.
The Flight of the Angel also opens the Carnival, which recalls the feat of a young Turkish tightrope walker who, in the mid-sixteenth century, with the sole help of a balance wheel, reached the top of the bell tower of San Marco by walking on a very long rope that started from a boat anchored on the pier of the Piazzetta; the first Saturday of the Carnival takes place, then, the Feast of the Marys: a water procession accompanies twelve girls from the Church of San Pietro di Castello to Piazza San Marco, recalling an event of 942, when during a popular festival, pirates from Trieste kidnapped some young Venetian women.
Carnival 2023 Viareggio: the party for the 150th anniversary
The Carnival of Viareggio is one of the historical festivals of the Italian tradition and in 2023 it will celebrate its 150th anniversary, with an entire month of events, from 4 to 25 February. Born in 1983, when some wealthy local families decided to organize a parade of carriages decorated in a carnival style, the party has been enriched and transformed over time, reaching up to the present day, when, on the occasion of the Carnival, the Great Masked Courses, allegorical papier-mâché floats parade along the Viali a Mare, transforming Viareggio into the city of entertainment, with shows of all kinds.
Ambrosian Carnival 2023: when to celebrate
Another historical Carnival in Italy is the one that follows the Ambrosian rite, observed in most of the churches of the archdiocese of Milan and in some of the nearby dioceses, which makes Lent begin with the first Sunday of Lent, scheduled for February 26, 2023 (and not Ash Wednesday), thus making the last day of Carnival fall on the Saturday after Ashes, which in 2023 will be February 25 . This is a discrepancy compared to the rest of Italy, justified by a popular tradition, which leads it back to a pilgrimage trip made by the bishop of Milan, Ambrogio, when the city apparently decided to wait for him to start the celebrations. The Ambrosian Carnival is usually a theme, chosen year by year, and celebrates historical characters or particular events of the year in question; one of its symbols is the traditional parade through the streets of the city centre, when floats and masks follow a route that reaches Piazza Duomo.