The carnival masks of Venice

Much of Italy is celebrating carnival over the next few weeks. Here are details of the most popular:


Venice: 15 Feb – 4 Mar 2014
During the world’s most famous masked “open city “ party, every corner of Venice flourishes with chances to have fun and becomes a multicoloured series of shows, parades, masks and much more. St Mark’s Square, the true centre of the party, is transformed into a continuous workshop of colours, masks, music and shows hosting Carnival’s traditional events such as “Flight of the Angel”, “Festa delle Marie” and “La Colombina”. Palaces throughout the city host grand masked balls for those who want to immerse themselves in the Serenissima’s festive history. This year’s edition is dedicated to the Magic of Nature.


Viareggio: 16,23 Feb & 2,4,9 March 2014
The most flamboyant of all the Italian Carnivals, and famous for its political satire, Viareggio hosts the traditional shows of gigantic papermaché figures on colourful floats.


Ivrea – Piedmont:  16 Feb – 5 Mar 2014
Traditional sounds of pipe and drum bands open Ivrea’s festival and its most spectacular event – the Battle of the Oranges – takes place on Sunday 2 March. The battle, symbolising the battle for liberty, takes place in the main squares of the town between two sides: one in carriages (representing the overlords) and the other on foot (representing the commoners). Participants wear protective helmets when the battle commences…


Castiglion Fibocchi – Arezzo: 21 April and 27 April 2014
Castiglion Fibocchi is situated along the Roman road called Cassia Vetus, near the mountain of Pratomagno: a chaming town dating back to the medieval period, the XII century. This ancient event sees its participants wear fabulous baroque costumes and artistic papier maché masks, and the carnival been often compared with that of Venice


Acireale – Catania: 15 Feb – 4 Mar 2014
The Carnival of Acireale, is known as the most beautiful, exciting and fun in all Sicily. The parade is held throughout the downtown area where the main baroque attractions of the city of can be found. The crowd is left completely free to roam the circuit without being enclosed behind barriers. Twinned with the Carnival of Viareggio, it has a rich programme of events.


Putignano in Puglia: 23 Feb. & 2,4,9 Mar 2014
The Carnival of Putignano, a lovely town in Puglia south of Bari, is one of the oldest in Europe and one of the most important in Southern Italy. Allegorical floats and masks, masquerades,  food and wine entertain visitors through the streets of the town during the Carnival days. The mascot of the Carnival of Putignano is called ‘Farinella’, named after a local dish made from chickpea and barley flour.


Fano in the Marche Region: 16, 23 Feb & 2 Mar 2014
After the Ivrea Carnival, the Fano Carnival is the oldest in Italy and allegorical floats and masks, masquerades, shows and fireworks all form part of it. What makes the Fano Carnival special is the launch of tons of sweets from the floats to the crowds of spectators and the special music accompanying the Carnival: the Arabita music is played with musical instruments and various other objects.


Arco in Lake Garda – Trentino: 21,23 Feb & 1,2 Mar 2014
The colours, costumes, music and merriment: Carnival has always been the favourite festival of children, but in Garda Trentino it is a joy for grown-ups too. It promises rites associated with the reawakening of life, local fairs, food festivals and plenty of fun! During carnival, a traditional parade of allegorical floats winds through the streets of the small town. Splendid balls in which the guests are dressed in costumes from the Hapsburg period are held in the rooms of the Casino.


Muggia, Trieste: 5 Mar 2014
The Carnival of Muggia, a small town near Trieste, is one of the most famous in Friuli. The event includes parades of allegorical floats, masked people dancing in the street accompanied by
music played live by local bands, and typical Muggia fish specialities are served.


Bagolino , near Lake Idro (Brescia): 2 & 4 Mar 2014
The Carnival of Bagolino, a small village near Lake Idro, is unique in Italy. The ancient tradition is deeply rooted within the hearts of the people of Bagolino and Ponte Caffaro. The celebration is characterised by two different, yet inseparable characters: ‘The Balarì’ (the dancers, always men) and ‘The Mascher’ (the masked, men and women). The origins of dances and music relating to the Balarì are 16th century, while the origins of the Mascher seem to be older. The most spectacular aspect of the carnival of Bagolino is represented by the dancers, the Balarì, both for the richly adorned costumes and for the melodies and dances. The pagan tradition is celebrated each year during the days preceding Shrove Tuesday.