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For the senior traveler, this event in Venice is one of the top things to do in Venice and should not be missed. It’s winter in Venice, not too cold and definitely not hot and humid. The crowds are not as bad as in the high season summer time. It’s worth visiting the bustling city of Venice at any time, however it certainly comes into its’ own during the Carnival of Venice each year. This fantasy event attracts thousands of tourists from across the globe, who arrive in the Italian city to sample the “real” Venice. For 2014, the Carnival in Venice runs from the 15th of February to the 4th of March. The Carnival has been held in Venice for centuries and some historians believe that it dates back to the 1100s. However, the most spectacular and abundant celebrations were held in the sixteenth century, and this has established the theme for modern Carnivals.
This colorful festival has daily events happening all across the city from skating in the Campo San Polo, Nordic Walking, to the Canal Grande e Sestiere di Cannaregio, the huge “Festa Veneziana.” Experience out of this world cuisine in Venice! This year’s Carnival theme is “La Natura Fantastica,” the merging of the world of fairy tales and the mystery of nature. Everywhere you look, people are donning their mysterious masks and creative costumes to attend gala dinners and balls. These events are hosted in historic palaces, such as the Hotel Danieli and the Palazetto Pisani Ferro. There are concerts, theatre shows, parades and several other performances occurring each day.
In 2014, the Carnival of Venice will open with a new feature: The International Special Prize “La Natura Fantastica” – the fantasy forest where the world of fairy tale and nature merge. This is Venice Carnival’s first ever international face mask contest. Venice always holds a costume competition, however this competition is sponsored by Venetian mask manufacturers, and is exclusively for face masks. Historically, the masks were worn to differentiate between commoners and women and men of nobility. Anyone can enter this competition and you can use the technique or material of your preference as long as the mask is wearable on the face.
The Carnival’s highlight is the “Flight of the Angel”, or “Il Volo dell’Angelo,” which takes place near to the beginning of the event. A gymnast walks a tightrope between Riva degli Schiavoni to Saint Mark’s Bell Tower, then onwards to the Doge’s Palace balcony. From there, the performer offers the Doge flowers as a mark of honor. Also, this gesture signifies the Carnival’s official opening event.
On the final night of the Carnival of Venice, the “Vogata del silenzio” parade is another spectacular event. Masked gondoliers row their gondolas through the canals of Venice by candlelight. Undoubtedly, this is a wondrous sight to behold. In San Marco Square, the grand ball and fireworks display marks the Carnival’s conclusion. Once these events have finished, Venice returns to normality, until the onset of the tourists flocking to the city in the summer months.