Most Famous Carnival Celebrations in Italy

Most Famous Carnival Celebrations in Italy

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Last updated:
04.02.2021

Parade floats, masks & costumes, markets, music, flowers, gigantic papier-mache, all of that you will find in Italy's most famous carnivals! Find out what are the top 5 famous carnivals in Italy.

1. Carnival of Venice

If you would need to name a few popular global carnivals, most likely you would mention the Carnival of Venice. Undoubtedly, the Carnival of Venice is one of the best-know and the most unique in the entire world. The Venice carnival history dates back to 1296 when the Senate decided to make the day before Lent a public holiday full of fun and joy. Wondering why people wear masks and costumes during the Carnival of Venice? At that time, the day was used to erase any distinction of social class, religion, gender, or other cultural difference.

Are you planning to experience the Venetian Carnival? All grand parades and festive atmosphere are mostly taking place in the calli and piazzas of Venice. And one of the most spectacular parades is the "Flight of the Angel," which is situated on Giovedi Grasso. What's more, while in the carnival, take a chance to indulge in traditional Italian delights. The must-try is fried small round donuts called frittelle (fritole), which is considered the national dessert of Serenissima (another name for Venice).

The Dates of the Carnival of Venice:

  • From the 6th to 16th of February, 2021
  • From the 19th February to the 1st of March, 2022
TIP:
If you start your Italian adventure in the capital, hop onboard a Rome to Venice train for a fast, safe and worry-free journey to the carnival.

2. Carnival of Viareggio

The second most popular festival is the Carnival of Viareggio. The first masquerade took place in 1873 when the upper classes expressed unhappiness at having to pay high taxes. After many years, the carnival's most iconic characteristics become a vast animated parade, with gigantic papier-mache caricatures of famous people, including celebrities and politicians. In fact, the festival has its symbol: a black, white, and red harlequin.

These days, the Viareggio festival lasts a whole month, with events at both night and day. Parades, carnival masks & costumes, concerts, and music attracts thousands of visitors to Italy. Once you are in Viareggio, take a chance to try traditional festival food called Cenci, another fried, and sweet treat, this time in the shape of tatters. Also, fans of the carnival are welcome to explore the Museum of the Viareggio Carnival!

The Date of the Viareggio Carnival:

  • From the 30th of January to the 20th of February, 2021

3. Carnival of Ivrea

Held in Piedmont town, the Carnival of Ivrea is known as the Battle of Oranges. Officially it was established in 1808, but it's believed that the event dates back to the ancient ages. The most original idea of Ivrea's carnival is to chase away a hated tyrant from the city who was making the people of Ivrea starve. Later, the purpose of the celebration was modified due to the French occupation of Italy in the 19th century. The Battles of Oranges is a symbol of the struggle for freedom.

These days, the Carnival celebration of Ivrea features parades with medieval costumes, folkloristic groups, and musical shows from Italy and Europe. While enjoying the festival atmosphere, don't forget to taste yummy bean soup, called Fagiolata, it is the traditional carnival food.

The Date of the Carnival of Ivrea:

  • In February, 2022

4. Carnival of Putignano

The Carnival of Putignano is held in Putignano town, located in the province of Bari. In fact, the Putignano celebration is one of the oldest in Europe and one of the longest too! It dates back to 1394 when the governors moved the relics of St. Stephen from St. Stephen's Abbey to Putignano to protect from the Saracens. It was celebrated with a religious procession and later with songs and dance.

These days, the Putignano Carnival begins on December 26th and lasts until Mardi Gras (47 days before Easter). It starts with poets creating satirical rhymes to politicians and ends with vast papier-mache parades to express cheerfulness. If you are eager to experience the best of the Putignano Carnival, make sure to try the Italian chickpea pancake, called Farinella.

The Date of the Carnival of Putignano:

  • From the 7th of February to the 27th of February, 2021

5. Carnival of Cento

The Carnival of Cento takes place in the province of Ferrara, Emilia Romagna. It has ancient origins, as it was represented in the 17th-century fresco painted by Gian Francesco, a Cento native. In 1993, the Carnival of Cento was officially twinned with the Brazilian Carnival for its style of allegorical floats, stunning carnival costumes, and numerous masked wagons. Every year Cento's floats perform in Rio, representing the world's first and only foreign parade taking part in the Night of Champions in Sambadrome.

The Carnival of Cento owns a world-class parade and definitely, is one of the best festivals in Europe. These days, the enormous ceremony leads to the Piazza Guercino and is accompanied by music, massive papier-mache masquerade, and dancing figures. As the last event to close the Cento Carnival, the typical mask from the 19th century, Tasi, is burned. For the best celebration experience, we recommend treating yourself with typical food called Castagnole, a very sweet fried dough balls.

The Date of the Carnival of Cento:

  • From the 23rd of May to the 20th of June, 2021

To sum up, Italy owns some of the world's famous carnival celebrations, and at least one of them can be a perfect addition to your small group or a private tour to Italy. If you crave to explore more Italian towns, don't hesitate to travel by train in Italy or start planning your trip with us!