Venice Carnival 2023: Everything You Need to Know
Every year before Lent, Venice transforms into an outdoor theater for Carnival. Venetian masks and period costumes invade the streets of the Floating City for a little over two weeks in honour of all art forms.
The Venice Carnival 2023 will be held from February 4 to 21. The theme? “Take your Time for the Original Signs”, a reference to the signs of the zodiac. This theme invites you to express your creativity using your personal sign and design your Venice Carnival costume with a personal touch.
History of the Carnival of Venice
The first documents mentioning the Carnival of Venice date back to the 11th century. At the time, folklore and traditions, including costumes, public games, shows and rituals, were still evolving, but their purpose remains the same: celebrating the power of the city and unifying the districts (sestieri), which were then divided. This was the one time of year when social norms were abolished and you could reinvent yourself behind your Venice Carnival mask, which brought the city together for rituals.
A few centuries later, the Venice Carnival celebrations attracted the European nobility, and today draw tourists from all over the world.
What Happens at the Venice Carnival?
Street performances, masked balls, tastings, mask and costume contests, concerts, theatre, acrobats... The Venice Carnival is host to a series of public and private events from February 4 to 21 on the islands and mainland, at all hours of the day and night. Not to mention the parade of extravagant Venice Carnival costumes that you will see around the city, which intensifies starting February 16.
Must-See Events During the 2023 Venice Carnival
- The Opening Parade puts the traditional symbols of the Venice Carnival on display with artists, colours, lights and music. Saturday, February 4 on the Grand Canal from 8 to 9 pm.
- The Parade of the Marys (Festa della Marie) followed by the Flight of the Angel. February 5 in St. Mark's Square.
- The Arsenal Water Show: Original Signs, an extraordinary performance that combines dance, music and special effects created specifically for the Venice Carnival. February 10 to 12 and February 16 to 21 at the Arsenale Darsena Grande.
- Original Sinners, the Venice Carnival's official dinner shows and balls. February 11 and 12 and February 16 to 21 at Cà Vendramin Calergi.
- The famous Mestre Carnival Street Show. The street artists draw you into their fantastic worlds on the weekends of February 4-5 and 11-12, then February 16 to 21.
To see the complete Carnival of Venice 2023 programme day by day, visit the official website of the Venice Carnival.
How to Attend the Carnival of Venice 2023
The Carnival of Venice is a great opportunity to visit the Queen of the Adriatic, walk along the hundreds of bridges and visit the countless attractions, all in a magical setting. Saint Mark's Basilica, the Doge's Palace, the Rialto Bridge, the Guggenheim... And don't forget the gondolas! All of these marvels are within reach as long as you meet certain travel requirements.
What are the requirements for visiting the 2023 Venice Carnival?
Are you a citizen of the European Union or Schengen Area (or Associated States)? You can visit the Venice Carnival with a national identity card or passport valid for the duration of your stay.
Are you a citizen of a country outside the EU and Schengen Area? Depending on your country of origin, you may need a visa to travel to Italy. See which countries need a Schengen visa here.
- Do you need a Schengen visa? Go to the Italian consulate's website for your country to find the information you will need and start your Schengen visa application. Once you have obtained your visa, be sure to keep your supporting documents with you, including your proof of insurance that covers medical and hospital expenses for a minimum of €30,000 (Italian border control may ask for them).
- You don't need a visa? You can travel to Italy with a passport that is less than 10 years old and is valid for at least 3 months beyond your planned return date. The border police may also ask you for other documents. Please note that as of November 2023, you will also need to apply for an ETIAS travel authorization.
Travel Insurance for the 2023 Venice Carnival
Choose peace of mind for your visa application and when crossing the Italian border with Schengen travel insurance policies from Europ Assistance. Apply online and get your proof of insurance immediately. Recognised and accepted by Schengen embassies and consulates throughout the world, our policies starting at 3 euros per day cover your medical expenses up to €60,000 in case of illness or accident in one of the Member States of the Schengen Area, as well as additional coverage, available here.