Home Infos & Tips Venice Carnival 2025: information, programme and tips

Venice Carnival 2025: information, programme and tips

Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy, and it is impressive with its art treasures, palaces, canals, and waterways. The historic city centre was built on 150 flat islands arranged in a lagoon. A romantic atmosphere is created when the gondoliers sing their wistful songs and skilfully bend over under many bridges.

Each gondola is made by hand and is as much a part of the tradition as the famous Venetian Carnival. This fantastic open-air spectacle takes place from:

26 February to 2 March 2025

This is the time if you don’t want to miss the top events. You can also arrive a few days earlier, as there are already countless events, parades, and a lively carnival atmosphere on the streets.

What do I need to know before travelling?

The Carnival in Venice is of ancient origin and still embodies the deep symbolic meaning of the Greek Dionysian culture and the Latin Saturnalia, the popular festivities that also took place in winter in ancient Rome in favour of the god Saturn, in the costumes and masks.

What do I need to know before travelling?
© Pixabay

With its magical and dazzling atmosphere, Il Carnevale di Venezia is one of the city’s most important landmarks. It gets very crowded in Venice now. It’s not the time for a romantic city break in the lagoon city, but the time to marvel at the elegant costumes and masks.

✅ Very important: plan your visit well in advance. You can find cheap flights to Venice at booking.com/flights. All information about transfers from Marco Polo Airport can be found in the airport transfer article. You can find suggestions for accommodation in the Accommodation section. Drivers should make sure they book a parking space at a good time. The various booking options are listed in Parking in Venice.

Of course, the classic sights such as St Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace are also overcrowded. So, here too, book your tickets in good time.

🎟️ From 2025, admission to the historic centre of Venice will be charged for day visitors. All information and the option to book this ticket in advance can be found at entrance to Venice.

Tickets and events for Carnival 2025

The annual carnival festival always begins on the Sunday 10 days before Ash Wednesday with the so-called Volo dell’Angelo, the Flight of the Angels. During the carnival season, there are numerous performances by artists, acrobats and performers on many small stages.

Here you can join in the socialising and hustle and bustle in the alleyways free of charge. Demand is high for closed events, but supply is often limited. This is especially true for events such as the sensational carnival balls and the many mask workshops. A gondola ride with a mask is certainly the best way to get in the mood for Carnival in Venice.

Carnival in VenicePrice*Voucher
Gondola ride with mask38,50 €Book online
Masks workshop69,00 €Book online
Venice Carnival Ball730,00 €Book online

🎟️ You will find many more booking options for getting to know the carnival in Venice in the rest of this article. This also applies to the official events and parades.

The highlights of the carnival in Venice

The highlights of the carnival in Venice
© Pixabay

The Venetian Carnival is organised according to traditional values. As already mentioned, it starts on the Grand Canal with the angels’ flight to St Mark’s Square and ends with the award ceremony for the most beautiful Venetian woman, the lion theft and the choice of the most beautiful costume and mask. Each year the carnival has a different theme and surprises with imaginative events and offers that enrich the traditional rituals. Events you shouldn’t miss:

DateHighlightPlaceTime of day
Sunday, 16 FebruaryWater festivalArsenale10:30 to 11:30
Saturday, 22 FebruaryFeast of the MarySt Mark's Square14:30
Sunday, 23 FebruaryFlight of the AngelCampanile12:00
Monday, 24 FebruaryCarnival & ShowSt Mark's Square09:00 to 17:00
Tuesday, 25 FebruaryCarnival & ShowSt Mark's Square09:00 to 17:00
Wednesday, 26 FebruaryCarnival & ShowSt Mark's Square09:00 to 17:00
Sunday, 2 MarchFlight of the EagleCampanile12:00

✅ La Festa Veneziana sull’Acqua – The water parade

Sunday begins with the water festival on the Rio di Cannaregio. This is where the famous regatta on the canals takes place, which is one of the most popular events. It consists of typical Venetian boats and is led by the Pantegana boat, which has the suspicious shape of a rat. Water has always played an important role for the lagoon city of Venice, so the rowing parade with hundreds of masked athletes thrills spectators every year.

There are also the popular water shows at the Arsenale during carnival. All the important information, such as times and how to get there, can be found on the provider’s website. Please note that tickets cannot be purchased on site, but must always be booked online in advance. Tickets for the Arsenal Water Show are available here.

📍 Sunday 16 February 2025 – 10:30 The boats will assemble at the Dogana da Mar next to the Salute church: departure at 11:00 – explosion of the “Pantegana” in front of the Rialto bridge at 11:20 – arrival at 11:30 at Campo de l’Erbaria square on the Rialto.

✅ La Festa delle Marie – The feast of the Virgin Mary

The feast of the Virgin Mary, which has been celebrated in Venice since the 9th century and is one of the most important events, is similarly spectacular. Back then, the day was used to bless young couples before their marriage. The famous abduction of the twelve brides by the pirates from Istria, an event that took place in 943, is re-enacted. Brave Venetians pursued the pirates and were able to free the women and escort them safely back to the city. The pirates were executed and their lifeless bodies thrown into the sea. In honour of the brides, the harbour was named after them and is still called Porto delle Donzelle today.

La Festa delle Marie - Feast of the Marys
Franco Ricciardiello, Festa delle Marie, CC BY 4.0

In the modern carnival version, which has been a tradition again since 1999, the Feast of the Virgin Mary is the sensational highlight. The most beautiful Venetian woman is chosen here, as well as the most successful costume and the best mask. The raffle is accompanied by the parade, in which the twelve Venetian women show their most beautiful side, wearing splendid and finely decorated original costumes. The parade moves from San Pietro di Castello to St Mark’s Square. The most beautiful is then awarded the title of Maria of the Year and is the representative for the following year.

📍 Saturday 22 February 2025 – The parade starts at 14:30 at the Traghetto in Santa Sofia.

✅ Volo dell’Angelo – The flight of the angel

Volo dell’Angelo - The flight of the angel
fotogoocom, Volo dell’angelo Venezia – panoramio, CC BY 3.0

This marks the official start of carnival 10 days before Ash Wednesday. The flight of the angels dates back to the 16th century and begins with a shower of confetti on St Mark’s Square. An Acrobat floats like an angel on a rope from the Campanile to the Doge’s Palace. Until the 18th century, the Volo dell’Angelo was performed by an acrobat who actually balanced freely and unsecured on a rope until a tragic fall occurred. For a while, the angel was then replaced by a wooden dove until 2001, when a real person once again took on the role of the angel, this time of course secured and without too much risk.

📍 On Sunday 23 February 2025 – At 12:00 noon at the Campanile.

✅ Volo dell’Aquila – The Eagle’s flight

Since 2012, the Flight of the Angel has been supplemented by the spectacular Eagle Flight, which takes place one week after the Angel Flight. This is performed by a well-known international athlete who always appears as a surprise guest. The carnival ends with the flight of the lion, which is the official symbol of the city. A huge canvas flag with the lion’s emblem is hoisted on the bell tower of St Mark’s Square, followed by an unforgettable fireworks display.

📍 On Sunday 2 March 2025 – At 12:00 noon at the Campanile.

✅ The exclusive dinner shows in the evening

The exclusive dinner shows in the evening
© Pixabay

It gets dark early in Venice in winter. After the traditional carnival events, visitors are drawn to the numerous dinner shows in the evening. If you want to take part, you should book a place early, Venice also has a lot to offer in winter, all about it in Venice in winter.

Evening eventPrice*Voucher
Grand Gala Dinner Show730,00 €Book Online
Carnival Ball115,00 €Book Online
Carnival Party Cruise130,00 €Book Online

How did the Venetian carnival originate?

The history of Carnival in Venice dates back to ancient times and was closely linked to the customs of Lent at the time. The Doge Vitale Falier referred to the festival for the first time in 1094, and the first mention of a mask dates back to the 13th century. In the late Middle Ages, the festivities took on increasingly lavish forms and were mainly held at princely courts.

The 18th century brought about a further change, when customs became increasingly relaxed and the brief moment of freedom arose between the poor and the nobility due to the anonymity of the masks. The carnival provided an opportunity for the lower classes to have fun, forget the hard times and overcome social differences.

How did the Venetian carnival originate?
Unofeld781, Carnevale di Venezia Masks 2010, CC BY-SA 3.0

One of the most famous personalities of this period was Giacomo Casanova, who recorded many impressions of this debauched century in his memoirs. The carnival even gave the poor the opportunity to mock the aristocracy. Criminal activities also increased, as the anonymity favoured theft, robberies and excesses, which some naturally exploited unscrupulously.

Under Napoleon Bonaparte, the heyday came to a temporary end, partly due to economic difficulties. The carnival lost prestige and even masks were banned for a time. During other periods of Italian history, the population itself also put up resistance and boycotted public events of this kind.

Nevertheless, the carnival could not be completely eradicated, even though it only became a tradition again in 1967. Fellini’s film Casanova in particular revived it in 1976. The return to the traditional event also led to a revival of the Commedia dell’arte theatre, where original masks and costumes are still elaborately recreated and performed today.

You can also learn a lot about the history of Carnival in Venice on the following guided tours:

Guided toursPrice*Voucher
The life of Casanova64,00 €Book Online
The Walking Theatre Show35,00 €Book Online

How was Carnival historically celebrated in Venice?

How was Carnival historically celebrated in Venice?
© Pixabay

The historical carnival in Venice began in the 12th century on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday with the start of Shrove Tuesday. The day was also a day of liberation due to the victory of Doge Vitale Michiel II over the Patriarch of Aquileia Ulrich II of Treffen. He himself took part in the celebrations with his senate and followed the dancers and acrobatic performances on the Grand Canal, which were accompanied by oriental sounds.

Fireworks were set off and the guilds supplied the oxen and pigs that were slaughtered in the public squares. On St Mark’s Square, people were entertained by the puppet theatre and the presentation of wild and exotic animals in cages and kennels. The colourful hustle and bustle was complemented by tightrope walkers and acrobats, while quacks sold their remedies or predicted the future.

The magnificent buildings of Venice were the setting for lavish costume parties and people paraded through the streets and alleyways wearing elaborate, home-made masks. Bloody dog fights were just as popular as the burning of the famous figure wearing a Pantalone mask in front of St Mark’s Square at the end of the festival. The Lenten bell of the Franciscan church of San Francesco della Vigna heralded the start of the next Lent.

How is Carnival celebrated in Venice today?

Today, the festival is primarily a world-famous tourist attraction, with many people flocking to the city to experience the colourful variety of costumes and masks up close. For ten days and ten nights between Ash Wednesday and Carnival Tuesday, thousands of costumed people parade through the streets, creating an unforgettable magical world.

How is Carnival celebrated in Venice today?
© Pixabay

Stages are dotted all over the city of Venice, where free artistic performances and concerts take place. Masked and costumed people in Venetian boats and gondolas also appear on the water, while the streets and squares offer a variety of food and drink, including the famous sweet-tasting frittelle, or Italian fried doughnuts.

There are also public and private events and firework displays. Everyone has the opportunity to stroll through the streets in fancy dress and a mask and get caught up in the atmosphere. Exuberance, cheerfulness and a festive mood prevail. The costumes are splendid and imaginative against the backdrop of the impressive Venetian architecture.

If you want to get to know the carnival in Venetian style, you should join a pub crawl.

The beauty of costumes: colourful, eye-catching and elegant

The Venetian Carnival is a dazzling festival with eye-catching and unforgettable costumes that are elaborately crafted by master artisans. It symbolises the decadence and extravagance of the past, which are shown to their best advantage in the costumes. Typical are the baroque versions and the impressive Renaissance dresses made of fine materials, but there are also modern and imaginative variations. There are no limits to the imagination here.

The beauty of costumes: colourful, eye-catching and elegant
© Pixabay

In the 18th century, people sometimes dressed up in guilds and professions. They took to the streets as lawyers, doctors, astrologers, butchers and hunters, but also as devils, jesters and seducers. The versions of the masks that are still worn today, from the cunning Colombina to the jester Pulcinella and the vain Dottore, originate from this. The stage shows and events are also performed in splendid costumes. The original costume is the black cloak with hood and tricorn hat, which is combined with the Bauta mask. This disguise is very old, actually provided complete anonymity at the time and was also sometimes permitted outside of carnival.

A spectacular photo taken at one of the many photo shoots on offer is certainly a fitting memento of the Carnival in Venice.

Photo ShootingPrice*Voucher
Private photo shootfrom 195,00 €Book Online
Dress-Up Experience65,00 €Book Online

The different masks

In addition to the aristocratic costumes, the Venetian carnival also focuses on the elaborate, varied and often very expensive masks. Half masks, which cover around half of the face and were once used as theatre and speech masks, are mainly worn. Half masks are very popular in modern carnival as they make eating and drinking easier.

🎥 There are also famous full masks, such as the typical Pantalone or Bauta, the latter with a bulging chin, which was seen in Stanley Kubrick’s film Eyes Wide Shut, based on the novel Dream Story by Arthur Schnitzler.

🎭 Pantalone

© Pixabay

One of the least altered masks of carnival and commedia dell’arte is the pantalone mask. In times gone by, it served to usher in the end of the carnival and was put on a figure who was publicly burnt. Pantalone embodied the figure of a miserly, self-absorbed and often deceived fashionista. The mask is still made by hand from papier-mâché today and is one of the typical authentic original products of Venice.

🎭 Bauta

The elegant version is the Bauta as a classic overall mask. It symbolises anonymity and is particularly expressive. It is beautifully decorated and is available in many colours. The white version is often worn in combination with a black cloak, complemented by a tricorn hat on the head. The open and forward-facing chin section allows for eating and drinking.

fotogoocom, Karneval in Venedig – panoramio (18), CC BY 3.0

🎭 Zanni

A common model in the colourful carnival crowd is the Zanni, a half mask with a long, pointed nose. The variants are elaborately painted in bright colours, often monochrome with a large cut-out for the eyes. The model is also very popular with the locals because it looks dark and mysterious. Rumour has it that the Zanni mask was worn by the Grim Reaper when he roamed Venice during the plague.

© Pixabay

🎭 Dottore Della Peste

Venice experienced terrible times of plague, during which many people died. The Dottore Della Peste, which was worn by the notorious plague doctor himself in the 17th century in the hope of avoiding infection, is a reminder of this.

Dottore Della Peste
Norbert Nagel, Mörfelden-Walldorf, Germany, Venetian carnival costume Venice 1, CC BY-SA 3.0

The model is characterised by a long beak that symbolises the distance between doctor and patient. As soon as people saw the plague doctor, they fled. Accordingly, this mask is one of the darker ones, which is also historically valuable and tells a whole story.

🎭 Volto

Volto means face in Italian, and the popular mask actually covers the face completely. The rigid expression allows for perfect anonymity and is particularly skilful and versatile in its handcrafted design. The mask is available in a wide variety of expressions, including a laughing, sad, angry or neutral mask.

Frank Kovalchek from Anchorage, Alaska, USA, Venice Carnival – Masked Lovers (2010), CC BY 2.0

🎭 Colombina

The Colombina is a chic and playful half mask. It is wing-shaped and mainly covers the eyes and the forehead and nose area. It is often worn by women as the design is sensually feminine. The mask is available in many colours and is also decorated with semi-precious stones and glitter.

© Pixabay

🎭 Moretta

A discreet black half-mask is the moretta, which dates back to the 17th century and is covered in velvet. This was also often worn by women and had to be held in the mouth so that speaking was not possible.

© Pixabay

Those who wanted to conceal their identity had to practise silence. Today’s versions have a more modern design and can simply be worn over the eyes.

All the courses and workshops that focus on making the various masks are very popular. This is an extraordinary and varied experience, especially for travellers with children in Venice.

The different masks
Biser Todorov, Venice Paper Mache Mask shop, CC BY-SA 4.0

Today, the typical masks are above all a fashion accessory and, of course, together with the magnificent costumes, a fantastic photo motif. Of course, the traditional gondola ride with mask, which was already offered above, should not be missed.

Private Tour with Mask Workshop168,00 €Book online
Carnival Mask workshop55,00 €Book Online
Paint your own Venetian Mask Workshop57,00 €Book Online

Programme tips and miscellaneous

The weather in Venice is quite mild at the end of February, but rain and wind cannot be ruled out, so remember to wear suitable clothing.

Programme tips and miscellaneous
© Pixabay

The range of events of all kinds at carnival time in Venice is of course overwhelming. Here are a few more event ideas:

Carnival in VenicePrice*Voucher
The "Doge's Ball"VariousBook Online
Carnival 2025 EventsVariousBook Online

The city is a huge open-air festival where there is always something to see or experience everywhere. At events on the water, restaurant visitors or individual hotel guests usually have the best view. Otherwise, you can also try to get a standing place near the Rialto Bridge.

ℹ️ Further information can also be found on the official website for the Venice Carnival – Carnevale di Venezia 2025.

Public transport

Detailed information on public transport in Venice can also be found in the article on the famous vaporetto, the typical water buses that run on the city’s canals. At carnival time, the streets get crowded and the water bus stops are particularly busy.

Vaporetti day and multi-day tickets

Longer waiting times must be expected in some cases. A private water taxi is quicker, but unfortunately also much more expensive.

Safety during the carnival season

There are now lots of people out and about in the narrow streets. Pickpocketing is now the order of the day, which unfortunately also applies to Venice. So take extra care when strolling around!

✅ My tip: Take as little cash with you as possible, only take copies of ID cards – the originals should remain in your accommodation. Hide your smartphone safely in the front pockets. Please also read my article on safety in Venice!

Visit the carnival in Venice!

Visit the carnival in Venice!
© Pixabay

Venice is worth a visit at any time of year, but the experience is particularly unforgettable at carnival time. Many people take part in the numerous events and dress up in the most beautiful costumes. This is where the imagination comes to life and makes for a fascinating journey through time. All this can be combined with romantic gondola rides and a visit to the city’s most beautiful sights.

At the carnival in Venice, people dance under the confetti rain, marvel at the spectacular fireworks and show their joy and happiness. Although dressing up is not absolutely necessary, it makes the whole thing an exciting pleasure. After all, when do you ever have the opportunity to wear sumptuous dresses, crazy costumes and mysterious masks that liven up the game of anonymity in a unique way? For ten days, Venice offers a glittering feast for the senses and is unique in this form.




Bild 4:fotogoocom (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Volo_dell’angelo_Venezia_-_panoramio.jpg), „Volo dell’angelo Venezia – panoramio“, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/legalcode

Bild 5: Franco Ricciardiello (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Festa_delle_Marie.jpg), „Festa delle Marie“, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode

Bild 7: Unofeld781 (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carnevale_di_Venezia_Masks_2010.jpg), „Carnevale di Venezia Masks 2010“, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode

Bild 12: fotogoocom (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Karneval_in_Venedig_-_panoramio_(18).jpg), „Karneval in Venedig – panoramio (18)“, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/legalcode

Bild 14: Norbert Nagel, Mörfelden-Walldorf, Germany (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Venetian_carnival_costume_Venice_1.jpg), „Venetian carnival costume Venice 1“, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode

Bild 15:Frank Kovalchek from Anchorage, Alaska, USA (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Venice_Carnival_-_Masked_Lovers_(2010).jpg), „Venice Carnival – Masked Lovers (2010)“, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

Bild 18: Biser Todorov (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Venice_Paper_Mache_Mask_shop.jpg), „Venice Paper Mache Mask shop“, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

PIXABAY: Bild 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 16, 17, 18


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