How to Experience Carnival Like a Venetian

Picture: AP

Venice Carnival is the most romantic and theatrical in the world. Capturing the hearts and minds of travellers for centuries, wearing masks has always been more than a party for Venetians. It’s a deeply felt tradition and one that lives on today.

Walking around in fancy dress in spooky and macabre masks is the closest you’ll get to live in eighteenth century Venice.

Venice Carnival Experience

With a surprising number of boutique hostels and low cost hotels available, you can have a fabulous time on a budget in Venice. Furthermore, if you avoid the crowded tourist spots and experience Carnival like a Venetian then it will be even more spectacular.

Putting on a mask means taking liberties: love affairs, shady deals and going places without being seen. The Venice Carnival is about letting yourself go and transgressing.

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” – Oscar Wilde

Main Events at Carnival

Carnevale di Venezia 2014

Carnival takes place from January 31 – February 17th and is offering a double event to get the party started this year.

Carnevale di Venezia 2014

  • Saturday 7th February is all about “Festa delle Marie”and recreates the Venetian Doge tribute to twelve Venetian girls, whom he would offer beautiful jewels as a bridal dowry.
  • The parade starts at San Piero di Castello at 2.30 pm until it arrives at St Mark’s Square at 16.00 pm, where the twelve “Marias” will be introduced to the crowd waiting for them.
Picture: Alamy

Venice’s atmospheric dockyards, Arsenale, will host the second annual “Arsenal nights” during the 2015 Venetian Carnival. 

From the 7th to the 8th of February and 12th to the 17th February, Arsenale will host a stunning light show concluding with a fireworks display on the quayside.

Food and Drink in Venice

Picture: Zack Keller

Don’t spoil your holiday eating pizza in tourist restaurants. A wise traveller follows the locals and the best way to experience Venice is to eat ‘Cicchetti’.

Venetians start eating cicchetti over Spritz from early morning until midnight. Served in back street bars at the bàcari, it’s the Venetian equivalent of Spanish tapas. Costing as little €1 per bite, you can enjoy meat, seafood and vegetarian options.

Picture: Marco Secchi/Getty Images Europe

Local favourites include Polpetto in Umido (meatballs in a tomato sauce) or Polpetto Tonno (tuna) and more adventurous travellers may be tempted to try octopus, cuttlefish or freshly salted sardines.

Where to stay in Venice

Generator Hostel Venice

  • Generator Venice is a trendy hipster hostel situated on the island of Giudecca opposite Doge Palace. Brilliant for solo travellers and flashpackers. Rooms are available from €21.75.
  • Le Repubbliche Marinare is a gloriously refurbished ‘B&B’ only a few metres walk from the Grand Canal. Situated in a sleepy Venetian back street, it retains a quiet local feel away from the tourist crowds. Rooms are available from €39.74.
  • Hotel Lux is only a few metres walk from St.Mark’s Square and offers guests a modern and stylish place to relax after partying over Carnival. Rooms are available from €27.86.
  • La Pescheria Backpackers is situated in the heart of Rialto and is perfect for young backpackers wanting to party in Venice for the first time. Rooms are available from €27.87.