venice carnival: your ultimate guide for 2023

Last updated Jun 04, 2023

Colourful fancy costumes, delicious food, music, and usually a glass or two... Carnival, or the "fifth season" as it is sometimes called, is nearly here! Cities like Cologne and Rio de Janeiro are internationally known for their exuberant and pompously staged carnival celebrations, but the Italian lagoon city of Venice knows a thing or two about this extravagant festival. With elaborately designed masks, a unique ambience and a full program of music and dance, Carnival in Venice is an unforgettable experience!

Below you will find all the information you need to know about this years' Carnival Venice and how to make the most of your visit!


the venice carnival at a glance

  • When does the Venice Carnival take place? Between February 4th and 21st, 2023.

  • Where does the Venice Carnival take place? Practically everywhere in Venice including the suburbs of Mestre, Marghera, Zelarino, Chirignano, Favaro, Tesser and Macontenta. Just stroll through the streets, squares and alleys and let yourself be carried away by the unique atmosphere and mood.

  • Do I need tickets or entry passes for the Venice Carnival? Venice has announced that day visitors who do not stay on the island of Venice, but in suburbs such as Mestre, will have to pay an entrance fee in the future. However, this regulation is not yet in force. This means that the entrance to the Carnival in Venice is still free for all visitors. The only exceptions are some events for which tickets are required.

  • What is the theme of the 2023 Venice Carnival? This year it's all about the signs of the zodiac and the symbols that characterize the Venetian Carnival. Under the motto "Take your Time for the Original Signs", the city of Venice invites its visitors to look inside themselves and find their own original zodiac sign as an expression of identity and self-affirmation.


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what can I expect at the carnival in venice? 

Flashy, colourful and eye-catching - these three words probably best describe the Carnival in Venice. As you walk through the many alleys and squares of the lagoon city, you don't know whether to be more excited by the unique architecture of Venice or by the many splendid and ostentatious costumes. From St. Mark's Square to the suburbs, Venice is transformed into a true open-air theatre where every kind of art finds a stage.

Besides the magnificent costumes, masks have become the emblem of the Venice Carnival. Most of them are traditional theatre masks which only the upper part of the face. The masks are worn in a variety of colours and are usually elaborately and magnificently decorated. But they are much more than just a fashion accessory. In fact, they make it possible to hide one's identity. Over the years, they have also become a popular souvenir for tourists.


what is the program like this year? 

Colourful costumes and glittering masks dominate the entire cityscape of Venice during the carnival season. Most of the time, these are private individuals standing by for just a photo. But in addition to the hustle and bustle in the alleys, a number of program highlights await visitors:

February 4th: the opening parade with artists, music and light effects on the water.

February 5th:  a procession of typical Venetian boats. In the suburb of Mestre, the preview of the "Carnival Street Show" will take place in Ferretto Square. Every weekend there are musical, circus and clown performances.

The Arsenal (Venice's shipyard) will once again be the venue for a breathtaking night show in 2023. Under the name "Original Signs", visitors can expect a magical 30-minute show.

February 11th: the "12 Marien" - a competition in which only women from Venice may participate. Dressed in historical Renaissance costumes, they will parade on gondolas along the Grand Canal before the "Mary of the Year" is ceremoniously announced on Rose Monday.

February 12th: The official opening of the Carnival with the traditional Angel's Flight. In this spectacle, an artist glides like an angel from the 99-meter-high bell tower down to St. Mark's Square.

The Venice Carnival is also a feast for the palate. At the so-called "Carnevale del Gusto", numerous restaurants, "bácari" (Venetian pubs) and hotels offer various dishes, cicchetti (Venetian antipasti) and cocktails according to the season.

In St. Mark's Square and Ferretto Square in Mestre you can take part in the traditional competition for the most beautiful mask. The voting takes place online, whereby both a daily winner and an overall winner are determined. In addition to the 360° photo set, musicians, artists and magicians will also perform on stage.

The full program can be found on the official website of the Venice Carnival.


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tips for your visit

Who wants their journey to Venice Carnival to start with full parking lots or miles of traffic jams? Here are our insider tips on how to make your trip stress-free and what else there is to discover in Venice besides Carnival.


Make the most of your stay in Venice!

  • Even though the weather in Venice in February is usually already quite mild and spring-like, rain and wind are not excluded. So pack waterproof clothing and a windproof jacket!

  • In addition to the official carnival events, many restaurants, pubs and bars also host smaller carnival celebrations. It's best to ask your accommodation for recommendations!

  • Don't limit your stay to Venice! Also in Mestre there are some fantastic carnival events, such as the "Carnival Street Show". In the surrounding villages of Marghera, Zelarino, Chirignano, Favaro, Tesser and Macontenta there are also parades and events.

  • Also visit the surrounding islands. Murano and Burano are always worth a visit. There, the clocks turn a little slower, so you can let yourself be carried away by the flair of this UNESCO World Heritage City. On Murano you can also learn more about the world-famous Murano glass, which is made with a traditional technique that is only practiced here.

  • Where many people come together, it usually gets quite tight. And that benefits pickpockets. So take good care of your valuables when strolling through busy squares or alleys!


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Arrival, accommodation & transport

Walk or take public transport! In Venice, it can quickly get cramped due to the narrow streets, especially in the peak tourist season. The so-called "vaporetti" are water taxis, making them one of the fastest means of transport in Venice. At popular stops, however, there may be longer waiting times on busy days. We recommend a walk through the more remote parts of the city. Use a maps app on your smartphone, or just follow the arrows and signs to St. Mark's Square or the Rialto Bridge. Thus, you will not only escape the tourist crowds, but also discover the secret corners of the city and see how the locals live.

When it comes to accommodation, we recommend you stay in Mestre and just take the train to Venice. The accommodations in Mestre are only easier to reach (especially if you travel by car or have a lot of luggage), but usually cheaper and more spacious than the traditional accommodations in Venice. Our stunning aparthotel is located right next to Mestre train station and a number of car parks, so you can easily reach it by train or car. Venice can be reached in less than 10 minutes, with several train connections and buses available per hour. 

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Venice: romance, gondolas, canal-side spritzes, narrow alleyways, bacari, historic palazzos, vaporettos, hidden courtyards, and sunsets.