Italy is known for being one of the pioneer countries in carnival celebrations, with a wide variety of celebrations, from the most traditional and mysterious ones to joyful celebrations with wonderful floats.
The Venice Carnival is probablythe best known carnival in Italy, but this does not mean that it is the only one. Italy has a plethora of carnival celebrations, all of them with special elements that make them unique and special. Some of the cities in the country boastlong and centuries-old traditions that have remained almost intact over the years, while others have evolved and acquired modern elements.
We accompany you to know everything aboutthe 10 Best Carnivals in Italy.
Sardinian Carnivals are totally different from what we are used to seeing. Carnival in Sardinia dates back to the 16th century and has maintained its traditions with few alterations. Sardinia contemplates 4 carnivals of major importance: the celebrations in Ottana, the celebrations in Orotelli, the celebrations in Oristano and thecelebration in Mamoiada. Each of these areas feature unique characters and ceremonies that can only be seen here.
Despite being present on the same island, the carnivals of each of these regions have completely different and special characteristics. The Carnival in Ottana has two favorite characters: Merdules and Boes. The Merdules is the representation of a man wearing white or black sheepskin, a scarf covering his head and an anthropomorphic mask. On the other hand, theBoes is the representation of an ox with an ox mask, chisel and knife.
In the Carnival of Orotelli predominates the presence of the Thurpos or Sos Thurpos, characters who wear velvet suit, leather pants and black coat. In addition, he wears black face paint and cowbells hang on his body.
The Su Componidori or simply Componidori is the main character of the Carnival of Oristano, who is an anthropomorphic character with a golden mask. Finally, in Mamoiada are the Mamuthone and Issohadore. The Mamuthone is a character in black clothing, robust black mask and with large cowbells on his body. The Issohadore is a character with a white mask, bow and red clothing.
During carnivals, these characters can perform theatrical performances, make hogueras, sing traditional music, ride horses or perform competitions. Each of the cities has its own ceremonies for each character, consolidating and maintaining a mysterious and interesting tradition.
The Sardinian Carnival will be held approximately from February 14 to 16.
This carnival is held in the town of Madonna di Campiglio, northeastern Italy. The Habsburg Carnival is a particular celebration, since its purpose is to remember the time when they were still ruled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The carnival has been present in the town since the 19th century and among its main activities can be found ceremonial dances, parades and sports activities..
During the celebration, the city becomes a white and magical stage to make way for Franz Joseph I of Austria and his wifeElisabeth Amelia Eugenia Duchess in Bavaria. These characters occupy much of the entire Carnival theme.The Habsburg Carnival focuses on the figure of these two characters, remembering with special affection the Duchess Elisabeth.
The Madonna di Campiglio Carnival is an incredible staging mixed with period costumes and architecture, as well as parades and wonderful fireworks shows. In addition, it has some directed activities for children,real dinners, live music concerts with orchestras, magical parades with lamps and antorches and skating and skiing events.
The celebration of the Habsburg Carnival is definitely an atypical celebration that you should visit at least once in your life to experience for yourself a trip back in time to a privileged locality where the European aristocracy partied.
The Habsburg Carnival is usually celebrated between the months of February and March.
Fano is located in the northeast of the central region of Italy, in the province of Pesaro and Urbino. The Carnival in Fano is actually one of the oldest in all of Italy, having been celebrated since the 14th century. The celebration in the city consists of the parade of dozens of large floats accompanied by dancing and singing groups.
The floats are considered pieces of art, which are made by a large number of artisans who work for months to obtain the most impressive themed cars in the region. These floats are of an imposing size, each one of them having a unique and particular theme. The different elements that make up the floats are mobile, which means that, during the parades, the characters move from one side to the other or even blink.
Each of the floats are accompanied by their groups. Hundreds of people stand on or in front of the floats, dancing or entertaining the public. In addition, they wear a large number of costumes that accompany the theme of the float. These floats are also accompanied by a fun musical atmosphere, either through speakers or aband of musicians that plays live during the event.
The streets fill with large crowds on both sides of the float route. Spectators wait with great excitement for a rain of candy and caramels that are thrown from the floats. Hundreds of sweets fly through the skies, while people try to catch and keep as much candy as they can in their pockets or backpacks.
El Carnavao de Fano will be held from approximately January 31 to February 14.
The Carnival is celebrated in the north of the central region of the island of Sardinia. Mamoiada Carnival is highly enigmatic and mysterious, as the origin of the carnival is unknown and only theories exist about its creation. The theories about its beginnings cover a lot of possibilities, from the representation of the cycle of life and death, ceremonies to ward off evil spiritss or even the victory of the Sardinians against the Arabs.
The characters that occupy the streets during the celebration are known as Mamuthone and Issohadore, both are costumes that seem to be taken from a mysterious and distant era. The Mamuthone featuressheepskin costume, hair and black mask, while the Issohadore features white mask and pants, red vest and hat.
During carnivals, parades are held, in which various members of the community wear the costumes of Mamuthone and Issohadore. Members perform certain activities in the street, whether dancing, ring cowbells or entertaining the public. In addition, there are also activities such as community fairs, where several people participate in eating carnival sweets, dancing and playing traditional music.
The cultural elements present in the carnival are highly valued by the community, which tries by all means to maintain and develop the festivities to maintain these mystical traditionss. In addition, the community has also built several spaces that allow the proliferation and development of both the characters and the celebrations. Everyone is welcome to the locality and the locals receive tourists with animosity.
The Mamoiana Carnival will take place from approximately January 17 until Ash Wednesday.
The Carnival of Acireale is an enchanting celebration held in the east of the central region of theisland of Sicily. The carnival has been present in the city since the 16th century, although at first it was celebrated in a completely different way. In its beginnings, the carnival was a violent party, which was celebrated among the locals by throwing eggs, water and other liquids. Today, it is one of the most popular carnivals in Italy.
The celebration features dozens and dozens of themed floats. These floats may be built with the purpose of producing anamazing work of art or to convey some particular message. Some floats are usually built with the intent to satirize or create humorous and mocking elements towards different personalities and celebrities. No one is spared from being the object of mockery during carnivals.
The floats are located incertain points of the city, they are static so spectators must go to the various points of the city to see them. However, the elements and characters that make up the structures,move or turn on themselves. Each of the floats features figures made with great detail, color and decoration, but they stand out much more during the night.
The streets receive much more public during the night, when the lights of the buildings and streets are turned off and the lights that decorate the floats illuminate the entire firmament. The combination of the lights and the movements of the characters result in a great visual spectacle that can only be seen in the city. All the floats are accompanied by music, closing with a flourish these magnificent presentations in the streets of Acireale..
TheCarnival of Acireale will be held from approximately February 15 to 25.
Cento is located in the Province Ferrara in Emilia Romagna. Carnival has been present in the town since the 17th century or even earlier. The main attraction of the carnival celebrations in Cento are the fabulous colorful and themed floats that traverse the streets for 5 days before Lent. The entire community takes to the streets to celebrate with great excitement each day of these wonderful festivities.
The Carnival of Cento has established itself as one of the main carnival celebrations throughout the country. During the celebrations, dozens of carrozas pass through the streets with lots of colorful and fun characters. The floats have a wonderfully detailed visual work that takes months to complete. In addition, each float presentation features a dance and music repertoire. These dancers wear themed costumes that accompany and relate to the main float.
Although these large floats that reach 15 meters in height are the main attraction, the carnival also provides spaces for the celebration of other activities that take place in the alleys and streets of Cento. Hundreds of people take part in the numerous activities, exhibitions, food fairs and art fairs that take place during the celebrations.
The carnivals in Cento are definitely one of the best options to visit Italy during the Carnival season. The magical and colorful floats will keep you completely mesmerized. In addition, the dancers in costume and the various activities will leave you wanting to come back next year.
The Cento Carnival will be taking place from approximately February 11 through April 4.
The town of Putignano is located in the province of Bari in southeastern Italy. The town has celebrated carnivals since 1394 and is consideredone of the oldest carnivals on record. The Carnival of Putignano is an extensive tradition that is not only celebrated between the months of February and March, but begins the previous year, in the month of December.
The celebration encompasses the city in different senses, since it does not focus only on the parades, but also dedicates spaces for the development and recreation of traditions. The museums and workshops of Putignano open the doors of their enclosures so that everyone can learn how the floats that travel the streets every year are made.
The Carnival in the village of one of the most anticipated festivals. These festivities feature dozens of impressive colorful floats that gracefully move as they traverse the streets. The themes of each float can change, these can simply be graceful structures of great beauty or vehicles for protest, humor and satire. The floats feature a large size withmobile elements.
The dancers also take to the streets during the parade, who dress in colorful and graceful costumes. Acrobats are also part of the show, swaying from side to side to entertain the entire audience in the streets. Thousands of people lean out of the windows of buildings or walk down to the streets to get a clear view of the wonderful musical and visual spectacle of the floats.
The Putignano Carnival runs from approximately January 30 to February 20.
Ivrea is a beautiful medieval town surrounded by rivers, located in Turin, in northwestern Italy. The town has been celebrating carnival since the Middle Ages, being passed down orally until the 19th century. The carnival is possibly one of the most particular in the whole country, as it not only features incredible colorful parades, but also agreat battle of oranges..
The Carnival of Ivrea is a reflection of several historical events in the city, one of the main ones being the murder of the tyrant who ruled the city by a young girl. This event was one of the triggers of the festivities and today the figure of this girl, called Mugnaia, is the one who leads the parade and celebrations. In addition, the carnival also integrates a large number of characters, which develop certain roles and tasks inside and outside the carnivals.
Although the parade of floats and characters is the main attraction of the festivities, the event that takes all the grandeur is the great battle of oranges. During the event, the locals are divided into 9 teams that fight each other for 3 days. The fight consists of an untiring battle of oranges in which everyone who participates gets a good naranjazo. The event is an incredible show full of fun and citrus fruits flying everywhere.
In addition, the Carnival in Ivrea features several side events, some of these include popular foods and spiced wine sharing. This celebration is definitely one of a kind. It is one of the celebrations that you mustexperience at least once in your life.
The Carnival of Ivrea will be held from approximately January 6 to February 17.
Viareggio is a coastal town in Tuscany, in southwestern Italy. Carnival has been present in the town since the 19th century and has been progressively evolving. The main attraction of the carnival in this city is the parade of floats, which extends for 5 days before Lent. This carnival is the living reflection of the traditions and identity of the city, they even have their own mascot that they created to materialize the classic cultural elements of Viareggio..
The parades of the Viareggio Carnival are out of this world. These structures can measure up to20 meters long and each float falls into adetermined category. Currently the carnival has 4 categories of floats: First class floats, Second class floats, masked groups and individual category. All these floats are delimited by the number of participants and proportions of the same.
The Carnival of Viareggio is considered one of the most important and largest carnivals in all of Italy and Europe. Parades are held for 5 days, counting opening and closing ceremony. In addition, in the streets of the city also take place small parties and gatherings among villagers. Although these parties or gatherings do not shine as much as the carrozas, they are definitely one of the most traditional and original components of the carnivals in the city..
Carnival floats feature magnificent themes that touchdeep, metaphorical and symbolic elements of today’s society and politics. Thethemed cars can be the tool for the expression of unique ideas, but they can also be thevehicle for marvelous mobile art pieces. The floats are considered authentic pieces of art, they move and flicker throughout the journey, which takes place right at the edge of the sea.
The parade does not only feature carriages, it also hosts thousands of dancers and participants who accompany the large structures. These dancers perform an extensive repertoire of dances and feature unique and colorful costumes that resemble the float’s theme. The music marks the step of the dancers and at the same time, entertains each of the spectators who come from all over the country, Europe and the world.
The Viareggio Carnival will be held from approximately January 30 to February 20.
The city of Venice is the epicenter of the most famous carnival festival in all of Italy. Carnivals have been present in the city since the 11th century, but did not gain momentum until 1296. Venice’s carnival has anumber of elements that make it extremely famous, from the great variety of masks to the events that take place in the streets and salons.
The Carnivals in Venice are probably the most glamorous and mysterious in the whole country. Moreover, they have influenced a great number of festivals in various latitudes of the world. Their extravagant parties, accompanied by ostentatious and colorful costumes and their masks have deeply permeated society. Today the Venice Carnival is an icon of the city and one of the representations par excellence of the carnival festivities.
Street shows such as Festa Veneziana sull’acqua, Festa delle Marie, Il Concorso della Maschera più bella, Il Volo dell’Angelo and the Svolo del Leone are the events that attract the largest audiences. These events feature magical scenographies, fantastic costumes, music and a unique carnival atmosphere in the world. Thousands of people come from all over the continent and the world to experience one of the most famous carnivals in the world.
Venice Carnival also features a varied number of events and private balls, some of the most renowned being Mascheranda at Palazzo Pisani Moretta,Casanova Ball: Perfume of a Woman and Santa Chiara Masked Ball. These private events are unique in their style and transport each participant to a distant era, where elite personages enjoyed grand celebrations, balls and banquets.
The party doesn’t stop there, as the city also celebrates its carnivals in the different communities and towns surrounding the city. Street parties, music concerts,children’s carnivals and processions are present in every corner of Venice. Food and drink are in abundance and everyone wears enigmatic masks and fantastic costumes.
Venice Carnival will be held from approximately January 30 to February 20.