The annual Carnival of Venice is hosted each February and culminates on Shrove Tuesday. It is an elaborate affair that is characterised by the iconic Venetian masks that are worn throughout the festival. Not only are these present at the lavish masquerade balls that take place during the evenings, there are also competitions to decide who has the best masked costume.
The celebrations are kicked off by the Festa Veneziana, which lasts for two days. It includes stalls along the streets selling local food and drink, as well as a water parade along the Grand Canal. A week later, it is time for the Festa delle Marie. This involves 12 beautiful women parading through the city in traditional costumes and harks back to a time when the Doge of Venice would select 12 girls from poor families, adorn them with spectacular gowns and precious jewellery and marry them off to men from rich families. The following day features the Flight of the Angel, during which last year’s chosen Marie floats down from the San Marco Bell Tower to greet the doge in the piazza.
After many spectacular events, lasting for a total of two and a half weeks, the Venice Carnival is brought to a close with the ‘Svolo del Leon’. This is when the lion flag of Venice is hoisted to the top of the San Marco Bell Tower and saluted by the 12 Maries.
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