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Venice Italy Venice Carnival

Venice's Carnival takes place in February, in the ten days leading up to Shrove Tuesday. Carnival, or Carnival, has been celebrated for centuries throughout Italy. The word may well derive from carne vale - 'farewell to meat' – which explained the opportunity to celebrate last time before Easter Lent. It united people from all the social classes. Venice hosts annual masked balls, the grandeur of which leaves unforgettable and slightly nostalgic memories. Two carnival weekends have splendid festive atmosphere, with Venetians in stunning costumes and enchanting masks, music and theatrical shows. The programme of events is open to everyone. Apart from organized events there is a lot of fun costume-spotting, with Venetians happily posing to the tourists.

The grand opening celebration of the Carnival takes place on the first Sunday, with an event called il volo dell'angelo (the flight of the angel). The original tradition involved a woman (this year she was Italy’s swimming champion) swinging on harnesses from San Marco belltower. On the second Thursday there is afternoon parade of costumes on a catwalk in San Marco Square. The feast ends with big celebration and magnificent fireworks.

Venice’s Opera, La Fenice, hosted one of large-scale carnival events last year, major hotels also organize balls.  Masks, cloaks and wigs are easily purchased at countless tourist shops and souvenir stalls. Mercato delle maschere e dei costumi Veneziani, in Campo Santo Stefano, is made up of stalls from some of Venice's artisan mask and costume workshops, and runs for the duration of the Carnival.

This year the carnival was dedicated to the Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni, who lived 300 years ago. His La Commedia dell'Arte and the classic masks – Colombina, Arlecchino, Zanni are known all over the world. This quintessence of Venetian folklore remains well-known and popular even nowadays. This year the festival featured popular music, world, African, Latin and Celtic dance bands.

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