Crisis? It's party time at Venice Carnival

VENICE, Italy Tue Feb 24, 2009 3:51pm IST

La Fenice theatre is seen during a rehearsal of the Cavalchina Grand Ball, one of the highlights of the Carnival in Venice February 21, 2009. REUTERS/Michele Crosera

La Fenice theatre is seen during a rehearsal of the Cavalchina Grand Ball, one of the highlights of the Carnival in Venice February 21, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Michele Crosera

A statue of the Ganesh, the deity of prosperity, is carried in a taxi to a place of worship on the first day of the ten-day-long Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai August 29, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Ganesh Chaturthi

During Ganesh Chaturthi idols will be taken through the streets in a procession accompanied by dancing and singing, and will be immersed in a river or the sea in accordance with Hindu faith.  Slideshow 

VENICE, Italy (Reuters Life!) - From milk cartons to hot air balloons and from Elizabeth I to rubbish bin-inspired outfits, the Venice Carnival saw it all this year when it came to costumes.

Despite the economic crisis, hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the Italian canal city for the centuries-old celebration, organisers said, for more than 10 days of parties that end on Tuesday.

From a drag queen beauty pageant to chefs teaching recipes, revellers had numerous attractions to choose from on top of street concerts, theatre, and acrobatic performances.

"People may have less money in their pockets but they don't have any less desire to entertain themselves, in fact maybe they have more because things aren't going well," Mauro Pizzigati, president of Venezia Marketing & Eventi, which organised the carnival, said.

The good weather was an added bonus, meaning expectations of 800,000 revellers were topped with more than 1 million people seen enjoying the celebrations by the end of Tuesday, he said.

One of the main events was the masked costume contest, where outfits inspired by cats, frogs, angels and even a kitchen vied for the top prize. Highlights included a dress whose wide bottom was made out of studded umbrellas, a trio of rubbish-inspired outfits and opulent historical costumes depicting nobility.

Parading in the central St Mark's Square, the jury picked a group of Germans who looked to Marco Polo and China for their outfits that had skirts made out of Chinese bubble lampshades.

"People come because it is a passion, the crowds are fantastic," Alessandro Travaglini, who was wrapped in a mock hot air balloon. "The masks are nicer than last year."


The Venice Carnival began centuries ago as a period of excess before the rigours of Lent, the 40 days of fasting that traditionally precede Easter. Venetians could then hide their identities behind masks and do as they pleased.

While the masses photograph the extraordinary outfits on display, the rich enjoy themselves with lavish parties, usually held in palaces along the Grand Canal, Venice's main waterway.

Dressed in costumes that easily fetch more than 1,000 euros, detailed with pearls and crystals, the party dwellers try to recreate the lavish atmosphere of the 1700s.

The most exclusive, Ballo del Doge, where tickets cost 1,000 euros each, did not disappoint with 300 guests from various nations including a European Prince and the auction of a Ferrari.

For this year, the 16th, the theme was "Golden Passion" with 95 artists for eight hours of celebration at the Palazzo Pisani Moretta venue, lit by more than 2,000 candles.

"I thought of gold as sun, as an energy ... We need energy, we need confidence," organiser and costume designer Antonia Sautter said. "I think the right colour to choose was a colour that inspires energy, and gives the will to go ahead."

Sautter said she was worried about possible last minute cancellations but there were no signs of crisis on the night.

Tourists from all over the world came to visit Venice during the carnival, vastly outnumbering the more than 60,000 residents of the city's historical centre. Some locals complained that they were spending less and not all hotel rooms were booked.

"People definitely aren't spending like they used to. Some just come for the day and head back," one shopkeeper said, adding that the carnival was more of a tourist event. "Venetians don't enjoy it like it used to be. Now it's all too chaotic."

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared



Celebrity Wedding

Celebrity Wedding

Quietly, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie say, 'I do'.  Full Article 

Venice Film Festival

Venice Film Festival

Indonesia massacre, Iran sanctions impact infuse Venice film offerings  Full Article | Related Story 

Health Woes

Health Woes

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York hospital.  Full Article 

Legal Trouble

Legal Trouble

Rocker Sammy Hagar must face ex-Playboy bunny's lawsuit.  Full Article 

Trip Tips

Trip Tips

Tour the dark side of Copenhagen's fairy tale.  Full Article 

Governors Awards

Governors Awards

Belafonte, Miyazaki to receive Academy's Governors Awards.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage