Venice’s Carnival takes place in February, in the days leading up to Shrove Tuesday. It used to last ten days but now in order to extend this high-earning tourist season, events often start the weekend before that. Consequently the main events of the 2015 Carnival take place 7th – 17th February, but the first celebrations start on the weekend of the 30th/31st January.Carnival, or Carnevale, has been celebrated for centuries throughout Italy. The name is said to derive from the words carne vale – ‘farewell to meat’ – which explain the function of the celebration: an opportunity to indulge and use up such treats before the start of Lent (like an extended Pancake Day).In modern Italy Carnevale is generally a time for children, who are led, carried and wheeled around town dressed in costumes – from cute fluffy animal suits to musketeers and Harry Potters, leaving a trail of confetti, sweets and ‘silly string’ littering streets and piazzas. Sometimes the celebrations extend to organised events for the whole community, but on the whole it’s not a very important time for adults.In Venice, however, the tourist board and hoteliers hit upon a fantastic money-earner in the 1980s when they revived a picturesque version of Venice’s past. In Venice it’s the grown-ups who have most of the fun, with masked balls, costume parades and a slightly antiseptic nostalgia for more decadent times.
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