The New Year has started, which means carnival season kicks off for Italy. While there are various celebrations year-round, some of the most famous and historical carnivals are happening in the coming month. If you have the opportunity, make sure you plan on joining the celebrations on your Italy trip.

“Carnival of Venice” – Venice, January 27 to February 13

The masked city of the world starts us off with its own citywide party. The Carnival of Venice is a historical celebration that dates back to the Renaissance. It has everything you think of when you hear “Venice.” The famous St. Mark’s Square will be teeming with events, concerts, parades, and of course, masks. The city’s palaces will even hold historic balls for those that want to truly immerse themselves in one of the most cultural cities in the world. The celebration ends with the Christian holiday of Lent, most famously known as Mardi Gras, so don’t let this swirl of color and masks pass you by.

Carnival of Venice

Photo: Vito Arcomano

“Carnival of Viareggio” – Viareggio in Tuscany, January 27 to February 4, 11, 13, and 17

For something a little more tongue in cheek, there’s the Carnival of Viareggio. This one is known for its political satire, portrayed through the fabulous use of paper mache’ covered floats. As well as the parade, there will be sports events, theater, food, and so much more.

Carnevale di Viareggio

Photo: Gino Cianci

“Carnival of Cento” – Cento in Emilia-Romagna, January 27 to February 4, 11, 18, and 25

The sister of the Brazilian Carnival, the Carnival of Cento is considered the most extravagant carnival in all of Europe. And for good reason, the gigantic floats parade around the city several days a week, with the best float being declared the winner at the climax of the carnival. This event is a draw for Italian celebrities, and this year will be no exception as Riki Marcuzzo will start his tour right in the middle of Cento.

Carnival of Cento

Photo: Sandro Bedessi

“Historical Carnival of Ivrea” – Ivrea in Piedmont, January 28 to February – 4, 8, 10-14

This celebration is perhaps better known as the Battle of the Oranges. The town is split up into several teams which are then armed with oranges that are thrown at “palace guards.” The carnival has roots dating back to the 12th century and has stood as a symbol for Italy’s fight for liberty. Adventurous travelers are free to walk the battlefield, but most spectators are given red hats to symbolize their alliance with the “revolutionaries” and protects them from the citrus onslaught.

Historical Carnival of Ivrea

“Carnival of Fano” – Fano in Marche, January 28 to February 4, 11

Fano’s carnival is second only to Ivrea’s (which has roots dating back to the 12th century) in being the oldest carnival in Italy. The carnival started in Medieval times to celebrate the reconciliation of two powerful families, the Del Casseros and the Da Carignanos. Between the festivities lies the Carnival of Fano’s most famous aspect, its candy. The parades’ floats throw hundreds of pounds of chocolate and caramel into the streets. There’s parades, music, masquerades, fireworks, and the attendees are literally showered with sweets.

Carnival of Fano

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