On this page we list some of the principal festivals and events in Venice’s year. If you’re in Venice at one of these times, be aware that during water-borne events public transport can be drastically reduced for short periods of time – details of disruptions are always published on the local transport (ACTV) website and at vaporetto stops.
This is the big one, Venice’s greatest tourist event. St. Mark’s Square fills with glamorous, sinister figures in mask and costumes. There are masked balls and public parades and crowds of visitors from all around the world. The Carnival takes place in February, during the ten days leading up to Shrove Tuesday. More about the Carnival.
The Festa della Sensa celebrates the relationship between Venice and the sea. It involves a procession of boats traditionally led by the doge (nowadays the mayor) who throws a ring (nowadays a wreath) into the waves to symbolise a marriage between Venice and the sea (or Venice’s dominion over the sea, depending on interpretation). The event follows Ascension Day in May.
This is a huge and cheerful rowing event which takes place on a Sunday in May or June. Thousands of participants row around a 30km course, reclaiming the lagoon from motorised boats. More about the Vogalonga.
The Biennale started as an art show every two years, and has grown to become an umbrella organisation covering a large range of events, including the Venice Film Festival. The main art exhibition takes place in odd-numbered years, and in even-numbered years is replaced by an architecture show. More about the Biennale.
Festa del Redentore
Every year Venice gives thanks for its relief from a severe outbreak of plague in the late sixteenth century. A temporary bridge of boats crosses the Giudecca Canal to the Church of the Redentore. The religious celebrations are held on the third Sunday of July. The night before (Saturday) is a great party with feasting followed by night-time fireworks and the weekend finishes with a gondola regatta. More about the Festa del Redentore.
Venice Film Festival
The annual International Film Festival in Venice is part of the Biennale (see above). Although Venice is not a town which offers many chances to see films, once a year it puts on a big show and attracts some important names from the movie world. More about the Venice Film Festival.
Venice is fond of boating, and this historic regatta is the largest event in the year. A colourful traditional procession of boats along the Grand Canal is followed by competitive racing. The event takes place on the first Sunday of September, usually coinciding with the Film Festival: Regata Storica official website
Festa della Salute
Like the Redentore, this is a festival which remembers Venice’s deliverance from disease. Every 21 November a special bridge is constructed over the Grand Canal to the Church of Santa Maria della Salute, and Venetians troop across on their way to special masses, while their children eat sticky toffee apples and tote balloons. More about the Festa della Salute.
Palio of the Ancient Maritime Republics
Every four years Venice takes its turn as the host of the Palio delle Antiche Repubbliche Marinare, a rowing contest between four of Italy’s onetime great maritime powers: Venice, Pisa, Amalfi and Genoa. This comes with historic costumed processions and a fair amount of pomp; it’s a great event to watch if you’re around.