Amidst hundreds of coloured balloons, this morning on the Grand Canal Venice kicked off the 2023 edition of its Carnival, titled “Take Your Time For The Original Signs”. After the “Original Dreamers” parade – which on Saturday evening ploughed through the waters of the Grand Canal with a spectacular floating stage, starting from Venice’s Santa Lucia train station and arriving in St. Mark’s Basin – today a hundred or so decorated and colourful traditional Venetian boats ploughed through the waters of the world’s most famous waterway carrying the legendary papier-mâché “Pantegana”, which opened in front of the Rialto Bridge under the eyes of thousands of spectators.

“A marvellous parade on typical Venetian boats with over 100 boats with more than 800 costumed rowers on board. Traditions and colours mingled to create a wonderful event”, said artistic director Massimo Checchetto.

Typical Venetian songs accompanied the slow procession, organised in collaboration with the Coordinamento delle Associazioni Remiere di Voga alla Veneta (Coordination of Venetian Rowing Associations), led by the 7-metre-long Pantegana, the symbol of the people’s Venetian Carnival, which burst into a blaze of confetti and biodegradable balloons. The party then continued in Campo dell’Erbaria, where prizes were awarded to the four most unusual and best-decorated boats: a group from Murano whose crew was dressed as Teletubbies (the children’s TV series created by the BBC), an all-female group dressed as Pierrot from Lake Garda, a boat from Arzanà with the crew dressed as a pack of cards, while the winner in the “tradition” category was a gondola with a “felze”.

“The 2023 Venice Carnival has finally kicked off with what, we like to say, is a purely Venetian interlude, and with the Pantegana, the true queen of the Venetian Carnival”, said Councillor Delegate for the Protection of Traditions Giovanni Giusto, “we have arrived in Rialto, where more than 1600 years ago the history of the Serenissima began”.

The event took place in total safety, as explained by Vela spa’s Operations Manager Fabrizio D’Oria, articulating itself along the Grand Canal and allowing a homogeneous distribution of the public, avoiding closures and barriers.

Throughout the day, shows also continued in the squares and streets of Venice and Mestre. The “Venice Carnival Street Show” invaded the city centre and the mainland with widespread performances by mimes, clowns, actors, musicians, stilt-walkers, magicians and storytellers, who transported young and old into the world of street art, comedy, fantastic stories, games and music. After the preview of this first Carnival weekend, the widespread shows will go live on Saturday,February 11 and Sunday, February 12, and on the days of the fat week – from Thursday 16 to Tuesday 21 – from 11 AM to 1 PM and from 3.30 PM to 7 PM.


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