Marco Polo returns to the Lagoon as a protagonist of the #CarnevaleVenezia2024. With the evocative title “Ad Oriente… the extraordinary journey of Marco Polo”, the 2024 edition of the Carnevale di Venezia celebrates one of its greatest travellers, whose adventure embodies the essence of the city of Venice: the curiosity, the thirst for knowledge and the resourcefulness of Venetian merchants are at the heart of a lifestyle that has marked the entire history of the Republic of Venice, in a mix of trade, business, diplomacy and scientific and geographical knowledge.
On the occasion of the 700th anniversary of Marco Polo’s death, the 2024 edition of the Venice Carnival will focus on the theme of the journey, the discovery and the encounter with other, previously only imagined worlds, but also the journey as a quest to discover ourselves and to find that we are different from when we first left. A journey into the imagination that looks “towards the Orient” along the routes Marco, then a young man, followed to discover new wonders. An educational experience across borders and cultures, unimaginable at the time, that changed the destiny of Marco, a young ambassador of Venice and of the world as it was then known.
From January 27 to February 13, the entire Municipality of Venice will therefore be transformed into the map of this fantastic journey that will take visitors through the calli and campi, the streets and squares animated by shows, music and art, for a Carnival that will be shared throughout the Municipality, from the islands to the mainland. Together, we will relive the unforgettable adventure of discovering the creativity of the Carnival of Venice, with its imaginary worlds, fantasies and desires that we all dream of.
An edition that will showcase a variety of events, enriched with evocative and imaginative references to one of the most important and fascinating feats of all time: Marco Polo’s arrival at the court of the Great Khan in China and his detailed and fascinating narrative, which has come down to us through the pages of The Travels of Marco Polo (Il Milione), a masterpiece of world literature.
The 2024 edition of the Venice Carnival, which will once again bear the signature of Massimo Checchetto, artistic director and set designer of La Fenice Opera House, will transform the city into a fantasy land where the civilisations and cultures encountered by Marco Polo will come to life in the creativity of the Carnival.
“The Carnival will be an opportunity to plunge into the tale of the young Venetian Marco Polo, which unfolds somewhere between reality and fantasy to create a fascinating narrative that still continues to captivate us and make us dream. In my opinion, but perhaps I am biased, this is the most beautiful Carnival in the world, which we spread across time and space, in order to reach everyone, in the Historic Centre, the Mainland, and the Islands,” said the Mayor Luigi Brugnaro. “There will be many spaces dedicated to children and families, but also for adults. We want it to be a Carnival that respects the city and the people who live and work there. Let it be a time to rediscover a sense of irony, a smile and imagination, ideally following Marco Polo on his journey, which is first and foremost a journey inside ourselves.”
“For the past few years, our efforts have been aimed at achieving the most important objective: recovering the authenticity of the Carnival of Venice, where the citizens of the city poured into the squares and alleyways to celebrate,” added Giovanni Giusto, Deputy City Council Member assigned to the Protection of Traditions of the City of Venice. “This is the spirit that we have to restore and recreate in the context of this international event. And the opening of the Carnival with the great Water Festival moves in this very direction. This is the starting point for breathing life into our history”.
“Marco Polo,” explained Artistic Director Massimo Checchetto, “is a hero of his time who had the extraordinarily good fortune to see incredible people and civilisations, as few in his time did. He travelled to unknown places by land and returned to Venice by sea, gathering an incredible amount of information, facing dangers and misfortunes, meeting extraordinary characters and gaining access to a very exclusive world. Towards the Orient recalls precisely this exploration of all that lay beyond, to the east of Venice, and of the lands he knew at the time. His direct experience is thus interwoven with his imagination of the unknown world, which, as a young man in the Middle Ages, was born out of the limited information available to him at the time. The dreams of the young boy Marco will light up dozens of streets, squares, alleys and courtyards. The secret is emotion: when faced with the wonder of the unknown, we are the same now as we were seven hundred years ago”.
A Carnival in the name of research, mystery and dreams, discovering fantastic worlds, mythical animals and new civilisations, which, through a rich programme of events and shows, is designed to transport us into an exhilarating and adventurous journey into the unknown.
THE FIRST WEEKEND: THE PRELUDE UNDER THE SIGN OF WATER
Water will once again be at the centre of the first opening weekend in Venice. On Sunday January 28, the long-awaited water parade of traditional boats, organised in collaboration with the Coordinating Committee of Venetian Rowing Associations (Coordinamento Associazioni Remiere di Voga alla Veneta – AEPE) and captained by the legendary “Pantegana” vessel, will officially open the celebrations for the 2024 edition of the Carnival of Venice. Decorated boats and costumed rowers will navigate the Grand Canal from Punta della Dogana towards Rialto, then gather under the arches of the Erbaria market to kick off a colourful celebration. Meanwhile, the traditional Venetian food and wine tours, organised by the Association of Venetian Public Enterprises (AEPE), will return to Rio di Cannaregio at 11.00 a.m.
The first taste of the 2024 edition of the Carnival will be in the city of Mestre on Saturday and Sunday January 27 and 28, with the preview of the Carnival Street Show that will animate the Theatre in Piazza Ferretto. A programme that will continue over the following weekend and during the “fat week”. In Piazza San Marco in Venice and Piazza Ferretto in Mestre, two twin theatres furnished in oriental style will be ready to welcome all the masks that want to participate in the now traditional Most Beautiful Mask Competition. The stages will also host moments of entertainment, music and a variety of other artistic activities.
VENICE CARNIVAL STREET SHOW
The Venice Carnival will once again feature a programme with widespread performances involving Venice, Mestre, the islands of the Lagoon and the Municipality. Colourful small theatres will be positioned in the squares and streets to provide a backdrop for the performances of mimes, clowns, actors, musicians, stilt-walkers, magicians and storytellers who will engage a vast audience of children and adults that will be transported into the world of street art, comedy, fantastic stories, games and music. A mix of joy, music, choreography and energy flowing together to involve the most essential element of each performance: audiences of all ages. A total of 200 performers with the finest international troupes of the performing arts scene.
“Venice Carnival Street Show” will feature a preview during the weekends of Saturday and Sunday January 27 and 28, before diving into the heart of the action on Saturday and Sunday February 3 and 4, and on the days of the “fat week” from Thursday February 8 to Tuesday February 13.
TERRA INCOGNITA. THE EXTRAORDINARY JOURNEY OF MARCO POLO: A NIGHT SHOW AT THE ARSENALE
After the success of the 2022 and 2023 editions, the Arsenale confirms its status as the star of an extraordinary and exciting water show. “Terra incognita. The amazing journey of Marco Polo” is the name of the spectacle that will magically flood the water mirror of the Darsena Grande in the Arsenale for a thirty-minute performance. The name of the show is based on the cartographic term for parts of the world that had never been explored, used on maps dating back to the 16th century. An imaginary tale rising from the waters of the Arsenale, freely inspired by the Travels of Marco Polo and presented in a fantastic key through the various creative languages of art, which, like Marco’s journey, knows no boundaries.
Tickets can be purchased online starting Wednesday January 17, with free admission and reductions for residents of the Municipality of Venice, subject to availability.
THE 12 MARIES OF THE VENICE CARNIVAL
Saturday February 3 is going to feature the presentation of the 12 Marys of the 2024 Venice Carnival to the public. At the end of the long-awaited selection phase scheduled for January 28, in which contestants between the ages of 18 and 28 from the Metropolitan City of Venice will compete, the 12 Marys will parade wearing historical costumes travelling on gondolas along the Grand Canal to reach Piazza San Marco, where they will be welcomed and then presented to the public. A collaboration involving the organisers of the Venice Carnival and the daily newspaper Il Gazzettino as well as the patron Maria Grazia Bortolato in the footsteps of the unforgettable Bruno Tosi. On Shrove Monday, after the packed programme of events and socio-cultural activities, the proclamation of the winners of the competition will take place, as usual, in the Sale Apollinee of the La Fenice Opera House: the Mary of the Year and the Mary of Il Gazzettino, the latter selected by the newspaper’s readers. Tuesday February 13 is when the traditional presentation of the winning Maria in Piazza San Marco will be staged.
THE ALLEGORICAL FLOAT PARADES
The 2024 edition of Carnival also celebrates the grand return of the masked float parades throughout the territory of the Municipality of Venice. From the islands of the Lagoon – Pellestrina on February 8, Lido on February 9 and Burano on February 10, 11 and 13 – to the mainland – Dese on January 1, Chirignago on February 4, Marghera on February 10, Campalto on February 11, Mestre on February 12 and Zelarino on February 13. Dozens of allegorical floats with hundreds of participants, groups of Carnival enthusiasts from all over the Municipality and the metropolitan city, marching bands, majorettes and flag wavers will be welcomed by the public with confetti and music to create amazing spectacles in the footsteps of the Venetian hero on the discovery of the Silk Road.
VENICE: THE ART OF COMEDY
Starting on Saturday January 27, one of the world’s most famous theatrical traditions – Commedia dell’Arte – is once again part of the packed programme of the 2024 Venice Carnival. With the event ” Venice: the Art of Comedy”, curated by the Pantakin theatre company, the Comedians of Art return to Piazza San Marco and Campo Santo Stefano with eight different national and international performing acts that will alternate for more than 60 performances throughout the entire duration of the Carnival, beginning on January 27 from 11.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
THE CARNIVAL OF CULTURE
“Towards the Orient… the amazing journey of Marco Polo” is not only street art and outdoor venues. Art and theatre return to celebrate the Carnival with a programme of performances in the cultural spaces of the City with the long-standing experience of the Carnival of Culture. Theatres and museums are gearing up to host shows, concerts and events to satisfy even the most demanding appetites, offering a programme based on the theme of the 2024 Venice Carnival. Workshops for children and theatrical readings, conferences and cinema, concerts, commedia dell’arte spectacles as well as café-concerts will alternate between the historic city centre and the mainland, involving – among others – Palazzetto Bru Zane, the House of The Human Safety Net at Procuratie Vecchie, the Candiani Cultural Centre, the Bissuola Park Theatre, the Groggia Theatre, the M9 Museo del 900, the Scuola Grande San Giovanni Evangelista, the La Fenice Opera House, the Carlo Goldoni Theatre, the Toniolo Theatre, the Momo Theatre, the Querini Stampalia Foundation, the Ateneo Veneto, Fondaco dei Tedeschi, the Veneto Institute of Science, Letters and Arts, the Teatro a l’Avogaria, etc. Also of note are the extraordinary openings of the museums in the MUVE Foundation circuit and the programmes offered by Venice Biennale as well as the city theatres.
THE INTERNATIONAL KIDS’ CARNIVAL OF VENICE BIENNALE
The International Kids’ Carnival is a project of Venice Biennale that has been focusing on children, schools with their teachers and families since 2010, stimulating creativity and participation in young people and maintaining a constant direct, practical and active dialogue with the participants. From February 1 to 11, children’s cinema screenings and theatre performances will be staged at Teatro Piccolo Arsenale in Venice, while a rich programme of workshops will be offered at Albanese Park in the city of Mestre. In addition, the “Arcobaleno” Skating Rink area will be transformed into an ice skating rink to host the Murmuration show.
Creative and artistic workshops will be organised at Ca’ Giustinian, with the setting up of an immersive installation. At the same time, at Forte Marghera, it will be possible to try the experience of climbing to the top of the X-Tree. This artistic tree installation can be walked inside as far as the viewpoint terrace at a height of 25 metres, in addition to walks with acoustic and luminous paths (admission is free of charge).
AT THE COURT OF THE GREAT KHAN: THE CARNIVAL OFFICIAL DINNER SHOW & BALL
The official Carnival Dinner Show & Ball at Ca’ Vendramin Calergi, designed once again by designer Antonia Sautter, will be celebrated on Saturday and Sunday February 3 and 4 and from February 8 to 13. In Xanadu, a paradisiacal city of gold, guests will be enveloped in the exotic and sensual atmosphere of the Great Khan’s Court, the intoxicating scents of spices, the precious silks, the exquisite dishes of the most refined chefs, the many people, the musicians, the necromancers and the jugglers, all magnificently welcomed in the presence of the Great Khan for an evening of endless entertainment. Amidst sumptuous gowns of silks and brocades, exotic and mysterious arts, and the flavours of distant worlds, dignitaries, ambassadors, and merchants of all nationalities will gather in the magnificent halls overlooking the Grand Canal to enjoy the view of the Orient. Tickets are available at www.carnevale.venezia.it.
THE MAGIC OF THE CHINESE NEW YEAR
Venice meets the Far East thanks to an initiative organised by the Italian-Chinese Cultural and Tourism Promotion Association (ICCTPA) to celebrate the Chinese New Year as part of the Venice Carnival. “Magic of the Chinese New Year” will be staged from February 2 to 13 in the most significant locations of Mestre and Venice, with parades, dances, songs, and free workshops open to the public to experience authentic Chinese tradition and culture. The key event is on February 9, when the impressive parade through the pedestrian streets of Mestre will take place in the afternoon: the mythical animals will proceed festively, flanked by children and young people in traditional costumes holding lanterns, to celebrate a dazzling countdown to Chinese midnight with the public (5 p.m. local time). The parade will be driven by the joy of artists and musicians and by projections that will keep the energy high until midnight local time, immersing the public into the magical atmosphere of New Year’s Eve. In Venice, instead, Campo San Polo will be decorated thematically for the event, while the Arsenale will host spectacles of art from China. Meanwhile, the Museo del 900 (M9) will host many workshops to experience some of the milestones of Eastern culture firsthand.
Thanks to the involvement of the city’s commercial and tourist community, there will be other music and entertainment initiatives in the public facilities across the territory.
On the official website of the 2024 Venice Carnival, www.carnevale.venezia.it, under the Metropolitan Carnival section, all the events organised by the Municipalities of the Metropolitan City are listed in order to make it easier for visitors and citizens to be involved throughout the territory and to establish a joint programme of fun and entertainment.
For updates and schedules, please visit the official website, www.carnevale.venezia.it and follow the social channels #CarnevaleVenezia2024.
The Partners of the 2024 Venice Carnival are: the Chamber of Commerce of Venice and Rovigo, Consorzio di Tutela della Denominazione Di Origine Controllata Prosecco, and American Express.
The Institutional Partners of the 2024 Venice Carnival are: Venezia Unica, Avm Holding, MUVE, Venice Casino, Fondazione Teatro La Fenice, and M9 Museo del 900.