This year, 2011, Venice rediscovers the “theme” soul of its great Carnival. Torn between romantic suggestions and turmoil of the Risorgimento, elegant in a frock coat and top hat or in a corset and crinolines, the “Nineteenth Century” is the core theme of the 2011 Carnival, which is scheduled to take place from February 19 to March 8.
On the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, Venice pursues its seductive femininity with reference to the great nineteenth-century post-romantic heroines to whom the Carnival is dedicated, to play down the clashes between the Austrian officers and the patriotic Italians of the Committees for the Unity of the Kingdom of Italy, the Venetians come into play once again, in the town’s theatres and museums, in a tête-à-tête of concerts, theatrical and historical performances, grand balls and film screenings.
The “Flight of the Angel”, a traditional reminiscence of the homage to the Doge, offers an exciting ‘flight’ from the top of St. Mark’s bell tower to the centre of St. Mark’s Square. From this edition onwards, the Angel who will be descending from the bell tower will be winner of the Festa delle Marie from the previous year’s Carnival. This year it will be Silvia Bianchini, last year’s winner.
The festival of all Venetians, dedicated to the citizens and guests of the lagoon city. The festival is preceded by a water procession of one hundred typical rowing boats, dressed “for Carnival”, and over five hundred rowers from Punta della Dogana up to Rio de Cannaregio, awaiting the acclaimed “Svolo della Pantegana”, by the Coordinamento delle Remiere. When the boats arrive, the food and wine stands open with all the carnival delicacies par excellence: the Venetian fritole and galani and the much-loved savoury cicheti, offered by the A.E.P.E.
The traditional “Festa delle Marie” recalls the gift that the Doge brought annually to twelve beautiful and humble Venetian maidens, generously preparing them for marriage with the Doge’s jewels. The Festival, which is a unique moment to admire the costumes of the Venetian tradition, unfolds over several days. It opens with a procession of twelve young Venetian ladies selected in the previous weeks. The walking procession, accompanied by the costumed historical groups of the European Committee for Historical Re-enactments and the Carnival associations, starts from San Pietro in Castello and proceeds along Riva degli Schiavoni to reach St. Mark’s Square, where they are presented to the public as the “Marie”. The award ceremony with the coronation of the winning “Maria” takes place on Shrove Tuesday, at the end of the water procession that departs from San Giacomo dell’Orio and arrives in St. Mark’s Square. The Doge’s coronation of the sweetest and most graceful maiden will seal, in this edition, the day dedicated to Women’s Day
The Gran Foyer of St. Mark’s is the theatrical machine that will be set up in the middle of the square to stage the main Carnival events, both the traditional ones as well as the more innovative ones: from the “Flight of the Angel”, the “Festa delle Marie”, the “Most Beautiful Mask Contest ” to the commedia dell’arte shows and numerous musical events.
A rich and varied children’s carnival! A big Patinoire (Ice-Skating Rink) will be set up in Campo San Polo, in the City, for young and old to try their hand at ice skating. The programme of events will include entertainment and performances in the rink and again in Campo San Polo, the “Bosco della Luce e del Riciclo”, a green space set up by Ecolamp, sponsor of the 2011 Carnival, which is a light and recycled material forest. On the mainland, a typical double-decker London bus will be visiting elementary schools with a team of acrobats, clowns, jugglers and puppeteers to put on their shows.
The parody of the “Flight of the Angel” will be taking place in Piazza Ferretto, Mestre on the last Sunday of Carnival. This year, the donkey will be Skardy from the band Pitura Freska, but before he takes flight, he will be preceded by the acrobatic performance of tightrope walker Andrea Loreni. The soundtrack of the event will be the enthralling Argentine live rhythms of Patas Arriba
One of the most awaited events of Carnival! On Fat Sunday, there will be a parade of the most beautiful masks of Carnival, entertained by elite guests and artists. Colours, originality, beauty but also the savoir-faire and poise of the mask and costume will be judged by a prestigious panel of professionals and celebrities.
The Most Beautiful Mask and the Best Nineteenth-Century Mask winners on the stage in St. Mark’s Square.
New for the 2011 edition! A silent water procession along the Grand Canal illuminated for the occasion only by LED candles to close the Carnival of Venice. Gondolas, followed by traditional rowing boats, cross the Grand Canal in the stretch between Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Basin. This is an exceptional event, also given the particular lighting of the houses and buildings that overlook the Grand Canal in the section concerned: the windows and the water banks will be illuminated only by LED lights.