Venice is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations for a number of reasons. First, the city is a sight to behold with its unique appearance of being surrounded by bodies of water and the iconic gondolas that float along. Second, this Italian city is home to some amazing historic landmarks, fine art, and world-class architecture – from its museums to the basilicas. Finally, Venice is known all over the world for the epic festivals and major events being held in the city.
Venice has a rich cultural calendar filled with fun festivals and other events that draw visitors from all parts of the planet. Whether you’re an art lover, a film enthusiast, or a music fan, with the help of the Italy Driving Guide you’ll surely find an event that’s right for you. If you’re attending an event in the city, the last thing you want is to carry around heavy bags or other luggage with you. For a hassle-free experience, leave your things at a luggage storage locker in Venice. Below are Venice’s top festivals and events you need to check out!
- Venice Carnival
Also known simply as Carnevale, this is Italy’s top Mardi Gras celebration and one of the biggest events held in the city. The Carnevale season takes place in February and goes on for around two weeks leading to Shrove Tuesday. During this period, colorful parades, live performances, scheduled concerts and other shows take place all over the city.
But the quintessential Carnival experience is attending a masquerade ball, some of which are invite-only while others are accessible through entrance tickets. In these balls, guests dress up in period costumes and wear distinct Venetian masks.
- Art Biennale
Established in 1895, the Art Biennale is a world-class art show with exhibitions dedicated to contemporary art. The exhibition is organized by the prestigious arts organization Biennale Foundation. One of the most respected modern art forums, the Art Biennale takes place every two years and draws artists, collectors, curators, and enthusiasts to see some of the best works of art unified by a specific theme.
- Festa della Sensa
The Festa della Sensa is a celebration of Venice’s “marriage to the sea”, referring to the city’s coexistence with water. In this festival, a symbolic wedding ceremony is held, where a boat parade into St. Mark’s Basin is led by the father of Venice (the mayor). Here, a ceremonial ring is tossed into the sea, marking the union of the city and water. The Festa della Sensa is held every first Sunday after Ascension Day.
- Festa del Redentore
More of a religious event than a festival, the Festa del Redentore is a way to commemorate the end of the 1576 plague that hit Venice. During the outbreak, the Doge vowed to dedicate a church to Christ the Savior if the plague was beaten and the following year, on July 13th, 1577, the plague officially ended.
The Senate then decided to hold an annual festival every third Sunday of July to celebrate this momentous event, now known as the Festa del Redentore. Most of the activity during this day takes place at the Church of the Redentore in Giudecca island, including the impressive fireworks display over San Marco Bay.
This beloved community event, which translates to “up and down the bridges”, is a non-competitive walk held every April in Venice. On one Sunday, both locals and visitors of all ages gather and march together across the city. The walk has different routes, including the longest one that starts from Piazza San Marco and lasts 15.5 kilometers, weaving through the bridges and historic sites all over Venice. Throughout the walk, local performers in the neighborhood squares provide entertainment for the marchers.
- Venice International Film Festival
The Venice International Film Festival has been one of the world’s most prestigious and influential celebrations of cinema for over seven decades. Each year, the city of Venice hosts this glamorous red carpet event at the Lido Island, attracting the biggest names in film as well as influential critics and cinema fans. The festival screens all types of movies – from mainstream films to art films and documentaries – and remains to be one of the most significant events in Venice.
Although a relative newcomer in Venice’s stacked lineup of events, the Art Night Venezia has quickly become one of the city’s most celebrated gatherings. Also known as Venice Art Night, this event was spearheaded by the Ca’Foscari University to encourage museums, galleries, collectives, and art stores to highlight some of the up-and-coming local talents in the art world. Art Night is held every June and is a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture of the city.
One of Venice’s most historic events, Regata Storica is a celebration of the Venetians’ naval prowess. Held every first Sunday of September, the event features rowers in 16th-century costumes who take to their respective boats and go on a “race” against each other. Other special events include women’s regatta and young rower’s races. This beloved event brings people from all walks of life together for a day of fun and excitement.
Founded in 1974, the Vogalonga is a non-competitive rowing regatta that was created to bring awareness to the negative effects and damage caused by the use of powerboats in Venice. In this event, rowers of all skill levels can take their respective non-motor boats and gather at the St. Mark’s Basin, which is the race’s starting point. The participants then row across a 30-kilometer route that goes through the different historic landmarks and canals in the city. The event welcomes an average of 7,000 rowers annually.
Held every year since 1986, the Venice Marathon is a road race that involves 8,000 participants running through the beautiful city of Venice. Taking place every October, the marathon begins at the small country town of Stra and ends at the historic city center. Apart from the main 42-kilometer marathon, there is also a 10k event held on the same day, which begins at the San Giuliano Park, for those who want to participate but are not ready to go the full distance.