Venice Carnival - A Pageant of Colour

Venice was once the pleasure capital of Europe and it truly deserves to be so. The romantic city is prismatic and the beauty of Venice is enhanced during the carnival. Witnessing the oldest carnival recorded in history is at once trance-inducing and overwhelming. Confetti-strewn cobbled streets, face paintings at city squares, live baroque music echoing from Patrician houses, and people in carnival masks and costumes remind you that you are in the land of Giacomo Casanova, where each nook and cranny whispers a tale. 

Though the 15-day bacchanal ends with the Lent period before Easter, celebrations never end here and the warmth of the fiesta lingers even after the costumes and masks have been packed away.

About the photographer:

SHAYANTANI SARKAR has lived across the length and breadth of India, but spent her initial years in Kolkata, a city that influenced her deeply. A passionate photographer and traveler, she relishes good food and grooves to Latin music. She is happily employed in the IT industry and loves reading Paulo Coelho.

Read her related guest blog post Venice Carnival - In Love with Color

More galleries by Shayantani Sarkar:

Istanbul - Where Asia and Europe Meet

Kolkata, Calcutta - Revisiting the City of Joy













Travel Venice Carnival Shayantani Sarkar

This year’s Carnival theme was ‘Color’. In John Ruskin’s words “The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most.” Each hue and luminosity evokes emotion just like a piece of art. The carnival paid tribute to artists like Titian and Giorgione who were inspired by the colors of Venice. The theme also synchronized with the objective of the carnival, which is the ushering of spring.

Travel Venice Carnival Shayantani Sarkar

Women wear tight corsets, kirtles, and billowing dresses. The costumes are accentuated by massive headgear and hair accessories.

Travel Venice Carnival Shayantani Sarkar

People travel from across the globe to participate in this jamboree and the psychedelic masks are accompanied by 16th century outfit, characterized by opulence.

Travel Venice Carnival Shayantani Sarkar

Venice is truly seductive during the Carnival.

Travel Venice Carnival Shayantani Sarkar

Evenings are beautiful with people dressed as counts and countesses walking down to city squares or enjoying tea in salons or joining in masquerade balls and music flowing till the wee hours, and gourmet seafood.

Travel Venice Carnival Shayantani Sarkar

Political and social reformers had banned the use of masks and the carnival. It was revived in the 1980’s by the Italian government after a hiatus of a century.

Travel Venice Carnival Shayantani Sarkar

Anything modern in Venice is discordant, the Gondolas, the water-taxis and the vaporettos (waterbus) reverberates that the city is unaffected by time, and people decked in flashy vintage attire can make you feel that you are in the 16th century.

Travel Venice Carnival Shayantani Sarkar

We have heard stories about the disguise of Portia in ‘Merchant of Venice’ or stories about women using masks for a lover’s tryst, or philandering scamps masking their identity to slip into nunneries for seduction, or for hiding from creditors. Anybody could be lurking behind these masks, back then and even now.

Travel Venice Carnival Shayantani Sarkar

Revellers in costume line the wet streets. Not even rain could dampen the ardour of the festivities.

Travel Venice Carnival Shayantani Sarkar

Gondolas are moored against a dramatic Venetian skyline.

Travel Venice Carnival Shayantani Sarkar

Revellers paint faces for the Carnival.

Travel Venice Carnival Shayantani Sarkar

Though the 15-day bacchanal ends with the Lent period before Easter, celebrations never end here and the warmth of the fiesta lingers even after the costumes and masks have returned safe to the ambry with mothballs.

Travel Venice Carnival Shayantani Sarkar

The ‘dama’ mask is commonly seen in the carnival. What a variety to choose from – colorful masks with lace, plumage, ribbons; hand-painted glittering with gold, silver and colorful beads, bells and some economical Chinese ones these days. It is a treat to the eye.

Travel Venice Carnival Shayantani Sarkar

Tourists take photographs of costumed revellers at the Carnival.

Travel Venice Carnival Shayantani Sarkar

The carnival emerged from the daily life of the Venetians. Gorgeous courtesans and gambling houses were common in those days, so were gamblers and money-lenders and games of identity were a part of the Venetian life.

Travel Venice Carnival Shayantani Sarkar

Tourists enjoy the Carnival in Venice. Venice can be very touristy and restaurants with signboards such as ‘Menu Turistico’ are to be avoided.