Venetian Festivals Guide – Dates & Highlights

venetian festivals

Venice, the city of canals, is a marvel of human ingenuity and a testament to the enduring allure of history and culture. Known as “La Serenissima,” Venice is a city suspended between water and sky, where gondolas glide silently through the labyrinthine canals, and the past and present coexist in a timeless harmony. Festivals and celebrations play a significant role in Venice’s social and cultural life, reflecting the city’s rich cultural heritage and offering a unique way to experience the city.

In this guide, I will explore the importance of festivals in Venice, highlighting seven major festivals and celebrations, such as Carnevale di Venezia, Festa della Sensa, Festa del Redentore, Regata Storica, Biennale di Venezia, Venice Film Festival, and Festa di San Marco. I will also mention lesser-known festivals worth exploring and provide resources for planning your trip to Venice.

Key Takeaways:

  • Venice is known as “La Serenissima” and is a city of rich cultural heritage.
  • Festivals and celebrations are an integral part of Venice’s social and cultural life.
  • Major festivals in Venice include Carnevale di Venezia, Festa della Sensa, Festa del Redentore, Regata Storica, Biennale di Venezia, Venice Film Festival, and Festa di San Marco.
  • There are also lesser-known festivals that showcase different aspects of Venetian culture.
  • Planning resources are available to help you make the most of your trip to Venice.

Carnevale di Venezia

The Carnevale di Venezia, or Venice Carnival, is one of the world’s most famous and extravagant festivals. Celebrated annually between February and March, this spectacular event takes Venetian traditions to a whole new level. Dating back to the 12th century, when it provided an opportunity for Venetians to indulge and celebrate before the onset of Lent, the carnival has evolved into an extravagant showcase of masked balls, street parties, and gondola rides. The city comes alive with a vibrant atmosphere, as locals and visitors alike don elaborate costumes and masks, adding an air of mystery and intrigue to the festivities.

The Carnevale di Venezia offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Venetian traditions and create unforgettable memories. Whether you choose to attend a masked ball in one of the city’s historic palazzi, witness the grand parades along the canals, or simply stroll through the streets admiring the stunning costumes, you’ll be transported to a bygone era of opulence and glamour. Don’t miss the chance to capture the essence of the carnival with your own ornate mask or participate in the traditional gondola regatta, where beautifully adorned boats race through the city’s iconic waterways.

With its rich history and captivating atmosphere, the Carnevale di Venezia is an experience like no other. So, unleash your creativity, join the festivities, and embrace the magic of this truly enchanting celebration.

venice carnival

Highlights of Carnevale di Venezia:

  • Extravagant masked balls held in historic palazzi
  • Spectacular parades along Venice’s canals
  • Stunning Venetian costumes and masks
  • Gondola regatta showcasing the city’s waterborne heritage
  • Street parties with live music and entertainment

Festa della Sensa

The Festa della Sensa is a historical celebration that takes place in Venice every year, typically on the Sunday after Ascension Day. This festival commemorates Venice’s symbolic wedding to the sea and the end of a revolt in Dalmatia in the year 1000.

The Festa della Sensa is a unique spectacle that showcases the city’s maritime roots and offers a chance to participate in Venetian traditions. The highlight of the festival is a water parade led by the Serenissima, a replica of the Doge’s ship. This grand procession is a magnificent display of Venetian craftsmanship and maritime heritage.

During the celebration, a gold ring is thrown into the Adriatic Sea, symbolizing Venice’s dominion over the sea. This ritual reaffirms the city’s historical connection with the waters that surround it and pays homage to its seafaring heritage.

The Festa della Sensa is a joyous occasion filled with music, dancing, and Venetian street parties. It is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Venice and witness its deep-rooted traditions come alive.

festa della sensa

Other Major Festivals

In addition to the Carnevale di Venezia and Festa della Sensa, Venice hosts several other major festivals and celebrations that showcase the city’s rich cultural heritage and vibrant arts scene.

Festa del Redentore

The Festa del Redentore, held on the third weekend of July, is a highly anticipated event that commemorates the end of a devastating plague in the city. It features a spectacular fireworks display and a religious procession that leads to the beautiful Church of the Redentore, located on the island of Giudecca.

Regata Storica

The Regata Storica, taking place on the first Sunday of September, is a thrilling boat race that highlights Venice’s maritime traditions. The regatta features elaborately decorated gondolas and rowing boats, accompanied by costumed participants. It’s a captivating spectacle that attracts locals and visitors alike.

Biennale di Venezia

The Biennale di Venezia is a renowned cultural extravaganza that occurs every two years. It showcases a wide range of artistic disciplines, including art, architecture, film, and dance. The event attracts artists, curators, and art enthusiasts from around the world, making it a must-visit for anyone interested in contemporary arts.

Venice Film Festival

Held from late August to early September, the Venice Film Festival is one of the oldest and most prestigious film festivals in the world. It showcases a selection of international films, including premieres and competition entries. The festival draws famous actors, directors, and film industry professionals, creating an exciting and glamorous atmosphere in the city.

Festa di San Marco

Celebrated on April 25th, the Festa di San Marco is a lively and colorful event that honors Venice’s patron saint, Saint Mark. The festival includes religious ceremonies, processions, and various festive events throughout the city. It’s an excellent opportunity to experience the unique traditions and lively atmosphere of Venetian celebrations.

These major festivals in Venice offer a diverse range of experiences, from religious traditions to artistic showcases. Whether you’re captivated by the grandeur of the Festa del Redentore or immersed in the cinematic world of the Venice Film Festival, these events provide an unforgettable glimpse into the cultural richness of Venice.

Lesser-Known Festivals

While the major festivals in Venice attract a lot of attention, there are many lesser-known celebrations that offer a unique glimpse into the cultural traditions of the city. These annual venetian festivals provide an opportunity to delve deeper into the enchanting world of Venetian culture and traditions.

The Festa di San Rocco

The Festa di San Rocco is an annual celebration held in honor of Saint Roch, the patron saint of the city. This cultural celebration in Venice features processions, religious ceremonies, and traditional music performances. It is a vibrant display of Venetian folklore and a chance to witness the strong religious devotion of the locals.

The Festa dei Gigli

The Festa dei Gigli, also known as the Feast of the Lilies, is a historic festival in Venice that dates back to the 12th century. This tradition involves the carrying of large wooden structures adorned with flowers through the streets of the city. The festival pays homage to Saint Pantaleon, a patron saint known for his healing abilities.

The Festa della Madonna della Salute

The Festa della Madonna della Salute is an annual event held on November 21st to commemorate the end of the plague epidemic that ravaged Venice in the 17th century. This historic festival features a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute, where locals seek the intercession of the Virgin Mary for protection and good health.

The Festa di San Martino

The Festa di San Martino celebrates the feast day of Saint Martin, the patron saint of winemakers, on November 11th. This cultural celebration in Venice marks the arrival of the new wine harvest and features wine tastings, traditional food stalls, and lively street performances. It is a joyous occasion to indulge in the flavors of Venetian gastronomy.

The Festa del Mosto

The Festa del Mosto is an annual harvest festival that takes place in Venice in September. It celebrates the transformation of grapes into wine and offers a chance to taste the freshly pressed grape juice, known as mosto. This vibrant festival showcases the agricultural traditions of the region and is a delightful experience for wine enthusiasts.

These historic festivals in Venice offer a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the city’s rich cultural heritage and witness the customs and traditions that have been passed down through generations. They provide an authentic and memorable experience, allowing you to connect with the true spirit of Venice.

cultural celebrations in venice


Venice’s festivals and celebrations are not just mere events; they are a way of life for Venetians. These vibrant festivities are a reflection of the city’s rich cultural heritage and provide a unique and immersive experience of Venice. Whether you dance the night away at the grand masquerade balls of the Carnevale di Venezia or witness the thrilling boat races of the Regata Storica, these festivals offer a glimpse into the soul of Venice. They are a celebration of the city’s glorious past, a showcase of its vibrant culture, and a testament to its enduring allure.

Immerse yourself in the magic of Venetian traditions, where venice party scenes come alive, and venice cultural events unfold in spectacular fashion. Walk the ancient streets adorned with colorful decorations, indulge in traditional cuisine, and witness the enchanting venetian folklore coming to life through music, dance, and theater. Historic festivals in Venice will transport you to a bygone era, steeped in tradition and cultural significance.

If you’re planning a trip to Venice, be sure to check the festival calendar. It’s an opportunity to experience the true essence of Venice and create lifelong memories. Whether you are captivated by the atmosphere of the Carnevale di Venezia, enticed by the allure of venice party scenes, or curious to witness the historical regattas, Venice’s festivals offer something for everyone. So, pack your bags, come and immerse yourself in the vibrant tapestry of Venetian culture and revel in the extraordinary charm of this timeless city.


What is the Carnevale di Venezia?

The Carnevale di Venezia, also known as the Venice Carnival, is an extravagant festival celebrated annually between February and March. It dates back to the 12th century and is famous for its masked balls, street parties, gondola rides, and elaborate costumes.

When does the Festa della Sensa take place?

The Festa della Sensa is a historical celebration that typically occurs on the Sunday after Ascension Day in Venice, Italy. It commemorates Venice’s symbolic marriage to the sea and the end of a revolt in Dalmatia that occurred in the year 1000.

What are some other major festivals in Venice?

Venice is home to several other major festivals and celebrations. These include the Festa del Redentore, a July event that commemorates the end of a plague, the Regata Storica, a boat race held in September, the Biennale di Venezia, a cultural extravaganza occurring every two years, and the Venice Film Festival, one of the oldest and most prestigious film festivals in the world. Another significant celebration is the Festa di San Marco, which honors Venice’s patron saint on April 25th annually.

Are there any lesser-known festivals worth exploring in Venice?

Yes, Venice offers a range of lesser-known celebrations that are worth exploring. These include the Festa di San Rocco, Festa dei Gigli, Festa della Madonna della Salute, Festa di San Martino, and Festa del Mosto, among others. These festivals showcase different aspects of Venetian culture and provide an opportunity to experience local customs.

What is the significance of festivals and celebrations in Venice?

Festivals and celebrations are an integral part of social and cultural life in Venice. They reflect the rich cultural heritage of the city and offer a unique way to experience Venice’s traditions and customs. These events celebrate the city’s past, showcase its vibrant culture, and contribute to its enduring appeal.