Venice is an island that once was home to terrified men fleeing invasions of the nearby Italian mainland. It became a lavish and culturally driven country and built its great walls in honor of its past and with hope and prayers for its future. Venice has survived plagues, wars, and feuds amongst its people. In retrospect, their luxurious festivals are held to celebrate every winning milestone. They don’t only happen once a year, instead the nation has several eye-catching celebrations all year round. There many more festivals than we can include on this list, yet these are some of the must-see festivals to really say you have been to Venice. Check our list of the most popular festivals in Venice, Italy.
1. Festa della Salute - November
More of a religious event, locals fervently celebrate the intercession of the Virgin Mary to heaven during the Festa della Salute. Venice’s atmosphere changes in an instant on this day, as devotees solemnly cross a bridge to the Salute Church to give their prayers to the Mother Mary.
Tons of people flood the streets in hopes that their faith, devotion, and prayers be heard by the Virgin Mother. During attendance, you will witness the crowd’s sincerity and hope painted upon their faces. This festival is one of the must-sees in the city because Venice’s history is rooted in its strong bond with its religion and beliefs.
Festa della Salute
Address: Basilica della Madonna della Salute
Website: Festa della Salute
Takes place: November 21
2. La Sensa - May
During this festival, people gather to witness the regattas and rowboats on the Bacino di San Marco and Lido, facing Sant'Elena. The main attraction here is the replica of the Bucintoro, a grand double-decker vessel wherein the Doge, embodied by the City Mayor, boards and throws a golden ring into the lagoon to symbolize his marriage to the sea.
A message of respect and in honor of the relationship between man and sea, this is done annually to give thanksgiving and prayer for another year of safety on land and sea. The event attracts a crowd, mostly because of the grandeur of the festival itself.
Website: La Sensa
Takes place: May
3. Carnevale - February
Imagine walking through a Disney-like movie but in real life. During the annual carnevale – St. Mark’s square is filled with amusing masked faces. A seemingly out of this world fantasyland, this festival began in the 13th century and, up to this day, people still dress up to celebrate their colorful and unique culture. On this day, St. Mark’s Square is crowded beyond measure and a mix of scary and artsy masks is the preference of the participants.
Takes place: February
4. Regata Storica - September
The Regata Storica, the main event of the Voga alla Veneta, has been celebrated for many generations. A rowing race across the Venetian lagoon held on the first Sunday of September, it starts off at Giardini, where local gondoliers and rowers prepare their colorful and creatively designed gondolas.
This race takes a day and most locals are present. Most believe that their attendance brings prosperity to the sea, which then is happy for its citizen’s gratitude and honor.
Takes place: September
5. Su e Zo per I Ponti - April
Su e Zo per I Ponti literally translates to “up and down the bridges” and it’s an annual walk in celebration of solidarity. Men and women, young and old walk across Venice in a 12-km (7.4-mile) route that starts at St. Mark’s Square and back, crossing 45 bridges. There’s a shorter route of 6.5 km (4 miles), starting at the Santa Lucia Railway Station and finishing at St. Mark’s Square, crossing 23 bridges. The event is filled with joy and enthusiasm from participants and locals alike.
Su e Zo per I Ponti
Takes place: April
6. The Vogalonga
During the Vogalonga, power rowers come together for a 30-km (18.6-mile) long race across a stretch of the lagoon. Boats fill the island of Sant'Elena and the docks nearby just for this timely occasion. Gondolas stay at bay and make space for the half-day festivity, which is one of the most sought out events for rowers year-round.
Unlike the Regata Storica, most who attend this festival are from other nations, only traveling to Venice for this occasion. It is one of the busiest times of the year in Venice.
Takes place: May to June
7. Festa del Redentore - July
The Festa del Redentore is a celebration that marks the end of a terrible plague in 1577. It is held on the night before the third Sunday in July. The view from the Riva Degli Schiavoni will leave you speechless, as you’ll see the best fireworks of the year. Festive lights on the boats also brighten the night sky, making everything like a beautiful dream. The fireworks reflect on the calm, clear water of the lagoon and the cheers of the people will make you feel joy and sheer bliss.
Festa del Redentore
Takes place: The night before the third Sunday in July
8. Art Night Venezia - June
Organized by the Ca’ Foscari University, hand in hand with the Municipality of Venice since 2011, Art Night Venezia is brought to life by cultural activities and artistic events. During this festival, institutions, foundations, galleries, museums, and bookstores open their doors to the public for a whole night, allowing visitors to have longer access to the amenities and additional extravagance of the night.
This event aims to educate tourists and locals about art, which is highly influenced by the city’s past. As well, it aims to allow locals to never forget where they came from. During the activities, Venetians mostly focus on historical plays and, as the night turns to dawn, celebratory parties at local pubs and hotels. This festival is a must-see and a must-experience night – you should really skip out on sleep at least once at this time of year.
Art Night Venezia
Takes place: June
9. Veneto Jazz - June & July
Veneto Jazz was first founded in Italy in 1988 and has been the leading association for music and the arts in the country. This association aims to produce and organize prestigious music events internationally. Some of the activities that the association has organized include contemporary and jazz music events, workshops for musicians, conferences, and art exhibitions.
This festival aims to provide a platform for talented artists to showcase their skills and talents, which may, in turn, open new doors of opportunities for them. Every year, Veneto Jazz hosts a music festival attended by renowned artists worldwide that usually takes place in the heart of Venice. So, if you are someone who loves music and the arts, or maybe someone who’s looking for inspiration or a platform to show your talent to the world, you have to attend this amazing festival in June and July.
Takes place: June and July
Celebrate the festivals of Venice
Venice has a rich history, filled with tales of being knocked off its feet and then rising up again with all its might and glory. Venice’s festivals are one of the ways citizens celebrate their wins and faith and they bring in a great number of tourists who aid the city’s economic growth. All in all, Venice is the place to go to experience absolute bliss and witness color-filled celebrations year-round.
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