Once the 18th century party capital of Europe, Venice still knows how to celebrate in style. There’s a year-round procession of large-scale pageantry and fun, much of it aimed firmly at the Venetians themselves, though free-spending foreigners are always welcome. Historically, festivals have always been part of city life, to celebrate the feast days of local saints, give thanks for deliverance from the plagues, or simply to allow the people to blow off steam.
In addition to the three great religious Festivals of the Madonna della Salute, the Redentore and St. Mark, unsurprisingly, the feasts dearest to native hearts remain those associated with rowing, ranging from the superb Grand Canal pageantry of the Regata Storica and its accompanying races, to the chaotic fun of the Vogalonga (Long Row).
Culture gets a high profile during the summer and fall when the internationally renowned Biennale and the Film Festival bring in the world’s artistic movers, and shakers and the international jet set, whilex winter brings the opera season and music to churches across the city. Things really get going in the late winter when Carnivale draws costumed and masked people from all over the world to pose against the magnificent backdrop of Venice itself.
On a lower key, the year’s rhythm is punctuated by other Venetian events such as the local saints days, the city marathon (which crosses the lagoon and ends at the Riva degli Schiavoni), open-air film events and children’s traditional festivities.