The amazing Carnival of Viareggio
Carnival of Viareggio in Tuscany is one of the most important and relevant Carnival events of Italy and Europe. It became famous thanks to its unique story and strong identity. The main floats of Viareggio Carnival are renowned to be one of the biggest and animated floats of the Carnivals of the entire world.
The big parades of the Carnival of Viareggio take place along the seaside promenade of the city for five weekends, between the second half of January and the first week of March, depending on the date of Carnival. The marching band, the huge monumental allegorical floats, hundreds of masks and people dressed in thematic costumes, animate the streets dancing at the rhythm of the music.
Along the avenue, you will see floats of the first category (the biggest ones), of the second category (the smallest ones) and single masks. They participate in a strong competition that ends with the declaration of the winners, made by a jury, the day of the last parade.
A tank full of happiness (2014)
The topics of the spectacular floats usually are the political satire, themes of universal relevance or the triumph of famous international celebrities, politicians or sports figures.
During the Carnival of Viareggio, you breathe a magic atmosphere in the city. Locals, called “Viareggini”, are so in love with Carnival, getting excited and crazy for the entire period. They design their own carnival costumes during the year to be ready for the big event.
Every year the Carnival of Viareggio attracts thousand of tourists staring at the amazing floats, having fun throwing confetti and streamers. Adults and children dress like prince and princess, kings and queen, characters of the TV and history, cartoons and animals, but the list could go on forever with funny dresses.
It’s also a classic having cotton candies, fried donuts, and fluffy doughnut filled with cream, or other traditional Carnival pastries. If you want to try to prepare some traditional Carnival cakes at home, do not miss our recipe of the St Joseph rice doughnuts and of Cenci pastries.
Each suburb (Rione in Italian) hosts a night party where people parade along the street wearing their funny and odd costumes (homemade or rented for the occasion), dancing, drinking and having fun with friends since the morning after.
This period of happiness and joy ends with magnificent fireworks with the Mediterranean sea of Versilia as background.
Obama mask (2014)
History of Carnival of Viareggio
The tradition of the Carnival of Viareggio was born the 24th February 1873 on a Mardi gras. The rich young bourgeois, that used to meet each other at the Café of the Casino, decided to celebrate Carnival with a parade of carriages adorned with flowers, along with the old Via Regia. Some locals wearing colored masks, instead, used the parade to protest against the increase of taxes. Since that time, the Carnival parade has been also the occasion to exorcise the dissatisfaction of the people.
Political Satire – The many faces of Silvio Berlusconi, jocker, entertainer, thief and convit (2014).
A few years later, music and motion were introduced on the floats. Then, from 1925, floats were built with the revolutionary technique of the papier-mâché.
Carnival of Viareggio has is own mascot. His name is Burlamacco. Umberto Bonetti, a futuristic painter, and designer, invented the character of Burlamacco in 1930. In the Carnival poster of 1931, Burlamacco is drowned with a female named Ondina that represents the typical bather of the summer season of Viareggio. Together they represent the essence of the city of Viareggio: the Carnival and the summer.
One of the first poster of 1931 with Burlamacco and Ondina.
The poster of the 2018 Carnival Edition.
Viareggio Carnival 2018 Edition – The Program
- Saturday, 27th January – 4:00 PM – Grand Opening, Fireworks in the evening at the closure
- Sunday, 4th February – 3:00 PM
- Sunday, 11th February – 3:00 PM
- Tuesday, 13th February – 5:00 PM – Fat Tuesday by Night
- Saturday, 17th February – 5:00 PM – Carnival by Night, Nomination of the best Floats, Fireworks Show at the end
Location: Viali a Mare (the avenues in front of the beach coast)
Things to know about Carnival of Viareggio
From 2001 floats and masks have a new house, the Cittadella del Carnevale. The complex hosts sixteen hangars where floats are built, a huge elliptical square and two museums dedicated to the history of the Carnival of Viareggio and to an exhibit of contemporary works of art.
Year by year the Carnival of Viareggio became much more important reaching the record of 325.000 viewers on a single parade in 2011.
For more information about dates and tickets, please visit the official website of the Carnival of Viareggio: http://viareggio.ilcarnevale.com/
If you planning to visit Versilia for Carnival and you wish to know more about the area, have a look at our article about the 15 things to do in Versilia.
If you miss the Carnival in February, don’t despair. The city of Viareggio usually organizes also a Summer Carnival during the month of August, one of the funniest event of Tuscany and of Versilia coastal area.