Carnival in Venice Pictures: Costumes, Masks and Intrigue

There’s no carnival quite like the Venice ‘carnevale’. This famous celebration, held each year in February or March (the exact dates change according to Easter), has a rich history and has become an attraction for tourists from around the world.

The Venice Carnival is famous for elaborate costumes that hark back to the decadence of the 18th century. However, the carnevale of Venice is older than this, having its origins as far back as the 1400s.

Masks are an essential part of the Venetian carnival tradition, and over the years classic mask designs from the past have been recreated and have become associated with this historic celebration.

Come explore with us the Venice carnival in images. These pictures of the ‘carnevale di Venezia’ are available to buy as posters and art prints should you want to decorate for a masked ball inspired party or carnival celebration of your own.

A Venetian Couple in Carnival Costume
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The Masks of the Venice Carnival

Elaborate and richly decorated masks are a must for this famous Italian carnival. Solid gold is a popular choice for a festival where showing wealth through costume is encouraged. Pure white masques create a striking contrast and have painted lips and eyes for impact.

Portrait of a Person Dressed in Mask and Costume Taking Part in Carnival, Venice, Italy
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Portrait of a Person Dressed in Mask and Costume Taking Part in Carnival, Venice, Italy
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Portrait of a Person Dressed in Mask and Costume Taking Part in Carnival, Venice, Italy
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The idea of the mask is to hide the identity of the carnival-goer. For this reason, most Venetian masks have an  impassive expression, making the costumed wearer look either like a doll with only his or her eyes showing, or in some cases even creating a vacant look. In certain lights it may be hard to tell if anyone is in the costume at all until the figure moves.

 

Person in Costume for Carnevale, Venice, Italy
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Mask at Venice Carnival, Venice, Veneto, Italy, Europe
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Traditional Costumes, Carnival, Venice, Italy
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Even with a solid gold style carnival masque there will be some decorative touches around the eyes. Other Venetian masks are decorated with bright colours, and you will often find a white or colorful mask that has the effect of an additional eye-mask in gold. Other masks that you can buy in Venice will come with additional decoration to create the effect of a hat or a frame around the face.

Venetian Carnival Hats and Headwear

If a mask is an essential for an Italian carnival, above all that of Venice (a city also known as la Serenissima), headwear is no less important.

The plainer the mask, the richer and more decorated the hat or headwear needs to be. Think bright and vivid colors, gold accents, large flowers, beads, fruit, and swathes of fabric. A single shade can create a striking Venetian carnival hat or headpiece, but in this case the focus needs to be on shape and texture.

Modest is a word that simply doesn’t belong in Venice at carnival time!

 

People Wearing Masked Carnival Costumes, Venice Carnival, Venice, Veneto, Italy
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Portrait of a Person Dressed in Mask and Costume Taking Part in Carnival, Venice, Italy
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People in Carnival Costume, Venice, Veneto, Italy
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Carnevale di Venezia Costumes

Now for a carnival costume to live up to that amazing Venetian mask and headdress! There is no point going to all that trouble above the neck simply to disappoint with your outfit. Venice carnival costumes are as rich and decadent as the headwear.

Full-length costumes inspired by history are the order of the day. the 17th and 18th centuries are the best place to look to for ideas. Fabrics must be lavishly decorated and accessorized.

Silks and satins, brocades and lace all have a place in a carnival costume. So too do plumes of feathers and eye-catching fans.

 

Carnival Costumes, Venice, Veneto, Italy
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Person Wearing Masked Carnival Costume, Venice Carnival, Venice, Veneto, Italy
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Carnival Costumes, Venice, Veneto, Italy
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Celebrating the Beauty of Venice, Italy

Carnival is about a city as much as it is the players. Maybe more so. The players leave the stage to be replaced by others, but Venice is the stage itself.

During the Venetian carnival celebrations you can see the famous sights such as the Bridge of Sighs and St Mark’s Square populated by the extraordinary cast of carnevale characters. It’s a perfect opportunity for photographers.

If you can’t get to Venice yourself for the celebrations, or don’t have the photographic equipment to get the stunning shots of Venice seen below, one of these posters might be just the thing to inspire memories or dreams of this beautiful Italian city at its most magical.

Carnival Costume and the Bridge of Sighs, Venice, Veneto, Italy
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People Dressed in Costumes For the Annual Carnival Festival, Venice, Italy
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Couple at the Annual Carnival Festival Enjoy Gondola Ride, Venice, Italy
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Venice Carnival, Venice, Italy
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The Spirit of the Carnival

If art rather than photography captures your imagination, the popular Italian artist bulgan_lumini has painted all the wonder of carnival time with a palette of gorgeous, vivid shades. This enchanting work is availabe as art prints, posters and gift items via one of the web’s most trusted print-on-demand stores, Zazzle.

Click on an image for further details or to view more work by this artist.

 

Arlecchino and Colombina print
Arlecchino and Colombina
BURNING THE CARNIVAL print
BURNING THE CARNIVAL
THREE MASKS print
THREE MASKS
MASQUERADE PARTY,Mardi Gras Masks,Dance,Music print
MASQUERADE PARTY

Celebrating the Beauty of Venice, Italy

These magnificent portraits of Venice’s carnival players come from a series of 50 posters by VeniceArt. Visit the link to view all 50 photographs, each featuring a costumed character or characters photographed against a Venetian scene.

 

 Venice Carnival 35 print
Venice Carnival 35
 Venice Carnival 16 print
Venice Carnival 16
 Venice Carnival 27 print
Venice Carnival 27
 Venice Carnival 18 print
Venice Carnival 18
Venice Carnival 14 print
Venice Carnival 14
Venice Carnival 46 print
Venice Carnival 46

 

About Indigo Janson

Indigo Janson is a freelance writer and digital artist.
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