The Italian Almanac

masques in Venice

Italian News - November 19

The next Venice Carnevale will be spiced up with a generous serving of Chinese culture, the city announced at the presentation of the 2006 programme. The event, which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Lagoon City every year, will feature Chinese films, plays, shows and music, as well as meetings with intellectuals and artists from the land of the Great Wall. "The Arsenale (dockland area) will be our island of intellect, the starting point for our reflections on China - a journey to the Orient that will enable us to examine several different subjects," explained Carnevale Director Maurizio Scaparro.

This edition of the Carnival, which runs February 23-28, is being organized together with the management of Venice's world famous Biennale contemporary art festival. According to Mayor Massimo Cacciari, this collaboration will help the event maintain a high-quality profile despite cuts that mean it will not be as grand as in previous years. Naturally, the programme also features the traditional series of costume pageants, balls and performances that revive the spirit of the Venetian Republic.

Carnival takes place every year in the ten days before lent and is believed to date back to the 12th century. The festival was brought to a halt in 1797 when Napoleon put an end to the Venetian Republic. After taking a sabbatical of almost 200 years, it revived itself with the help of some local enthusiasts in the 1970s. It is now a big hit with Venetians and tourists alike. City officials say that, at its peak, it attracts around 80,000 visitors a day.