In Venice the year passes by so quickly with its many traditional events, from historic beginnings as well as newly found reasons for celebrating or commemorating …in other words there is always something to do in Venice at almost any time of the year…
New Year’s Day
The year begins with a celebration of New Year’s Day on the Lido – and a swim if you’re feeling really brave!
Regata delle Befane – The Epiphany 6 January
An important day and a public holiday – seeing a rowing contest along the length of the Grand Canal for men of 50 and over. Anyone can try!
Carnival – ten days leading up to Shrove Tuesday
Carnival, or Carnevale, takes place before Lent each winter, finishing on Shrove Tuesday. Events include pageants, commedia dell’arte, concerts and masked balls. Many people wear fancy dress for the duration of the festivities. An exciting time to be in Venice
Concerto delle Ceneri – midnight, Shrove Tuesday
A traditional Lenten concert in the church of the Pieta in Castello – the famous Vivaldi church where orphans were taken in and educated, especially in violin and Choir..
Su e Zo per i Ponti – second Sunday in March
A marathon running race around the streets of Venice – literally ‘up and down the bridges’ , with the contestants running up and down the bridges, as the name suggests.
Benedizione del fuoco – Maundy Thursday/ Easter
A ceremony in St Mark’s Basilica. The sacred flame is lit in the atrium of the darkened cathedral, after which a procession enters, lighting candles as they go. Spectacular
St Mark’s Day – 25 April
Feast in honour of St. Mark, the patron saint of Venice. Celebrations in the Basilica and in the square. La Festa del Boccolo – Men give women a long-stemmed red rose, il “Bòcolo” (rose bud)) as a sign of their love and affection. A gondola race takes place in Bacino di San Marco.
Labour day – a festival and Regatta, held in the lagoon.
La Sensa: Marriage to the Sea – First Sunday after Ascension
This is an annual ceremony which reaffirms the “marriage” of Venice and the Adriatic. The mayor travels with his party by boat to the Lido, and drops a gold ring into the sea before attending a service at the San Nicolò church. Anyone who manages to dive in and retrieve the ring may keep it, and is free from all state taxes for the following year.
Vogalonga – first Sunday after Ascension
A rowing race over a 32km course, from Bacino di San Marco to Burano and back along the Tre Archi Canal and the Grand Canal to the salute Church. Try to watch it along the Canal di Cannaregio or the Grand Canal. Its a wonderful sight and a great festival atmosphere
Palio delle Antiche Repubbliche Marinare –
May or June, every 4 years
A boat race in St Mark’s basin between four galleons representing the ancient maritime republics Amalfi, Genoa, Pisa and of course Venice. There is also a historical re-enactment by a cast of hundreds in front of the Doge’s Palace.
Sagra di San Pietro di Castello – last week in June
A festival on the last remaining grassed campo in Venice of the famous San Pietro 4th century church
Biennale – June to October
The Biennale is a modern-art exposition featuring painters, sculptors, and performance artists from around the world, which takes place in odd-numbered years. Most events are located in the Giardini Pubblici and at the nearby Corderie dell’Arsenale.
Festa della Redentore – third Sunday in July
Religious ceremonies are held every year in the Redentore church on the Giudecca to commemorate the end of the plague of 1577. Visitors can reach the church by crossing the Giudecca Canal over a pontoon bridge specially built for the weekend. Decorated boats fill the lagoon to watch the spectacular firework display on the previous evening. A huge feast of traditional Venetian dishes is held along the Giudecca waterfront, followed by dancing on the Lido. On the Sunday a Regatta is held in the Giudecca Canal.
Regata di Pellestrina – first Sunday in August
This is held for the popular feast of the Madonna dell’Apparizione (the Virgin of the Apparition). The Regatta is held on the lagoon side of the island.
Concerto dell’Assunta – the Assumption day
A concert is held in the cathedral on Torcello.
Film Festival Early September
This takes place in early September , and is second only in importance to the Cannes festival. Take any water bus to the Lido to catch the action, or book into the Excelsior Hotel and mingle with the stars!
Regatta Storica – first Sunday in September
A procession of decorated craft along the Grand Canal is followed by a race for city gondoliers and other expert rowers. Spectators are expected to cheer on the teams and are often given appropriate colours to wave.
Regata di Burano – third Sunday in September
This Regatta concludes the season’s rowing events and is known as the “rematch of the Historical Regatta”. The competitions are held in front of the island. On land, the Regatta can be seen from the Fondamenta where polenta, fish and wine are sold.
Sagra del Mosto di Sant’Erasmo – first Sunday in October
A festival on the island of Sant’Erasmo, with a Regatta in the afternoon for mixed teams.
Venice Marathon – second Sunday in October
A marathon along the Riva del Brenta, finishing in front of the Salute Church.
Festa dei Morti, 2 November
Crowds will travel to San Michele cemetery in the lagoon. The traditional sweets are FAVE (broad beans) a small round almond cakes- white, pink and brown.
St. Martin’s Day – 11 November
Venetian children run through the city, banging pots and pans with wooden spoons. It is traditional to reward the children by giving them a few coins. Special shortbread cakes depicting St Martin on a horse are baked in celebration. This is traditionally known as a period of good weather….thanks to St Martin!
Festa della Salute – 21 November
On November 21st each year, city workers lay a pontoon bridge over the Grand Canal from the San Marco district to the Salute church. Citizens walk across the bridge to give thanks to the Virgin Mary for delivering them from a plague in the 16th century. Menu of the day is the “castradina” stew (smoked mutton stew with cabbage) and caramelised fruit kebabs
Christmas Market, Campo Santo Stefano – December
Campo Santo Stefano, near the Accademia Bridge, hosts a spectacular Christmas market with a huge range of products on sale, from Murano glassware to sweets and decorations.