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Carnival of Viareggio from 1873 to the present day

Viareggio Carnival float

The Viareggio Carnival is one of the oldest and most famous events in Italy which history dates back to 1873

It is one of the most important carnivals in Italy – second only to Venice – and in the world, to which adults and children come from all cities.

Every year in February the city of Viareggio is transformed into a big party, where tradition merges with innovation and satire becomes art: the Burlamacco plays its role as mascot, and artisans are ready to show their works for these unique celebrations.

Carnival floats and masquerade parades

The floats of the Viareggio Carnival are the true stars of the show. These gigantic constructions are made of wood or paper-mâché, with the purpose of addressing through satire and allegory current social, news and political issues. Their height can vary from 10 to 15 meters, and their length can exceed 40 meters, making them a sight to behold.

The floats are designed and built by several local companies, each trying to outdo the other in the imagination and originality of their creations. Their construction begins months before the event in the Carnival Citadel, where artisans work tirelessly to create these moving giants. The art of paper-mâché making has been handed down for generations in Viareggio and is a crucial aspect of the carnival.

During the floats parade, an expert jury awards prizes to the floats for their originality, creativity, and artistic achievement. The winners are awarded the title of “King of Carnival,” a highly coveted honor among the participating companies.

The city also hosts concerts, street performances, and masquerade parties, providing entertainment for all ages. There are events such as the children’s parade and the parade of miniature floats, which showcase the talents and creativity of the younger participants.

The Citadel: the place where magic happens

The Carnival Citadel, also known as La Cittadella del Carnevale, is the hub of the Viareggio Carnival. This enclosed area serves as the center of operations for the construction of the floats, where a lot of craftsmen work tirelessly to create their masterpieces out of wood and paper-mâché.

The floats are not only impressive in size and design, but also in the amount of work that goes into creating them. The construction of the floats begins months before the event, and the Citadel is a bustling place where artisans and designers come together to bring their creations to life. This place is where the technique of paper-mâché making is passed down from generation to generation and is preserved, keeping the tradition of the carnival alive.

During the carnival period, the Citadel is open to the public, providing an opportunity for visitors to witness the floats under construction up close and to meet the artisans who create them. It’s a chance to see the intricate details and the amount of effort put into each float, and to understand the dedication and craftsmanship that goes into creating these moving giants. Visitors can also see the floats being decorated and painted, and it’s a unique opportunity to learn more about the process of creating floats for the carnival.

Inside the Citadel, there is also the Carnival Museum, which is a must-visit destination for anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of the tradition and culture of the Viareggio Carnival. The museum showcases the masks and costumes used in past editions, and it provides a glimpse into the history of the carnival. Visitors can learn about the different themes and motifs used over the years, and the evolution of the floats and costumes. The museum also features photographs, videos, and interactive exhibits, making it an engaging and informative experience.

Carnival of Viareggio 2024: the 151st edition

After the great milestone of 150 years, the Viareggio Carnival returns this year for its 151st edition

The event will take place from February 3 to February 24 on the Viareggio promenade and will feature the traditional parade of colorful paper-mâché floats along the seaside promenade.

This year the six masked parades will pay homage to Jurassic Park, Salvator Dalì, Susanna Tamaro, Alda Merini, Mario Tobino, Aesop, Klimt and Ciajkovskij. There will be 9 first-category floats, 4 second-category floats, 8 group masquerades and 8 isolated masks.

Everything will start on February 3 at 3 p.m., with the opening ceremony and the traditional triple cannon shot that leads the way for the first parade of floats, which will be followed by the traditional fireworks symbolizing the opening of the Carnival month.

The second course will be on February 8 at 6 p.m., and the third course will take place on February 11 at 3 p.m.

The fourth course will be on February 13 at 3 p.m., while the fifth course will take place on February 18 at 3 p.m.

And here we come to the grand finale: the last course will be held on February 24 at 6 p.m., at the end of which the jury will read its verdict and it will be possible to enjoy the fireworks.
You can buy your tickets online or at physical stores near the events.

Carnival of Viareggio 2024: the 151st edition

The Carnival of Viareggio comes to Lucca: the floats are ready on the walls for their big parade on February 4, at 3 p.m.

What’s more, this year the events and decorations of Lucca in Maschera never end! Four large squares will host the papier-mâché works of art of the master artisans: the Rolling Stones in Piazza Napoleone, a large tiger in Palazzo Pretorio, Pinocchio in Piazzale Verdi, and six shamans in Piazza Anfiteatro.

Piazza Anfiteatro will also host a free event with a famous Italian comedy duo on February 17 at 9 p.m., and so many events and attractions for children will bring the historic center alive throughout February.

Take advantage of the Carnival to spend a few days in Lucca! We are waiting for you in our historic residence L’Antica Bifore located in the heart of the old town: you can combine the Carnival with lovely tours through Lucca and Tuscany.