Today is the first day of the Venice Carnival. The Carnival is an annual event and takes place during the two weeks prior to the beginning of Lent. The final activities take place on Shrove Tuesday – Mardi Gras. The festivities are characterised by colour, music, dancing, exotic and period costumes, masked balls, galas, circus entertainments, banquets etc. Venetian authorities estimate that the occasion attracts 3 million visitors every year.
The physical ambience of Venice, with its many canals and unexpected alley ways, supplies magic and mystery to create a fantasy setting.
An essential feature of Carnival is the wearing of masks. Although some derive from comedia del arte traditions, others can be imaginatively original, eccentric, weird or, even, macabre.