One of the opening acts of the Mestre Carnival Street Show in Venice looks like a scene from the movie ‘Up.’
Specifically, the scene where the house is being lifted up by hundreds of colorful balloons.
Now imagine those same colorful balloons, carrying a woman who is doing acrobatics in a beautiful flamenco dress as the balloons gently carry her toward the ground.
Okay, that’s where the similarities to ‘Up’ end.
Because the Mestre Carnival Street Show in Venice, Italy, isn’t about the completion of a love story or the journey of a wayward scout. It is not about a bounty hunter or a his valuable prey.
No, the Mestre Carnival Street Show in Venice is about … well, let’s start at the beginning.
This festival is first found in Italian official documents as far back as 1296. If you are familiar with the character Casanova, his backdrop is the Venice Carnival.
The dates of the carnival are always different, as they follow the liturgical calendar. People start bringing out their masks about 40 days before Easter. Slowly the streets of Venice are painted with confetti. And the special food, like pastries, starts popping up in the shops.
The festival officially begins 15 days before ash Wednesday, which this year is February 9th to the 25th.
The Venetian Water Parade has already happened, but you can probably imagine the colorfully decorated boats floating in the canals. Coming up in the following days, the Feast of Mary held across the city in many of the famous basilicas and squares.
If you go, you will have the opportunity to watch as multiple people transcend the space between a bell tower and a carnival stage on a stretched wire. These are the Flight of the Angel, the Flight of the Eagle, and the Flight of the Lion.
And the festival is punctuated throughout with balls, and dances, costume parties and grand meals.
Perhaps the best souvenir from the Venetian Carnival, should you go, is a mask. Worn in the city for hundreds of years their historical relevance is two-fold: since the city is small, people wore masks to provide them with secrecy (nosy neighbors tend to be a worldwide phenomenon).
But, more interestingly, the masks afforded each person an equal playing field. Imagine a servant feeling, instead, at least for a moment, like a king.
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