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Venice Carnival returns to former grandeur after three years of scaled-back events

The Venice carnival in the historical lagoon city attracts people from around the world
The Venice carnival in the historical lagoon city attracts people from around the world Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Euronews with AP
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Packed with water parades, fine dining experiences and masked balls complete with elaborate costumes, the historic festival is back and is taking place in Italy's beloved city of bridges from February 4-21.

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The opening show of the world-famous Venice Carnival kicked off on Saturday night as performers took to brightly lit floats and gondolas for the 'Original Dreamers' parade.

After three years of scaled-back events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of visitors have travelled to the Queen of the Adriatic for the beloved festival.

Spectators lined the banks and bridges of the Grand Canal on Friday to catch a glimpse of the colourful displays, flashing lights and masked dancers aboard dozens of floating barges.

‘Take your time for the Original signs’ is the creative title of this year's event. It draws inspiration from the constellations and in particular, the Zodiac.

The ancient custom began in the 11th century as a symbol of the city's victory over the Patriarch of Aquileia, a Catholic jurisdiction in northeastern Italy.

Venice became a powerful republic and trading centre. However, most of the costumes worn in the festivities today are loosely based on the styles worn much later by Venice's aristocracy in the seventeen-century.

The traditional Venetian carnival mask, known as the 'butua' allowed revellers through the ages, from both the upper and lower classes, to soak up the festivities while concealing their identities.

The festival was banned many times throughout the years and finally outlawed in 1797 by the Holy Roman Emperor Francis II.

The modern-day Carnival was restored by the Italian government in 1979 in a bid to revitalise the city's tourism industry.

The year's carnival will end on Tuesday, February 21.

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