Annecy, also called the "Venice of the Alps" because of the canals that run through its historic heart, is the perfect venue for the Venetian carnival, every year on the 2nd weekend after Shrove Tuesday. During each edition, several hundred masks stroll through the streets of the old town and pose, parade, gather on the podium of the Gardens of Europe.
The history of the Venetian carnival
The Annecy Venetian Carnival has existed since 1996, after the city of Annecy twinned with Vicenza, a city located about 100 km from Venice. The Aria 74 association (Association Rencontres Italie Annecy) was created at the same time and thus organized the first Venetian carnival in Annecy. After switching to a 2-day format after a few years, the carnival found its definitive marks in 2006 and offered 3-day entertainment with a presentation podium. Simple animation at the start, the event quickly finds its audience and a simple parade has turned into a free stroll due to the number of participating masks. Today, the Annecy Venetian Carnival has become one of the most important cultural moments in the city and the largest Venetian carnival in France. The costumes are made by the participants themselves. Participants like to recycle and improve their costumes over the years. As for the masks, some are the property of the association and others come from Remiremont, the Vosges town which was the first to establish a Venetian carnival in France.
Venetian carnival rules
The costumes are inspired, in part, by the Venetian tradition, but the carnival allows everything, which leaves room for the imagination of the creators. Traditionally, men wear the "bauta" (normally composed of three pieces: a black cape, a black tricorn and a white mask of a special shape that covers the face and points forward, modifying the voice), which appeared in Venice in the 18th century; as for the women, they wear the wolf (half-mask in black velvet or satin that has existed since the 18th century). For those wishing to join in the festivities, there is no costume more popular than the "gnaga", which requires female attire and a cat mask. The association has established some rules regarding this outfit: no skin must be visible and all participants must remain silent. Indeed, these specifications can be found in their Mask Code of Conduct. Impossible not to appreciate the complementarity of these costumes with the medieval architecture of Annecy, creating an authentic atmosphere that attracts crowds year after year! Carnivals are places of temporary liberation from the usual social codes, where one does not have to fear being judged on one's appearance. The fantasy and dreams that come to life during carnival season, whether in Venice, Dunkirk, Rio or Nice, is a captivating experience, as proven by the oldest carnival in France, that of Annecy, which attracts visitors year after year with its fascinating phantasmagoria. This civic ceremony has become an increasingly captivating, almost mysterious and exclusive entertainment, enhancing Annecy's beauty even more year after year.
The 2023 edition of the Venetian Carnival
The next edition of the Annecy Venetian Carnival will take place on March 3, 4 and 5. It's the unmissable event of the end of winter and what's more, it's free for spectators. During these 3 days, you will be able to participate in or admire the sublime Venetian costumes and the more than 500 masks parading in a silent and mysterious atmosphere in the alleys of old Annecy, in the Gardens of Europe, on the Pâquier lawn and around Lake.
Here is the program for the 2023 edition:
- Friday March 3
From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.: Nocturnal wandering of the Masks in the pedestrian streets of the old town and Luminous Parade of the Masks (departure from Square des Martyrs de la Déportation to the Church of Saint-François and return via the old town).
- Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 March
From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Parade of Masks on the Pâquier, in the Jardins de l'Europe and in the old town.
From 2 p.m.: Presentation of the Masks on the sound and animated podium in the Jardins de l'Europe. Namely, in case of bad weather, partial withdrawal under the arcades of the old town and at the Bonlieu forum.