Viareggio Carnival 2018


The Viareggio Carnival celebrates in 2018 145 years of life under the sign of a vivid tradition such as the long-established European tradition of Carnival festivals. It is no doubt one of the best known events in Italy. Each year the Viareggio Carnival attracts more than 600.000  spectators gathering to attend the magic of the grand parades of large  floats in  papier-maché. In 2018, THE CARNIVAL MASKED PARADES  will take place  on  27th January and 4th ,  11th,   13th,   17th February, along the extraordinary Liberty seaside boulevards.

Saturday 27th January starting at 4pm;



At the end of the Great Pyrotechnic Show 


Sunday 4th February starting at 3pm;



Saturday 11st February starting at 3pm;



Tuesday 13nd February starting at 5pm;

(Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday)



Saturday 17nd February starting at 5pm;


At the end of the parade reading of verdicts of  juries

At the end the proclamation of the winners

Great Ending Fireworks

The peculiarity of the Viareggio Carnival consists in giant, allegorical papier-maché floats – the biggest ones weighing about forty tons – and expresses today the old knowledge that goes back to the ancient ‘trionfi’ (war-victory feastings) of the Renaissance, adhering even more to the building techniques of the  big sailing boats, a  pride of Viareggio traditions.


Every evening, there are carnival celebrations in all of the city’s different districs. The most famous bars, restaurants, discos, etc., including the largest hotels in Versilia, host colourful all night masked carnival parties.


Real travelling theatres – the allegorical papier-maché floats are the product of the unequalled creativity, of the extraordinary sculpture and painting skill of Viareggio’s ‘magicians’, and are the highest example of this popular art whose language has spread all over the world.


The parades take place in a ring-like circuit  2 kms. long, on the seaside avenue of Viareggio, best known as La Passeggiata.

Here the floats move among the spectators, who can attend the show with no barriers, becoming in turn the protagonists of the parade.

During the Carnival period, Viareggio and it’s Passeggiata  become a true open air Museum  where people, coming from all over the world, meet to enjoy the event together.

The parades also include folkloristic bands and performers with the most original masks, offering excitement, culture and tradition in a wide programme of entertainment and fun for children and adults.

Viareggio, the Carnival town, also known as the Pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea for its long sandy beaches, its pine-woods, its beautiful promenade, a natural stage for its Carnival surrounded by the Apuan Alps and the Art Deco architecture of its villas along the seaside, is situated on the northern coast of Tuscany.

The town shows its identity and image to the world thanks to its Carnival.  For four consecutive Sundays and during the Mardi Gras parade, thousands of people from Viareggio, and the surrounding areas, take part in this event.

The Burlamacco is the character shown in the first photograph at the top of this page and is the official mask and symbol for the Carnival in Viareggio. It is inspired by other costumed characters of Italian “commedia dell’arte” including Harlequin, Balanzone, Pierrot and Rugantino. Burlamacco is dressed in a long red and white checkered suit, with a cocked hat and long black cape at his shoulders.

In each of the parades, the Burlamacco is accompanied with a float composed of only female participants called the “Ondina” in honor of Viareggio’s tie with the sea and the summer (onda means wave in Italian).

Floats in Viareggio's carnival

Papier-mâché Floats at the Heart of the Parades

The floats made in papier-mâché are the stars of the Carnival of Viareggio. The floats run in the parade in a closed circle along the city’s promenade between the beach and the city’s shops.

Huge, majestic, and quite thought-provoking, the floats are inspired by Italian and international politics and other current events, often represented in satire form, most times with a lot of irreverence.

Aboard the allegorical floats, each playing their own musical soundtrack, are both dancers and other figures seeking to captivate the public that surrounds their passage.

The floats participating in the parade are actually competing against each other in two separate categories, one as group floats and the other as single floats. The winners in each category are proclaimed and awarded on the last day of Carnevale.

When the summer beach season is winding down and the town is emptying out of tourists and temporary residents, the people of Viareggio are already starting to think about Carnevale. In September the float craftsmen present their sketches for the following year’s floats. The construction of these floats takes months, and if you see their size you’ll understand why.

Carnival floats in Viareggio

The people behind the floats are true artists, conceptualizing and working painstakingly alongside an assisting engineer to build these enormous, moving paper-machè creations. They often have elements of social and political commentary, such as this year’s “The Submerged Peninsula” showing Italy sinking underwater with Neptune, God of the Sea, caricatures of politicians clinging to famous Italian monuments, trying to delay their inevitable swim.

Theme for the Carnival of Viareggio - Submerged Peninsula

The floats are absolutely incredible, complete with moving parts, performers, music and even dancers on the ground preceding the float. We had the opportunity to climb aboard a few and see Carnevale from the on top of the floats themselves. Dozens of people are on each one, working the pulleys and levers inside to animate the float. With a DJ, dancers and a huge confetti cannon, each float feels like it’s own contained mobile rave.

Inside the Carnival float

Be a Part of Carnevale!

The best thing about the parade is that there are no barriers! The floats glide through the crowds. You can dance along with the performers, touch the floats, get in confetti fights with just about everyone, and feel the entire time like part of the show.

You don’t watch this parade – you join it! So put on your costume (or least a wig) and fill your pockets with confetti!


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