1. Carnival

prac_info Feb–Mar, concluding on Shrove Tue, 40 days before Easter

This unmissable 10-day extravaganza takes over the city as a countdown to Lent. The streets mill with costumed and masked local “nobility” or crazily attired visitors. It gets off to a flying start with the Volo dell’Angelo (flight of the angel), when either an acrobat or a cardboard dove is launched from the Campanile in Piazza San Marco, showering onlookers with confetti. The grand finale is the explosive Mardi Gras.


Carnival-goer in full costume

2. Su e Zo per i Ponti

prac_info Late Mar/Apr: 4th Sun in Lent

Anyone can join this leisurely non-competitive walk or run “up and down the bridges”. Several official routes can be followed, and all participants receive a medal on finishing.

3. Festa della Sensa

prac_info May: Ascension Day

Google Map

Head for the Riviera di San Nicolò at the Lido to watch this ancient ceremony of “Venice wedding to the Sea”. A costumed “doge” casts a ring into the sea amid a procession of celebratory boats. Symbolizing Venice’s maritime supremacy, La Sensa has been staged since Venice took Istria and Dalmatia in AD 997.

4. Vogalonga

prac_info May: Sun after Ascension

A colourful armada of rowing craft from all over the world embarks on a 32-km (20-mile) non-competitive route around the lagoon’s scattered islands. The “Long Row” is a great experience for both participants and onlookers, who line the Canale di Cannaregio towards midday to cheer on the breathtaking final stretch down the Grand Canal.

5. Biennale Art Exhibition

prac_info Jun–Nov

Google Map

The world’s leading international art bonanza is held on a two-yearly basis. The leafy gardens in eastern Castello are the principal venue, supplemented by the Corderie building in the Arsenale.

6. Festa del Redentore

prac_info Mid-Jul

Google Map

People crowd on to all available watercraft, decorated with paper lanterns and greenery, for a feast of roast duck and watermelon, followed by a midnight fireworks display. It all takes place near Palladio’s church on Giudecca to commemorate the end of the 1576 plague. For those getting there on foot, a temporary pontoon bridge stretches from the Zattere over the Giudecca canal.


Midnight fireworks on Festa del Redentore

7. Festa di San Rocco

prac_info 16 Aug

Google Map

The feast day of St Roch, the French saint adopted by the confraternity for alleviating the 1576–7 plague, is celebrated each year at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco.

8. Regata Storica

prac_info 1st Sun in Sep

The word regatta originated in Venice, so what better place to enjoy the year’s most spectacular event. Ornately decorated boats propelled by costumed oarsmen parade down the Grand Canal bearing passengers dressed as historical dignitaries. A series of furiously contested regattas follows.


Colourful boats at Regata Storica

9. Venice Marathon

prac_info Late Oct

Runners from all parts of the globe begin this classic – not to mention beautiful – 42-km (26-mile) race at Villa Pisani on the Brenta waterway, cross the causeway to Venice, the Zattere and San Marco, and finish near the public gardens in Castello.

10. Festa della Salute

prac_info 21 Nov

Google Map

Venetians make a pilgrimage to Longhena’s church (see Santa Maria della Salute) every winter in memory of the devastating plague of 1630–31. The whole area assumes a festive atmosphere with stalls selling candy floss and balloons.


1. Rowing

prac_info Zattere, Dorsoduro

Immensely popular Venetian pastime practised standing up. Join the oldest club, Canottieri Bucintoro.


A women’s rowing team, practising on the waterways of Venice

2 Cycling

prac_info Gran Viale SM Elisabetta

Illegal in Venice itself, though you’ll see kids zooming around. It is allowed in Lido, where you can rent a bike from a cycle shop on the main street.

3 Sailing

Yachtsmen gather at the marina on San Giorgio Maggiore island.

4 Swimming

Head for the Lido, or the crowded indoor pools at Sacca Fisola and Sant’Alvise.

5 In-Line Skating

There is a small rink at Sant’Elena in Castello, otherwise stick to the Lido pavements.

6. Golf

prac_info Strada Vecchia, 1

The well-reputed 18-hole course at the Alberoni is on the south of the Lido.

7 Tennis

prac_info Lungomare G Marconi 41/D

The Lido has the only courts available to visitors.

8 Jogging

The city’s stone paving doesn’t do wonders for your knees, so try the city parks.

9 Gyms

Private gyms with state-of-the-art equipment can be found online.

10 Football

prac_info Stadio Pierluigi Penzo

The home team Venezia plays at Sant’Elena stadium on Sundays.

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