Taking part in the
3. Who goes there?
Lots of enthusiastic Japanese tourists, followed by Germans, French, Belgians, British, and assorted other nationalities. Italians dominate the crowds, but the Japanese are close behind. This was our experience - yours may vary.
Lots of people join in, but normally they are one of the following:
For the avoidance of doubt, we were in the "Other" category, which makes up a good proportion of the crowd. This category is made up of all sorts of different people, with lots of different reasons for coming to Venice, and who have dressed up and come along to join in.
Do I need a permit or something?
The authorities don't employ all the people who dress in costume - although some tourists mistakenly think they do (we'll come back to that later). This means that anyone can join in.
Obviously, if you want to do other activites such as performing music or face painting, you're going to need some kind of permission to do that. But if you just want to dress up and join in, that's no problem.
We have to put a disclaimer in here (keeps the lawyers happy) that this is our understanding of the position, and we are unable to give formal legal advice. However, we didn't see anyone getting arrested for turning up as Don Giovanni or Queen Elizabeth, so that's probably a good sign.
How do people react?
We hadn't seen the festivities before we arrived, so we weren't sure what to expect. Would there be many other people dressed up? Would we be the only ones dressed up? Well, we were certainly the only ones dressed up as we walked down the main street of the Lido, a small island just across the water from Venice itself, where our hotel was. We were on our way to the waterbus that would take us into Venice. The strange thing was, no-one seemed to pay much attention to a medieval prince and princess walking down the 21st century high street and onto the ferry. Which was a good sign.
In fact, the only person who had said anything to us was the hotel receptionist. And his
only concern was that we were leaving the hotel late, so the staff wouldn't be able to
clean our room. But that's the Carnival for you - some of those costumes take ages to put
on - and that's just the men's ones!
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