The Carnival of Viareggio or “Carnevale
di Viareggio” is a carnival event annually held in the Tuscan city of
Viareggio, in Italy. Every year, Carnival
of Viareggio attracts more than thousands spectators. Its main characteristic is given by the parade of floats and masks,
depicting caricatures of popular people, such as sportsmen, showmen and
politicians; the parade is held on the Viareggio avenue located alongside the
local beach. The first parade took
place in 1873. The theme of the
floats tend to be both socially and politically satirical. Viareggio Carnival is a 16-day period of fun during the Mardi Gras
festivities. It takes place in February and March. During Carnival many Italian cities and towns celebrate this time of fun
in their own specific way, creating festivals each with its own local colour.
History of Viareggio Carnival:
The tradition was started because of an argument over politics. The people were not happy to be paying high taxes so they took to the streets with masks and decorated their carts with beautiful flowers in protest.
The first Viareggio carnival parade was held in 24th February in 1873, when some wealthy middle-class men decided to organize a parade of floats adorned with flowers; a number of local citizens, as a sign of protest, then decided to put on masks in order to show their refusal of high taxes they were forced to pay. However, it evolved into an event where you could express your ideas freely. Since that time, the Carnival parade is also the occasion to exorcize the dissatisfaction of the people.
A few years later, music and motion were introduced on the floats. From 1925, floats were built with the revolutionary technique of the papier-mâché. Papier mâché or paper mache is a popular crafting technique that uses paper and a paste to create a variety of objects.
Carnival of Viareggio has is own mascot, his name is Burlamacco, first depicted in 1931 by Uberto (Umberto) Bonetti.
Viareggio Carnival Celebration:
Viareggio Carnival officially opens with a symbolic shooting of a triple cannon into the sea. Carnival lasts for the entire month and is filled with festivities, parades, parties, masked balls and festivals. The carnival is followed by masked and musical dance parties that last all night. They are called veglioni colorati. The women wear dresses of certain hues and the decorations have to follow a specific colour theme. The best bars and clubs of Viareggio participate in the celebration, holding special events. Colourful parades that draw hundreds of thousands are known for their colossal paper mâché puppets depicting politicians, actors, celebrities, animals and other figures. Together with this parade, there are the normal masks and costumes of children and people laughing and joking around with confetti. During Carnival, Viareggio becomes a bit like a mini Olympic city, with its own Carnival Village, a covered, fully-equipped hosting shows, entertainment, culture and other events.After the carnival, the floats are dismantled. Some parts are recuperated for the following year.
This Carnival represents a meeting place of Italian tradition and
universal principles of solidarity and peace in a light and happy atmosphere.