There’s a reason they say in Italian, ‘A Carnevale ogni scherzo vale’, which translates to, “at Carnival, anything goes.” The annual Carnevale celebration kicks off in Venice on Saturday February 8, 2020, and runs through Tuesday, February 25, 2020. The festival is expected to welcome almost 3 million travelers to the city this year, with nightly events, masquerades, regional cuisine, and so much confetti.
At Quiiky we understand that LGBTQ+ travelers have a special desire to travel freely as their authentic selves, especially when it comes to international destinations where they are stepping outside of their comfort zones.
With this February being a perfect time to visit, we put together a queer traveler’s guide to Carnevale in Venice.
Stay in Style at the Axel Hotel.
Opened in March 2019, the Axel Hotel Venezia is the first hotel in Italy from the renowned Axel Group – a cosmopolitan hotel chain literally designed with LGBTQ+ people in mind. The Venice hotel is in the artistic neighborhood of Dorsoduro, with rooms that boast an attention to detail that lets you immerse yourself in the exclusive and romantic atmosphere of a historical Venetian palace. Here you can enjoy the outdoor terrace facing the canal or have a drink at the Lounge Bar before heading out to your Carnival celebrations.
Shop for Hand-Crafted Venetian Masks at La Bauta.
You can’t do Carnival without donning a classic Venetian mask. You’ll find so many varieties in shops around the city, but our favorite place to pick up your own piece of this Venetian artisan tradition is at the Atelier La Bauta. They’ve been crafting masks for more than twenty years using the antique papier-mache process, which ensures their work has a specific authenticity you won’t find anywhere else! If you want to go full Venetian fantasy, they also have Carnival costume rentals, so you can hit the streets in head to toe 12th Century glamour.
Skip the Restaurants and Enjoy the Street Food (and Wine).
Carnival is a time of year when a ton of street vendors sell signature sweets you can only get this time of year. So sure you can dine out at a romantic Venetian trattoria, but save some appetite for the local frittelle – puffy and light doughnuts rolled in sugar, galani – thin strips of pastry dough fried to a crisp and tossed with powdered sugar, and castagnole – citrusy fried dough balls. Then make sure to wet your palette with some of Italy’s finest wines, which you’ll find at just about every eatery in the city – and at the Axel Hotel Lounge Bar.
Immerse Yourself the LGBTQ+ Untold History of Venice.
While you’re in town for Carnival, don’t miss the chance to dive into Venice’s rich LGBTQ+ history with our Untold History tour of Venice. The tour is approximately 3 hours long, and explores the story of how Venice became one of the oldest LGBTQ+ communities in Europe in the 19th Century. You’ll make stops at the Rialto Bridge to hear about the gay ‘Campi’ and ‘Campielli’ that took place there, and to the Palazzo Ducale, where the infamous Casanova flirted with his countless lovers.
For other queer travel recommendations in Venice, including some great LGBTQ+ welcoming restaurants, bars, and nightlife, check out VeneziaGay.It. And remember you can always contact us to set up a tailor-made tour of Italy that’s customized just for you!