Venice Carnival – The Ultimate Costume Party

The Venice Carnival is an annual spectacle that all lovers of parties and dressing up should attend, at least once in their lives! You can go in your regular clothes and just watch, but it’s much more fun to get fully involved.

Dressed for the Carnival in Venice

From left to right: Geoff, Sue, April and Andy

In February 2012 my wife Sue and our friends Andy and April, set off for 6 days of fun and celebration. Whilst it’s possible to buy or hire costumes on arrival, if you plan carefully in advance like we did, you can buy your costumes or ‘fancy dress’ (as we call it in the UK) quite reasonably

Plenty of people push the boat out and hire expensive costumes

Global Coach Tours takes all the hassle out of the scramble for flights and accommodation by offering a Carnival package with Cosmos from just £549, new for 2013. This wasn’t on offer in 2012 so we booked it ourselves and overall we paid a bit more than you would with this package. However, here’s how we did it.


We booked a self catering apartment a year in advance after careful research on various web sites. We booked the flights at least six months ahead with BMI one way and Easyjet the other direction. We bought return transfers by waterbus online which saved a few euro by getting them in advance. Finally we booked two activities in advance. A Venice carnival ‘pub crawl‘ and a ‘Secrets of Venice Carnival and the Life And Times Of Giacomo Casanova‘. With a title that long we thought it had to be good. We had a FAB time on the pub crawl visiting four different historic bars the locals go to. The guide was very informative and a drink was included at each bar. In the last bar refills of decent red wine were available for 2 euros a glass!

One of the highlights of the week was afternoon tea at the Hotel Danieli  This was an affordable indulgence. For 35 euro you could have as many cakes as you liked and several glasses of Prosecco, the Italian sparking wine. The reason it’s so special is the spectacular unrivaled view from the roof terrace. We were advised to arrive early, but were surprised that there was no rush for tables.

Geoff and Sue Monk on the roof terrace at Hotel Danieli

One thing to consider doing whilst you are in Venice must be the Gondola ride. A 20-30 minute ride will cost an average of 80 euro based on two people sharing. Singing will be extra. Instead of a highly polished vessel as in the picture below, you could have a shorter ride experience in a gondola ferry called ‘traghetti’  These are used by locals everyday instead of the bridges over the grand canal and cost as little as 50c.

The real deal tourist gondolas

Whatever time of year you visit Venice, there’s never a shortage of shops, sights and sounds. If you can’t make it to the carnival, check out our other tours of Italy with Trafalgar Tours, Insight Vacations, Cosmos Tours and Contiki Tours for 18-35s

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