Why the Annecy Venetian Carnival is amazing

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Every year in Winter an elegant and mysterious carnival takes place in the French Alps town of Annecy. With people wearing fantastic Venetian-style masks, the Annecy Venetian Carnival is one of the most beautiful in France and attracts thousands of visitors in the fantastic setting of Annecy and its romantic lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains.


The Annecy Venetian Carnival

Annecy Carnaval by papafranco2012, CC BY 2.0

Annecy Carnaval by papafranco2012, CC BY 2.0

The use of Venetian-style masks during the Annecy Carnival was first introduced by ARIA (a local italophile association) on the 16 March 1996. A few dozen people paraded with their Venetian-style masks. The following year, more than 40 people joined the event and as it became more popular over the years, it became one of the major cultural events run in Annecy (with approximately 350 masks). Now known as Carnaval Vénitien d’Annecy (Annecy Venetian Carnaval), it takes place over two days in February and includes parades, conferences, exhibitions and concerts.

Annecy Carnaval by papafranco2012, CC BY 2.0

Annecy Carnaval by papafranco2012, CC BY 2.0

To the contrary of exuberant carnivals such as those of Dunkirk and Nice, the Annecy Carnival is often described as being one of refinement and elegance.

There are no parades organised with noisy marching bands and crazy jugglers. Instead the hundreds of people wearing masks are invited to quietly wander the streets bordering the canals of the old town. On Saturday and Sunday at 2pm, all costumed people are invited to step on the stage set up in the Jardin de l’Europe by the lake.

Annecy Carnaval by papafranco2012, CC BY 2.0

Annecy Carnaval by papafranco2012, CC BY 2.0

In case of bad weather (rain or snow), people wearing masks can be found under the many old arcades in the old town or inside the Bonlieu Conference Centre. As soon as the weather permits it, they are back to the canals. This makes the carnival of Annecy a free event for everyone.

Annecy Carnaval by papafranco2012, CC BY 2.0

Annecy Carnaval by papafranco2012, CC BY 2.0

In 2016 the Venetian Carnival of Annecy will celebrate its 20th anniversary and will take place on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 February.

Find out more about the programme for the 2016 edition of Annecy Carnival.


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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. In 2014 he moved back to Europe from Sydney with his wife and daughter to be closer to their families and to France. He has a background teaching French and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations and a degree of Economics and Management.

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