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Carnival of Viareggio 2024
An emotion-packed edition that celebrates the spectacle of life

At the Citadel on the edge of Viareggio, work goes on throughout the year, and by August the composition of the great floats that will parade down the Viali a mare is already known. However, the surreal and fantasy-fuelled ritual of the Carnival itself happens on a handful of afternoons, which this year run from 3 to 24 February every Saturday and/or Sunday, as well as Thursdays and Shrove Tuesday (or Mardi Gras).

A tradition started in 1873 by an exuberant group of youngsters, today the Carnival of Viareggio is known all over the world for its enormous allegorical papier-mâché floats: genuine works of moving art, created by master artisans with the help of dressmakers, costume designers, musicians, actors, singers and dancers.

This year – following the festival’s 150th anniversary in 2023 – the title is The first of the next 150 and the focus, unlike for past editions, is not on political satire and the world of celebrities, but on emotions and fragility; the spotlight is on the marvellous spectacle of life.

Don’t miss Il profumo delle rose nelle spine, the float by veterans Carlo and Lorenzo Lombardi that’s inspired by Marco Cavallo, a wood and papier-mâché sculpture of a horse made in 1973 by patients at the mental asylum in Trieste under the auspices of Franco Basaglia, and a symbol of the joy of life and the dreams of the inmates. The theme is social psychology and the influence of one’s surroundings on thoughts and feelings.

Melting glaciers, drought, polluted oceans… the planet is sending a thousand alarm warnings, and so is È tempo di cambiare by Roberto Vannucci, which features a woolly mammoth reawakened after millions of years by the melting of the ice, only to find the planet suffering. Even the colour of its coat has changed.

Alongside all the fun, this year’s Carnival promises to be moving and thought-provoking.

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