Perhaps the most enchanting of all seasons
There's something special about a city that shrugs the traffic and tourists from her shoulders at the end of the day and settles back to her true personality. This is Venice. The day is summer, the season is winter.
Fairy-tale, sun-drenched canals begin to feel damp and a a low mist swirls above the waters and into every piazza. Daylight fades early while Canal Grande's pink lampposts shine brighter in the mist knowing a glamorous world of theatre, parties and concerts awaits behind closed doors.
Once, Venice was the bohemian, heady rebel who defied state law and partied in secret. When the state banned gambling, Venice adopted the mask. When they banned street parties, Venice turned 'private' opting for masked balls instead.
There's always been an element of decadence and defiance in this city which few visitors may know - we're all swayed by captivating architecture, a unique stile di vita and the chance to escape the mundane in a romantic, Italian holiday. But there's so much more to Venice than art, architecture and 'sights to see'. As soon as the summer sun shifts to amber and the seasons change once more, Venice's true personality begins to beam through the evening mist and finally we get to experience a city of Venetians.
Winter activities involve art exhibitions and theatre performances, Venice Jazz Festival and the end of Fashion Week. Add warming, regional dishes, twinkly Christmas markets and something magical starts to unfold...
Yes, there's always lots going on here, think Carnival, think Biennale, but if you love to truly understand a city, discover its local life and amble the streets without crowds, Venice is one place that saves the off-peak months for just this.
So, book a budget flight, wrap up extra-warm and come join the Venetians in winter.
12 Reasons to Visit Venice in Winter.
Enjoy the best Venice has to offer in style. With a winter programme boasting classical music, modern dance, pop and opera, explore the fantastic musicinvenice website to find incredible shows during your stay. Goldoni Theatre near Rialto, and Teatro Malibran, are beautiful theatres with ornate decor and flamboyant boxes you can book but nowhere as grand than the famous La Fenice. Dripping in gold and opulence, it's like something out of a dream. Step into a majestic world of music, dance and a New Year's Eve concert that will leave you breathless - see La Fenice's winter performances here.
Yes, Venice has a Fashion week!
Catch the tail end of a whirlwind of designer style hosted between the 19th and 23rd of October. Visit the open studios of some of the country's finest right here in Venice or enjoy a little catwalk if moda is your thing! Browse Venice Fashion Week's very ooh-lala website and all the events right here.
3.Hanukah in the Ghetto
The oldest known Jewish Ghetto is here in Venice and their beautiful celebration of light, the Hanukah, is held in the middle of the month of December with a gigantic candle Menorah lit in piazza every night for 8 days. Visit the Ghetto and join in music, dance, festive food and classes during their eight day celebration learning about the Miracle of the Oil with essential oils you can help make and then take home.
4.Veneto Jazz Festival
is divided into two seasons, spring and autumn. Catch an autumn concert through the months of October and November in various locations (in and out of Venice) including the stunning Fenice Theatre. Our advice is to book well in advance, you can find their programme here.
5.Midnight Mass in the Basilica
Experience Midnight Mass in one of the world's most beautiful of Catholic Basilicas on St Mark's Square, it doesn't get more divine than this. There's usually a queue to enter the Basilica San Marco as only a certain number of people are allowed in so give yourselves enough time to attend this very special service in Venice's most iconic of churches.
6.Burano's Lagoon Nativity Scene
The quaint island of Burano, famous for its pretty, coloured houses, can be reached by vaporetto from Fondamente Nove on Linea 12. If you make the 45 minute journey from the main island, look out for a 60 piece nativity scene suspended above the waters of the lagoon. In Italy, the presepio is a religious tradition every catholic family adopts in their own special way, here's its represented in Venetian style - on the water.
7.New Years Eve in Piazza San Marco
Where better to celebrate the end of a year but in piazza?
And this is no ordinary piazza...
Get down to Piazza San Marco on the last day of the year where the rest of Venice is busy celebrating in masks and gowns. Locals love to wear white and every year there is a theme, so ask around beforehand to be in on the dress-code. Music, dance and fireworks make this a venue fit for a massively memorable New Year's party.
8.New Years Day Swim
Get crazy and take a chilly dip!
Temperatures in December seldom rise above 9°C, yet, there's a crazy Venetian tradition on New Year's Day to 'bagnare' the New Year, despite the cold. Bagnare means 'to wet', usually meant figuratively. The Italian Way to celebrate is to 'bagnare' a new car or a new house by taking everyone out for a drink. But here on Venice Lido they're taking it very literally and wetting the New Year! To truly experience Venice, bring your cozzie and a big fluffy towel to Blue Moon Beach at midday and join a bunch of pazzi locals who've been swimming these icy lagoon waters for 42 years!
It seems that Venice is packed with art in churches, museums and galleries everywhere you look! The last time we were there, we lost our map, stepped off the beaten track and suddenly found ourselves in a lovely courtyard contemporary art exhibition!
What better way to spend a cold and wet afternoon but immersed in some of Venice's beautiful art or catching a passing-through exhibit at one of the many galleries around town. Here's Evenice's handy updated guide.
10. Befana Regatta
The Epiphany indicates an end to all Italian Christmas festivities. Celebrated in the region of Veneto with socks placed outside windows on the eve of 5 January to be filled with presents and sweets by the old hag Befana, this is a wonderful, ancient tradition which grandparents especially love to keep alive. In Venice, capital of Veneto, on the 6th of January every year, the old rowing club Bucintoro choose 50 of their finest to don their hag outfits and get racing! Make a point of catching this action-packed contest along Canal Grande with witch brooms and wigs which will leave you cheering your favourite together with the rest of Venice from S. Tomà to the Rialto Bridge where an enormous sock hangs as the finish line.
Don your glad rags, rent them if you must! Thinking a ballgown doesn't travel very well...
In a city of masks and glamour, the beginning of February and Carnevale sees the city begin to party in true Venetian style. Sumptuous palazzi throw festivities fit for fairy-tales with different themes to dress up to, there's even a Doge's Ball. Find a great list on the Vivovenetia website if masquerade glamour is your cup-of-tea and go get mask-shopping in one of the city's many intriguing shops.
Once an important guild, mask culture has a unique history of rebellion and defiance here in Venice, stay posted for a blog post to follow soon!
'Venice's Carnival had always been a gloriously decadent affair, it was a period of liberty and excess which Venetians extended from December to October. In 16 -18th centuries, for 6 months a year, social differences and responsibilities were lifted, masks and costumes were permitted and festive mayhem reigned. The indulgent city grew in fame and power during Baroque times but to cover one's face was always a delicate matter leading to an uncontrollable increase in crime. The Serenissima Republic imposed law after law; prohibiting masks after dark, forbidding Venetians from wearing vulgar disguises or covering their faces in casinos and finally banning all masks outside of carnival. But rather than give up their exuberant lifestyle, Venetians turned to private rendezvous instead. Much went on behind closed doors and soon the mask had become symbolic of an artistic rebellion against a strict establishment with stanch rulings.'
From our blog post: Carnevale
12.Carnevale is Venice's big pride and joy - a chance to take elegance to the max.
February is cold in Venice and very much a winter month, but nobody notices the low temperatures and gloomy, damp weather because all we think about is Carnival! Read all about what's become a quintessentially Venetian tradition in our blog post and make the most of the end of winter in the beginning of a season packed with parties until winter comes around again.
Buona Venezia amici!