This year’s Venice Carnival kicked off in typically extravagant style over the weekend, as thousands of visitors to the lagoon city joined locals in the annual festival.
The Venice carnival is thought to have started in 1162, when Venetians spontaneously gathered to celebrate a military victory in Saint Mark’s Square.
During the Renaissance it became an official festival, the masks allowing revellers to forget everyday worries and indulge for the carnival period.
The carnival begins with ‘the Flight of the Rat’, when a giant model rat leads beautifully decorated boats in the opening regatta sailing down the Grand Canal.
More than 100 boats and 700 rowers arrived from all over the Veneto region for the parade, which attracted 35,000 spectators to the lagoon.
It is now one of the most famous carnival celebrations in the world, with around three million visitors coming to the city each spring to watch or join in the festivities.
The carnival will last until the beginning of March, with events taking place across Venice. The most beautiful mask will be judged on March 3rd.