In Venice, Italy, it’s that time again.

Time for grand costume balls, fierce mask contests, towering wigs and a parade of preening, strutting revelers as city residents and visitors from around the world take part in its annual carnival.
The season technically began on Jan. 27 with the Flight of the Angel, a ritual dating to the 1500s, and an opening regatta.
Others will follow, and the season it will end on Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday or Martedì Grasso), the day before Ash Wednesday.
The theme this year, “Creatum: Civitas Ludens,” evokes the spirit of fun.
On Saturday, the Festa delle Maria, or parade of the Marias, unfolded. Traditionally, 12 young women were chosen to represent the city, commemorating the rescue of Venetian brides-to-be from pirates centuries ago.
Next Sunday, a masked eagle will descend from St Mark’s bell tower. The weekly descents are among the carnival’s most popular attractions, but for security reasons, participants in the square this year have been capped at 20,000.

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