Every year a whole month of day and night celebrations with parades of spectacular floats, fancy dress parties, sport events and and festivals of all kinds are organized for the Carnival of Viareggio. The images, sounds and colours of the Carnival are broadcasted all over the world through radio and television showing a melting pot of different cultures.
Since 2001 the Cittadella del Carnevale is open as a museum with traditional and multimedia memory from historical and cultural point of view and as multifunctional complex that houses modern workshops where the floats are created and the papier-mâché school .
The history of Viareggio's Carnival
Mardi Gras in 1873: a cheerful parade of carriages harnessed to party with the crowd, in the Place du Casino marks the birth of the Carnival in Viareggio. Since then, every year, the floats are more beautiful and ostentatious, in a gradual increasing use of materials (wood, plaster and jute), technique and imagination. Irreverent jokes and amazing sceneries are the result of the joint work of sculptors, carpenters and blacksmiths. The decline of the sailing business, in fact, had left without work many artisans who converted inventing floats. Born as a carefree pastime, the parade of Viareggio made a name for itself since the beginning as an event of political satire as well as costume. The floats were very large, so that young people could step on them, have fun and interact with the crowd, throw confetti, streamers and candies.
In 1921 the colorful carnival parade marched for the first time on the elegant sea-promenade walks to the rhythm of the song'' Cup of Champagne ", which was since then elected anthem of Carnival. But the revolutionary change arrived a little later: in 1925 the introduction of papier-mâché allows to create colossal and at the same time very light constructions, able to move challenging the force of gravity. Thanks to this innovation Viareggio's manufacturers earned themselves the title of "Wizardsof papier-mâché." The glorious kingdom of the Carnival is now complete, just its sovereign is still missing ...
In 1930, the painter Uberto Bonetti, invented the mask of Burlamacco, which appeared for the first time in the Poster dated 1931. A clown made out of a puzzle of elements taken from the italian masks of the Commedia dell’Arte: the chequed red and white suit of Harlequin, the pompon-puff blouse stolen from Pierrot, the large white ruff of Captain Spaventa (Fear), the red hat of Rugantino, and finally the black fluttering cloak, typical of Balanzone. The name comes from Buffalmacco, a Florentine painter and character of the Decameron. Bonetti replaced the root "buffa" (funny) with "burla" (joke), already used to name Viareggio's harbour's channel Burlamacca. Every year Burlamacco and his girlfriend Ondina, announce the beginning of Carneval.
Fondazione Carnevale di Viareggio
Viareggio, Piazza Mazzini 22
floats parades 2016 february 7/14/21/28 and march 5
Tel. +39 0584-58071, Ticket office 0584-581812