After enjoying Carnival 2008 in Rio de Janeiro:
Then escaping Brazil for Carnival 2009:
For Carnival 2010, we decided it was time to sample a European Carnival.
So with Ana, Piero, Deb and Robert-Michael we headed to Venice to celebrate Carnival 2010 at a masquerade ball.
Now we were all masquerade ball novices so we didn’t really know what to expect, we attended a ball at Luna Hotel Baglioni:
A bit of research quickly showed us that you could literally spend as much as you wanted on a ball – from around €150 per person for the evening to well into the €1,000’s of Euros!! Our ball was in the lower middle of the price range, but included a live performance of Opera to start the evening, performers during the evening, a buffet meal and most importantly all we could drink and dance!!!
But the big question was, would anyone actually dress up for the ball?
Perhaps coming from the southern hemisphere, we were a bit sceptical about dressing up, sure we wanted to – but we didn’t want to be the only ones there who did! In the end we figured that with the seven of us dressed up it wouldn’t really matter if anyone else did, so we went ahead and found our costumes.
We looked at costume hire in Venice and were literally blown away at the prices – most hire places we contacted were asking around €400 for a costume, so after a bit of research we found out that for the men, the minimum was a mask, black suit, bow tie and a cape, so we boys agreed to go with that option and to hire our capes in London (for about £30 each)! The girls also found their outfits in London, so we packed up our costumes, wigs and masks, jumped on various planes and met up in Venice.
Looking back on it now, and seeing the amazing costumes that were available in Venice, if we went again we would probably try and scrape together enough cash to hire a costume from Venice, the elegance of the outfits, with matching shoes and stockings, the beautiful luxurious wigs and amazing masks that people hired in Venice certainly put our costumes to shame – but heh, you live and learn!
So here we are cruising into town on Friday night in a beautiful water taxi, RM took the mask theme to the extreme, and he wasn’t seen without a mask the whole time we were there!
Now, Venice is always beautiful, here are some snaps we took on this trip, that hopefully give an impression of the beauty of the city:
But Venice takes on a whole new angle when the streets are full of carnival goers, it really is totally surreal:
So we wandered around the city all day Saturday, marvelling at the beauty of the masks and costumes on display
You literally never knew what was going to be around the next corner, including this rather scary group who we were walking silently through the city:
We got ready in our apartment and with an amazing lack of fuss and time, suddenly we were transformed and ready to go to the ball:
We walked across Venice to the hotel, it was about 20 minutes walk and it was pure fantasy, crowds of carnival dressed people filled the city admiring each others outfits as they passed and having an amazing time.
Here we are at the start of the evening, before the opera started:
Straight after this photo was taken, we were approached by a Spanish television crew who were making a show about carnival and the next thing you know, Piero and Ana were doing an interview in Spanish for the show, while we non Spanish speakers sat around like very well dressed extras!
We then sat down and watched the opera, for us it was our first experience of opera, and it was very nice to see it in such a small intimate venue. It was a very pleasant way to start the evening – especially combined with a bellini cocktail or five!
We then moved into the ballroom, which was just amazing, from our research we saw that a lot of the balls in Venice are held in conference centres or new hotels, but the nice thing about our hotel was that it was seriously old, with a beautiful ballroom covered in frescos with chandeliers and portraits, and as you can see below full to bursting with people dressed in the most beautiful costumes:
So we settled in and made the most of the evening, apart from a near brawl with some very hungry elderly Austrians who tried to push into the food queue, the evening was perfect, we quickly made friends with our waiter who spent the whole evening sneaking jugs of bellinis to us and dancing with the girls!
As a group of seven we were the largest group in the ballroom and we were obviously having a ball of a time as people were constantly coming over to join us, talk to us and comment on how stylishly we moved after we performed a group moon walk up to the buffet for desserts….
But seemingly suddenly, the evening was over (it was actually after 1am), the ballroom was empty except for our group, the DJ and the waiters clearing up the tables, so we headed off home, exhausted, happy and wonderfully over dressed!