With the 2018 carnival season about to kick off, Rough Guides author and photographer, Kiki Deere, revisits one of Europe’s most colourful festivals: Venice Carnival.

Venice‘s tradition of Carnival was only revived in 1979 after falling out of fashion for a number of years, but Venetian masks have a long and intriguing history – thanks to a rigid caste system and a desire to indulge in vices that encouraged anonymity.

Usually taking place on the last weekend of January, Carnival kicks off with an inaugural regatta featuring a spectacular fleet of boats and rowers dressed in colourful costumes. In the run-up to Lent a plethora of events take place throughout the city, with festivities culminating on the day of Shrove Tuesday.

People amble along the streets donning wonderfully elaborate costumes and distinctive masks, often pausing along the Grand Canal to be photographed. The city’s exclusive Caffè Florian on St Mark’s Square is a traditional gathering place for those in costume, who ostentatiously pose for passers-by in the café window.

An explosion of colours during the Venice regatta

A beautifully ornate costume representing the sun

Strutting and posing along the Riva degli Schiavoni

A feminine outfit speckled with faux diamonds and gems

Lost in thought in period costume

Views of San Giorgio Maggiore at sunset

Sparkling earrings and gold-laced headdress adorned with flowers

A blue and peach coloured dress representing a majestic sunflower

An elaborate mask embellished with silver and golden patterns

A refined blue and green ensemble characterized by showy feathers

Taking a stroll in St Mark’s Square

Twinkling attire with a silver moon-shaped mask to match

Intricately decorated costume with peacock feathers

All photographs copyright of Kiki Deere.

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