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For the 2024 edition, Venice celebrates one of its greatest travelers and illustrious men: Marco Polo.

On the occasion of the 700th anniversary of his death, which occurred on January 8, 1324, the Venice Carnival transforms into an extraordinary journey through the worlds that Marco Polo discovered during his adventure to the East.

The 2024 Venice Carnival Theme


The theme of the 2024 Venice Carnival pays tribute to Marco Polo through events, shows, and installations that recount his amazing journeys.

His portrait by Giulio Carlini stands out in the Hall of Illustrious Men among the ten Venetian historical figures to whom the Caffè Florian pays tribute.


A tribute that combines history with one of the oldest and most fascinating festivals in Venice.

The theme of travel, therefore, is intended as discovery and encounter, which turns into an introspective journey.

When we travel and discover something different, we move up a step in awareness. Every journey carries with it a baggage of unknowns that transforms and improves us, taking us out of our comfort zone.

This glimpse of the East has the taste of an exotic, fascinating, sensual, and joyful historical evocation of a moment of wonder and enchantment: the same emotions that Marco Polo himself experienced in front of colors, tastes, scents, and landscapes waiting to be discovered.

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Marco Polo's portrait in Sala degli Uomini Illustri

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“Never before did any man, Christian or Saracen or Tartar or pagan, set forth on a journey with so much zeal and desire to explore the world as I have done.

I am Marco Polo, a Venetian, and these are the colors, sounds, lights, and fragrances of my journey, destined to continue.

I am Marco Polo, the traveler, and I have not even told half of what I have seen”.


'Book of Wonders' by Marco Polo and Rustichello da Pisa

“Ye shall find here the narration of the immense and disparate wonders of vast lands of the East (…)

This is an orderly and clear account that I have transcribed: and it was dictated by
the gentleman Marco Polo called Milione, wise and noble citizen of Venice who
saw everything with his own eyes.”


(Rustichello da Pisa)


Marco Polo leaves Venice for the Orient

The Marco Polo Celebration


Marco Polo set off for China with his father Niccolò and his uncle Matteo in 1266, when he was only 16 years old. Despite his young age he saw the journey through unknown Asia as a time of observation and growth and not only with the mercantile spirit that animated his father and uncle.

The Orient was full of new business opportunities.

The outward journey to the Far East lasted more than three years, but turned into a seventeen-year stay in China where he was honoured and invested with governmental positions by the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan.

Nicholas, Matthew and Marco Polo first landed in the Holy Land, reached Baghdad, crossed Persia to Hormuz, and finally arrived in China via Central Asia following what would be called the Silk Road.

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The book ‘Il Milione‘ collects his travel memoirs to which Rustichello da Pisa gave written form.

It is considered one of the most important travel accounts of the Middle Ages. Known as ‘The Wonders of the World‘, it describes with great realism the countries traversed, the fauna and flora, the peoples encountered, their customs and their religion.

A great observer of human cultures, Marco Polo represented the first bridge between East and West, giving rise to an unprecedented representation of the world and a new globalised vision of the planet and its inhabitants.

Marco’s human story ended exactly 700 years ago, with a burial in the Benedictine church of San Lorenzo of which no trace remains.

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“Marco Polo is a hero of his time who had the extraordinary good fortune to see incredible peoples and civilisations, as few did at the time. He set out overland to unknown lands and returned to Venice by sea, gathering an enormous amount of information, facing dangers and misadventures. “Ad Oriente” recalls precisely this exploration of all that was beyond east of Venice and those lands that were unknown at the time’.


(Massimo Checchetto, Artistic Director of the Venice Carnival)

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The Carnival Program and Dates


Venice is the undisputed queen of Carnival.

From January 27 to February 13 it celebrates the 700th anniversary of the death of Marco Polo, the Venetian pioneer of travel and discovery of the wonders of the world.

The theme of discovery and encounter with worlds previously only imagined will be the common thread that will animate this Carnival.

The 2024 edition “To the East. The Miraculous Voyage of Marco Polo” is packed with programs, performances and celebrations honoring the memories of Marco Polo.

Relevant Carnival dates to orient yourself among to have an all-encompassing experience are Maundy Thursday, which falls on Feb. 8, and Mardi Gras, which falls on Feb. 13, but none of the other dates will disappoint thanks to the organization of a Carnival that unfolds between land and water in a dreamlike dimension between magnificence and history.




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Events and shows


Unmissable is the traditional Festa delle Marie, which commemorates the abduction of 12 maidens by Dalmatian pirates who were rescued thanks to the intervention of Doge Pietro Candiano III in 973. On February 3 they will parade in the water court along the Grand Canal, in anticipation of the proclamation of the Mary of the Year 2024, which will take place on February 12 at the Sale Apollinee of the Teatro La Fenice.


The thematic strands of the 2024 edition of the Venice Carnival are:

The Carnival Street Show: 80 companies, 200 performers and 1,000 replicas of daily performances spread through calli and streets, in the lagoon and on the mainland, that will constantly enliven the cities atmosphere from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Carnival of Taste 2024: a synergy of local excellences to discover a food and wine route between old and new tastes, as per centuries-old Venetian tradition.

The Metropolitan Carnival: islands, villages, towns and cities will be in celebration among floats and traveling shows.

Terra Incognita, the wondrous voyage of Marco,” the show taking place on the water stage of the Arsenale’s Darsena Grande basin, inspired by Marco Polo’s work “Il Milione.”

The city’s cultural spaces, places of Art, and Theaters offer a calendar that makes them the protagonists of Carnival: Teatro Goldoni brings to the stage a Harlequin that honors the Commedia dell’Arte while at Teatro La Fenice opera transports us to the notes of Rossini with Il Barbiere di Siviglia.

The Official Dinner Show “At the court of the Great Khan”, Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th and from 8th to 13th February at Palazzo Vendramin Calergi, is the Masked Ball par excellence, curated by the stylist Antonia Sautter.

Entertainment, food, dreams and mystery come together in these special nights in a Venetian palace overlooking the Grand Canal.

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Floats parade and Water Shows


Carnival is truly a widespread entertainment that has no boundaries.

The islands and the mainland will be enlivened by parades of floats and traveling shows.

The Carnival Street Show will bring Commedia dell’Arte and music to the streets of the cities: engaging performances that ensure fun for every age group.

The official start of Carnival 2024 is in Erbaria, Rialto, where the water court is awaited in collaboration with the Voga alla Veneta Rowing Associations led by the legendary paper mache “Pantegana” Rowing boats and masked rowers will travel along the Grand Canal starting from Punta della Dogana to Rialto for a great celebration.

The date is Sunday, January 28 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.

Reading “The Million” one feels in it the man happy to have lived such an extraordinary life: a sense of powerful fruitfulness, immeasurable wealth, gigantic activity rises from these pages; and Marco Polo, the indefatigable and undaunted protagonist, seems a character worthy of being placed next to Dante’s Ulysses.


(Attilio Momigliano)

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Rai 1 Mattina at Caffè Florian in Venice


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