February 12 is the 2013 date for carnival, carnevale in Italian. Since carnival comes early this year, festivities start in late January or early February. Venice Carnevale is one of the world's top carnival celebrations and events include masked balls, parades on the canals, and special events in Piazza San Marco and other squares throughout the city. People in elaborate carnevale costumes fill the streets and there's a party atmosphere.
Viareggio, on the Tuscany coast, is another of Italy's top places to celebrate carnevale, drawing over a million visitors to its carnival parades that feature huge paper mache' floats - see Viareggio Carnival Parade Photos. 2013 parades will be held February 3 - March 3.
Some of Italy's carnevale events are unusual such as the orange-throwing battle in Ivrea or Sardinia's mountain rituals or ancient Sartiglia, a medieval tournament performed on horseback by costumed riders. See more Italian Carnevale Festivals.
Viareggio Carnival Parade photo © 2012 by Serena Giovannoni, Wishversilia