Venice Carnival: Rat race on the canal

Thousands of people from all over the world visited Venice at the weekend as the Italian city kicked off its carnival season with the traditional opening water parade on the Cannaregio Canal.

On Sunday, this giant rat led a regatta of decorated boats, many of which had been converted into huge models of birds and animals, on the Grand Canal near the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute.

This year's Venice Carnival, a public party lasting for about two weeks leading up to the Roman Catholic period of Lent, started on Saturday and will culminate on Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, on March 5.

"Blame the moon" is the theme of this year's parade, a spokesman said, to mark 50 years since man first walked on the moon, and in reference to Shakespeare's play Othello, where the moon is blamed for driving men mad.

The Venice Carnival tradition dates back centuries and is famous for the stylised masks donned by revellers strolling through the city.

In recent decades, the event has become a major tourist attraction for the city.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2019, with the headline 'Rat race on the canal'. Print Edition | Subscribe