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The Best Carnivals in Southern Italy and Sicily: 2024 Edition

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Larino: Historic Carnival in Molise

Recognized as one of the 27 Historic Carnivals of Italy by the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities, the Carnival of Larino is back in a big way for its 49th edition. On the 10th, 11th, 17th, and 18th of February Larino will celebrate with a beautiful parade of allegorical floats made by professionals who have been recreating famous people in paper-mache for years. These replicas reach astounding heights as tall as 6 meters and are rightfully called “paper-mache giants”. Accompanying the allegorical floats are dancers dressed in bright colors and many children in masks.

In Larino there are two techniques used to create these characters. The first employs the use of iron structures, on which the artists model the shapes with metal mesh which is then covered with sheets of newspaper, to create the curvatures that give life to the characters. These will in turn be covered with layers of newspaper and glue; immediately afterward is the application of the last layer over which a layer of white paint will be applied followed by paint.

The second method involves clay. Molds are created in clay and are then covered with paper mache and finished as described above.


Mark Your Calendar

  • Float Parade: 5 pm on 10, 11, 17, and 18 February with street food, hobbyist markets, laser games, VR games, inflatables, fire eaters, jugglers, traveling musical groups, street bands and dance performances, and special guests.
  • Saturday, 17 February DJ set starting at 10 pm.

Visit the official Facebook page for more details.

Putignano in the Bari Province of Puglia

The Carnival of Putignano in the province of Bari is the longest Carnival in Italy (it starts on 26 December every year) and the oldest in Europe, dating back to 1394. Its history is fascinating to say the least and perhaps one could say that it is more of a legend than a factual event that was passed on by the peasant culture. It is believed that it all started when the relics of Saint Stephen Protomartyr were being transferred from Monopoli to Putignano, the farmers working in the vineyards left their work and joined the procession dancing and singing.

As the centuries passed, straw puppets and makeshift carts were replaced with increasingly sophisticated creations. Towards the middle of the 20th century, the puppets were transformed into paper-mache masterpieces created by the expert hands of local artisans. Today the Putignano Carnival is a big party that involves the whole city with many events and special guests!


Mark Your Calendar

  • 4, 11, 13, 17 of February: Parade of floats
  • Every Thursday evening from January 18- February 8 special events in the square

Visit the official website for more details.

Acireale: The Most Beautiful Carnival in Sicily

Since 1594 the Acireale Carnival has been a time for fun and indulgence, but it is above all, a time to comment in a satirical and ironic way on the woes of society. In fact, the first Acireale masks were called “l’Abbatazzu” which poked fun at the clergy of the time. There was also the custom of throwing oranges and lemons (plentiful in Sicily) until it was prohibited by the Court in 1612 and then resumed a few years later. Over the centuries came the Baruni masks ( making fun of the aristocracy) and the Manti were added, very elaborate costumes with which citizens could remain completely anonymous.

In 1880 the first paper-mache floats were built, which remains a very important tradition even today. After World War II, Acireale has positioned itself, along with the Carnivals of Viareggio and Larino, as one of the most important Carnivals in Italy. Today you can expect a parade of floats entirely handmade by great paper-mache artisans and even floats entirely made of flowers.


Mark Your Calendar

  • February 2: DJ set at 9pm in Piazza Duomo, no ticket required
  • 3 February: at 3pm Great Parade of Allegorical Grotesque Floats and at 9.30pm PAOLO MENEGUZZI musical show (Piazza Duomo), ticket required
  • 4 February: at 3pm Grand Parade of Allegorical Grotteschi Floats and at 9.30pm Musical show ‘IL KING OF THE IGNORANTI’ MAURIZIO SCHWEIZER ADRIANO CELENTANO TRIBUTE SHOW (Piazza Duomo), ticket required
  • 5, 6, 7 February: Musical shows in Piazza Duomo, no ticket required
  • 8 February: starting from 10am, vintage car rally, cosplay stand, games and musical show, no ticket required
  • 9 February: DJ set from 11am, children’s costume competition, dance show at 8pm, no ticket required
  • 10 February: at 3pm Grand Parade of Allegorical Grotesque Floats; From 3.00pm to 8.00pm Commemorative postal cancellation (Palazzo di Città) and at 9.30pm Mania 90 Festival FROM Radio 105, ticket required
  • 11 February: at 3pm Grand Parade of Allegorical Grotteschi Floats and Aci Comics Float, at 6pm Comments by Salvo La Rosa along the circuit and at 9.30pm ORIETTA BERTI Musical Show
  • 12 February: at 9.30 pm live show on live television THE GREATEST SICILIAN COMEDIANS CRISTIANO DI STEFANO AND CARMELO CACCAMO (Piazza Duomo), no ticket required
  • 13 February: from 3pm Grand Parade of Allegorical Grotesque Floats and at 9.30pm Live Show on live television THE GREATEST SICILIAN COMEDIANS and awards ceremony at 10.30pm, ticket required

Visit the official website for complete details.