Viareggio comes to life in February and March every year, with its colourful carnival, which features elaborate parades, performers in typical 'burlamacco' masks and flamboyant costumes. Taking place over a month prior to Lent, the festival has been a part of Viareggio for 139 years.
Huge papier mâchè floats glide down the promenade depicting caricatures of popular personages, including politicians, celebrities and sportsmen, and the whole city is alive with music, animation, games and entertainment. There is often a satirical theme to the floats, as townsfolk poke fun at national politicians and events.
The floats, which can take all year to create, are sometimes taller than many of the buildings along the promenade. Inside, several people operate the mechanisms which move the different parts.
Viareggio Carnival history
The original Viareggio Carnival took place in 1873, with local 'signori' choosing to organise a celebration with a difference. At the time, a masked protest against tax rises coincided with the carnival celebration. The local tax collector became the first 'target' of the mocking parades. There have been very few public figures, celebrities and politicians who have avoided the attention of the Viareggio Carnival ever since.