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Dancing in Disguise: Why Everyone Loves a Masked Ball

Venetian Carnival

Every January, Venice goes into disguise. During Carnevale, revellers in elaborate costumes fill the streets, heading to elegant masked balls in grand palaces and hotels.


Now you see it, now you don’t…

Going undercover is not just reserved for revellers. Over the centuries, the Carnevale di Venezia itself has performed several disappearing acts. There are early accounts of the festivities from 1162, but official recognition didn’t come until the 16th century. Carnevale was even outlawed completely in 1797, when the use of masks was strictly forbidden. Finally in 1979, Carnevale was restored.

Since then, Carnevale has become so popular that nearly three million visitors flock to Venice each year to take part. But why travel to Venice when you can recreate your very own Casanova Grand Ball for your own guests? Here’s how to stage your own masked ball that fizzes like prosecco all night long!


Masked balls for all

Masked balls don’t have to be lavish and expensive. There’s a masked ball for every budget. Send each guest a simple, plain eye mask with your invitation, plus a few sequins and feathers to stick on it, and they’ll be hooked!

Greet guests with an elegant string quartet and a glass of elegant fizz.

Covent Garden String Quartet

Lay on an Italian style buffet, and a great swing band or jazz orchestra band to keep everyone up and dancing all night long. (Even if they don’t know who they are dancing with…)

Diamond Skyline Orchestra

A charity ball or special celebration is a great reason to go grande! With a little imagination and some clever staging, you can transform your venue into the elegant ballroom of the Palazzo Pisani Moretta. Set the scene with Italian opera singers dressed as gondoliers (gondolas optional!)

Hatstand Opera

Or for an evening your guests will never forget, hire an expert to teach your guests the minuets, waltzes and contraddanze of 18th century Italy. Bellissimo!


Get into character

For the authentic Venetian look, it’s all about the traditional masks. Not every guest will know their Carnevale characters. Include a simple costume guide, and let your guests uncover the real characters of Carnevale.

  • Gents can opt for the imposing look of the Medico della Peste (Plague Doctor).
  • Ladies might prefer the ornate half-mask of beautiful Colombina

For the ultimate disguise, only the bauta will do. This stark white mask, with its prominent nose and chin covers the entire face. Rest assured, its clever design will still allow for eating and sipping a glass of vino or two!


But who’s going to come?

Just about anyone! Thanks to popular culture, the mask is back! Even the current gaming generation want a piece of the action – masked balls have featured in a variety of video games including Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves. And, of course, dare we mention the “Shades of Grey” attraction of anonymity…

So, whether you’re drumming up donations at a crucial charity ball or delighting friends and family at a special birthday bash, there’s no denying the draw of the disguise.