The Carnivals of Acireale and Misterbianco

When you think of Carnival you probably think of the one in Rio de Janeiro or, a little closer to home, Venice or Viareggio. But Catania too has plenty to offer during this season of fun and frolicking.

The Carnival of Acireale (from 17 February to 5 March 2019) is a great example of how Sicily can prove a fascinating, charming destination even at this time of year.

Acireale’s carnival is generally considered to be the best in Sicily (and one of the top three in Italy). Like the Viareggio carnival, it features a parade of floats decorated with papier-mâché creations that often depict politicians, traditional masks and characters from the world of show business.

The floats you see during Carnival at Acireale are some of the most elaborate in the world, and often include sophisticated mechanics, hydraulics and lighting.

The island’s festivities surrounding Carnival date back a very long way, and it is thought that the Carnival of Acireale is the oldest in Italy.

It is first officially mentioned in a document of 1594. One of this carnival’s most famous masks dates from 1667 and is known as Abbatazzu. The traditions of Carnival in this region are therefore deeply rooted.

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Staying in Catania, there is also the Carnival of Misterbianco (from 23 February to 5 March 2019) boasting culture, theatre, art, food, music and all sorts of celebrations, with an incredibly diverse calendar of events that offers something to suit even the most eclectic of tastes.

One of the events that has become a real fixture in the Misterbianco calendar is the traditional parade of Sicily’s most beautiful costumes which works its way through some of the most famous streets in the old town and sees participants dancing or perching on the stunning decorated floats.

There is no shortage of street performers, games and distractions for little ones, as well as opportunities to take in a bit of culture, including guided museum tours and numerous other fascinating initiatives.

But probably the best thing about this carnival, and all of Sicily’s carnivals, is the incredible atmosphere. The event makes reference to and draws on features of other places and carnivals, both Italian and international, but packages it all up into something unique, original and guaranteed to provide a real thrill.

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