5 Carnival events not to be missed in Emilia-Romagna

by /// January 24, 2024
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes



The Carnival celebration in Emilia-Romagna, with its masked parties, dances, colorful floats parades, and tasty fried desserts, renews itself every year with the festive cry of “Anything goes!” in many of the splendid regional locations.

Below we have selected 5 traditional Carnival events that will allow you and your families to enjoy splendid moments of hilarity and joy in an authentic goliardic spirit!

Carnival on the water of Comacchio (FE)

If you have never seen it, you do not know what you have missed: a unique carnival with, instead of floats, allegorical boats parading from the monumental Trepponti bridge along the canals of the picturesque town of Comacchio, in the Po Delta.

The Comacchio Carnival on the water, free of charge, will be held again this year on the first two Sundays of February, 4 and 11 February 2024.

As every year, the program is very rich, with shows and dances in the streets of the old town center, but the highlight of the event is undoubtedly the parade of masked groups and the performance of dance companies to the rhythm of enchanting music on the scenic Trepponti Bridge.


Carnival on the water of Comacchio 2019 via Facebook
Carnival on the water of Comacchio 2019 via Facebook

Renaissance Carnival of Ferrara

The Renaissance city of Ferrara cannot but dedicate its Carnival to the splendors of the Este Family, with a Renaissance Carnival in which the city relives its past with courtiers, ladies, princes, and storytellers in the streets of the historic center, in the squares and within the walls of the majestic Castle.

The city’s Contradas also open their doors to welcome visitors with banquets and shows inspired by the festivities that took place in the city during the carnivals of the 15th and 16th centuries.

This year the Historical Renaissance Carnival of Ferrara will be held on the second weekend of February, 10 and 11 February 2024, with free admission.


Ferrara, Carnevale degli Este Ph. Matteo Martoni CC-BY-SA-4.0
Ferrara, Este Carnival Ph. Matteo Martoni

Cento Carnival of Europe (FE)

From 28 January to 25 February 2024, starting at 2 pm, the Carnival of Cento will return for five Sundays; it’s one of the oldest in the region – just think that it’s even mentioned in some frescoes painted by the famous local painter Guercino, dating from 1615.

The carnival, which has gained international fame since the 1990s thanks to its twinning with the famous carnival in Rio de Janeiro, is famous for its huge allegorical papier-mâché floats, which are built throughout the year by the five local carnival associations (Toponi, Fantasti100, I Ragazzi del Guercino, Risveglio and Mazalora).

During the carnival, the associations parade through the streets of the town, involving the public in a colorful and festive atmosphere, while on the two stages – the first in Piazza Guercino and the second in Piazzale della Rocca – musical entertainment and many guests promise days full of shows and surprises.

On Sunday 25th February, at the end of the Carnival, two of the most exciting moments of the whole event will take place: the announcement of the winning float of the 2024 edition and the Testament and Burning of the Tasi, the burning of the typical mask of Cento, with fireworks in Piazzale della Rocca.


Cento Carnevale d'Europa 2022
Cento Carnevale d’Europa 2022

Historic Carnival of San Giovanni in Persiceto (BO)

One of the oldest and most famous carnivals in the Bologna area, the Historical Carnival of San Giovanni in Persiceto takes place on Sundays 4, 11 and 18 February 2024 under the witty and profane aegis of its typical mask, the crude but witty peasant Bertoldo, a character born from the pen of Giulio Cesare Croce in 1600.

The true uniqueness of this more than 100-year-old carnival is the spillo, or transformation: during the parade, the allegorical floats parade through the town center and, once in the central square, the colorful structures suddenly and spectacularly transform, revealing a hidden allegorical meaning.

No one knows what is going to happen except the people who build them, because the floats are made entirely by the 10 local carnival societies, who work tirelessly and in absolute secrecy on the theme and features of their creations in the months leading up to the event.

On the third and last Sunday of the carnival, the floats are awarded by a jury with a banner depicting Bertoldo and Bertoldino with the donkey.


Carnevale storico San Giovanni in Persiceto Ph. Associazione Carnevale Persiceto
Carnevale storico San Giovanni in Persiceto Ph. Associazione Carnevale Persiceto

Castlein Carnival of Castelnovo di Sotto (RE)

Every Sunday afternoon in February, from 4 to 25 February 2024, the historic Carnival of Castelnovo di Sotto is back.

This is the oldest and most traditional carnival in the province of Reggio Emilia, characterized by parades of giant floats accompanied by masked groups, musical performances, sporting events, and gastronomic moments.

The king of the Castelnovo di Sotto carnival is the Castlein, the traditional local mask with a cap pulled down over the ears, thick peasant shoes, and ‘armpit’ trousers, which gives the event its name.


But that’s not all!
No less than 15 carnivals in Emilia-Romagna are listed in the Regional Register of Historical Carnivals!

Discover all 15 Historical Carnivals in Emilia-Romagna


Elisa Mazzini

Social Media Manager for @inEmiliaRomagna and full-time mom.

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