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When is the best time to visit Venice?
- Best Time for Sightseeing: Mid-spring, and particularly the first half of May, is the very best time to enjoy sightseeing in Venice. The cold of winter has lifted and the sun makes a daily appearance, while temperatures are comfortably warm. Tourist services are fully operational, yet you’re unlikely to run into large crowds. Unless your goal is to spend your days lying on the beach, there is really no downside to visiting in May. If going in May is not an option, the second half of September is your next best bet, with the crowds of summer beginning to thin, and temperatures cooling down some. August is arguably the worst time for sightseeing in Venice, with stifling heat and high humidity, lots of bugs and plenty of sweaty tourists to contend with. No matter what time of year you’re in Venice, visiting the most popular attractions like St. Mark’s Square, is best enjoyed during the early morning hours. Not only will you have the best chance for being at the front of the queue for places like the Basilica and the Campanile, but you can take advantage of the early morning light for especially magical photos.
- Best Time for Visiting the Rialto Markets: The Rialto Bridge, located in the oldest and most central quarter of the city, has been a bustling hub for hundreds of years. No matter what the season, the area is always filled with tourists. This is one spot where you won’t notice a significant difference in crowds between summer and winter other than the temperature. As with many other popular destinations, the best time to visit is early in the morning – before 9am, on a Friday or Saturday. The market is closed on Sundays and Mondays, and the markets begin winding down after lunchtime. By going early in the morning, not only will you see the local fish and vegetable market, but you can also enjoy a fairly tranquil scene at the bridge.
- Best Time to Attend Carnivale: Carnivale is one of the biggest celebrations in all of Italy, but there is no place in the country that does it bigger or better than Venice. It takes place here, and many places around the world, 40 days before Easter, with a final party before Ash Wednesday and Lent. The events typically last for two to three weeks before the actual carnival day, which in 2017, will be February 28. While many events, like the opulent masquerade balls, require invitations and have very high ticket prices, many others, like the candlelit parade of boats, concerts and street performances, are free and open to the public. If you arrive into Venice mid-week during the first week, you might wonder, “why all the hype?” Other than a few low-key events and the skating rink in Campo San Polo, there’s not really a lot going on. But that’s because all of the excitement comes on the weekends, and the final weekend in particular. St. Mark’s Square is the focal point, where you’ll see the most elaborate costumes and masks. On weekdays, the area is generally still fun, and also fairly manageable – on the weekend, visitors flood in and the streets can get very crowded. Away from the costumes and all of the masks, the local areas of Venice are still relatively quiet and peaceful.
- Best Time for a Gondola Ride: Gondola rides are available throughout the year, and while anytime is a good time for this unforgettable experience, it may be most romantic in winter, early Spring, or late Autumn, with less boat traffic on the canals, the water especially tranquil and blankets available to cuddle up in and ward off the chill. It makes for a more intimate ride than a summer adventure when the waterways are packed and temperatures are sizzling. No matter what the season, the time of day you go matters too. Just about everyone plans to go at sunset or just after dusk, which means the canals will be jam-packed with gondolas. If your priority is to capture that idyllic photograph, choosing to go in the late morning or early afternoon hours may be best, as crowds will be at a minimum and you’ll have plenty of light, not to mention, it’s less expensive too.
- High Season (June through August): Venice’s very busy high season falls in the summer. During this time of year tourists are crammed into even pricier gondolas and hotels charge their highest rates. This season also means stifling heat and pesky bugs, but if a summer vacation is a must, or if you simply enjoy the excitement of the crowds and want to take advantage of longer days with an abundance of sunshine, going to Venice during high season may be for you. Summer in Venice is more temperate than in Italy’s scorching inland cities, and as most Venetian hotels come with air-conditioning, it can be pleasant, or at a minimum tolerable.
- Shoulder Season (March through May, September through November): Shoulder season in Venice falls in the spring and autumn months, both beautiful times of the year to be in the City of Canals. In the spring, Venice defrosts, with temperatures rising from the lower 50s in March to the lower 70s in May, and in the fall, the city begins to empty of peak summer crowds, making for a magical atmosphere, though you’re likely to need a coat as November’s temperatures range from the upper 30s to lower 50s.
- Low Season (December through February): Winter is low season, which means none of the sweat and stress of the high tourist season, with temperatures averaging in the 30s and 40s. While this time of year certainly has its advantages, with few crowds and discounted accommodation rates, keep in mind that sights may have shorter hours – many close as early as 5pm – and there will be fewer activities available. February, during Carnevale, is the exception, when rates are high, crowds are vast and there are numerous events to take part in. This season can bring some flooding, particularly at St. Mark’s Square and along Zatteree at the southern edge of Venice, though it’s unlikely to significantly affect sightseeing plans. A number of tabacchi (tobacco shops) and a few souvenir shops sell boots that will help keep your feet dry.
Venice Weather by Month
Venice Weather by Month
- Venice Weather in January: Venice is at its coldest, and quietest, in January, with daytime temperatures typically hovering around 3°C and sometimes dipping below freezing, particularly at night. This is when that famous Venetian fog rolls in that gives the canals a ghostly, romantic atmosphere. Most days are partly cloudy, and you should expect to experience rain on an average of nine days in January, with about 58mm falling in total. Often, there is moderate or light rain during at least part of the day. While it’s usually not enough to keep one indoors, as it’s rather chilly, you should plan on dressing in layers, bringing a warm coat, hat, gloves and a scarf. On the plus side, the cruise ships have long departed, and you won’t have to fight crowds to see the sights. (Average Max Temperature: 6°C. Average Precipitation: 58mm.)
- Venice Weather in February: February can still be quite cold in Venice, with temperatures typically hovering around 5° to 6°C and overnight lows just a bit over freezing at 1°C. Warm clothing is a necessity as it was in January, but the days are growing longer now. Rain isn’t significant, but with the heavy fog, it will likely feel rather damp. A month earlier, there was about nine hours of sunlight, by February 1 that increases to 9 hours and 45 minutes, and by February’s end, you’ll enjoy slightly over 11 hours of light with the sun setting just before 6pm. As fog is usually quite heavy now, it can make for an especially romantic canal ride. (Average Max Temperature: 8°C. Average Precipitation: 50mm.)
- Venice Weather in March: Temperatures in March are becoming milder, but it’s still cool, so you’ll need to pack that hat, scarf and coat. Temperatures range from about 8°C to 12°C during the day, dipping down to 4°C at night. This month is wetter, with around 64mm of rainfall on an average of 12 days; precipitation is likely to occur as moderate rain, with occasional light rain and thunderstorms as well. A raincoat with a hood will allow you to get around comfortably. There are about 12 hours of daylight on average, with 12 hours and 46 minutes by March 31 when the sunsets just after 7:30pm. (Average Max Temperature: 12°C. Average Precipitation: 60mm.)
- Venice Weather in April: April ushers in much more pleasant weather, though it doesn’t get too warm. It’s the beginning of sunshine in Venice, with open-air cafes and lots of fabulous places to soak up the joyful atmosphere. The average high temperature has increased to 16°C and overnight lows are a rather comfortable 12°C. This month experiences about the same amount of rainfall as March, with around 64mm coming down over an average of 13 days in April, mostly as moderate rain, along with occasional thunderstorms. On most days, light clothing is appropriate, though as the weather tends to change frequently, bring along a light jacket with a hood and/or an umbrella. The days are significantly longer than they were over the winter months, with more than 14 hours of daylight and sunset at 8:17pm on April 30. (Average Max Temperature: 16°C. Average Precipitation: 60mm.)
- Venice Weather in May: May marks the official start of the tourist season, and temperatures start to rise, with sunshine brightening up the entire city. You’ll start to notice more bugs, along with bigger crowds and sweatier tourists. The average temperature is around 21°C, which means a light shirt or top and pants or shorts are typical daytime attire, though you may need a sweater in the evening with temperatures dropping to 12°C after dark. Pack a bathing suit, as it will probably be warm enough to soak up the sunshine on the beach, or to take part in watersports like jet skiing. There is typically 70mm of rainfall over 11 days in May, often coming down as moderate rain or thunderstorms. There is a significant difference in temperature from May 1 to May 31, with highs averaging around 15°C early in the month, increasing to highs of 23°C by the end of May. (Average Max Temperature: 21°C. Average Precipitation: 70mm.)
- Venice Weather in June: The tourist season is now in full swing – and, so is the heat. Expect hot, sunny and long days; the longest day is June 20, which brings nearly 16 hours of sunlight. Pack your beachwear, including a bathing suit and sunscreen, along with t-shirts, shorts and capris. The average high temperature is 24°C and it doesn’t cool down much at night, with low temps average 16°C. Rain this month occurs on an average of 12 days, often as afternoon thunderstorms.
- Venice Weather in July: July is the hottest month in Venice, and the peak of the tourist season. The average high temperature is 28°C, with lows dipping only to around 18°C overnight. Pack your bathing suit so that you can cool off in the water at beaches like Lido, along with t-shirts, shorts and sandals to wear during the day and nice casual, light clothing for going out in the evening. Due to the high temperatures, and long hours of sunshine (over 15 ½ hours on July 1), be sure to bring and wear high SPF sunscreen as well as a hat. Around 63mm of rain falls on an average of 10 days in July, most of it through summer thunderstorms. (Average Max Temperature: 28°C. Average Precipitation: 63mm.)
- Venice Weather in August: August in Venice is still very warm and very busy, though the average high drops a degree to 27°C this month. At night you can expect the same, with warm, relatively pleasant evenings, and the temperature dropping to 18°C. Rain increases slightly to 70mm over nine days, mostly as thunderstorms, and there is about 14 hours of daylight, with August 31 the shortest day and the sun going down just before 8pm. August is a good time to get out on the water and go sailing or rowing, to cool off from the intense heat, but if you aren’t able to, be sure to duck under an umbrella or head inside during the hottest part of the day. (Average Max Temperature: 27°C. Average Precipitation: 70mm.)
- Venice Weather in September: Temperatures are slowly beginning to drop now, reaching an average high of 24°C and a low of 15°C, while tourist crowds start to thin. During the day a short-sleeve shirt and pants or even shorts are usually adequate, though you may need a sweater if a cool breeze blows through. Rain generally isn’t significant, falling on an average of nine days in September, mostly occurring in the form of thunderstorms followed by light rain. The days are getting shorter, with a little less than 12 hours of sunlight by the month’s end. (Average Max Temperature: 24°C. Average Precipitation: 70mm.)
- Venice Weather in October: It’s noticeably cooler in October, and much less busy with the tourist season having come to an end. Days are pleasant, typically around 14°C to 16°C, and after the sun goes down, you’ll likely need a sweater or jacket as the temperature drops to an average of 10°C. Expect about the same amount of rain as last month, with 70mm falling over 10 days, mostly moderate with the occasional thunderstorm. Daylight is decreasing, to just over 10 hours of sunlight on October 31 and sunset at about 5pm. (Average Max Temperature: 18°C. Average Precipitation: 70mm.)
- Venice Weather in November: Weather is changing dramatically now, with high temperatures dropping to an average of 11°C and lows to 4°C. As this is one of the rainier months in Venice, rain increases particularly during the second half of the month, making the need for an umbrella and warm jacket more likely. There is a rather large difference in temperature from the beginning to the end of the month, starting out with highs around 10°C, dropping three degrees to 7°C by month’s end. Overnight, temperatures hover just a few degrees above freezing. (Average Max Temperature: 11°C. Average Precipitation: 70mm.)
- Venice Weather in December: One of the coldest months of the year in Venice, in December the average temperature typically only reaches as high as 7°C, and after dark, it often falls to right about freezing. You’ll need to bring your cold weather gear, including a warm jacket, heavy sweaters, a hat, gloves and scarves. An umbrella and waterproof shoes or boots are likely to be appreciated too. A heavy fog and mist rolls in now, creating a haunting cityscape along with a chill in the air. The days are shorter now, with the shortest day falling in mid-December bringing less than nine hours of daylight and the sun setting at 4:30pm. (Average Max Temperature: 7°C. Average Precipitation: 50mm.)
Venice Events and Festivals by Month
Venice Events in January
- New Year’s Day – New Year’s Day is a national holiday in Italy, and in Venice, most attractions, including museums as well as shops, restaurants and other services are closed. Many Venetians celebrate the start of the new year by taking a morning dip in the chilly waters from the beach on the Lido.
- Ephiphany/La Befana – This national holiday held annually on January 6, marks the 12th day of Christmas and is one on which Italian children wake up to toys and candy in their shoes, celebrating the arrival of La Befana, a good witch. In Venice, it’s also celebrated with a regatta known as La Regatta delle Befane, which features men dressed up like the witch who race boats in the Grand Canal.
- Festival of Saint Anthony (The Feast Day of Saint Anthony Abbott) – This Italian holiday held on January 16 and 17 in Venice, celebrates the patron saint of butchers, domestic animals, gravediggers and basket makers. In Venice, it traditionally marks the start of the Carnevale season. The tradition of the festival begins with a bonfire outside of two churches near the square, and is followed by a mass on the morning of the 17th. At the conclusion of mass, visitors can observe the release of balloons in the piazza which represent blessings for all children and animals.
- Post-holiday Sales – A state-mandated sale period begins in January and lasts for six to eight weeks. While the date varies each year, the sales usually begin early in the month, after La Befana, and are known for offering some very good bargains, often with discounts of 25 to 35 percent or even more. Look for signs in shop windows reading SALDI, which means “sales.”
Venice Events in February
- Carnevale di Venezia – Carnivale is celebrated across Italy, but Venice is known for throwing one of the biggest parties of all. Here, the entire city center is transformed into a living theater set for two entire weeks or more, following a tradition that originated back in 1162. It involves tens of thousands of costumed participants who attend masquerade balls and take part in activities like street performances, juggling, and a nonstop program of historical plays in the central Piazza San Marco. The “grand finale” includes a candlelit, silent water parade where hundreds of gondolas float along the Canal Grande. Travelers from across the globe crowd into the city to enjoy the parades on land and in the canals, food fairs, children’s carnivals and many other activities. It takes place 40 days before Easter, with a final party before Ash Wednesday and Lent. The events typically last for two to three weeks before the actual carnival day, which in 2017, will be February 28.
- Valentine’s Day – Surprisingly, it’s only been in recent years that Italy has started to celebrate the feast day of Saint Valentine, or Festa di San Valentino, with love letters, hearts, and candlelight dinners. You can celebrate by taking a gondola ride and kissing under the famous Bridge of Sights, enjoying two-for-one admission at some of Venice’s museums or toasting to your love with a drink at an outside table in Saint Mark’s Square after dark.
Venice Events in March
- Festa della Donna – Women’s Day is celebrated annually on March 8 throughout Italy, honoring mothers, and all women. On this day, men bring flowers, usually yellow mimosas, to the women in their lives, and restaurants offer special meals honoring women. If you plan to dine out on this day, reservations are recommended. Watch for concerts and local events that will be held around Venice and other cities through Italy.
- Festa di San Giuseppe – This is Father’s Day in Italy. The Feast Day of Saint Joseph includes the tradition of children giving gifts to their fathers, and zeppole (a fried dough similar to a doughnut) is consumed.
- Holy Week and Easter – Holy Week, or Easter Week, may be in March or April. It always begins on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, and in 2016, it will be on March 20. This is a very busy time in Venice, with tourists crowding the city rather than locals. Because it’s a long weekend, many Italians take the opportunity to get out of town, heading to the countryside, the sea, or the mountains. Visitors can enjoy pageants, classical music concerts and Easter services during this time. Most major sights and museums will be open on Easter Sunday and Monday, though many shops and restaurants will be closed.
Venice Events in April
- Settimana della Cultura – The Week of Culture is typically held in mid-April, though the exact dates aren’t usually released until just before the event. During this time, many national museums and sites offer free admission. Some museums in Venice that participate include the Accademia, the Ca d’Oro and the Archeological Museum, among many others.
- Festa di San Marco and Liberation Day – Held annually on April 25, this busy day on the Venetian calendar is an important religious observation of the city’s beloved patron, Saint Mark. He’s feted on this day with a gondoliers’ regatta that includes commemorations of the saint who died on April 25, 68 AD at Saint Mark’s Basilica, and festivities in Saint Mark’s Square. Tradition also includes men giving their wives or girlfriends the “bocolo,” the bloom of the red rose. The day also marks the anniversary that Italy was liberated at the end of the Second World War.
Venice Events in May
- Labor Day and the Festa della Sparesca – International Workers’ Day, or Labour Day, is a national holiday held on May 1 each year. Many Venetians leave town for the long weekend, while those who stay can witness the gondolier regatta known as Festa della Sparesca held at Cavallino in the lagoon.
- Festa della Sensa – The Festa della Sensa is an ancient celebration commemorating Venice’s relationship to the sea. It takes place on the first Sunday after Ascension Day (40 days after Easter), and in 2016 will be held on May 8. Festivities include a magnificent procession at sea, with colorful parade boats from all the rowing associations in Venice following the Serenissima which carries the mayor and the patriarch.
- Vogalonga – Held the weekend following the Sensa festival, Volalonga is a thrilling rowing race that includes as many as 3,000 participants. The 32-kilometer course runs from San Marco Basin to the island of Burano and returns through the Grand Canal, concluding at the Punta della Dogana. This is a fantastic event to watch, with the suffocating motorized boat traffic ceasing, and the water is left to the oars.
Venice Events in June
- Festa della Repubblica – Republic Day is a national holiday held on June 2 each year. It is similar to Independence Day in other countries, and celebrates the nation becoming a Republic in 1946. Though many businesses, including museums and restaurants, will be closed, there are almost always some eateries open that cater to the countless visitors that flood the city during high season. Keep an eye out for posters announcing special festivities and concerts throughout town.
- La Biennale – This month-long contemporary arts extravaganza beings in June every other year during odd-number years, and runs through November. Sixty days after Easter, Corpus Domini, honoring the Holy Eucharist, is celebrated by Catholics. In Venice, this day typically features a long procession in and around St. Mark’s Square. It’s believed to be the oldest of its kind in the country, dating back to 1317.
- Palio of the Four Ancient Maritime Republics – This boat race rife with medieval pageantry is hosted in Venice every four years. The traditional regatta shifts between Pisa, Genoa, Amalfi and Venice. Prior to the race is a parade, with participants donning medieval dress and marching through the streets. Venice is set to host it next in 2019.
Venice Events in July
- Festa del Redentore – July’s biggest event is the Festa del Redentore, or Festival of the Redeemer, which marks the end of an epidemic in 1576. It is accompanied by fireworks and a rowing competition, while the footbridge from the mainland to Giudecca, which is created from a connected flotilla of boats, becomes one of Venice’s most famous bridges. The unique event is renowned throughout the country, with boat parades and elaborate Venetian-style dinner hosted at numerous restaurants before the big pyrotechnic show begins. Dinner reservations must be made well in advance as seats are limited.
- Arena di Campo San Polo – This open-air cinema begins in late July and runs through the end of August. It features the largest screen in Venice and includes films that are generally reruns of the previous season’s blockbusters, but there are also a number of premieres as well. Most are in Italian, or dubbed into Italian, although six films in the original English language version are typically also featured.
Venice Events in August
- La Biennale di Venezia – The Venice Biennial is considered one of the most important art extravaganzas in the world. Held every other year during odd-number years, it runs throughout the month of August and includes the International Art Exhibition, International Film Festival and International Architecture Exhibition as well as the Festival of Contemporary Music and International Theatre Festival.
- Ferragosto – The traditional beginning of the summer holidays for most Italians, Ferragosto, held on August 15, falls on the religious holiday of Assumption. It marks the time when local Venetians head out of town, to the beach or mountains, to escape the heat and mosquitoes that summer brings. While some businesses will be closed, many stay open, catering to tourists. Fireworks are a very big part of Ferragosto across the country, including in Venice.
- Venice Film Festival – The Venice Film Festival is an annual internationally known film festival on Venice Lido that brings out a bevy of stars who grace Venice’s gondolas and red carpets.
- Outdoor Concerts and Movies – Several squares around Venice host outdoor movies and concerts throughout the month of August, including Campo San Polo. Look for the posters with information about the events.
Venice Events in September
- Regata Storica di Venezia – Venice’s Historic Regatta is one of the most spectacular events in Venice, and the most important event on the rowing calendar, highlighting the city’s reliance on boating and waterways. Taking place on the first Sunday of September annually, it is made up of four different races and involves many different types of boats, including the gondola. Teas of gondoliers, some decked out in costume, race a course along the Grand Canal. The event is accompanied with much fanfare, food and music.
- Festival of the Triumph of the Cross – September 14 is a holy day marked annually with a procession at the church and grand school (Scuola Grande) of San Giovanni Evangelista in the Sestiere di San Polo.
Venice Events in October
- Opera Season at La Fenice – Venice’s famous opera house is an unforgettable place to see an opera, and is highly recommended, even for non-opera fans. La Passion Selon Sade will be featured from October 14 through October 22, 2016.
- Venice Marathon – Every fourth Sunday in October, this internationally recognized race begins on the mainland and finishes in St. Mark’s Square.
- Halloween – Although Halloween isn’t an Italian holiday, it’s become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly among young adults. Many of the shop windows feature Halloween décor, and nightclubs, bars and restaurants on the Lido host Halloween costume parties.
Venice Events in November
- All Saints Day – November 1 is a public holiday. This is a time when Italians remember their deceased loved ones by visiting cemeteries and graves. In Venice, families traditionally crossed a pontoon bridge to the island cemetery of San Michele, placing flowers on the graves of their saintly or secular relatives. Today, they make the trip by vaporetto or water taxi, though the idea is the same, honoring the dead and keeping in touch with the loved ones they expect to see in the hereafter.
- Festa di San Martino – On November 11 each year, kids armed with their mothers’ pots and spoons raise a ruckus around Venice, chanting the saint’s praises and demanding trick-or-treat-style tokens in return for taking the noise elsewhere.
- Festa della Salute – The festival of La Salute is held annually on November 21. The day commemorates the plague that decimated much of the city’s population, when one-third of Venetians died from a plague that occurred in the early 17th century. Celebrants give thanks at the church of the Madonna della Salute in the Dorsoduro sesteire, which was built by survivors. City workers lay a footbridge built on pontoon boats across the Grand Canal which leads from the San Marco quarter to the steps of the church where the main doors are opened, as they are just once a year and have been for nearly four centuries, to receive the masses for mass.
Venice Events in December
- Hanukkah – Venice celebrates Hanukkah in the Ghetto, which is the Jewish area of Venice that was the first segregated Jewish community in Europe. If you visit, you can witness the lighting of the Menorah, sample kosher food finds and enjoy a variety of Hanukkah festivities.
- Feast of the Immaculate Conception – On December 8, Catholic faithful celebrate the day of the Virgin Mary’s conception of Jesus. This is a national holiday which means many businesses may be closed.
- Christmas Markets – From mid-December through mid-January, the festive Christmas market in Campo Santo Stefano is filled with stalls selling beautiful Venetian handicrafts, including nativities, children’s toys, and delectable seasonal treats. Live music is also part of the festivities.
- Christmas Eve/Christmas Day – Venetians celebrate Christmas Eve with a multi-course fish dinner, and many follow the meal with a midnight Mass at Saint Mark’s Basilica with services in Italian, English, French and German. Everyone is invited, and although it technically starts at 11:30pm, you’ll need to get there a few hours before to reserve a seat. On Christmas Day, everything will be closed. Venetians celebrate over a large lunch with family and opening presents. You can follow them later to a free concert held at 4pm at the Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari church.
- Festa di San Silvestro/New Year’s Eve – December 31st in Venice, and throughout Italy, is celebrated with plenty of fanfare. You’ll find parties throughout the city, and in Piazza San Marco, hundreds of visitors fill the square to enjoy fireworks, toasts, music and a midnight kiss.
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