Claudia Da Rin

Carnival in the Dolomites

In the Dolomites we celebrate Carnival with energy and passion

Carnival in the Dolomites is a very heartfelt event: parades of elaborate allegorical floats, dances, theatrical performances, wooden masks and old costumes - often in the name of popular tradition - cheer on this Catholic event born in antiquity to celebrate the end of winter. Every year this “crazy time” is celebrated in the most colourful of ways.

In the Dolomites we celebrate Carnival with energy and passion – and everyone is invited.

Carnival with a view: supreme delights in the Dolomites

Did somebody say Carnival? Parades? A merry celebration? You may have travelled far and wide, but you haven’t experienced traditional carnival until you have seen what goes on around this idyllic alpine region of northwest Italy: South Tyrol. 

The Dolomites inspire awe, admiration, soul-searching sentiments – that’s a given – but the fondness the locals show for traditions is still one of the region’s best kept secrets. Carnival celebrations – uniting people commemorating the soon-to-come end of winter and mostly going wild and free before Lent starts – were already going strong in Roman times, with the so-called Saturnalia, but also in Egypt and Babylon.

The Middle Ages set the ball rolling for what is considered today’s heartfelt parade of elaborate floats, children and adults dressed up in costume and sumptuous banquets.

Every part of the world takes its stand in shaping its own version of these merry events, but the Dolomites have an ace up their sleeves: delightful, captivating, mesmerizing views combined with ancient traditions. A recipe for success for the joy of children and adults alike.  Come and discover the magic.


Festa de carnescé, Egetmann, Zusslrennen and all that jazz

Snow has blanketed slopes and villages and skiing in the Dolomites is pure joy. Why not combine skiing with fancy dress? Let you hair down in Corvara with the Festa de carnescé, or Carnival Party, taking place on 25 February. Open to everybody, it’s a merry feast with acrobatic shows, face painting and DJ-sets. Skiing while admiring gorgeous panoramas and being dressed up: that’s the spirit.

Shrove Tuesday will also host another unique event: the wedding of John Egetmann. A carnival parade dating back to 1591, it is held in Tramin every two years, south of Bolzano, where the delicious Gewürztraminer is produced. Perhaps the most famous wedding ceremony in South Tyrol, it attracts visitors from all around the region, when this usually tranquil town is transformed and the people are given free rein to simply get crazy! It’s loud, it’s chaotic and it’s fun! The ceremony aims to chase the winter away and the locals take it to heart to be extreme: if you see someone jumping in a fountain, carrying an octopus on his head or parading whilst being locked in a wooden cage, just laugh with them and take it all in!

Ortisei sees a big carnival parade taking place on Shrove Thursday, with hundreds of children and adults joining in. An award is given to the most beautiful and funniest masks.  Not to be missed.

Another curious event taking place on Shrove Thursday is the Zusslrennen in Prad am Stilfserjoch (Prato allo Stelvio), west of Bolzano. Here, too, the idea is to chase winter away by making noise, performing a loud charivari concert. The Zussl, the young men of the town, are dressed in white from head to toe, wear ribbons and coloured paper flowers all over, plus a heavy, noisy bell around their waists. They are accompanied by six white horses, that is men disguised as horses, who drag an old plough. They are moved along by the Carter, who snaps his long whip (Goaßl), making loud cracks that can be heard far away in the mountains. The Carter is followed by the Sower, who throws sawdust onto people. A merry celebration indeed

Space oddity, here I come

Does launching burning discs in the air seem like a crazy idea? That’s what happens on Scheinbeschlagen, on the last Sunday before Lent in the Venosta Valley. It is a way of paying homage to love and fertility and invite spring to reveal its face.

Pieces of wood are attached to rods and held in a fire until they glow and are then hurled down a mountain to chase the last cold nights of winter.

Clearly a strong image for a proud region that holds customs and traditional values high.  Yes, South Tyrol is not merely sensational Seiseralm, unforgettable Langkofel Group, picture-postcard St. Magdalena in the Villnoss Valley or any other astounding landscape in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. It also conveys a strong feeling of belonging that unites the locals and brings them together. Visiting one of the many events taking place during the Carnival season, you will get a glimpse of how sensational this region is.

Now is the time. Go and explore



Travel Tips

Where to stay in the Dolomites:

Ask for more info about the best accomodation and top Experiences, summer and winter