The origins of the Roman Carnival date back to the ancient rites of the Saturnalia, celebrations in honor of the god Saturn and during which the social order was subverted, and slaves could temporarily consider themselves free men. The official part of the rite consisted of a solemn sacrifice in the temple of the deity, followed by a public banquet, during which the participants exchanged wishes of well-being and prosperity, and in private banquets, between relatives and friends, the exchange of gifts was customary of every kind. And only during this period was the transgression of some strict provisions regarding decorum and public order allowed. From the mid-15th century, by will of Pope Paul II, the Carnival celebrations took place in Via Lata, now Via del Corso, where the main event was the Berber horse race which attracted nobles, royalty and artists to Rome.

The term Carnival derives from the Latin “carnem levare” or “remove the meat“, as a herald of the period of Lent, a time of Catholic prohibition on eating meat. In fact, Shrove Tuesday, the last day of Carnival, also represents the end of the fat week, in which people feast before Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins, a time of fasting and purification in anticipation of Easter.

Carnival 2024 events and celebrations

Many events in Rome to celebrate Carnival 2024, especially on Sunday 11 February with the traditional Carnival on the Tiber, which will see adults and children masks along the banks of the Tiber on foot and by bicycle and sailing on the river with canoes, SUPs and downhill rafts , or the Carnival at the Bioparco, with many educational activities and special offers for masked children. And at 2.00 pm the appointment is with the Pincio Carnival for the traditional masked ride with the Pincio Skaters. Great celebrations, on Sunday 11 February, also at the Auditorium Parco della Museica with La Tarantella del Carnivale and in the amusement parks of Cinecittà World, Zoomarine and Luneur Park.

Finally, from Sunday until Shrove Tuesday 13 February, many activities in Rome’s museums for Carnival… to rule of art.

Other information about the Roman Carnival on this page

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