Most travelers to Venice are familiar with the Italian city’s popular Carnevale and Biennale festivals. True insiders, however, often opt to visit during the lesser-known Festa del Redentore. Held on the third Sunday of July, the multi-day celebration—which cruisers can experience as part of Celebrity’s Signature Event Sailings next year—is a menagerie of fireworks, colorful boat displays, a gondola regatta and a celebratory mass.
Venetians pull out all the stops for the annual Festa del Redentore festival, or Feast of the Redeemer. The event dates back to 1577 because it memorializes Venice’s recovery from a debilitating two-year plague that killed between 20% to 30% of the population. (Among the casualties? Tiziano Vecellio, a.ka. Titian, the classic Italian artist behind seminal works like “Danae” and “Europa.”) To tout that turning point, city leaders commissioned Venetian architect Andrea Palladio to construct “Il Redentore” (The Redeemer) Church, and the city now hosts a spectacular event that celebrates both the religious and the spectacular.
At dusk on Saturday, the festival’s eve, participants—fueled by good food and wine—make their way by lantern-lit flower- and balloon-filled boats, to Saint Mark’s Basin and the Giudecca Canal. The feasting and merry-making continues until 11:30 p.m. when the nighttime festivities are concluded with a spectacular 30-minute long fireworks show that lights up the sky and water with a breathtaking palette of colors. The following day, hungover Venetians get right back into the spirit of the festival to enjoy a series of gondola races, which are a part of the larger “Voga alla Veneta” rowing season, before making their way to mass on Giudecca Island.
This year, the festivities will begin on Saturday, July 19 and end on Sunday, July 20. In 2015, the fun begins on Saturday, July 18.
Celebrity Equinox℠, Celebrity Silhouette® and Celebrity Constellation® all offer European cruises departing from Venice, Italy.