Festa della Sensa
The Festa della Sensa is a very traditional festival, so it’s a great time to visit the city if you want a real taste of old Venice. It is a celebration of the city’s relationship with the sea, and involves a spectacular parade of boats, a symbolic marriage ceremony, a market, and much more.
The celebration takes place on Ascension Day, which begins with a boat procession at 9am from Saint Mark’s Square to the Port of S. Nicolò. The Mayor of Venice, civic dignitaries and religious and military representatives take part in this magnificent parade of traditional boats, accompanied by vessels from Venetian rowing clubs. The vessels form a wing shape and with rowers in costumes re-enacting Venetian history, you can get a real sense of the ancient tradition of the parade.
Once the procession arrives at the Port of S. Nicolò, the ceremonial marriage takes place. The mayor throws a gold ring into the water, which symbolises the city’s relationship with the sea. A laurel wreath is also thrown in, in memory of those lost at sea. A religious ceremony then takes place at the Church of San Nicolò del Lido.
The big highlight will be the rowing races in the Regatta in Saint Mark’s Basin and you will find the locals coming out in force to watch and cheer. To get a good view head out early and position yourself somewhere along the Riviera San Nicolò – if you hang around this area, you’ll be close to the church too, so once the race is over you can explore the market on the church grounds.
As well as soaking up the atmosphere and celebrating Venice and all it has to offer, you will also have a great opportunity to explore Lido, an 11km sandbar with gorgeous beaches and quaint streets – why not hire a bike while you’re there and see as much of Lido as possible? Just make sure you don’t miss the gondola regatta in the afternoon, which marks the end of this historic festival.