The annual Venice Carnival ©AFP PHOTO/ANDREA PATTARO

(Relaxnews) – From February 11 to 21, masked parades, live art performances and concerts will fill the streets of Venice as the historic Italian city hosts its annual tribute to theater, the Venice Carnival.

Historically the Venice Carnival began as a time of celebration of expression across the social classes who wore masks in order to disguise their identities. This tradition of mask-wearing remains key to the event and is now a central feature of the carnival which hosts masked parades and the daily Best Masked Costume Contest which runs for the duration of the festival.

Other highlights of the carnival include numerous parades and historical re-enactments evoking the city’s past, such as the Fest delle Marie ­— a parade of homage the Venetian Doge would pay to 12 beautiful local girls each year and numerous plays and live music events.

The full program for the Venice Carnival can be downloaded at:http://www.carnevale.venezia.it/assets/files/programma_en.pdf

For more information on the event see: http://www.carnevale.venezia.it