The Carnival of Venice (Italian: Carnevale di Venezia) is an annual festival, held in Venice, Italy. The Carnival ends with Lent, forty days before Easter on Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday or Martedì Grasso), the day before Ash Wednesday.
It is said that the Carnival of Venice was started from a victory of the “Repubblica della Serenissima“, Venice’s previous name, against the Patriarch of Aquileia, Ulrico in the year 1162. In the honor of this victory, the people started to dance and make reunions in San Marco Square. Apparently, this festival started on that period and became official in the Renaissance. The festival declined during the 18th century.
After a long absence, the Carnival returned to operate in 1979. The Italian government decided to bring back the history and culture of Venice, and sought to use the traditional Carnival as the centerpiece of their efforts. Today, approximately 3 million visitors come to Venice every year for Carnivals. One of the most important events is the contest for the best mask, placed at the last weekend of the Carnival. A jury of international costume and fashion designers votes for “La Maschera più bella”.
If in Italy during Carnival time, more info on http://www.carnevale.venezia.it/