Three days before the official start.
While Milan gears up for this year’s carnival, starting Friday 3 March, the Porta Venezia Social District has decided for the second year running to jump the gun and launch local celebrations already on Tuesday 28 February.
The programme of events is centred around food – always the focus of carnival – and kids’ activities, with art and music thrown in for good measure.
The official, diocese-wide carnival, following the Ambrosian rite, will last from Friday until Saturday 4 March, with the traditional Saturday parade through the city streets marking the high point of the festivities.
This year’s carnival theme will be tourism, since the UN declared 2017 the year of sustainable tourism. The parade floats will represent “all the excesses and stereotypes of modern travel”, say the organisers: improbable souvenirs, mile-long tickets and lost luggage.
While in most of Italy carnival finished on 28 February, churches in the Archdiocese of Milan observe the Ambrosian rite, with carnival lasting three or four more days than elsewhere. Although tradition tells us the difference is due to St Ambrose asking his parishioners to wait for his return from a pilgrimage, a more formal reason is the difference in counting the number of days of Lent, according to whether Sundays are considered a day of fasting or not.