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The Grand Ball

After the extraordinary success of the first edition, for 2024 the Cultural Association ‘Il Carnevale di Firenze’ has dreamed big with a programme full of international surprises.

The event, which will see the participation of the Viareggio Carnival, is aimed at a transversal public, offering several celebratory moments: the dinner in the historic centre at Palazzo Vecchio and the Dance Party with parade through the streets of the historic centre.

It will begin with the exclusive dinner, with tables reserved and dress code in carnival rigour, in the setting of the Salone dei Cinquecento which, for the occasion, will host the magic of the “Queens at the Palace”, an original fashion show conceived by the stylist Antonia Sautter that will bring back to life the great ladies of the history of Florence and Venice.

At the end of the dinner, guests will continue in the imaginative atmosphere of the evening dance that will accompany the night in the Cortile della Dogana of Palazzo Vecchio.

The following day, creativity and shared emotions will be unleashed as the representatives of important Italian Carnivals converge on Florence. 

Along the streets of the centre more than 300 artists and players will proceed performing choreographies and shows. The public will be able to join in and parade in the wake of their favourite group.

At the arrival, expected in Piazza della Signoria, an authoritative jury will decide the winners of the edition based on creativity, originality and spectacularity of the group.

The event is organised in collaboration with the Municipality of Florence, the patronage of the Region of Tuscany, the Chamber of Commerce, Confcommercio, Carnevalia, and in partnership with the Viareggio Carnival and the Venetian stylist Antonia Sautter, creator of Il Ballo del Doge.

The minimum participation fee for the dinner is euro 500.00 per person.

The proceeds of the evening to support: Villa Lorenzi Project – Educational services for prevention and rehabilitation of youth diseases and addictions and YOU Foundation – Education for Children in Need in official relations with UNESCO.



Perhaps not everyone knows this, but Carnival has ancient roots in
Florence. Here the origins, the
traditions, the most popular
face and the more sumptuous one

The Origins

In an ideal model, in Florence, Carnival has the witty face and intense gaze of Lorenzo de’ Medici who, around 1490, wrote the very famous carnival song dedicated to Bacchus and Ariadne, to be performed sung by a choir and accompanied by music: chi vuol essere lieto, sia: di doman non c’è certezza.

In Florence, the tradition of floats called ‘trionfi’ (made of wood and jute) allowed the days leading up to Lent to be celebrated in a lively, curious and crowded manner by commoners and nobles alike, while there was no shortage of masked young men of noble families who chased each other through the crowd, throwing a ball of rags at those they met or in the workshops of the artisans – to force the bosses to let the workers out to have some fun at least for Carnival, provoking astonishment and sometimes amusement in those who ended up involved in the game.

In the city, the game, in the form that is now known as calcio storico, was so widespread in the second half of the 15th century among young people from all walks of life that they played it in every street and square. It was thus that it was regulated and authorised in the major squares and – above all – during the Carnival period, when the rules of common living left room for the infringement of customs and traditions. The most famous and Florentine of the livery football matches was in fact played, according to tradition, between 54 noblemen, on 17 February 1530, who wanted to mock the troops in the pay of Emperor Charles V who had been besieging them for months. They played in Santa Croce, so that they could be seen by the enemy camped on the hills, the musicians played as if for a feast, and, although exhausted, they took the field proudly.

The chariot parades, parties and games were maintained during the period when the Lorraines ruled Tuscany: carriage rides, balls in the theatres (starting with the La Pergola theatre, where operas and comedies were also premiered for the occasion) and sumptuous masked reunions in Piazza Santa Croce were generally permitted in the afternoon and evening, while the theatres remained open longer and became the perfect place in which to hold dancing parties, which were also organised in private residences, in the palaces of nobles and foreign diplomats. And if in the halls the quadrille, minuet and gavotte were danced, in the squares and on the farmyards the music was that of the trescone, the carola and the salterello.

And it was precisely at the end of the 18th century, at the Theatre del Cocomero, that the character of Stenterello was born, thanks to the Florentine actor Luigi del Buono: very thin because of the hardships he had lived through, pale, shaky, commoner and poor, ironic and astute, he represents the man who always manages to save his skin and at the same time criticise and argue with the authorities; the perfect type of the Florentine of his time. On his yellow waistcoat, a double declaration of identity: the number 28 on his chest (and in Florence, it is known, it is the number of those who are betrayed by their wives) and the inscription posa piano on the edge identify him as a calm type, apparently distracted but capable of avoiding all fatigue. Knee-high socks in different colours and a passion for wine have always marked him out, while it is Pellegrino Artusi who tells us that Stenterello likes frittelle di tondone (those described in recipe 181), lemon-scented and sweet with malaga grapes.

In the 19th and up to the 20th century, public balls were organised under the loggias of the Mercato Nuovo and at the Lanzi, and when the nobles and lords arrived, they too could become the object of laughter and jokes. The Great War, also for Florence, marked a moment of reflection and it was only after 1918 that the masquerades in the wealthy residences began again and the desire to dress up, as happened in Venice, returned, while the allegorical floats of the masked parades moved almost completely to Viareggio, where in 1921, the first parade accompanied by music took place on the Viali a mare.

But 19th-century Florence holds the palm as the home of the most spectacular carnivals. In 1886 and 1888, what had been the Ghetto for centuries (emptied of its inhabitants only in 1882) was transformed into Bagdad and then into a ‘Chinese’ city. Streets, houses, shops, even squares were laid out by artists and interior decorators and became a city within a city. When they were dismantled, the furnishings were auctioned off so that families in need could be helped.


Florence is preparing for a weekend of elegance and celebration, beginning on 27 January with the ‘Queens in the Palace’ grand ball event, and continuing on 28 January with the carnival parade through the streets of the centre.

Masquerade ball

The eagerly awaited the Grand Ball of carnival, the incredible event that brings back to life in a modern key the atmosphere of the sumptuous masked balls that were held in Florentine palaces until the early 20th century, will see you next 2025

Save the date



The Carnival of Florence continues on 28/1 with the Carnival Parade through the streets of the historic centre.
Departure from Piazza Santa Maria Novella at 3 pm and arrival in Piazza della Signoria at 6 pm.

Carnival of Florence

On 28 January, Florence will be the stage for an unmissable event that will enchant the city with its magnificence.


The ‘Carnival of Florence’ is a no-profit association with the purpose of studying, researching, and disseminating Italian historical traditions, identifying and offering topics to be disseminated and deepened, enhancing and promoting the territory and its culture through cultural events.





The dress code for attending the evening is black tie or masquerade.
Tickets cost €500 per person.
Possibility of booking Dress, Carriage, Hotel.

All details for payment:
Account no. 23648 made out to Carnival of Florence
Iban: IT69L0103002803000002364803
Branch: 1803 – Florence ag.3
Viale dei Mille 111/a – Florence

The proceeds of the evening to support: Villa Lorenzi Project – Educational services for prevention and rehabilitation of youth diseases and addictions and YOU Foundation – Education for Children in Need in official relations with UNESCO.

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