The Festa del Redentore is a celebration of the end of a plague in 1577. The Redentore Church on Giudecca was built to give thanks and this festa is centred on the Church. A bridge of boats is built between Venice and Giudecca every year to allow worshippers to walk to the Redentore Church and take part in the religious ceremonies. On the Saturday night the whole of Venice takes to the water in thousands of small boats or take their places at tables along the banks of the canals to eat Venetian food and celebrate with friends and family. The climax of the night is a huge firework display on the water.
The Regata Storica takes place every year in September. You can watch from the banks of the Grand Canal. The races generally start from the Bacino in front of Saint Mark's Square and go right up the Grand Canal to the station before turning round a buoy and then back down the canal to finish in front of a floating stage (marked on the map). Before the racing there is a magnificent water pageant with decorated Venetian boats.
This is a non competitive walking/running event around the city in early April. It costs a few Euro to take part which covers some refreshments around the course and a small souvenir at the finish line. The remaining income is given to charity.
The Art Biennale takes place every odd year between May and the end of November. There are two main areas - the Giardini and the Arsenale. You can buy one ticket to visit these two areas - one entry into each area which can be used on different days. There is a lot to see so give yourself time. Within each area there are cafes with prices which are not too high. There are lots of ways to get a small discount on your ticket - often including showing an IKEA card.
Beyond the Giardini and Arsenale areas which are only accessible with a ticket, there are many, many other paviliions located around the city which are free to enter. Grab a map and explore!
Note that not all the collateral pavilions are open for the duration of the biennale.
The Festa della Sensa is one of Venice's most famous festivals and symbolises the city's marriage with the sea. You can watch the ceremony, races of venetian rowing boats and there is a bric-a-brac market on the Lido.
This is an annual event on 21st November. It is one of the festivals most celebrated by local Venetians.
The festival involves a bridge of boats which is built over the Grand Canal between the San Marco and Dorsoduro districts. On the morning of the 21st November the Patriarch of Venice leads a procession over the bridge to the Salute church. Citizens and visitors then visit the church taking candles to light and there are market stalls behind the church selling frittelle (doughnuts), sweets and other food. It can be a crush depending on the time of day.
The holiday is, like the Redentore, in memory of another bout of the plague. This time it lasted for two years from 1630-31.
Doge Nicol� Contarini made a public vow to erect a church called the Salute, asking for the Virgin Mary's divine intervention to rid the city of the plague.
Eleven architects took part in the competition to build the church and the winner was Baldassarre Longhena. His design perfectly captured the grandiosity and magnificence that the Serenissima wanted: a church that exalted the Holy Virgin and the Republic at the same time.
Castradina, a mutton stew, is typically eaten on this day.
This is a festival of the islands in the lagoon. There are events taking place on many of the islands. Take part in boat excursions (in traditional Venetian boats, dragonboats, kayaks, fishing boats), guided tours, sporting activities, historical and archaeological visits, meetings, exhibitions, performances and live music. See the website for the full programme. Many activities need booking online in advance and there is usually a small fee.
In 2015 this festival took place on 4 weekends during the year for the first time.
This sailing regatta usually takes place the weekend after the Vogalonga in May. On the Saturday it is usually possible to have a go in a sailing boat from the club in San Giuliano park on the mainland. There is a meal for the competitors on Saturday night and the regattas take place on Sunday.
This event takes place every year in September on the European Researchers' Night. The two main universities in Venice, Ca' Foscari and IUAV, organize events to explore the work that is going on. Some activites need booking online in advance.