Mask Ball at the Carnival in Venice

We had been to Venice during the carnival once before and knew we’d love it. However, this was going to be the first time that we’d attend one of the famous mask balls.

We had started our research half a year ahead of time. It turned out that many of the most famous mask balls are invitation-only. The next best (public) mask balls cost €700 or more per person. Even if you were willing to splash out big, it is still not a given that you’ll end up on the guest list, as it’s all very competitive.

We finally ended up choosing the ball at the famous five-star Baglioni hotel just a few yards off St. Mark’s Square for €290 per person via VeniceEvents. Initially we had had best intentions to do the proper thing and spend another €500 to €1,200 per person for the costume, make-up, hair, etc., but we were both busy in our day jobs at the time and simply didn’t find the time to do so.


We arrived on time and were greeted by the friendly hotel staff and shown to the reception room where it was time to have our photos taken for the memories, engage in some small-talk, and try some of the lovely nibbles and prosecco. An hour later we were all asked to make our way to the Marco Polo Ballroom upstairs, with its large-scale 18th Century frescos. We were led to our table and introduced ourselves to the other guests that were already seated. A Cuban actress, her retired Texan millionaire boyfriend, and a lovely couple from New York City. She was a primary school teacher. He had just completed a five-year stint with the marines and was currently re-training as an engineer.


Quite to our embarrassment we seemed literally the only couple who had not done the decent thing and dressed up properly. My costume consisted of one of my standard office suits, a mask we had bought ten years ago, a top hat, and a black Dracula cape. Ms B wore one of her fancier dresses, a mask, and a red cape. Luckily no one gave us any disapproving looks as far as we could tell, and we were certainly going to enjoy this evening.


The food from award-winning in-house Canova restaurant was pleasant, even though nothing too remarkable. Despite the large group of people and the relatively small number of waiting staff, service was quick and friendly.

Two hours later everyone had finished their meal and sipped their espressos. A small group of professional dancers performed a 15-minute routine in front of us, then everyone was invited to the dance floor. There was a great mix between traditional ballroom dancing and group dance and little games the staff had prepared for us. The time just flew by and none of us knew how it had suddenly turned 1:30am in the morning.

We thanked the staff, said goodbye to the other two couples, picked up our coats from the cloakroom and walked the fifteen minutes back to our hotel, Bisanzio, on the other side of St. Mark’s Square. We’ll be back at the Baglioni again next year. 5 out of 5 in our book.

For some more restaurant reviews, feel welcome to have a look at our posts about the Robot Restaurant, Tokyo, Gruvelageret near the North Pole, Lafleur, Frankfurt, and The Porch House, Stow-on-the-Wold.

Other fun things we’ve blogged about include our Norfolk seal safari, rowing in Venice, powerboating, hot air ballooning, rock-climbing, and or our trip to the Sahara.

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    1. Thank you for your comment, John. It was indeed a great night out. So much fun. I’m sure you and your partner would have enjoyed it just as much as we did. 🙂 Stefan

  1. Wow, did you have to learn how to ballroom dance? I can see why you passed on the costumes, considering the cost, but it would be fun to dress up too, especially if you went back and were able to use the costume again. Though I think the masks are the important part!

    1. Thank you for the kind comment, Cynthia. Tbh, I think Ms B and I were in the bottom quartile of dancing talent that night, but while Ms B hardly ever drinks, I found that having a bit of prosecco helps enormously in increasing expertise (or perception thereof). I enjoy reading your blog. Best – Stefan

  2. Hi
    We are thinking about renewing our wedding vows and joining a ball afterwards with our guests

    How hard is it to book tickets for maybe 12-15 people in 3 or 4 years time

    Is this something that we would be able to do also what is the minimum age as our son would be 13 or 14 yeasts old however would be happy to wait a few years if he needs to be 18years old

    1. Hi Samantha, thanks for leaving a comment and for asking questions. What a lovely idea to renew your wedding vows in Venice and combining it with a mask ball. Best to check with the organisers via email or phone, but at the mask ball we joined there were no persons under 18 and no parties of more than 12 (two tables), I believe. Good luck.

    1. Thank you, Lannie, you are too kind. 🙂 Oh.. Ellie keeps on talking about Vienna, especially since a blogger friend of ours got invited to do that big ball there, is it New Years Ball or something (her sponsors even had a dress designed for her, Ellie nearly exploded because of envy haha…).

    1. Thank you for your comment, Jan. I guess it was quite a party, yes. However, we did hear about a couple of even bigger parties that mere mortals like us Barbarians would stand no chance of attending. Typically you have to be born into the invitation list, so to say, as a prince, princess, or at the bare minimum a duke or something.

  3. This Carnevale experience sounds amazing – almost other worldly! I have had this on my travel list for such a long time. You have really inspired me to make this happen soon. Loved your costumes -thought they were fantastic!

    1. What a sweet comment, Cindi, thanks a bunch. 🙂

      Ellie & I will be looking forward to your blog post about your Venice mask ball. I’m sure you will have as much fun as we did. It was such a fabulous night out.

  4. Wow! I didn’t know it was that expensive to attend a mask ball, plus the costume, makeup and hair. I’m looking at the prices and had to remind myself those were Euros, not pesos. It sounds like it was a lot of fun though and worth the price to dance to this traditional event!

    1. Thank you for the comment, Tiffany, yes, definitely worth it, but sooooo expensive. And we opted for the cheapest decent version of it, it blows our minds how much some people spend on one single night. And they are not all millionaires.. well, one of the guys at our table was, and all of the folks at the table next to ours, haha… 🙂

  5. Very cool, bucket list experience! Glad you pulled it off and were able to hack the price a bit. Some of this must do experiences sometimes can be a bit pricey. Would be fun to do, and will put it on my list. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I had to read this post. Going to Carnival in Venice and going full costumer at a masked ball is something close to the top of my wish list. I did not realize that invitations were so hard to get even for public ones. But I will make sure to budget a lot for tickets and costumes!

    1. Great to hear it, Linda. I’m sure you’ll love it as much as Ellie and I did. The atmosphere is absolutely fabulous at those events (we do a fair few mask balls, even though only one so far in Venice haha).

  7. wow I had no idea it was so expensive to get tickets to a Mask Ball and how much the costumes are. What an incredible experience for you though and I’m sure one that you won’t forget.

    1. Cheers, Richard. We’ve been back to Venice since, but not for another mask ball yet, I’m afraid. Definitely on the list, though. We nearly got a collaboration last year, but then the pandemic kicked in.

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