Festivals, celebrations, and parades are more than simple parties; they often have significant historic and cultural roots, which maintain our connection to important triumphs and traditions. Incidentally, it is this connection that serves to grow a burgeoning global heritage. Thus, each festival brings together millions of people annually to celebrate an increasingly diverse and inclusive community, as a testament to the indomitable human spirit.
Steeped in history and focused on community, below is the 4th of 5 of the world’s largest accessible celebrations (see the others here):
Carnival: Venice, Italy
Commonly associated with elaborate Venetian Masks and costumes, Venice’s Carnival is possibly the largest such celebration in the world. The first officially-registered Carnival dates from 1268, and was in celebration of the pre-lent season. The celebration was halted, however, in 1798 after the fall of the Venetian Serenissima Republic, but was revived in 1979. Traditionally, the festival was the time of year that all class castes socialized together through the virtue of anonymity, so individuals had the opportunity to openly discuss social and political opinions.
Today, Carnival exists as a celebration of community and the desegregation of class and social mandate. As such, Venice’s Carnival offers revelry, costume contests, beauty pageants, re-enactments, as well as distinctive themed masquerades, such as Casanova’s Grand Ball and Saint Valentines Carnival Ball.
Getting to Venice
- By Plane: Venice Marco Polo Airport provides a high level of accessibility, featuring tactile elements for those with visual impairments, help-points located throughout the airport, at which travelers can request assistance, dedicated parking, as well as a mobile dock for the water landing bus stage. The airport website recommends requesting accessibility services through an airline at least 48 hours before departure.
- By Train: The Venice Santa Lucia Train Station is accessible. The facility features accessible restrooms as well as provides assistance to and from the train for those with mobility difficulties. To request assistance, it is recommended to contact the station directly. The largest challenge for travelers with disabilities arriving or departing from the Venice Santa Lucia station is the steps in front of the building. However, these stairs can be circumvented by going through the side entrance located in the train shed. An illustration and directions are available here.
Getting Around in Venice
Water Buses (Vaporetto): The vaporetto are the most common form of public transportation in Venice, and most of them are wheelchair accessible. These water buses provide easy access across the Grand Canal, as well as the “quintessential Venice experience.” While single passage tickets (good for 75 minutes) are available, it is recommended that travelers invest in full-day or multi-day passes.
On Your Own
Bridges: As a floating city, Venice makes extensive use of bridges to connect the different parts of the city. Unfortunately, many of these bridges require navigating stairs in order to use them. Occasionally, Venice bridges will have some sort of accessible accommodations, such as the half-height stairs at Pont delle Guglie or the wheelchair lift at Ponte di Calatrava. However, many bridges remain difficult to navigate for those with mobility difficulties. While most of the city can be explored with little difficulty, when it comes to crossing any of the bridges, taking a vaporetto may be preferable.
*For additional accessible travel tips, John Morris’s website wheelchairtravel.org is a terrific resource for those traveling with disabilities.
Next stop, Access Burning Man: Black Rock City, Nevada!
* Wheelchairlift.com would like to thank author John Morris and recognize his website wheelchairtravel.org for informing much of this post. John is a world traveler with an extensive knowledge of how to travel the accessible way. Follow John on Twitter. In addition, wheelchairlift.com would like to also recognize the Italia Rail, ACTV Venice Public Transportation, the Carnival of Venice, and the Venice Marco Polo Airport organizations for use of their respective websites.