Carnival in Puglia 2024. The best places for the Carnival.

Updated at: 25-03-2024

Carnival in Puglia 2024. The best places for the Carnival.

The Carnival in Puglia is one of the events most experienced by citizens and tourists. Carnival events in Puglia blend together masks, allegorical floats, parades and typical recipes. Going to Carnival in Puglia means taking part in memorable celebrations and banquets, all very well attended by the population and by the many visitors.

There are many cities in Puglia that organize large Carnival parties that are worth visiting (because of their beauty, tradition, particular celebrations and number of visitors). Given the long period of the festivities it is possible to visit several Carnival parties in the same year.

Carnival in Puglia is a unique and unforgettable experience. With its ancient roots and centuries-old traditions, the Apulian Carnival is a celebration of the life and culture of the region. Every year, the cities of Puglia come alive with color and sound as traditional masks parade through the streets.

The thing that strikes me most about the Apulian Carnival is its authenticity. There are no grand floats or elaborate displays, but rather a simple and genuine celebration of local culture. The traditional masks, such as the "Mamuthones" and the "Pizzicaroli" are an example of this authenticity, with their handmade costumes and painted wooden masks.

Music is also a big part of Puglia's Carnival, with traditional bands playing as masks parade through the streets. The engaging rhythm of the "pizzica" makes you feel immediately immersed in the party and makes you dance without even realizing it.

But the Apulian Carnival is not just fun and joy, there are also deeper aspects linked to traditions and history. For example, some of the traditional masks have pagan origins and were used in the past to ward off evil spirits and protect crops.

In general, Carnival in Puglia is a celebration of the life and culture of the region, a unique experience that cannot be missed. I invite you to come to Puglia during the Carnival period and let yourself be carried away by its energy and authenticity.

Below are listed the best carnival parties in Puglia in order to allow visitors to organize their stay during the carnival period and enjoy the festivities in the different cities, taking advantage of the first warm days of late winter in the open air in a climate of party.

Carnival of Putignano in Puglia

The Putignano Carnival (province of Bari) is one of the oldest and most well-known events in the world and the most renowned Carnival in Puglia and throughout southern Italy.

Its official origin dates back to 1394 when the Order of the Knights of Malta decided to keep the remains of Santo Stefano in Putignano.

The arrival of the Saint's remains were celebrated by the population with processions, songs and dances, thus giving rise to the first carnival.

The feast officially begins on December 26th , the day of Boxing Day. with the lighting of the Votive Candle , to begin the period of absolution of the sins that are committed during the carnival period. Also on December 26th takes place the feast of the Propaggini , where dialect actors and poets revisit the past year in a satirical key.

The main attraction of the Putignano Carnival is the parade of allegorical floats set up with giant papier-mâché figures representing famous people. Everything is conceived and created by a group of papier-mâché masters who work for a whole year following traditional processing methods.

The party ends with the 365 tolls of the Macaroni Bell , at the end of which the periods of celebration, entertainment and large meals are put to an end to start the period of Lent.

Carnival of Manfredonia in Puglia

The Manfredonia Carnival (province of Foggia) has been officially present since the 1950s but it is, together with other Carnival celebrations in Puglia, a festival that has ancient origins and which makes it one of the best known and most popular carnivals in Puglia.

Despite the long period of celebration, 3 days are dedicated to parades (Shrove Thursday, Sunday and Shrove Tuesday) dominated by allegorical floats and masked groups.

These days the great parade (or Gran Parata) is made up of many masked groups and the "Parade of Wonders" in which numerous groups of students take part.

Carnival is something important for the citizens of Manfredonia, a tradition to which the population devotes time and care to offer an unforgettable show to anyone who wants to join the celebrations.


Carnival of Massafra in Puglia

The Massafra Carnival (Taranto) was born from a successful joke in 1951. A group of amateur dramatics actors from a Goldoni show wanted to organize a joke to awaken the town from its torpor and slow rhythms.

Word spread that a bullfight with bulls, matadors, picagores and banderilleros would be organized in the city center on Carnival Sunday.

The joke turned out well enough to upset not only the respectable citizens but also the authorities, worried about the consequences that a bullfight could have in the city center.

Despite the worries, many citizens gathered that afternoon waiting to be able to witness the frightening event together with the police.

The bullfight really took place but a papier-mâché bull appeared in the square, matadors on brooms and unarmed matadors.

The characters of the bullfight were all present but in a light-hearted and jester version.

Lo scherso did so well that since then a competition has arisen between the various groups that organize the Massafra carnival parade to be able to organize the largest or most beautiful floats, or the best joke or the funniest masks.


Carnival of Gallipoli in Puglia

The Carnival in Puglia in Gallipoli (Lecce) has medieval origins that traditionally combine pagan customs with pre-Christian rites.

The link between the sacred and the profane begins in mid-January with the rite of fire in which bonfires, the Focaredde, made up of intertwined olive branches and leaves, are lit in the city squares.

This is the propitiatory rite of fire, for the success of the carnival period, linked to the pagan myth of Prometheus and dedicated to the Christian patron of fire Sant'Antonio Abate.

In the past, the celebrations of the Gallipoli Carnival took place only in the streets of the ancient village, which was invaded by thousands of masks that prompted those present to laugh amid sarcastic jokes and confetti.

Only at the beginning of the twentieth century the Carnival began to take place in the streets of the new village.

The first major parade of allegorical and grotesque floats dates back to 1954 and has enjoyed ever-increasing success ever since.

The Gallipoli Carnival is considered today one of the most beautiful and well-known carnivals in Italy like the Viareggio Carnival, together with which it has been included in the limited circuit of national lotteries.


Carnival of Aradeo in Puglia

Aradeo is a small town in the province of Lecce where one of the most beautiful Carnival parties in Puglia has been organized for more than 30 years now.

The Aradeino Carnival is very popular with Apulian citizens thanks to the colorful allegorical floats and masked groups that parade through the beautiful historic center .

The greatest interest is in regard to the spectacular and colorful floats, made by craftsmen and papier-mache masters.

The party and the floats were also made known thanks to the passion and meticulous work of the organizers, until it became one of the most important Carnivals in Salento .

The period is the right one to taste typical sweets such as chiacchiere, pancakes, damselfish and pasticciotti from Lecce.

Carnival of Mesagne in Puglia

Mesagne is also among the different places in which to celebrate the carnival in Puglia.

The Mesagne carnival is one of the best known in the province of Brindisi and was born around the 18th century.

The two traditional masks of the Mesagne carnival are Gibergallo (a clown dressed in a black tailcoat) and Lu Pagghiuse (a somewhat peasant character who depicts the typical Apulian person who stirs briefly and immediately calms down).

In addition to the typical carnival masks, floats are set up in Mesagne thanks to the art of papier-mâché. In the last edition the floats reproduced the cartoon characters, so loved by children.

Attending the Carnival in Puglia in Mesagne is an incredible event thanks to the beauty of the masked parades and the beautiful themed floats, all accompanied by music and musical groups.

The dates of the 2024 carnival in Mesagne in Puglia are not yet known.

Carnival of Casamassima in Puglia

The "Pentolaccia di Casamassima" is the carnival party that begins on the first Saturday of Lent and ends on the weekend following Ash Wednesday on Sunday.

This event welcomes visitors from all the neighboring municipalities in the municipality in the province of Bari known as the blue city for the color given to the houses and alleys of the village.

The festival takes place in the ancient village of Casamassima and in Piazza Aldo Moro with the Calascione mask dominating the streets.

There is a festive and joyful atmosphere with an amusing parade of allegorical floats, dances, masked groups, concerts, food stalls and typical products.

The party ends with the breaking of the Pentolaccia, from which the party traditionally takes its name, also called the Lady of the Carnival.

The breaking of the Pentolaccia takes place at the end of the carnival and offers various prizes to the participants.

Carnival of Sammichele in Puglia

The ancient tradition of Carnival in Sammichele (Bari) is documented by a 19th century municipal document and by a 1616 announcement from the Kingdom of Naples which authorizes masked parties on the last day of Carnival.

During the period preceding Lent you can participate in dances, shows, music, theatre, masked performances attended by hundreds of people with numerous masked groups.

The typical ritual of the party in Sammichele recalls the ancient custom of families to organize carnival parties at home to be used as a marriage opportunity for their daughters. Characters are born from this ritual, then transfigured into masks, who participate in feasts and masked groups, going around the village and participating in various parties for the houses of the town.

You will participate in dances interspersed with theatrical skits, typical of the commedia dell'arte, often improvised by the participants in the event.

The program also includes the breaking of several Pentolacce during the whole carnival period

Carnival of Palo del Colle in Puglia

The carnival in Palo del Colle, also known as the Palo del Viccio, has been held in the province of Bari on Shrove Tuesday since 1477.

The festival gathers thousands of visitors in the center of the village, mostly between Corso Garibaldi and Piazza Santa Croce.

There will be a competition between 12 knights, who challenge each other on horseback in a prize for a free-range turkey (il Viccio), accompanied by various events, such as the procession, the parade of allegorical floats and the investiture ceremony of the knights.

The Palio represents the connection of the territory with ancestral rites linked to the agricultural culture of the area and this connection is easily palpable in the carnival events, in the expressions of celebration, in the gastronomic stalls present and in the typical products and sweets that you can taste.

Carnival of Molfetta in Puglia

The Carnival of Molfetta (Bari) originates from the times of ancient Rome, when celebrations and parties were held to propitiate the fertility of the fields for a better harvest. Thanks to the end of winter, in fact, rice processing resumed, believed to be able to ward off negativity and death, accompanied by the happiness of the workers during the sowing and harvesting of vegetables.

Since the Middle Ages, the joy and happiness for the crops has moved to the streets with dances, masked group parties and feasts of good food.

Traditionally, the festival began on the day of Sant'Antonio Abate, in mid-January, with parades, masks, allegorical floats, confetti thrown and joyful people throughout the historic center and neighboring streets. Children are the protagonists throughout the carnival period, with parties specially designed for them which end with a veglioncino for the children.

Carnival of Locorotondo in Puglia

The Carnival party in Locorotondo, in Valle d'Itria (Bari), is characterized by parades with masked groups, with masks inspired by the Apulian tradition, also actively participated by children.

During the celebrations there are parades of floats, parties on the streets of the city, music, throwing of confetti and dancing.

Participating in the Locorotondo carnival is a magnificent opportunity to discover the traditions of the area and spend a few days in February in Puglia with family or friends.

Where to celebrate Carnival in Puglia 2024

These are the cities with the best Carnival parties in Puglia:

  • Putignano
  • Manfredonia
  • Massafra
  • Gallipoli
  • Aradeo
  • Mesagne
  • Casamassima
  • Sammichele
  • Palo del Colle
  • Molfetta
  • Locorotondo

Other Carnival celebrations in Puglia:

Other Carnival parties in Puglia take place in :

  • Conversano
  • Martignano (Salento Greece)
  • San Nicandro di Bari
  • Trinitapoli

Carnival in Conversano

Carnival in Martignano (Salento Greece)

Carnival in San Nicandro

Carnival in Trinitapoli

Carnival in Puglia: origins and peculiarities

Carnival is a celebration linked to the Catholic and Christian world but has much more ancient roots .

It is a period that goes between Epiphany and Lent (in particular the Thursday, Sunday and Tuesday before Ash Day) in which unbridled behavior and entertainment accompanied by traditional and folkloristic events are allowed.

Already in Roman times there were similar celebrations but the first manifestations of the modern carnival take place around the year 1300.

Carnival is historically known for eating typical sweets prepared during this period (Frappe, Castagnole, Zeppole and many others) but above all for the reckless celebrations in which hierarchies and social obligations were canceled in order to allow excessive behavior and customs (otherwise sanctioned) along with the tendency to joke.