Venice Carnival: an insight view of Il Ballo del Doge


Il ballo del Doge

Il ballo del Doge. When I found out my friend Cariya Bremen, artist, chef and globetrotter (meant in the nicest possible way, i.e. she has lived all over the world!), was attending one the most famous events in the world Il Ballo del Doge during the Venice Carnival, I could not believe my luck: finally I would get to find out what really happens during these sorts of events.





I have to admit that at first I was very very envious, but knowing Cariya and her matter-of-fact attitude and her experience in the world of parties and events, I knew she would give me a fair prospective of the event, without all the frous-frous and mellifluous comments you usually get from either journalists or marketing guys trying to entice you to take part in this sort of thing.

She is after all a very talented artist and a fantastic chef, as you can see from her own site

And after reading Cariya report on the evening the big green monster perched on my shoulder has got scaled to a tiny little green spot (hey, I am only human and I still would love to go and dress up for a day as a Renaissance madame!) and even though I still dream of spending an evening in one of the most beautiful parties in the world I now know that not all that glitters is gold!!

So, thank you again Cariya for this beautiful post and for making us dream!!


Il Ballo del Doge – a great experience


Il Ballo Del Doge

Il Ballo Del Doge


A lot has been written about il Ballo del Doge in Venice. It is organised by costume designer Antonia Sauter and it was celebrated for the 18th time this year.

Pisani Moretta, the palace in which the event is taking place, is gorgeous and the costumes which are worn by the guests and are mostly created by Mrs. Sauter’s atelier in Venice, are the best and most beautiful anywhere to be seen during Carnevale – no doubt!

The various artists are also of high caliber and the performances well worth watching.


Cariya in her beautiful costume!


Now then, why am I not in complete awe like so many of my fellow reviewers?!

Maybe because of the incredible high expectations created by labels such as Vanity Fair’s “the most exclusive ball  in the world”. And indeed, my expectations were high, justifiably I think, for the price of 600 Euros for a few hours of a post-dinner event.

I decided to skip the dinner, which would have added another 600 Euros to the bill, and also the half hour VIP event prior, which came for the price of another 300 Euros. I am not sure, what could happen that would make 30 minutes worth 300 Euros – that is 10 Euros a minute – so I can’t comment if it would have been money well spent.

Either way, arriving at quarter past midnight – the post-dinner part was supposed to start at 11pm – we still found ourselves in the setting of the dinner debris as part of the stage for the post-dinner performance.

While not being able to comment on the quality of the food, seeing the labels of the wines, which were served, I can safely say that I don’t regret not having spent 600 Euros on the dinner though.


Dressing up for the Ball


The performers were of really good quality, but the moderator, while definitely cute and dazzling, could have benefitted from a little more practice.

The other point of confusion for me was the arrangement of the performances. While good – I have to repeat myself again – I wasn’’t sure why people, dressed to the nines, would want to stand around for 1.5 hours and watch 5 back to back performances covering opera, magic and burlesque.

Entertainment is a crucial part of any event, but to make the guests mere onlookers seemed to underutilize the tremendous effort people put into their appearances, clearly meant to be looked at, not just for only watching others.

Downstairs, where the actual party was supposed to happen, a very mediocre DJ was playing outdated music. And no, relabeling it retro or classic, wouldn’t do the trick here…

And this assessment is not just based on my opinion. The dance floor, while packed, wasn’’t throbbing with happy dancers, but because there was no other place to stand. To be fair, the clothes require about 5 times more space per person than anyone usually would, and the lack of room is a natural side effect.

The animation dancers were ok, but the almost naked male unicorn on stilts with fur over the crucial parts got a little stale after crossing the dance floor for the 3rd time – some people did seem to enjoy the petting though…

Other challenges in my opinion were that certain drinks ran out at 1pm, the bathrooms were in pretty rough shape and had no attendants, and that the party was declared over by 3.15 instead of the advertised 4am.


Atelier Sautter


All in all, it was a worthwhile experience though and the price is justified for what was on display. With some tweaking, good could also have been great – after 18 years smaller glitches should have been ironed out by now. Or maybe the attention to detail is getting lost after the initial excitement. Either way, while definitely an impressive show, I am not sure if it is best in the world. I am glad, I went, but I don’t think I need to go back next year.

However, for amazingly stunning costumes, Antonia Sauter Atelier will definitely be my first choice! And please remember, these are just my feelings, I am incredible picky and even though, in my opinion not everything was perfect, Il Ballo del Doge is worth a visit, at least once, to have seen it – I am glad I did!

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Food & Travel Blogger, Culinary & Food Tour Guide, Cooking Consultant & Instructor - this is well as an event organiser and overall talker - always in Venice! #aphotoofveniceaday Offering cooking lessons at As a friend once said: A Fire Cracker full of energy, not crazy but a visionary!


  • Barry Frangipane

    My experience at a ball during Carnevale at Caffe Quadri (upstairs) was almost identical. The guests had beautiful costumes, but were left to sit and watch a belly dancer. It felt very contrived, each person wondering when the “excitement” would occur. It never did.

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