I had no idea when we booked our marina berth in Venice that we’d be arriving to one of the oldest and most popular festivals on the Venetian calendar. The Festa del Redentore began as a feast back in the 16th century, to give thanks for the end of a plague that killed 50,000 people. The Doge (Duke) Alvise Mocenigo promised to build a magnificent church if the plague ended. This church, known as Il Redentore, was built on the island of Giudecca, across the water from St Marks Square. The foundation stone was laid on the third Sunday in July in 1577 and the festival is held on this day each year.

Preparations for the festival begin on the Saturday, when people decorate their boats and terraces with small lanterns and flags. From early evening the area of water in front of St Marks Square (known as St Marks Basin) starts to fill with boats – ferries, party boats, cruisers, yachts, fishing boats, tinnies, dinghies, and pretty much anything that floats.

Along the waterfront, people gather at cafes and restaurants to feast with family and friends. Others eat on picnic rugs on the ground, or at tables and chairs they’ve brought from home. The boats continue to arrive right up until the fireworks commence at 11.30. For forty minutes people watch, ooh and ah, and applaud when there is a particularly good display. It is quite an emotional event for the local residents.

Today, the main day of the festival, there was a boat regatta, and of course a Mass at the Chiesa del Redentore.

We are staying at the Marina at the east end of the island, and enjoyed seeing the of different boats motor past on their way to the festival. Around 10pm we walked along the waterfront to take in the sights and sounds and to enjoy the fireworks. Here are some of the photos I took along the way, and a few others from our local area around the marina.

Festa del Redentore

Around our neighbourhood