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Each year, Viareggio is host to one of the most popular Carnival celebrations in Italy. Carnival is the series of festivities leading up to Lent and culminating in Shrove Tuesday celebrated throughout the world. Each year a number of parades take place in the city during which giant papier-maché puppets proceed along the streets on floats. The largest of these floats weigh about forty tons each. Political satire and the lampooning of local politicians are popular themes for floats. Four parades take place on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, and the fifth and final one occurs on Shrove Tuesday. During the parades, a panel judges the floats in terms of creativity and artistic quality. At the same time, each neighborhood organizes its own celebration, replete with food, drink, music and dancing. The largest celebrations are centered around the dock area, where people feast on fish and other seafood.
The entire city is transformed during carnival, with restaurants offering special Carnival menus, and other events taking place in conjunction with the celebration. These include comedy shows and sporting events, such as soccer tournaments. Dance clubs hold masquarade balls, which people attend in elegant costume and outlandish masks.
If you plan on visiting Viareggio during Carnaval, make sure you book your accommodations well in advance, as rooms fill up quickly.