It's hard enough to write about Venice without becoming engulfed in a landslide of cliches - and near enough impossible when you factor in the city's masked carnival (or 'carnevale', as the locals call it).

Masked revellers, glamorous costume and throngs of excited tourists, yep you know the drill. But it doesn't make the annual event any less of a spectacle.

Running until February 12, the festivities include lagoon parades, concerts, theatre and fireworks and draws up to three million visitors each year.

venice carnival 2013

The annual carnival draws up to three million tourists to the city annually

The celebration itself dates back many centuries and is rooted in the Christian festivities ahead of the fasting period of Lent.

This year student Marta Finotto enacted the traditional "flight of the angel" which saw her gliding, via harness, from the 325ft belltower of St Mark's Basilica to a stage below.

Loading Slideshow...
  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    Costumed revellers pose at St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    A costumed reveller poses at St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • People wear traditional masks as they parade in St. Mark square on the opening day of the Venice Carnival, in Venice, Italy, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013. Tens of thousands of visitors come every day to Venice during the Carnival celebrations, that will go on until Feb. 12. (AP Photo/Luigi Costantini)

  • CARNEVALE

    Marta Finotto, a student at Venice's University, dressed in a traditional costume, descends from the bell tower into St. Mark square, during the "Angel's flight", one of the highlights of the opening day of the Venice Carnival, in Venice, Italy, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013. Tens of thousands of visitors come every day to Venice during the Carnival celebrations, that will go on until Feb. 12. (AP Photo/Luigi Costantini)

  • CARNEVALE

    Marta Finotto, center, a student at Venice's University, dressed in a traditional costume, poses with other traditional masks after descending from the bell tower into St. Mark square, during the "Angel's flight", one of the highlights of the opening day of the Venice Carnival, in Venice, Italy, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013. Tens of thousands of visitors come every day to Venice during the Carnival celebrations, that will go on until Feb. 12. (AP Photo/Luigi Costantini)

  • CARNEVALE

    Marta Finotto, a student at Venice's University, dressed in a traditional costume, salutes after descending from the bell tower into St. Mark square, during the "Angel's flight", one of the highlights of the opening day of the Venice Carnival, in Venice, Italy, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013. Tens of thousands of visitors come every day to Venice during the Carnival celebrations, that will go on until Feb. 12. (AP Photo/Luigi Costantini)

  • CARNEVALE

    Marta Finotto, a student at Venice's University, dressed in a traditional costume, descends from the bell tower into St. Mark square, during the "Angel's flight", one of the highlights of the opening day of the Venice Carnival, in Venice, Italy, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013. Tens of thousands of visitors come every day to Venice during the Carnival celebrations, that will go on until Feb. 12. (AP Photo/Luigi Costantini)

  • CARNEVALE

    Marta Finotto, a student at Venice's University, dressed in a traditional costume, descends from the bell tower into St. Mark square, during the "Angel's flight", one of the highlights of the opening day of the Venice Carnival, in Venice, Italy, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013. Tens of thousands of visitors come every day to Venice during the Carnival celebrations, that will go on until Feb. 12. (AP Photo/Luigi Costantini)

  • The "corteo delle Marie" (Mary's procession) crosses St. Mark square during the opening day of the Venice Carnival, in Venice, Italy, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013. Tens of thousands of visitors come every day to Venice during the Carnival celebrations, that will go on until Feb. 12. (AP Photo/Luigi Costantini)

  • The "corteo delle Marie" (Mary's procession) crosses St. Mark square during the opening day of the Venice Carnival, in Venice, Italy, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013. Tens of thousands of visitors come every day to Venice during the Carnival celebrations, that will go on until Feb. 12. (AP Photo/Luigi Costantini)

  • CARNEVALE

    Marta Finotto, a student at Venice's University, dressed in a traditional costume, descends from the bell tower into St. Mark square, during the "Angel's flight", one of the highlights of the opening day of the Venice Carnival, in Venice, Italy, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013. Tens of thousands of visitors come every day to Venice during the Carnival celebrations, that will go on until Feb. 12. (AP Photo/Luigi Costantini)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    A costumed reveller poses near St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    A costumed reveller poses at St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    Costumed revellers pose at St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    A costumed reveller poses at St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    Costumed revellers pose at St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    A costumed reveller poses at St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    A costumed reveller poses at St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    A costumed reveller poses at St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    Costumed revellers pose at St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    A costumed reveller poses at St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    A costumed couple poses at St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    A costumed reveller poses at St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    A costumed couple poses near gondolas during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    A costumed couple poses at St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    A costumed reveller poses near St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    A costumed reveller poses at St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    A costumed reveller poses at St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    Costumed revellers pose at St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    Costumed revellers pose at St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    Costumed revellers pose near St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    A costumed reveller poses at St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    Costumed revellers pose near St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    Costumed revellers pose near St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    Costumed revellers pose near St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    Costumed revellers pose near St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    Costumed revellers pose at St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    A costumed reveller poses at St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    A costumed reveller poses near St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    A costumed reveller poses near St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • ITALY-CARNIVAL-VENICE

    A costumed reveller poses near St Mark's square during the carnival on February 3, 2013 in Venice. The 2013 edition of the Venice carnival is untitled ' Live in Colour' and runs from January 26 to February 12. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)