Venice carnival revellers don elaborate masks and costumes
Annual festival runs from Jan. 23 to Feb. 9
History of extravagant masks and costumes
Carnival takes place during the 10 days leading up to Shrove Tuesday and was first held in Venice in the 11th century. People donned masks every year at carnival for more than two months of revelry and debauchery, until the festival fell into decline during the 18th century. The Venice carnival was revived in 1979 and is world renowned for its extravagant masks and costumes.
The word carnival means "farewell to meat" and is celebrated throughout Italy in the lead-up to Lent. Here, revellers in costumes participate in the water parade Festa Veneziana, which sailed along Venice's Grand Canal on Jan. 24.
Marvellous masks and creative costumes
This is one of the spookier masks seen at this year's carnival.
Two women masquerading as Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa pose in St. Mark's Square on Jan. 31.
This couple really stood out for their costumes at carnival in February 2014.
The flight of the angel
The Volo dell'Angelo (flight of the angel), where a woman dressed in traditional costume descends from the bell tower into St. Mark's Square, officially launched this year's carnival on Jan. 31.
Getting ready for the ball
Many events, parties and concerts take place during carnival, including several masquerade balls. The Grand Masquerade Ball gives people a chance to show off their lavish costumes and party just like the nobles used to during carnival. Here, guests dance at the Pisani Moretta Palace during the "Fat Thursday" carnival celebrations in February 2015.
Before you go to the ball, you must prepare. First, you have to get a costume
And of course, you'll need a mask too
Extra security at this year's carnival
Carnival-goers are being asked by police to momentarily lift their masks as part of new anti-terrorism measures for the annual festivities.