Venice has a reputation as being one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Unfortunately, that reputation means it is constantly filled with tourists. However, travelers who are visiting in April are—for the most part—coming to Venice during the shoulder season, right after the busy Carnival celebrations and before the hoards arrive for the summer. Visitors can enjoy Venice with sunny spring weather and (relatively) fewer tourists.
Some special events are celebrated in Venice and Italy in April, which can cause a temporary spike in the number of visitors. If you want to avoid large crowds, you're better off traveling outside of these dates and in the middle of the week. But for those who want the unbeatable experience of an Italian holiday in Italy, these festivals will make sure you have an unforgettable trip.
Holy Week and Easter
Tourists, rather than locals, tend to crowd Venice around Easter time since the majority of countries in Europe have spring break during this week. But that doesn't mean that you cannot take in some lovely pageants, classical music concerts, and Easter services in Venice during Holy Week. One moving event, the Benedizione del Fuoco, is held on Thursday evening of Holy Week at Saint Mark's Basilica. The lights of the cathedral are turned off and a fire is lit in the entrance and there is a blessing of the four elements. Visitors may also wish to attend mass in Saint Mark's Basilica on Easter, but arrive early because the church will be crowded.
Holy Week moves around each year depending on the date of Easter, but it always falls between mid-March and mid-April. For 2020, most festivities begin on Sunday, April 5, and conclude the following Sunday, April 12.
Festa di San Marco
The main basilica and plaza in Venice are named for San Marco, or Saint Mark. So it's no surprise that his feast day, April 25, is a busy day on the Venetian calendar. This patron saint of Venice is feted on this day with a gondoliers' regatta, commemorations in the basilica, and special festivities in Saint Mark's Square. Tradition also holds that Saint Mark's Day is the day on which men give their wives or girlfriends the "bocolo," the bloom of the red rose (it is not uncommon for Venetian boys to give a single rosebud to their mothers on April 25 as well). Sometimes a giant red rose is formed by humans wearing red (or green for the stem) in Saint Mark's Square, which is very beautiful when viewed from above.
April 25 isn't just a celebration for San Marcos in Venice, but it's also Liberation Day across all of Italy. Festa della Liberazione is a national holiday that marks the anniversary that Italy was liberated from the Nazis at the end of World War II, so schools are closed and Italians don't have work. The streets of Venice are likely to be extra crowded during this time, especially since the April 25 holiday often blends into the International Labor Day on May 1 for an extra-long weekend. Many offices and businesses are closed on April 25, but museums, restaurants, and other places geared toward visitors usually remain open.
A Night at the Opera
Because so much classical and opera music was written in or set in Venice, it's one of the great cities in Europe in which to see a performance. Venice's legendary opera house, La Fenice, stages performances year-round. If you're not ready to spend $100 or more on an opera or classical performance, there are less expensive performances in churches and music schools across the city. On Venice's busier streets, you'll encounter people in elaborate period costumes trying to sell you tickets to these performances. An evening spent at one of these concerts can be equally enchanting as a more costly performance.