Dozens of boating Santas race in Venice’s Grand Canal
Dozens of rowers dressed as Father Christmas raced down Venice’s Grand Canal on Sunday, cheered on by crowds gathered to watch the annual fancy-dress regatta.
Organised by the University Ca’ Foscari, the eighth edition of the race set off from Saint Mark’s Square, with champions and amateurs competing in traditional “mascarete” boats — once the domain of fishermen.
They were followed by a water parade of fellow Father Christmases in “bissone”, “caorline” and dragon boats — flat vessels with six to eight rowers each that nipped down the canal in the winter sunshine.
Since it began in 2009, the regatta has been held in the run-up to Christmas. Those feeling particularly sporty — or keen on losing Santa-sized stomachs — can take part afterwards in a race through the Italian city’s allies and squares.
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