The Vogalonga

The Vogalonga is one of Venice’s main water festivals, a 32km non-competitive race for rowing boats; in the spirit of historical festivities.

It is held on the Sunday morning normally in May, following the “Sensa Festival”; but because the date changes each year, the Vogalonga sometimes takes place in early June.

Every year, several thousands of participants take part in what can be described as a fun and exciting non competitive race. Essentially it’s a grand “get-together”,started in 1975 and a protest against the destructive action of motorboats; damaging the fragile lagoon ecosystem and Venice’s building foundations. The initial motivating force, was to “invite all enthusiasts and all those who had ‘laid the oars’ for too long“.

50 clubs in Venice and private boats from all over the world participate in this wonderful event. The course length is 30 km (18 miles) and it crosses the Lagoon to the Burano Island and twists its way back through Cannaregio to the end point in the Grand Canal. 

I have retained in the post, descriptions of the 2021 Event; as it is still useful to get a further idea about the event.

This post has been updated for the 49th Vogalonga 2024, to be held on Sunday, the 19th May. 



The Vogalonga annual boat race in Venice


The Vogalonga – The Race

On November 11, 1974 a group of Venetians amateur and professional rowers, had a race in the island of Burano.

From this, was born the idea of a non-competitive “race” in which almost any kind of rowing boat could participate; in the spirit of historical festivities. The first Vogalonga rac, began the next year, with the ideology of a protest against the growing use of powerboats in Venice and the damage they do to the historic city.

Each participant receives a commemorative medal and a certificate of participation. They may also receive a prize chosen randomly, which are often trophy cups and plaques, decorative oars and other mementos, which local associations, newspapers and the organising committee have donated.

The numbers of participants have swelled to several thousand over the years from all over the world. New rowing clubs, have been founded and many build their own boats, based on historical designs.

Participants first gather in St Marks Basin in front of the Doge’s palace All boats then move to their starting position in the Giudecca Canal starting at 08:30 and take a position behind the Punta della Dogana.

The race is started at 9.00am, by a cannon shot. Below: starting positions and map of the route for the 2021 Vogalonga.


Map of the route of the 2021 Vogalonga race in Venice











All types of rowing boats take part in the annual Vogalonga in Venice.Some teams dress up in costumes, others in the livery of their rowing clubs. The atmosphere is “fun-filled, with extra cheers for those who make a special effort, such as bringing an onboard bagpiper! Towards the finishing line, spectators give extra encouragement to the exhausted crews.

In 2007, for the 33rd Vogalonga, there were a record 5,600 participants, in over 1,500 boats. Teams and individuals from the Veneto, from the rest of Italy and from many other countries join in and add to the party atmosphere. This year the number of boats was limited to 500.


The 2009 Vogalonga, could have become a small-scale disaster; strong winds overturned several rowboats and around 50 people had to be pulled from the water. Fortunately, police and fire service motorboats were quick on the scene and nobody was seriously injured.

Today, the event is tightly controlled through its organising authority. Visit their website below, to find out about dates, registration and compliance with its rules, regulations and safety requirements.



The Vogalonga – The 47th Event 2023

Is a non-competitive recreational sporting event for amateur athletes, will take place on 28th May 2023 along a 30km course through Venice lagoon.

Please consult the official Website, linked below for full details of the event – date, rules and regulations, registration, course etc.


The “47th Vogalonga 2023” regatta is scheduled to start at 9am: after the customary ‘lifting-of-the-oars’ salute, a cannon shot will signal the start of the race. Around 8.30 am all boats are required to assemble in the Giudecca Canal grouped behind Punta della Dogana following instructions given by the Technical Commissioners. First, the fastest crafts will be asked to get in line, starting with rowing class boats, followed later by slower boats that carry fewer oarsmen.


The Vogalonga course will be as follows: Bacino San Marco, canale delle Navi, canale della Bissa, canale Passaora, canale Crevan, Burano, Mazzorbo, canale S. Giacomo, canale Scomenzera, canale Bisatto, Murano, canale di Tessera, rio di Cannaregio, Canal Grande, Rialto, Punta della Salute.

The Finish

The finishing line of “47th VOGALONGA 2023” is at the end of Canal Grande, on a level with the Basilica della Salute. Medals and certificates of attendance will be distributed there from the pontoons set up for the purpose. As soon as a boat has received its award, it must stay clear of the area so that other crews can reach the pontoon.

Entry number

At registration crews will be allocated an entry number for each craft. A bib displaying this number should be worn by the rower in the bow or in another visible position to allow for checks along the course and for the identification of crew members at the finish.

Participation Awards

The Vogalonga is a non-competitive event and as such it does not have performance rankings at the finishing line. Each rower who crosses the finishing line will be issued a participation certificate and a medal to commemorate the event. The organisers agree to put in a raffle any boats or other prizes offered by public bodies or private institutions; these prizes, offered only to participants who complete the course, will be obtained by means of a prize draw to be held by the end of October. In order to claim a prize, participants must show the numbered slip which is attached to a duplicate copy of the registration form.

To participate in the Vogalonga 2024 event, you need to register your crew participation at  The website usually opens up in April and offers online registration for a small fee of 22€. You will receive a tour package, T-Shirt, poster, and a medal upon registration.

The event is open to any person over the age of 16. Minors under the age of 16 can join the race as long as they are accompanied by an adult with parental responsibility.

LINKS (internalexternal)

Comitato Organizzatore Vogalonga
S.Marco, 951 – 30124 Venezia
Phon: +39 0415210544
Fax: +39 0415200771
Contact Email:

My other posts in the category of Festivals-Regattas-Events

“Venice – Calendar of Events 2024”


The Vogalonga    The Vogalonga    The Vogalonga

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