Gala Nocturna

World-famous dark luxury costume ball

Statement by Belgian artist Viona ielegems,  founder and creative director of Gala Nocturna

After 10 editions of Gala Nocturna in Belgium, I felt humbled and deeply grateful. I was able to look back on what once started as a girl’s romantic dream: a ball for princesses and their mysterious suitors. Dark, but beautiful … with gowns designed for queens and with divine creatures from all over Europe and further away, to join me for a night of splendor and extravagance. Stepping through a portal, into a world that once existed in my imagination only.

Without being aware of it, I must have planted a tiny golden, glittering seed in many hearts, turning Gala Nocturna into the event that many of its honored guests looked forward to join every year. Every year setting another theme and dress code, and finding new locations, was part of my longing to take the ball to new heights. Year after year, I was overwhelmed by the response of my guests, showing so much passion and creativity in their costumes and outfits. This way, Gala Nocturna has become something I cherish very deeply because now it feels to me like a shared dream …

After last edition’s theme, “The Age of Redemption”, a phase of inner reflection and search of the soul, cutting away all unnecessary ornament and excess, looking back on years of extravagant celebrations, I now feel more than ready to take you on a new journey, ascending above all dreams we have shared until now, in a city made of dreams: Venice!

The theme of this years’ Gala Nocturna is “Ascension”. What ascension means to me is to be spiritually lifted up to a higher level and thus to find a deep connection with the purpose and meaning of life (and death). Almost like rising from the earth and touching the sky! Feeling completely fulfilled and divinely happy. A state of mind where we as humans can feel the presence of the god/dess (in ourselves?). And when you are familiar with my artworks and events, you will probably know that everything I create and organize has this touch of darkness in it, never frightening or monstrous but, a delicious darkness, feeling like luxurious burgundy velvet, scenting of myrrh and tasting like pure chocolate… I sense the divine in both light and dark, and I wish to share my vision of Ascension with you in this incredible edition of Gala Nocturna.

I chose to host my ball during the cult status’ Venice Carnival, a period where Venice is completely mad and upside down, where behind every corner you can meet a mysteriously masked countess, a phantom-like apparition or a handsome Casanova-look-alike. This city just breathes it’s golden history and whispers softly of it’s lost love affairs and I am confident you will be charmed right away!

At the ball, I will immerse you into a world where the decadence and splendour of Venice’s Golden Age meets the aesthetics and eccentric expression of contemporary fashion design and performance. Gala Nocturna has always had a link or subtle connection with Neo Gothic and Catholic iconography, the ball has often been hosted in deconsecrated Baroque and neo-gothic churches or, like the last edition, in a consecrated Augustine monastery. These roots are still very important to me as they are a part of who I am and what inspires me. I therefore found it important to keep loyal to this darker, sacred side of my imagination and thus found it more than fitting to host the 2018 edition not in a classical Venetian palazzo, but in an impressive building with a strong religious background: the Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista, one of the 6 major Scuolas in Venice.

Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista

Find your way to San Giovanni Evangelista, through the narrow streets of the San Polo district or by following the water canals that lead to the Scuola’s private garden entry. After the opening reception, you will be guided up huge staircases, leading to the extraordinary “Salone San Giovanni”. At the Oratory of the Cross, you will be confronted with your transcended self, before joining our exquisite dinner. Afterwards, the evening continues in the “Sala delle Colonne”, where you can join the creatures of the night who bathe and dance in the glory of ascension.

Picture Gallery Augustijnen klooster

The Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista is a confraternity building located in the San Polo district. Founded in the 13th century by a group of flagellants, it was later to become one of the five Scuole Grandi of Venice. These organizations devoted themselves to religious practices to honor their patron saint. They were patrons of the arts and provided a variety of charitable functions.

The Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista is notable for housing a relic of the true cross and for a series of paintings it commissioned from a number of famous Venetian artists.

Strict dress code

The theme for Gala Nocturna 2016 is “Ascension”.

We encourage all guests to follow the dress code of the evening.
For costume inspiration, take a look at our moodboard images.

Note: this is a costumed event, we do not allow formal evening dress or tuxedo.

Find inspiration for your very personal and unique costume in these images.


Out of respect for our guests, we do not allow entry to casually dressed people!

Photo archive

Over the years, countless pictures have been taken of our beautiful guests.
We’ve made a small selection, to give you a nice impression of what to expect during the ball.

Photo impressions

Amazing photo impressions from past editions!

Photo studio

Wonderful portraits made in our photo studio.

Real time video impressions

These 2 videos are un-edited footage and were randomly filmed by guests who attended Gala Nocturna. They give a realistic impression/ view on the dancefloor area of our balls. As you’ll notice, we do not play regular dance music but immerse our guests in atmospheric, sometimes dark, sometimes dreamy soundscapes. Enjoy watching or scrolling through these videos 😉

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