Gala Nocturna

World-famous dark luxury costume ball

Friday February 9, 2018

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.

As for this years’ dress code I will try to inspire you to combine stereotypes of Rococo and period costuming with contemporary fashion details…deconstructing the classic style and merging it into something more avantgarde, darker and structural. You can browse through my mood board for inspiration in order to complete your outfit or you are very welcome to make an appointment with our honoured partner, Atelier Pietro Longhi in Venice for all your costuming wishes. They will be more than pleased to created a custom tailored costume based upon your own idea. I am also proudly presenting our Nocturnal Pop Up Store in Venice (during the 10 days of the Venice Carnival, and also available in our online store, launching in September) where you will be able to rent or even purchase high fashion pieces and accessories directly from international fashion designers.

I truly hope you are just as excited about this new edition of Gala Nocturna in Venice as I am! I believe one has to always try and follow his or her dreams, and this Venetian dream of mine was bound to become reality one day… and now that day will come soon and I am glad I can share it with you!

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.

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 😉


Gala Nocturna tickets

Your Gala Nocturna ticket includes:

– a luxurious invitation gift box sent to your home address.
– an exquisite multi course dinner with free drinks all night long.
– art performances and installations worthy of the Venice Art Biennale.
– elegantly and extravagantly dark entertainment during the entire evening.
– a unique audiovisual experience at an outrageously beautiful location.
– dark enchanting dance music brought to you by a set of multi-talented DJ's.
– a magical photo and video corner that will keep you mesmerised.
– a legendary night to remember!

Buy your ticket here

Regular entry tickets for Gala Nocturna 2018 – “Ascension” cost 450 euro and are sold through our online shop.

Follow our blog to receive special discounts and get an inside view of our preparations for the next edition. Be the first to hear every update! Sign up here

Your ticket(s) will be sent to your physical address, so double-check your data before confirming your order!

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