Every year, on the first Sunday of September, the Historical Regatta is held in Venice. Hundreds of Venetians pile into the long boats that have plied the city's canals for centuries for the 'Regata Storica' (Historical Regatta), a historical procession that commemorates the welcome given to Caterina Cornaro, wife of the King of Cyprus, in 1489 after she renounced her throne in favour of Venice.
The spectacular historical water pageant is driven by gondoliers wearing historic costume carrying the Doge, the Doge’s wife and all the highest ranking Venetian officials up the Grand Canal in a brightly coloured parade. This is followed by four separate boat races. The winners are awarded flags in place of medals. Until few years ago, together with the symbolic prizes, there were also some kind of awards; the most famous of them was a little living pig, that would parade on a gondola of its own. The pig ceremony has been abolished since few years ago after protests by some animal protection organizations. PETA is always ruining the fun.