A masquerade or masked ball is a central motif of the play The King In Yellow, as suggested in an excerpt recorded in the story The Mask, culminating in an unmasking in which it is revealed the King – or, at least his emissary or avatar, The Stranger – is not, in fact, wearing any mask...
During the 16th century, masquerade balls began to form part of public festivals in Italy and are especially associated with Venice and the Venetian Carnival.
Related to the masquerade ball is the masque, a form of court entertainment. While masquerade balls tended to be the entertainment for an evening, masques could last over the course of several days and featured scripted elements.
- "Masques were typically a complimentary offering to the prince among his guests and might combine pastoral settings, mythological fable, and the dramatic elements of ethical debate. There would invariably be some political and social application of the allegory. Such pageants often celebrated a birth, marriage, change of ruler or a Royal Entry and invariably ended with a tableau of bliss and concord. Masque imagery tended to be drawn from Classical rather than Christian sources, and the artifice was part of the Grand dance."
- "In England, Tudor court masques developed from earlier guisings, where a masked allegorical figure would appear and address the assembled company—providing a theme for the occasion—with musical accompaniment."
- "Masquerade balls were a feature of the Carnival season in the 15th century, and involved increasingly elaborate allegorical Royal Entries, pageants, and triumphal processions celebrating marriages and other dynastic events of late medieval court life."
'Masquerade' is also an entry in the alphabetical list of Fantastic Worlds.
The non-mythos story The Masque of the Red Death takes place at such an event.