Italy is one of the most popular countries to visit in the European continent. Be its vibrant cities of Rome, Venice or Florence, the unique towns of the Amalfi Coast or the breathtaking Lake Como, Italy offers incredible experiences. However, the amazing places are not the only things that Italy offers. In fact, the country is also known for its numerous festivals. As festivals happen throughout the year in Italy, you would get to experience at least one of them whenever you visit. With this note, we present to you the list of Italy festivals you can expect in 2023.
Festivals in January
1.Capodanno: January 01
After elaborate celebrations on New Year’s Eve, January 1, also known as Capodanno, is considered as a day for rest. Still, you may find special events and activities on this day, at some of the cities in Italy. For instance, the people of Venice go for a traditional swim in the lagoon on Capodanno. Remember that it is winter in Italy during this time of the year; attend this swim only if you do not mind the freezing water.
2.Epiphany: January 6
Ephiphany is the day Christians believe that the three wise men with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh reached Baby Jesus. In Italy, La Befana, an old lady on a broomstick, is believed to visit children and fill their shoes and stockings with gifts and candies. Although it is an official holiday in Italy, you would find several parades and street fairs throughout the country.
Festivals in February
1.Carnevale (February 15 to February 25)
Carnevale is the biggest winter festival in Italy. It happens 40 days before Easter, just before Lent begins. While the last three days are the main days for Carnevale, the celebrations begin 2-3 weeks before. Although most cities and towns in Italy celebrate Carnevale, one of the most popular and the best is the Carnevale of Venice. You would get to attend concerts, theatres plays, balls and festivals during this time of the year. Apart from this, the carnivals of Cento (Ferrara), Viareggio (Lucca) and Putignano (Apulia) are worth seeing.
Festivals in April
1.Procession of The Mysteries, Sicily (April 10)
One of the oldest and the most authentic Italian festival is probably the Procession of The Mysteries. The event takes place in Sicily, two days before Easter. On this day, you would get to see parades that carry mysteries that represent the passion and death of Christ. An emotional crowd of people parade the city with lights and sounds. The parade usually starts at 2 PM on Good Friday and ends at 2 PM on Black Saturday.
2.Easter Sunday (April 12)
Easter is one of the most important religious festivals in Italy. Throughout the country, you would find people celebrating this festival with parades, events and feasts. However, the most important amongst them is the fireworks that happen in Florence. Named Scoppio del Carro, these fireworks are connected to the traditional folk story of Pazzino, who started a sacred fire in front of the people of Florence, with the three stone fragments that was given to him from the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. On Easter day, you would be able to watch the recreation of the entire incident followed by fireworks that last 20 minutes.
3.Pasquetta (April 13)
Pasquetta is the day after Easter and is a public holiday for the people of Italy. After all the events and celebrations of Easter Sunday, Pasquetta is a day when people rest at home, meet friends and have picnics at parks. As it is a start of Spring Season, the Italians love to spend this day outdoors to enjoy the pleasant climate after an extremely cold winter.
4.Rome’s Birthday Celebration (April 21)
Visit Rome on April 21′ 2023 to celebrate its 2,7703rd birthday! The capital city of Rome celebrates its birthday with great pomp and splendour on this day every year. It marks the founding of the city by Romulus in 753 BC. Several traditional events take place in the city on this day, which include mock gladiator battles, trench-digging rituals, re-enactments of the Palilia ceremony and other such things that displays the history of the city. A costumed parade at the Circus Maximus is the highlight of the festival.
5.Italian Liberation Day (April 25)
The Italian Liberation Day is one of the most important events in the history of Italy. It was on this day that World War II ended in Italy and the country became free from the Nazi rule. Political rallies, band performances, food stalls, public events commemorating the end of Fascist rule and food stalls are some of the things that you would be able to enjoy on this day. Apart from this, it is also St. Mark’s Day in Venice, a day that celebrates Venice’s patron Saint, St. Mark.
Festivals in May
1.Labor Day (May 01)
The first day of May is celebrated as Labor Day, which is also a national holiday. It is the day of rest for most people in the country. However, protests or public demonstrations held by trade unions happen throughout the country to raise awareness about the issues and problems faced by labours. Other than this, certain concerts and events are held in Rome on this day. Although most tourist attractions like museums are closed during the day, major cities would be crowded as people spend time outdoors to enjoy the summer weather.
2.Festa dei Ceri in Gubbion (May 15)
A traditional race, the Festa dei Ceri is based on one of the oldest Italian folklores. This event happens in Italy’s Gubbio and is dedicated to its patron saint, St. Gubbio. On this day, people carry huge wooden candles from the town center to the Basilica of St. Ubaldo. The most unique thing about this parade is that each wooden candle weighs almost 700 lbs and has the statue of the saint on top of it.
3.La Cavalcata Sarda (May 24)
La Cavalcata Sarda is a horse race that happens in Sardinia on the last Sunday of May. Historically, it marks the day when King Umberto I visited Sardinia to unveil the Piazza d’Italia. On this day, participants parade through the town on a horseback, while wearing traditional costumes. Once they reach the outskirts of the town, they take part in horserace and perform stunts on the racetrack.
4.Venice Biennale (May 23 to November 29)
Venice Biennale is one of the most renowned international art festivals that happen in the world. Art lovers would get to attend several amazing art exhibitions throughout Venice. The main Biennale Garden pavilions and the beautiful Venetian mansions are the popular venues where these exhibitions are held. The best part is that the Venice Biennale is held across several months, making it possible for anyone visiting Venice from May 23 to November 29 to attend this event.
5.Vogalonga Regata (May 31)
The Vogalonga Regata began in the year 1974 as a way of protesting to the use of motor boats on the Venetian canals. This massive gondola race sees approximately 1550 boats and 5800 rowers that race through the scenic areas of the canals and lagoons of Venice. It is one of the unique races in Italy and represents the pride that the people of Venice have for their traditions and handicrafts.
Festivals in June
1.Anniversary of the Republic (June 2)
The Anniversary of the Republic or the Festa della Repubblica marks the end of the monarchy in Italy. Following the end of World War II, the people of Italy voted to abolish the rule of the Monarchs, who had supported Mussolini during the war. The monarchs were forced to leave Italy and the country became a Republic. Although major tourist attractions are not closed on this day, you would find most of the cities to be crowded.
2.Festival of St. Ranieri, Pisa (June 16 and 17)
This festival is marked to commemorate the day when the remains of Saint Ranieri was placed in an urn at the Cappella dell’Incoronata. On this day, more than 70,000 candles and lights are lit not only at the cathedral but also on the buildings and churches that line the Arno. The fireworks that lit the sky make the evening even more beautiful. Apart from this, you would get to enjoy a thrilling boat race on the Arno River, on June 17.
Festivals in August
1.Ferragosto (August 15)
Ferragosto marks the annual holiday season in Italy and most restaurants and shops remain closed from August 15 to the beginning of September. Moreover, most Italians also leave for their countryside or beachside holiday during this time. However, Ferragosto has a religious significance too. Catholics in Italy believe it to be the day when the Virgin Mary rose to heaven on this day. Special prayers and mass happen in churches on this day.
2.Palio dell’Assunta, Seina (August 16)
Right after the Ferragosto is the Palio dell’Assunta, which is a famous ancient horse race. It is held at the central Piazza del Campo and is participated by people from the various neighbourhoods of Siena. The bareback horse riding happens on a dirt-covered area and is quite popular among the locals. Although done for fun, the Palio dell’ Assunta is quite thrilling to watch.
Festivals in September
1.Venice International Film Festival (September 2 to 12)
In 2023, The Venice International Film Festival celebrates its 77th year. It is one of the top three film festivals in the world. Most of the screenings and events of the film festival happen at the Palazzo del Cinema, in the island of Lido in Venice. During the 11-days festival, you would get to see some of the best international movies, plays, music, dance, art and architecture.
2.Regata Storica Venice (September 6)
A one-of-a-kind festival, the Regata Storica is a water pageant that started thousands of years ago. During this event, you would get to see costumes and boats from the 16th century that carry the Doge, his family and all the important officers to the Grand Canal. The festival also has four types of thrilling boat races. While each of the boat race is amazing to watch, the best is surely the Campioni su Gondolini, which make use of the smallest but the fastest gondolas.
Festivals in October
1.Eurochocolate in Perugia (October 16 – 25)
If you are a die-hard chocolate fan, the Eurochocate is a festival that you must attend. It is the International Chocolate Festival of Europe, the largest chocolate exhibition in the world. Millions of locals and tourists flock to Perugia in Central Italy during this 9-days chocolate festival. Apart from getting to taste different types of chocolates and flavours from all around the world, Eurochocolate also gives you the chance to attend cooking classes and workshops, watch fabulous performances, see chocolate-sculpting displays and buy different chocolate souvenirs including chocolate liqueur, chocolate bricks, chocolate-covered bananas and chocolate moulds.
Festivals in November
1.All Saints’ Day (November 1)
Celebrated on the 1st day of November, All Saints’ Day is dedicated to all the Saints of the Catholic faith, especially those who do not have a particular day designated to them. Special masses are held at most churches in Italy on this day. Another traditional way of celebrating this day is by eating the Ceci con le Costine, a special soup that is prepared with pork ribs and chickpeas. It is believed that people who eat this soup on All Saints’ Day would enjoy a good year.
2.All Soul’s Day (November 2)
All Soul’s Day is a day when the living beings remember their dead loved ones. The day usually begins with mass at the church or the cemetery or mass followed by a visit to the cemetery to meet one’s departed loved ones. Informal masses are also conducted at homes. It is a public holiday in Italy, and the Italians celebrate this day with traditional feast in their homes. As people believe that their loved ones return on this day, a chair on the dining table is left for them.
Festivals in December
1.Immaculate Conception (December 8)
Immaculate Conception is an important day for Catholics in Italy. It is believed to be the day of the conception of Mother Mary. People attend special masses at the church followed by an elaborate lunch with their family members. The Pope lays a wreath at the foot of the Statue of Madonna at Piazza Mignanelli in Rome. Moreover, this day also marks the beginning of winter and the holiday season. Christmas trees are lit and other decorations are put up on this day across the country. Several Christmas markets also sprung up on this day. Apart from this, you would also get to enjoy street entertainment, music and parades.
2.Christmas Day (December 25)
Christmas is the most important festival in Italy. You can attend special midnight masses on December 24 and 25 across Italy. One of the most important traditions here is the re-enacting the Nativity crib scene, and you would be able to see this at several places. The most popular among them is the ones you would find at Assisi. Other than this, no celebration in Italy can be complete without elaborate meals and Christmas is no different. While Italians have a light dinner (often without meat) on Christmas Eve, elaborate meals are made on Christmas Day. The festivities continue to the next day as well, which is celebrated as Santo Stefano.
Apart from these festivals, Italy also hosts several other popular cultural festivals. As the dates of some of the festivals are not fixed, it is always better to check them before you plan your Italian holiday.