Travel Inspiration: The Festivals and Holidays of Italy Winter to Spring
While many travelers focus on summer travel, there are many different festivals and events throughout Italy that one can enjoy during Winter. From ancient folklore traditions to religious celebrations, traveling to Italy during this time period can be a fun-filled exploration.
Befana and Ephiphany - January
When it comes to celebrations the time around Christmas is magical. Christmas is just the beginning for Italians, starting the twelve days of Christmas and culminating in Ephiphany, January 6th. It is a time where folklore and religious significance meet in celebration, starting with the legend of Befana.
Befana is similar to Santa Claus, an old woman who delivers gifts to children the night before Ephiphany on January 5th. The largest Befana Festival is held in Urbania with parades, concerts and even an opportunity to have La Befana deliver presents to children. In Venice, the Epiphany Regatta hosts 50 men dressed as La Befana to race up the Grand Canal.
The Feast of Epiphany ends the Twelve Days of Christmas. Commemorating the visit of the Wise Men bearing gifts there are many events throughout Italy. In Rome, there is celebration in many festive markets and parades, with the Pope presiding over Mass at the Vatican. In Florence, a historical recreation of the Procession of the Magi takes place.
Carnevale - January / February
Carnevale is celebrated throughout the world, starting at the end of January. Carnevale in Venice is a spectacular event. From lighted shows on the water, parades and costumed dinners there are so many events to do and see, it may be impossible to participate in all. But if Venice isn’t the stop perhaps the Carnevale di Viareggio might be in order. Located in Viareggio, Northern Coast of Tuscany, giant, allegorical papier-maché floats turn the town into an experience, where spectators become participants. In the Historical Carnival of Ivrea , feasts, parades and the Battle of the Oranges bring history and spectacle to life for visitors. Carnevale is a dream that lasts through February 17th.
Other Festivals and Events - February/March
- Artefiera: Bologna International Fair of Modern and Contemporary Art runs February 2-5th and hosts over 1000 artists.
- The Banff Mountain Film Festival brings it’s world tour to Italy starting in Milan in February.
- March 8th is Festa della Donna, Women's Day Festival which is celebrated throughout Italy with specials for women in restaurants and sites.
- March 15th, the Ides of March, historical re-creations of the assassination of Julius Caesar take place in Rome.
- The Festa della Primavera aka Festival of Spring starts throughout Italy in late March with flowers throughout cities in Italy.
- Coinciding with Feast of Saint Joseph (19 March), the small town of Torrita di Siena hosts Palio dei Somari or the race of the donkeys.
- The Florentine New Year is celebrated in Florence on March 25.
For these and any other events to add on a custom tour contact Cultural Italy for all your needs.
Jennie Olson Six
Cultural Italy Staff Writer