Italy Events guide
Feast Day of San Sebastian
Each year across the Isle of Sicily, on January 20th, parades and celebrations take place in honour of Saint Sebastian. In Mistretta 60 men carry a statue of the Saint through the streets, whereas Acireale celebrates by hosting open-air singing competitions. In Ortono a big papier mache model of a boat is loaded with fireworks and set alight in front of the town Cathedral.
Forty days before Easter, the Italians celebrate the second largest religious festival in the world. The 2-day procession is most memorable in Catania, Sicily, where a giant statue of St Agatha is placed on a 40,000 pound silver carriage and pulled through the streets by 5,000 men. Drinking, eating and a fireworks display signals the finale of the annual event.
La Sensa: Venice’s Marriage to the Sea
Every March, for 1,000 years, the residents of the watery city of Venice have celebrated the strength and traditions of their city, and the city’s reliance on the sea. A procession of boats and gondolas from across Venice sails from St Mark’s Square to San Nicolo, where a golden ring is blessed by the city’s Patriarch and then tossed into the water by the Mayor of Venice.
The Race of the Ring
The Race of the Ring is an annual historical re-enactment held in the town of Narni in the Umbria Region. Horsemen armed with lances ride around the streets attempting to steal a large ring from rival teams. The event dates back to around 1371.
In the Piedmont town of Alessandria, a 3-day celebration takes place to commemorate the legacy that the Ancient Romans left on Italy. Held in the last week of May each year, parades, Roman feasts with authentic Roman recipes, gladiator battles, and chariot races all pay homage to Italy’s Roman heritage.
Sagra di San Giovanni
Held on Lake Como at the end of June, hundreds of small fire lamps are floated on the lake and a big fireworks display is held to commemorate Saint John Feast Day. The following morning boats are released onto the lake coated in regional flowers, and the area surrounding the lake erupts into a folk dancing competition.
Festa della Madonna Bruna
In the Basilicata Region of Italy, at the beginning of July, the cave-laden town of Matera lights up with the glow of thousands of lanterns and fireworks displays. A large statue of the town’s protector is beaten and burned to signal the town’s people’s gratitude to their protector. This reportedly has Italy’s best fireworks display at the climax of the celebrations.
Throughout August, the Italian capital of Rome awakens from its slump with numerous music and performing arts festivals held around the city. Events range from high-profile music concerts held by world famous bands, to small and open-air theatre plays.
In the Friuli-Venezia Region town of Cordovado, a noble wedding from 1571 is recreated in the first week of September. A wedding procession lines the streets to the local Church, followed by archery events, feasting and a Renaissance pageant.
Palio dei Rioni
Just south of Milan, in the town of Lodi, five neighbourhoods and three nearby villages compete to pull heavy iron horses to win a coveted trophy. The streets fill with market stalls and food carts for the spectators, and the winner hosts a celebratory festival in their neighbourhood or village.
Internationally renowned artists and directors host performances across the city of Rome. Each year new acts are showcased at venues across the city alongside the more established favourites. Opera, plays, dramatic theatre and so much more is available during the festival.
Wild Boar Festival
In the Medieval Tuscan town of Suvereto, every December, a ten day festival is held celebrating Italian foods and drinks; possibly the largest festival of the kind in the country. Wild boar burgers, wild truffles, olive oils, and a wide range of Italian specialities will be available.