Are you busy planning your run-up to Christmas?!
Well, if you are on the lookout for fun and exciting things to do during the holiday season, fear not. Here is my extensive Christmas Guide listing in alphabetical order the Christmas markets, events and happenings in and around Vicenza and the Veneto in Northern Italy.
I have tried to provide as much Christmas-pertinent information, ideas and links as possible. Christmas markets, Nativity scenes, food fairs, historical events, Christsmas cooking classes, Christmas lights switch-on events, ice rinks… Everything is included! For opening times and to double-check dates, please, always refer to the official website or Facebook page of the events’ organisers. I have provided them for almost each event.
If I have skipped your event, please, send me details (or invite me to attend as a blogger), so that I can include it in my Christmas Guide below.
My Christmas Guide is detailed, but not exhaustive, as there are hundreds of events taking place at this time of the year in and around Vicenza and the Veneto. Still, I have tried to include the biggest, brightest and most exciting ones.
So, without further ado, get comfortable and start penciling days out in your festive diary.
N.B. Please, don’t forget to share the link to my Christmas Guide with all the people you know who are looking for information about Christmas things to do in and around Vicenza and the Veneto. Thank you! I really appreciate it!
Christmas Guide 2017
Markets, Events and Happenings In and Around Vicenza and the Veneto, Northern Italy
Castelnuovo del Garda – Gardaland Magic Winter, 8th December 2017 to 7th January 2018 (open on some days only, click on the link to find out the specific dates).
Rimini, Emilia-Romagna – Italia in miniatura – Hundreds miniatures of famous Italian and European buildings. Special entertainment and events during the holiday season.
Riva del Garda, Trentino – The Santa Claus House – 2nd December 2017 – 7th January 2018. Visit Santa and Mrs Santa, play and work on your own creation, check out the North Pole and the Elves’ Cave.
- Avvento in Musica 2017 at the San Trovaso Church – Free concerts at 4:00 pm on 3rd, 10th, 17th and 24th December. Click here to see the flyer of the event.
- Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute – 4.00 pm – 5.00 pm, 9th December 2017, Gospel and pop concert by Joy Singers.
- Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, San Polo – Free concerts at 4:00 pm on 26th December 2017 and 6th January 2018.
- Santa Lucia Train Station – 11.00 am – 12.00 pm, 9th December 2017, Flash Mob with Joy Singers and an artwork presentation by the artist Marco Lodola
Verona – Series of free Christmas concerts during the Nuremberg Christmas Market. See the full program here.
- Advent Concert with the Choir, Orchestra and Jazz Band of Vicenza – 20.45 pm, 3rd December 2017, Teatro Comunale di Vicenza.
- Christmas Concert by the Pueri Cantores Children’s Choir – 4.00 pm to 6.00 pm, 17th December 2017, San Lorenzo Temple, Piazza di San Lorenzo. Free entrance.
- Counting Down to Christmas – 7.30 pm, 10th December 2017, Teatro Ca Balbi. Christmas concert with the Soldiers’ Theatre & Annual Holiday Show. Free entrance.
Christmas Cooking Classes
Bassano del Grappa – I biscotti dei Remondini li facciamo noi – 7th, 14th and 21st December 2017, Museo della Stampa e della Ceramica, Palazzo Strum. A cookie making workshop for the little ones. You can see pictures from last year’s workshops here.
Vicenza – Il Mondo di Bu – Cooking classes for kids, held in a gorgeous Palladian palace. Held in Italian, the owner speaks English, too. There is a rich pre-Christmas programme of events such as Christmas cupcake class among other things. Check their Facebook page for more details.
Asiago – La Corsa dei Babi Natale (5km – 10 km Santa Claus Run/Walk) – 10 am, 17th December 2017
Chiusa (Klausen), Alto Adige – Medieval parade – 4.30 pm, 2nd December 2017.
Mira – Corri con Babbo Natale a Mira (Run with Father Christmas in Mira) – 9:30 am, 3rd December 2017. This will be the seventh edition of this fun event.
Thiene – Natale di Fiaba (Fairytale Christmas), 9th/10th and 16th/17th December 2017 – Over 300 fairytale characters will take over the historical centre of Thiene. Click here to read about the magical creatures of Veneto whom I met at the event a couple of years ago. Click here to read about the tasty arrosticini thienesi which are one of the culinary stars of the event.
- My Christmas Venice – various events all through the month of December. Click on the link for dates and times.
- The Christmas Ride – 8.30 am, 10th December 2017. Third edition of the ride where all the bikers are dressed as Santa Claus.
- Regatta dei Babbi Natale (Santa Claus Regatta) – 9.30 am, 16th December 2017. Eight edition. Scores of people dressed as Santa will compete in small traditional Venetian boats along the Grand Canal from San Marco (Pieta) to Ca Foscari. There will be an accompanying water parade and children will be able to meet Santa and his elves on Santa’s own boat.
- Corsa dei Babi Natale (Santa Claus Run) – 9.30 am, 17th December 2017. Starts from Campo San Giacometo and finishes at Giardini di Castello.
Verona – La Corsa dei Babbi Natale (Santa Claus Run) – 10.00 am, 17th December 2017
Vicenza – Corri Babbo Natale Corri (Santa Claus Run) – 10.00 am, 23rd December 2017, Campo Marzo – Piazza Castello – Corso Palladio – Contra Santa Corona – Duomo – Campo Marzo. Open to all ages. 8 euros to take part (3 euros if you already have a Santa Claus outfit) which includes a Santa Claus outfit, hot chocolate and a slice of panettone. 2.50 euros if you don’t want to run but would like a cup of hot chocolate and some panettone.
Christmas Lights Switch-On Events
Asiago – Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, 5.00 pm, 8th December 2017, Piazza Il Risorgimento. Parade along Corso IV Novembre of the kids of Asiago, Santa Claus and the Folk Band of Caldonazzo. Fireworks. Hot chocolate for all.
Montecchio Maggiore – Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony – 5.30 pm, 8th Decemner 2017. Santa Claus will be in attendance. With hot chocolate and sweets for everyone.
Montegrotto Terme – 9:00 pm on 18th November 2017 at Hotel Terme Preistoriche. Around 31 000 LED lights and countless Christmas displays and figures.
Vicenza – 5.30 pm, 25th November 2017
The dates for Padua, Venice and Verona don’t seem to have been confirmed as of yet. Verona is expected to switch on its Christmas lights at the end of November.
Ala, Trentino – 10.00 am to 19.00 pm, 25th – 26th November, 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 9th, 10th, 16th, 17th and 23 December 2017. Click here for more information.
Arco, Trentino – 17th November 2017 – 7th January 2018. Check the official Facebook page for more details.
Barbarano Vicentino – I Sapori di Santa Caterina with Christmas Market – 9.00 am – 7.00 pm, 26th November 2017.
Bassano del Grappa – 19th November 2017 to 6th January 2018. Check the full program of Christmas events at Bassano del Grappa here.
Bolzano, Alto Adige – Italy’s biggest Christmas Market – 24th November 2017 to 6th January 2018. Opening ceremony on 23rd November 2017.
Bressanone, Alto Adige – 24th November 2017 to 6th January 2018. Click here for more information.
Camisano Vicentino – 10th, 17th and 24th December 2017, Via XX Settembre and surrounding streets. Free sweets and hot chocolate for all children on 17th December.
Castello di Codego (Treviso) – 9.00 am to 8.00 pm, 8th December 2017. See the official leaflet of the event here.
Chiusa (Klausen), Alto Adige – 1st December to 24th December 2017, every Friday to Sunday from 10.00 am to 7.00 pm (on 24th December until 12 noon only). Find more information here.
Gallio – Christmas Fairytale – 8th December 2017 to 7th January 2018. 10.00 am – 12.30 pm and 15.30 pm to 19.00 pm on 8th, 9th, 10th, 16th and 17th December. Every day from 22nd December 2017 to 7th January 2018. This is the Plateau’s Oldest Christmas Market. You can combine it with the Christmas Market in Asiago and see them both in one day.
Jesolo – Christmas Village – 2nd December 2017 – 7th January 2018
Lake Garda – Christmas Markets are a plenty in the towns on the shores of Italy’s largest lake. Click here for a blog about visiting the Christmas Markets in Garda, Bardolino and Lazise.
Levico Terme, Trentino – 25th November 2017 to 6th January 2018. Find more details here. Fireworks at 9.30 pm on 2nd December 2017 (the market will remain open until 10:30 pm on this day).
Mantua – Thun Winter Village – 1st – 26th December 2017
Marostica – 3rd, 10th and 17th December. Click here to see the official leaflet of the event with full details.
Merano, Alto Adige (South Tyrol) – 24th November 2017 to 6th January 2018. Find more details here.
Noventa Vicentina – 9.00 am to 8.00 pm, 17th December.
Rovereto, Trentino – 24th November 2017 to 6th January 2017. Official opening – 5.00 pm on 24th November 2017 at Piazza delle Erbe. Find more information here. Click here and here to find out why you need to make the short journey from Vicenza to Rovereto any time of the year, really.
Santorso/Villa Rossi – 9.00 am to 7.00 pm, 8th December 2017. Wooden chalets with handmade products. At 3.00 pm – opening of the Santa Claus’ chalet. Exhibition of Nativity scenes inside Villa Rossi and in the park of Villa Rossi.
Schio – A rich program of Christmas events including a Christmas market will be on in Schio from the 3rd December onwards. Find all the details here. Just scroll down the page for a day by day schedule.
- Christmas Market and ice rink at Campo San Polo – from 8th December 2017;
- Christmas Market on Strada Nova, between Campo di San Felice and Campo dei Santi Apostoli, Dorsoduro – usually opens around mid-December until Christmas Eve;
- Christmas Antiques Market at Campo San Maurizio – 8th to 10th December 2017. More information here;
- Christmas Market at Palazzo Zenobio, Dorsoduro – 10.00 am to 8.00 pm, 9th, 10th, 16th, 17th, 23th and 24th December 2017;
- Christmas Village at Campo Santo Stefano (near Gallerie dell’Accademia) – 2nd December 2017 to 7th January 2018.
Verona – Nuremberg Christmas market, 17 November – 26 December 2017. This is the tenth edition of the market which attracts over 80 exhibitors and thousands of shoppers.
Vicenza – Magico Natale (Magic Christmas) – 1st December 2017 to 7th January 2018 on Corso Fogazzaro, Via Cesare Battisti and Corso Palladio
Christmas Villages in Garden Centres
De Antoni Garden – Camisano Vicentino
Flover – Bussolengo (Verona)
Green Village – Cittadella
Viridea – Torri di Quartesolo (Vicenza)
Epiphany/ La Befana Events
Befana is the good witch who brings sweets and treats to the good Italian children on Epiphany Eve. The bad ones get a piece of coal which nowadays is made of sugar, so it is not all bad. Befana has a long nose and looks a bit scary, but otherwise she has a very good heart. There are many events dedicated to Befana on the 6th January every year in the Veneto and Italy. Some of them end with a big bonfire on which a huge effigy of Befana is burnt in a direct reference to old pagan beliefs.
Bassano del Grappa
- Motobefana – 8.00 am – 2.00 pm, 6th January 2018, Palazzo Bonaguro, Via Angarano. A motorbike ride with the bikers dressed as Befana;
- Bassano Citta della Befana – La Befana Incontra Babbo Natale (Bassano City of Befana – Befana meets Father Christmas) – 2.30 pm, 6th January 2018, Piazza Garibaldi.
Mira Porte (Mira, Venezia) – Festa dea Befana – 10.00 am – 7.00 pm, 14th January 2018. With stands, music and men dressed as Befana rowing in the Venetian style. Keen an eye on the official Facebook page of the organiser for further news.
- Regata delle Befane – 11:00 am, 6th January 2018. A fun rowing race from San Toma to Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal between five men dressed as Befana. Click here for a blog about the event;
- Clock Tower at St. Mark’s Square – take a spot with a good view of the clock as at midday on the 6th January 2018, you will see a once-a-year event – the Nativity procession of the figurines of the Tree Wise Men and the Virgin Mary, driven by a mechanical device. The figurines were made in the 18th century replicating the originals which had been built in 1499.
Verona – Brusar La Vecia – 6.00 pm, 6th January 2018, Piazza Bra. Music and fun will precede the burning of a large effigy of Befana.
Cologna Veneta – Festival of Mandorlato, 8th to 10th December 2017. Mandorlato is a traditional Christmas delicacy in Northern Italy and the one produced in the small walled town of Cologna Veneta is especially prized. Read more about it here.
Cremona, Lombardy – Festival of Torrone, 18th to 26th November 2017. Cremona in Lombardy is famous not just for its violins. Torrone is a traditional nougat produced in the city. It is usually eaten around Christmas and can be either very hard or soft and chewy in texture.
Montecchio Maggiore – Fair of the Mostarda Vicentina – 9.30 am – 10.00 pm, 8th – 10th December 2017. At Piazza Marconi Guglielmo.
Venice – FoodVillage, from 7th December 2017, Campo San Vio, Dorsoduro. Street food, music and gourmet snacks all through the month of December. Opening ceremony and festive walk at 4.30 pm on 7th December 2017. At 6.30 pm on 7th December 2017 – Christmas Spritz. Download the event’s official leaflet for a 10% off discount coupon.
Temporary ice rinks are set up all over Northern Italy in the month before Christmas and most stay open until the end of January. Some of the cities and towns with an ice rink are: Bardolino, Cittadella, Treviso, Venice (Mestre and Campo di San Polo), Vicenza. The dates for the ice rink at Campo San Polo in Venice are expected to be 8th December 2017 to 13th February 2018. The small ice rink in Piramidi Shopping Centre outside Vicenza is already open.
Seeing a Living Nativity (Presepe Vivente) is one of the most authentic Christmas experiences you can have in Italy. Click here for a blog describing the Living Nativity in Vicenza. Also, check out:
Creazzo – at 5.00 pm and then again at 6.30 pm, 10th December 2017, Piazza Roma. Click here to see the official leaflet of the event. In case of bad weather, the Living Nativity will be held at the same times on the 17th December 2017.
Grotte Preistoriche di Villaga – 1.30 pm – 7.00 pm, 29th -30th December 2017. The only Living Nativity in the Veneto held inside a prehistorical cave. See the event’s official Facebook page here.
San Pietro in Gu – keep an eye on the official Facebook page for when this year’s dates are announced.
Vicenza – 5.00 pm – 7.00 pm, 16th December 2017 – from Chiesa dei Servi (Piazza Biade) do Chiesa del Gonfalone (Piazza del Duomo). Click here to see Vicenza’s council description of the event.
Nativity Scene Displays
Setting up richly decorated and extremely detailed Nativity Scenes is an essential part of Christmas in Italy. Here are some suggestions how to see the best of them in and around Vicenza and the Veneto.
Chiesa dei Carmini, Vicenza – this is my personal favourite Nativity Scene in Vicenza. It is set up in a separate small room. It is extremely detailed showing the whole city of Bethlehem. Beautiful! Read more about the Carmini Church in Vicenza here.
Jesolo – Sand Nativity – a Nativity Scene made entirely of sand. 8th December 2017 – 12th February 2018
Nativity Scenes, Vicenza – check this website for information about the Nativity Scenes set up in Vicenza. Or, simply walk in as many churches in town as you can to admire their Nativity Scene this year.
Verona – 34th International Exhibition of Nativity Scenes – 7th December 2017 – 12th January 2018, Arena di Verona. Over 400 Nativity Scenes from all over the world. It is a beautiful exhibition with some truly spectacular Nativity Scenes. Based on my experience from previous years, some of the displays can be a bit high for small children to see well, so prepare to have to hold them in your hands to give them a good view.
New Year’s Eve / New Year’s Day
Vicenza – Capodanno (New Year’s Eve) in Piazza dei Signori. Music, dancing, fireworks.
Lido di Venezia – New Year’s Day Swim Off. A traditional swim in the icy waters of the Venetian Lagoon. Organised by the Ibernisti di Venezia club, this will be the 40th edition of the swim. Ibernista can be translated in English as an ‘ice swimmer’.
Riva del Garda – Tuffo di Capodanno – Start the New Year by taking a dip in the icy waters of Italy’s biggest lake – Lago di Garda. Or just watch the brave souls who do it.
Barbarano Vicentino – Fiera di Santa Caterina – 694th edition, 9:00 am, 25th November 2017
Feast of Santo Stefano – 26th December 2017 – A national public holiday celebrating St. Stephen who is believed to be the first Christian martyr.
Verona – I Bancheti di Santa Lussia – 10th – 13th December 2017. A market with over 300 stalls at Piazza Bra on the occasion of the Feast of St. Lucia. The Sicilian saint is venerated in Verona. On the night of the 12th December, St. Lucia arrives on her donkey to bring sweets and treats to good children and to leave a small piece of coal to the ones who didn’t behave well during the year.
Piramidi (Vicenza) – beautifully decorated, with a small ice rink and a Christmas train, this shopping centre just outside of Vicenza is a great place to go to with the kids for a quick dose of Christmas cheer. Dates and events for 2017 are to be confirmed. The ice rink is already open.
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