Events, Lights & Traditional Markets
Christmas is undoubtedly a charming moment of the year all over the world but in Florence is pure magic: lights shimmering like stardust along the narrow cobblestone alleys, pine trees and street decorations shining around every corner and unique artisanal nativity scenes to surround you with the perfect traditional Christmas spirit! Let’s see in detail what the wonderful city of Florence has organized this Christmas to amaze its citizens and the many tourists that crowd its streets every year even during the Christmas Holidays!
THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
The popular local F-Light Festival returns from December 8th to January 6th. For a month thanks to the festival, over 15 places in Florence, including its iconic monuments and the beautiful squares, will be illuminated by video-mapping, projections, and light games. The focus of this year’s festival will be on the Moon marking 50 years since NASA’s successful Apollo 11 mission in 1969 with the Ponte Vecchio and other monuments used as a backdrop for spectacular light shows designed by Stefano Fake. Ponte Vecchio, in particular, will be among the protagonists of the event with a video mapping that takes up the theme of migration focusing on the world condition of refugees. The event will be inaugurated by the lighting of the Christmas Tree in the courtyard of the customs building of Palazzo Vecchio by the mayor of the city, followed then by the lighting of the trees in Piazza Duomo and Piazza Santa Maria Novella.
Heidelberger Weihnachtsmarkt: Officially it is called Heidelberger Weihnachtsmarkt, but for everyone, it is simply the Christmas market in Piazza Santa Croce: 50 typical wooden houses where you can find original gift ideas and decorations, taste flavours from all over Europe and spend some time with friends thanks to events for adults and children. The Christmas market, one of the most awaited events in Florence for the holidays will be waiting for you in front of the Basilica of Santa Croce from Saturday 23 November 2019 until Sunday 22 December. A place from 10.00 am to 10.00 pm.
Christmas market at the stadium: Around the stadium in Florence, the Christmas market becomes maxi with 220 stalls for the street trade: “Christmas in Campo di Marte” takes place on Sunday 8 December from 8.00 to 8.00 pm between Viale Paoli (from the end of Viale dei Mille to Piazza Berlinguer) and Viale Fanti (up to Viale Maniani). The event is organized by Confersencenti and brings clothing, accessories, street food and household items to the Artemio Franchi area.
Christmas Market of the Red Cross in Florence: Even this year the Red Cross of Florence is organizing a Christmas market whose proceeds will be donated to the needy families of the city: the event is housed in the Palazzo Capponi, where the local office of the volunteer organization is located. Antique and modern objects, clothing, accessories, bijoux, cosmetics, household linen, plants, decorations, toys and books for children and adults will be waiting for you in this tiny market from Saturday 29 November to Sunday 1 December 2019 (10.30 am – 6.30 pm).
Christmas Baazar: The “American Christmas market” or better the Christmas Bazaar organized by the Ailo association – The American International League of Florence ODV – returns to the suggestive XIX century greenhouse of the Horticultural garden. Brownies, vintage clothes, toys, handmade objects and Christmas decorations in a traditional event for the holidays that has been taking place for 44 years now, much loved by Florentines and not only, where you can breathe the stars and stripes Christmas atmosphere. All proceeds from the event are donated to local voluntary associations. The market will take place on 30 November and 1 December 2019 (Hours: Saturday 3.00pm – 6.00pm; 10.00 am – 6.00 pm)
Emergency Christmas Market: Many gifts of solidarity in the “Spazio Natale Emergency” market in Florence, which for the 2019 edition is in via dei Ginori 14. For about a month the temporary shop will unveil the stories of the many volunteers of the association and the commitment in the countries battered by war and poverty. Similar stores are also found in 14 other cities in Italy (in Tuscany in Pisa, as well as in Florence). The proceeds go to Emergency hospitals in Afghanistan and Iraq. The market will be open from 30 November until 24 December 2019 (Monday to Friday 12.00 – 7.00 pm; Saturday Sunday and holidays from 10.00 – 7.30 pm).
Nataleperfile market: This charity event organized at Palazzo Corsini by the Italian Foundation of Leniterapia will take place on the weekend of the Immaculate Conception, offering many gift ideas such as vintage clothes, quality productions, and objects donated by local companies. There is also a space for children, with creative workshops. The market will be open from 6 to 8 December from 10.00 am to 7.00 pm.
Fierucola: Another traditional event in the calendar of Florentine Christmas markets is the Fierucola of the Immaculate in Piazza Santissima Annunziata which brings the stalls of local producers to the historic centre. Space then for rural crafts, hand-made and zero-kilometre food, as well as voluntary associations. Under the loggia are planned weaving and self-construction games, open to children and adults. The market will be open on 7 & 8 December from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm.
ENTERTAINMENT AND CULTURAL EVENTS
During the Christmas Holidays, generally considered the coldest period in Florence, you will have the unique opportunity to have fun and practice some typical Winter sports while still staying in town! The Obihall (in eastern Florence), hosts the well-known Florence Winter Park with skating on ice, snow tubing and downhill ski. All necessary equipment can be rented on site. The Park is open from 20 November to 23 February 2020. The perfect activity for the whole family!
Babbo Running Firenze, a five-kilometre run in Santa costumes that will take on Florence’s streets on December 15. All the proceeds will go to children’s charity Tommasino Bacciotti Foundation and La Compagnia dei Babbo Natale. (Cost is 15 euro for adults; kids under 11 go free).
The popular Saint Petersburg Ballet will return to Florence’s magnificent Teatro della Pergola to perform the world-famous Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. The performance will take place on November 25 will the other masterpiece The Nutcracker will be performed on December 21.
The Charity Christmas Concert on December 8 (start at 8:30pm) at Ognissanti Church (borgo Ognissanti, 42, Florence), will be an event not to be missed with all donations going to the Cancer Tuscany Association.
DECEMBER 8th: IMMACULATE CONCEPTION DAY
December 8th in Italy is a very important National holiday that celebrates the Immaculate Conception. This celebration unofficially starts the preparations for Christmas as many families traditionally set up and decorate their Christmas trees and Nativity scenes in their homes on this very day. On December 8th in the city historic centre, the large Christmas tree will be set up in the magnificent setting of the Piazza del Duomo. The lighting up of the Christmas tree will be accompanied by an official public ceremony with the participation of Florence’s Mayor together with concerts and entertainment events.
In Piazza del Duomo you’ll also find the famous Nativity scene, just in front of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. The Nativity, with life-size unique statues, is made of terracotta by an artisan of Impruneta, a village in the surroundings of Florence famous for the production of terracotta artworks. Both the Christmas tree and the Nativity scene will be on display until January 6, the day of Epiphany. On this day, the terracotta figures will be replaced by real people and animals to recreate the three kings’ story around the streets of Florence: the Cavalcata of the Magi will begin in piazza Pitti at 2pm, reaching piazza Duomo at 3.30pm.
From 8th December to 6th January, 30 contemporary nativity scenes created by the Modena-born artist Carlo Ladurini will return to Rivoli Boutique Hotel. This year’s scenes focus on the Ponte Morandi bridge collapse in Genoa, in which 43 people lost their lives and over 600 were left homeless. Entrance is free but donations are welcome. Opens from 11am to 11pm daily.
Those who wish to join the Mass on Christmas day and on Christmas Eve may find celebrations in most of the churches of Florence and beyond. In the Cathedral of Florence in particular, the traditional Christmas Eve Mass will be celebrated by the Cardinal of Florence at midnight (Vigil prayers start at 11pm). On Christmas morning, the Mass will be celebrated at 10:30am, in conjunction with the Pope blessing in Rome.
MUSEUMS OPENING DURING CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS
Museums in Florence are generally closed on December 25th and January 1st only, in addition to their usual closing day. Please check the official website of the site for further information.