Rome Yearly Calendar of Events
Rome is a cosmopolitan city with nearly 3,000 years of globally influential art, architecture and culture on display. There’s enough to explore to keep you busy for years, here are a few events over the year to keep you going.
- Epiphany/La Befana Ephiphany is a national holiday held on January 6 each year, marking the end of the Christmas season. Italian children wake up to sweets and toys in their shoes and there are many celebrations and parades throughout the country. In Vatican City, a procession of hundreds of people in medieval costumes walk along the wide avenue that leads up to the Vatican, carrying symbolic gifts for the Pope. The Pope says a morning mass in St Peter’s Basilica to commemorate the visit of the Wise Men bearing gifts for Jesus.
- Shopping Sales start around the beginning of January and last until mid-February.
- Festival of Saint Anthony January 17 is an Italian holiday. The feast day for Saint Anthony Abate is held at the church dedicated to him. As he is the patron saint of animals, one of its festivities includes the blessing of animals. Pet loving Romans bring their furry friends to be blessed, most notably at Sant’Antonio Abate on the Esquiline Hill. The celebration of Saint Anthony Abbott involves street processions, local food stalls and artisan crafts laid in the grounds of the Church of Sant’Antonio Abate and Sant’Eusebio on the Esquiline Hill in Rome.
- Carnival (Carnevale) and the beginning of Lent start as early as February 3. Both the pre Lenten festivities (Carnevale) and the religious processions, which begin on Ash Wednesday, are part of the tradition in the capital and the Vatican City. Many events take place in Piazza del Popolo, including choreographed horse shows, races, dancers and costumed performers. There are lots of activities for kids, including free horse rides in the Piazza, a merry-go-round and puppet shows. In the area around the Castel Sant’ Angelo offers an especially festive atmosphere with music and often a decorated artificial ice rink.
- Valentine’s Day (Festa di San Valentino) is celebrated very much the same way in Italy as it is in most cities with hearts, chocolates and romantic candlelit dinners.
- Sales continue remaining items are drastically reduced.
- International Women’s Day (Festa della Donna) is on March 8 every year, and in Italy it’s known as Festa della Donna (Festival of Women). The day is characterised by the men giving their partner’s bunches of yellow mimosa flowers, taking care of all the household chores, cooking dinner and ending the day with a relaxing foot massage. The city is overrun with mimosas.
- Commemoration of Caesar’s Death held on March 15 a number of cultural events are usually held in the Roman Forum near the statue of Caesar, commemorating his death, including a re-enactment of Caesar’s death that is held at the site of his assassination in the Torre Argentina archeological site. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ides_of_March
- Rome Marathon (Maratona di Roma) on the third Sunday in March each year, the Rome Marathon which draws runners from around the world. It starts at on the Via dei Fori Imperiali in the shadow of the Coliseum. proceeds through the city passing such famous landmarks as the Piazza di Spagna, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Saint Peter's and Piazza Venezia. Molto bello.
- Easter Week can be in March or April, though it always starts on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. Rome is the top Italian destination for Easter week, or Settimana Santa, primarily because of the events led by the Pope in Vatican City and Rome.
- Rome’s Birthday April 21 is Rome’s birthday, based on the legendary foundation of Rome by Romulus in 753 BC. Rome’s monuments, archaeological sites and many museums allow free entry, and there are a number of special events that take place throughout the city. There are concerts on Piazza del Campidoglio https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitoline_Hill, a parade, historical re-enactments at the Circus Maximus, the large field where chariot races where once held, and fireworks over the River Tiber. Many of the events generally take place the weekend closest to April 21st. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Founding_of_Rome
- Liberation Day is a national holiday and in Italy that is annually celebrated on April 25. It marks the fall of Mussolini's Italian Social Republic and the end of the Nazi occupation in Italy in 1945, towards the end of the second World War. Concerts, political rallies and parades take place in many towns, though Rome plays host to the most of the events, including the “Historical Path of Liberation,” a re-enactment in Persian-Nuccitelli Square that includes actors and historians.Many tourist shops, museums, restaurants, government offices, post offices, banks, schools and other educational institutions will be closed. Transport options, such as taxis, rail services between major cities and major long-route bus lines, are available but travellers are advised to check first with local transport authorities.
- International Workers’ Day May 1, Labour Day is a national holiday in Italy and you will find that most of the main attractions in Rome, such as the Colosseum, the Vatican Museums, the Borghese Gallery and other museums, will be closed on that day. This national holiday is celebrated throughout the country, including Rome, which hosts the annual free concert at Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano that starts at 2pm and ends close to midnight. Usually featuring a renowned Italian artist, there’s often a huge crowd and a vibrant party atmosphere.
- Open House Roma on the first weekend in May there are free guided tours of buildings and architecture studios in the city. http://www.openhouseroma.org
- Italian Open Tennis Tournament is held in early to mid May each year. The nine day event brings out many major tennis stars who use it as a warmup to the French Open. http://www.internazionalibnlditalia.com/en/
- Republic Day (Festa della Repubblica) is a big national holiday held on June 2 each year, similar to Independence Day in other countries. It commemorates the nation becoming a Republic in 1946 after the end of World War II. A huge parade is held on the Via dei Fori Imperiali followed by music in the Quirinale Gardens. Banks, many shops, and some restaurants, museums, and tourist sites will be closed on June 2, or they may have different hours. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festa_della_Repubblica
- The Feast of Saint John (Festa di San Giovanni) on June 24 celebrates the birth of Saint John the Baptist. This feast is celebrated in the vast piazza that it in front of the church of San Giovanni in Laterano, Rome's cathedral. Traditionally the celebration includes meals of snails (lumache) and suckling pig, concerts and fireworks.
- Saints Peter and Paul Day This religious holiday held on June 29, celebrates two of Catholicism’s most important saints. Special masses are held at Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican and San Paolo Fuori Le Mura. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feast_of_Saints_Peter_and_Paul
- Expo Tevere - Along the Tiber in Rome taking place from early to mid July, this huge arts and crafts fair takes place along the banks of the Tiber River from Ponte Sant’Angelo to Ponte Cavour.http://www.lungoiltevereroma.it/
- Alta Roma Fashion Week this bi annual fashion week is held each year in early to mid July and includes a number of fashion shows and exhibitions that are open to the public.http://www.altaroma.it
- Festival for the Rest of Us (Festa dei Noantri) is focused around the Feast of Santa Maria del Carmine. It is one of the most famous and popular festivals in the Trastevere neighbourhood of Rome. A religious procession where the statute of Madonna Fiumarola passes through the streets and creates a festive atmosphere all over.
- Festival di Caracalla, evenings at the Opera Under the Stars at the Baths of Caracalla take place from late July through the first week of August. The program is held at what was considered the cultural hub and vibrant social spot in Ancient Rome. Now the ruins, centuries later, have become an open-air improvised stage welcoming thousands of visitors and locals each summer.
- Festa della Madonna della Neve this festival held on August 5, celebrates the miraculous summer snowfall that was said to have occurred back in the year 352. Legend says that the Madonna appeared in Pope Liberio’s dream, and told him to build a church where he saw fresh-fallen snow the following day. The next day, Romans awoke to find the ground covered in snow, and Basilica di Santa Maria was built on the site. The event is re-enacted each year with a blizzard of white flower petals that flutter down from the basilica roof onto the crowds below, accompanied by a special sound and light show.
- The holiday of Assumption (Ferragosto) August 15, is the traditional start of Italians’ summer holidays. Most museums and tourist sites stay open, as well as shops in the downtown area, but many others shops and businesses shut down for the day. While locals usually head to the coast or the mountains, those who stay in town can expect to take part in dance and music festivals, including Gran Ballo di Ferragosto, which fills Rome’s squares with live dance performances, with a different type of dance in each square. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferragosto
- Sagra dell’Uva this harvest festival held in early September takes place at the basilica of Constantine in the Forum, offering visitors the chance to honour the grape. Grapes are sold at bargain prices, along with food and wine. It also includes lots of music and folksy street entertainment. http://www.lafestadelluva.it/?page_id=725
- Arts and Antique Fairs, there are a number of arts and crafts fairs held in Rome during the month of September for those who are in the market for fine art, antiques or Italian crafts. The antiques fair in Via dei Coronari starts in mid-September and runs for an entire month, while an art fair held along Via Margutta, one of Rome’s most picturesque streets known for its collection of trendy art studios, takes place around the same time. During the last week of September, Via dell’Orso near Piazaa Navona, hosts a crafts fair.
- RomaEuropa Festival is Rome's annual international cultural event, that features theatre, dance and music concerts and performances. Although the focus is on Classical music, the festival is famous for the diversity of its various performers and there really should be something to appeal to everyone in the extensive programme. The event has been held for many years and has increased in size and prestige so that now it is considered one of the best art festivals in the world. http://romaeuropa.net/
- International Film Festival of Rome takes place during the second half of October (sometimes into November) at the Auditorium Parco della Musica, the International Film Festival is a true red carpet event, showcasing a variety of international premieres, documentaries, exhibitions, live shows and concerts. It attracts A-list stars like Susan Sarandon and Martin Scorcese, along with local celebrities such as Monica Belluci. http://www.romeinternationalfilmfestival.com/
- Halloween although Halloween isn’t an Italian holiday, it’s become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly among young adults. Many of the city’s nightclubs host Halloween costume parties, offering the chance to dress up and go out dancing.
- All Saints Day November 1 is a public holiday, and a time when Italians remember their deceased loved ones by visiting cemeteries and graves. Many Romans visit churches and some even head to Rome’s catacombs. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Saints%27_Day
- The Roma Jazz Festival takes places throughout the second half of November and includes performances from Italian as well as international musicians that take place in the Auditorium Parco della Musica. http://www.romajazzfestival.it/?lang=en
- Feast of Saint Cecilia celebrating the patron saint of all musicians, the Feast of Saint Cecilia is an all-day event on November 22, held in Trastevere’s Basilica Santa Cecilia as well as the Catacombs of San Calliston, featuring plenty of live music and mouth-watering cuisine. http://www.saintcecilia.us/
- Christmas Markets Rome’s Christmas Markets open in early December and run through January 6. The famous Piazza Navona market is a favourite with its stalls selling handmade gifts, children’s toys, nativity crafts and delicious Italian holiday treats.
- Feast of the Immaculate Virgin. On this December 8 holiday marking the Immaculate Conception, the Pope celebrates a religious function at the Spanish Steps, leading a procession from the Vatican to Piazza di Spagna where he lays a wreath on the Virgin Mary Statue. He then moves on to give mass at the church of Santa Maria Maggiore. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feast_of_the_Immaculate_Conception
- Santa Lucia Day. The feast day of Santa Lucia, December 13, includes a procession from Castel Sant’Angelo to Saint Peter’s Square. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Lucy%27s_Day
- Christmas Eve/Christmas. Christmas Eve is a time spent with family, visiting Christmas markets and seeing the completion of nativity displays as the baby Jesus is added. In Saint Peter’s Square, this is when the nativity display is unveiled. Many also attend midnight mass at Saint Peter’s Basilica, the second largest church in the Christian world, where the Pope delivers his speech to a vast crowd in person and across the globe, with the broadcast going out to more than 40 countries.
- Festa di San Silvestro/New Year’s Eve. December 31 in Rome brings hundreds of celebrations that take place throughout the night, with all the city’s magnificent churches and old piazzas donning spectacular decoration. Piazza del Popolo holds the largest public celebration, crowds of visitors and locals gather together to enjoy rock and classical music, dancing and the breathtaking fireworks to ring in the new year.
- Finaly on New Years day you can take the family to the square to watch circus performers, or walk down to the magnificent church of Santa Maria del Popolo, to check out its traditional nativity scenes from all over the world.
If you plan to visit Rome on a national holiday never fear, remember Rome is also an open-air museum and with sights like Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, there is a plethora of things to see and do in the Eternal City.
Please note: This list is a general guide only and just a taste of what’s on in Rome, please check individual events date details.