December 8th in Italy is a National holiday that celebrates the Immaculate Conception and the countdown to Christmas starts as many families traditionally use this day to set up and decorate their Christmas tree and Nativity scene in their homes. We do it as well and prepare your home in Florence for your Christmas holiday in Florence.
The city lights up into a small holiday wonderland each year until January 6th with Christmas trees and lights, holiday window displays and Santa Claus eating tons of traditional roasted chestnuts.
And exactly on that day in Florence’s historic center the large Christmas tree is set up in the magnificent setting of the Piazza del Duomo. The lighting up of the Christmas tree by Florence Mayor is accompanied by an official public ceremony and several events, such as concerts and entertainments for everyone. In front of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore the Nativity has life-size beautiful statues made in terracotta by an artisan of Impruneta, a village in the surroundings of Florence famous for the production of terracotta items.
WHAT TO DO
From December 8th to January 8th the Florence Light Festival will light the most famous monuments and places in town with video-mapping, projections, lightning effects, educational activities and events in 15 different places in town.
The Festival will start on December 8th lighting the great Christmas tree in Piazza Duomo. This is the official start of the Christmas season in Florence and the beginning of the F-Light events with the video-mapping on Ponte Vecchio.
The leitmotiv for this year will be around the concept of source, connecting two parallel universes: light and water, the beginning of life. At the same time, several monuments will be flooded with light: churches, historical buildings and towers. As usual, museums will host labs and other activities for children and their families.
The biological market in Piazza Santo Spirito is due on Sunday December 17th, 9 AM to 7 PM. This Christmas Fair promotes biological and biodinamic agriculture on a small scale, with rural products and hand made food.
The tradition ‘Heilderberg Market in Piazza Santa Croce is back this year with strudel, wurstel, pretzels and more. The little 40 wooden huts will fill the beautiful piazza, bringing a slice of a little holiday spirit every day 10am-8pm, piazza Santa Croce form nov. 28th - dec. 17th.
Bundle up and enjoy skiing, ice skating and tobogganing on the banks of the Arno. After schussing down the piste or executing tow loops on the ice rink, indulge in some après-ski at the bars or enjoy a hearty meal at the restaurant.
Obihall, Lungarno Aldo Moro, Florence.
WHAT TO EAT (AND DRINK)
We have to be honest, the Christmas holidays are about food: the dinners with colleagues in December, the fish menu for the 24th evening, endless lunches and dinners in family the 25th and 26th. The fancy dinner on December 31st and the lentils for good luck on January 1st.
Are you curious to taste our typical flavors and celebrate with a Christmas cakes? Book in advance your Acacia's Christmas basket
Christmas Eve in Florence, read in our blog where to dine.
THE 25TH AND 26TH OF DECEMBER: NATIONAL HOLIDAYS
For a truly Florentine Christmas experience, head to the Duomo for midnight Mass in Italian on Christmas Eve! As entrance to the mass is on a first-come, first-served basis, we recommend arriving before 10:30pm to ensure a spot. Want to experience the Christmas Mass in English, instead? Head to St. Mark’s or St. James (both holding midnight Masses at 11pm), complete with joyful music.
San Miniato Abbey, open for a mass with Gregorian chant: 24/12 midnight.
Keep in mind that, outside of the hours when Mass is being held, Florence’s churches are mainly closed on Christmas Day. At the Duomo, the entrance to climbing the dome is closed on both Christmas Day and December 26.
Whether you’re looking to celebrate in a restaurant, or with locals outside in a piazza, Florence offers a wide range of options for celebrating Capodanno (New Year’s)! The city is famous for its concerts in the piazzas and its beautiful firework displays (best places to view them: from along the Arno, or Piazzale Michelangelo). For dinner, visitors are spoilt for choice.
Lots of restaurants are open on New Year’s Eve, offering Florentine specialties—and some even with live entertainment. Again, though, make sure you book in advance. And yes, our favorite restaurants for Christmas, above, also serve New Year’s Eve dinner!
New Year's Eve in Florence is celebrated in the main squares of the city with concerts of various kinds, from classical music to the Gospel. The main outdoor event of the New Year's Eve 2018 in Florence will take place at the Piazzale Michelangelo with Francesco Renga and the rapper Baby K in concert. Read here to find more suggestions to celebrate the New Year's Eve in town.
On the afternoon of the 6th of January a procession of the Three Kings reaches Piazza della Signoria where they are received by the “sbandieratori” (flag wavers); it then proceeds towards Piazza Duomo, where they finally offer their gifts to baby Jesus. This ancient tradition is said to have started in the XII, in which there was a committee, the Compagnia de’ Magi, which dedicated every three years to the organization of the big city event known as the «Cavalcata dei Magi» (cavalcade of the Kings). The cavalcade was divided in three processions which reunited in front of the Baptistry and then entered the Basilica di San Marco to adore baby Jesus. The Cavalcade reached its peak during the reign of the Medici and its best representation is still the fresco by Benozzo Gozzoli in Palazzo Medici Riccardi.
Merry Christmas from all of us!