A popular, charitable pre-Christmas event in the sprawling Giardino della Gherardesca is the Open Day organized by the Four Seasons Hotel Firenze, now in its tenth edition. Last year an impressive 8,000 visitors made their way through the lush space, with proceeds going to the purchase of a school bus for the children of Cittareale, a small town suffering the lingering effects of last year's earthquakes. This year funds will go toward supporting the teachers and students of two schools gravely damaged during the September 10 cloudburst in Livorno. At the Open Day, you'll find much more than just the landscape to explore: performances by the Light Gospel Choir, the Bandierai degli Uffizi (flag-throwers), the Compagnia di Babbo Natale (Santa Clauses) will animate the day; a charity market will offer plenty of chances to score last-minute gifts; and top-tier restaurants will set up food stands for when hunger strikes. A 1 euro donation grants you admission to the park. For more information, call 055.26261.
Let there be light! The Tuscan capital twinkles all over during the festive season. Check out TF's guide to the F-Light Festival, monument by monument, here.
Even cynics can hardly resist “cin cin”-ing and cavorting against the backdrop of piazza Santa Croce at the German-style Weihnachtsmarkt. We're now entering the square's final week in festive mode – the market shuts down on December 21. With your mulled wine in hand and a friend or two in tow, meander through the market stalls—generally set up to look like tiny wooden houses—while you shop for jams, sauces and other kitchen goodies, or just catch up on your people-watching. Street foods galore dot the marketplace, but pretzels, wurstel and sauerkrauts are three of the standouts. While this market is far from your best bet for artisanal gifts and local products, it’s atmospheric and a surefire way to get yourself in the spirit. For additional information, see the Facebook page or call 055 2705233.
Take a time-out from holiday fanfare and head to the cinema. The Odeon will soon welcome one of the year's most anticipated movies, which recently had its world premiere in Los Angeles. With Adam Driver, Lupita Nyong'o and members of the original Star Wars crew – including Carrie Fisher in her final film appearance before her December 2016 death – the epic space film has already received universal acclaim, with some critics calling it the best film in the franchise since The Empire Strikes Back. For showtimes, see the Odeon website.
Based on E.T.A. Hoffmann's 1816 story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, adapted by Alexandre Dumas and later set to music by Peter Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker (Lo Schiaccianoci) is a Christmas fable for the ages and a ballet that merits an annual viewing. With its colorful cast of characters (including miniature soldiers, mean mice and snowflakes come to life), plus its elaborate costumes, scenery and memorable music, The Nutcracker has made Christmas wishes come true for all ages for generations. The St. Petersburg Ballet will perform against the magnificent backdrop of Teatro della Pergola on December 23 in an afternoon show recommended for families (5.45pm) and a nighttime finale (8.45pm). Early booking via Boxoffice Toscana is highly advised.