Make the most of festive Florence with our guide to the holiday season in the city. From the twinkling lights of via Tornabuoni to the cozy atmosphere of the many Christmas markets, there’s no shortage of magic moments over these chillier months.
Florence gets a festive makeover each year, with projections, video mapping and art installations adorning the city’s best-known monuments. One of the most significant artistic light festivals in Europe, the magical displays of the Green Line Firenze are promoted by the City of Florence and under the artistic direction of Sergio Risaliti, bringing the centuries-old settings to life with striking exhibits that spread smiles throughout the city.
An ideal winter day for those seeking a little more action this holiday season, the Florence Ice Village is freezing over Fortezza da Basso with a 300-metre ice skating rink (said to be the largest one in Europe) until January 15. Strap on your skates and take a spin throughout the scenic park, or for an unforgettable view of the city from greater heights, ride the photo-worthy Ferris wheel that returns this year, with street food stalls to restore your energy. A Christmas market adds to the fun until December 24.
Firenze Winter Park is open until February 26 at lungarno Aldo Moro 7, with an ice skating school and frozen fun for everyone.
Head outside Florence for a taste of Tuscan festivities with the OltreColle Christmas Edition in Toscana Resort Castelfalfi from 2pm to late evening, December 17-18. Music, art and great food are guaranteed, with the allure of the lights and the Christmas atmosphere making it well worth the (short) trip. The medieval village is transformed into a Christmas wonderland, with local crafts, traditional products, installations and performances spreading joy.
From 5.30pm on December 7, the annual Christmas tree lighting will take place. Palazzo Vecchio, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, piazza Duomo, piazza San Firenze, and piazzale Michelangelo will all be illuminated by Christmas trees, officially kicking off the Christmas season here in Florence. The trees (donated by Euroambiente) will be decorated in theme with the rest of the Green Line attractions, taking inspiration from nature and the four elements, curated by Liceo Artistico Alberti-Dante and Liceo Artistico Statale di Porta Romano.
Be sent to far off lands as you listen to Tchaikovsky’s soaring strings and gaze in wonder at the international ballerinas from the Romanian National Opera as they take over Teatro della Pergola with dream-like dancing on December 23, performing Swan Lake. Tickets cost from 22 euro to 57.20.
Teatro Verdi hosts the famous Harlem Gospel Choir on December 9, with a tribute to Nina Simone a highlight of their extraordinary Christmas show.
Embrace the holiday season with an evening at the theatre on the occasion of the inauguration of the modern Teatro di Fiesole. Canadian pianist Hershey Felder will play the role of Beethoven in his original portrait of the German composer. Performances on December 6, 7, 10 + 11 are in Italian, with the English version on December 9 when you can join The Florentine for a welcome drink at 7.45pm, followed by the show at 8.45pm. Special price for The Florentine newsletter subscribers: 20 euro (instead of 28.75 euro).
Whimsy and wonder are in full effect at Teatro Verdi’s annual children’s concert on December 3. Narrations of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman are accompanied by live music and projections of the much-loved illustrations.
The doors of the Mascarade Opera Foundation at Palazzo Corsini open on December 8 for a grand Christmas concert, with the Mascarade Emerging Artists performing with a warm Yuletide spirit under the direction of Julia Lynch, the programme’s head of music.
Join La Compagnia di Babbo Natale and their band of Santas for a festive performance at Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino where they will be accompanied by the Maggio orchestra and their rendition of Verdi’s Four Seasons.
Spend your Christmas Eve waiting for Santa at Teatro Verdi, as the Orchestra della Toscana perform on December 24.
Head to piazza Santa Felicità on December 10 and 18 to be serenaded by the Cori di Natale with a repertoire of Christmas music favorites.
St. James Episcopal Church (via Bernardo Rucellai 9) holds the First Mass of Christmas at 6pm on December 24, with Midnight Mass at 11pm. Mass on Christmas Day will be held at 10am. Services are in English, with hymns and organ accompaniment. email@example.com
St Mark’s English Church hosts a Christmas tree lighting event at 4pm on December 3, with an afternoon of crafts for children. A further afternoon of creativity for kids will be held from 4pm on December 10. A traditional Christmas carol service with the St Mark’s choir, followed by mince pies and mulled wine, starts at 6pm on December 17, with Christmas Eve Mass at 11pm, and Christmas Day Mass at 10.30am.
The Santi Apostoli Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Christmas Vigil on December 24 with a Mass in English at 5pm and in Italian at 6pm, with Christmas Vigil Night Mass in English and Italian at 11pm. On December 25, Mass in English takes place at 10.30am and in Italian at 11.30am and 7pm. The church will lead a Holy Land Pilgrimage in English from January 15-22, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Get in touch with Florence’s vibrant Jewish community for guided tours of the Synagogue, museum and cemetery during Hanukkah, December 18-26. www.firenzebraica.it.
The holiday spirit is in the air (or maybe that’s just the smell of gingerbread cookies in the oven). If you’re in town or planning to come into the city for a walk along the sparkly light-soaked streets, be sure not to miss these amazing Christmas markets for all kinds of delicious treats and unique holiday treasures.
From December 3-18, visit the Le meraviglie della Natività exhibition at Museo degli Innocenti and follow the journey of the restoration of the Basilica of the Nativity of Bethlehem. The exhibition acts as a thread through the restoration process as well as the historical roots of the Nativity scene.
From December 9 to 24, the Meyer pediatric hospital returns to piazza della Repubblica with a serires of charitable initiatives.
The mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, delivers his Christmas message at 5pm on December 20 from the Salone dei Cinquecento, with a concert organized by performers from the Andrea Bocelli Foundation.
At 11.30am on January 6, the Befana (traditionally an elderly woman who delivers gifts to children on the occasion of the Epiphany) will descend from the arch of piazza della Repubblica and the Rinascente store to the delight of awaiting children (and not only!).