BALLET/ The Nutcracker
December 21, Teatro della Pergola
The Saint Petersburg Ballet performs Tchaikovsky’s mesmerizing masterpiece as the Christmas classic returns to Florence. The enchanted tale of toy soldiers, dancing flowers, fairies and royalty is the perfect way to celebrate the festive season. Set on Christmas Eve in the early 19th century, the performance is a vision of compelling dreams with snowy forests, magical beings and elegant swirling by some of the world’s most accomplished ballerinas. Book tickets to the ultimate Christmas extravaganza online at boxofficetoscana.it or see www.teatrodellapergola.com.
Teatro della Pergola, via della Pergola 12–32, Florence
From the Ganges to the Arno, the River to River Indian film festival was founded in 2001 as the first festival in the world outside India dedicated to Indian cinema. Showcasing the very best of contemporary Indian cinema, the intriguing line-up features photography exhibitions titled What Remains of India and Mystic India, talks with filmmakers and actors, as well as cooking lessons to explore this wonderfully rich culture. From Bollywood studios to the land of the Maharajas, this is a unique opportunity to discover vibrant India through its extraordinary filmmaking. For the full programme, see www.rivertoriver.it.
Cinema La Compagnia, via Camillo Cavour 50/R, Florence, and other locations
Take a glimpse into the life of one of the most iconic tenors ever to grace the stage. Directed by Oscar-winner Ron Howard, the documentary is made up of previously unseen footage, interviews with his family, and clips of his most important performances, including the 1990 World Cup in Italy in which his powerful rendition of Nessun Dorma still gives goosebumps today. Ron Howard's 2019 tribute to the world-renowned maestro will be screened at the Cinema La Compagnia. Tickets cost 8 euro, screening times available at www.cinemalacompagnia.it. The film will be screened in English with Italian subtitles.
Cinema La Compagnia,
via Camillo Cavour, 50/R, Florence
Rediscover listening at Lucia, la radio al cinema, a purely auditory affair. Manifattura Tabacchi hosts this inaugural festival celebrating radio productions, podcasts and aural storytelling from all over the world. Presented and promoted by Radio Papesse, the packed programme sees international authors, producers and artists gather to celebrate the art of narration without images. The meaning behind the name of the festival is that the Latin word for light (lux) is the etymology for Lucia, or Saint Lucy, the patron saint of the blind, who is celebrated on December 13, the shortest day of the year. Narratives, documentaries and live fiction are combined as if in a cinema as subtitles are projected on screen while words fill the air. Other unique events include a workshop held by Jonathan Zenti on how to make a podcast and children’s "noise workshops". Learn more at www.luciafestival.org.
Manifattura Tabacchi, via delle Cascine 33-35, Florence
Freshen up your stock of decorations or get a head start on present picking at Florence’s rendition of Weihnachtsmarkt, the traditional German Christmas market. With mulled wine, gift ideas, street food and whimsical wooden booths, the market lights up piazza Santa Croce with artisan crafts and a fairytale-like atmosphere until December 22. Wrap up warm and embrace the festive feeling. More details about the event on the Facebook page: Mercato di Natale Firenze.
Piazza Santa Croce, Florence
The magnificent Giardino della Gherardesca welcomes visitors from 10am to 4pm, with a Christmas market lined with items ranging from Richard Ginori fine china to Pedersoli linen and, of course, food and wine that will both satisfy and impress. Music by Radio Toscana and gospel choirs will liven up the atmosphere and Santa Claus will make a special visit for the little ones. Culinary delights from Florence’s finest restaurants gratify gourmet lovers and you can be content that your entrance donation of a euro will be in support of the recently launched Patrizio Cipollini Foundation, in honour of the hotel’s former general manager who sadly passed away this year. All proceeds will go towards scholarships for students at Barga’s catering college.
Four Seasons Hotel, entrance from via Gino Capponi 54, borgo Pinti 97, and piazzale Donatello 12
The historic centre lights up for the most luminous event of the year. The city’s main monuments are used as a backdrop to a spectacular light show as they don a festive look to celebrate the season. This edition of the popular F-Light Festival focuses on the Moon, marking 50 years since NASA’s successful Apollo 11 mission in 1969. Designed by Stefano Fake of the Fake Factory, the splendour will begin on December 8, along with the lighting of the official Christmas tree in piazza Duomo and conclude for Epiphany, on January 6. Be part of the social media storm as visitors flock to witness the incredible display. For more info, see www.flightfirenze.it.
The Mercato di Natale at Palazzo Corsini, now in its 17th edition features a wide range of original choices for Christmas gifts. You'll find clothing, food, wine and more, with all funds raised going to support Fondazione File Onlus Firenze. Christmas carols inside the Grotto del Ninfeo add Christmas cheer and you can stock up on delicious traditional festive treats like panettone and pandoro, so you're in full supply for the season ahead.
Palazzo Corsini, via del Parione, 11, Florence
Episode nine of the cult space saga sees the last surviving members of the Resistance face the First Order, while Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron continue their journey. The highly anticipated final battle between the Jedi and the Sith ends the central conflict of the famous Star Wars epic once and for all. Sure to be one of the major film events of the year, this last installment of the Star Wars series was produced, co-written and directed by J.J. Abrams, starring Daisy Ridley, Billie Lourd, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver and Lupita Nyong’o. For screening times and to book tickets, see www.odeonfirenze.com.
Odeon Cinema, piazza degli Strozzi, Florence
Keep cold-weather boredom at bay and get out and about with your loved ones at Florence’s frozen wonderland. Firenze Winter Park features two separate ice-skating rinks (“Master” for big kids and adults, and “River” for little ones and first-time skaters) where you can even have a go at ice stock, a bowling-curling combo. All skated out? Restore your energy and warm up with mulled wine and foreign flavours as international street food stalls offer Japanese, Peruvian, Turkish and Tuscan treats. Lace up at www.firenzewinterpark.it.
Lungarno Aldo Moro 7, Florence
For two days, music enriches the city as melodies and song resound throughout the city’s most impressive spaces. Symphonic strings perform in 50 extraordinary locations in this popular festival that’s all about string instruments. Unforgettable performances in historic venues such as the Uffizi and Palazzo Vecchio as well as contemporary spaces like The Student Hotel are all free. The varied performances expand musical horizons as audiences are entranced by violins, violas, harps and cellos in a stirring melodic experience. For details about the programme, see www.stringscity.it.
Santas take to the streets
You might have to rub your eyes as countless Father Christmases take to the streets for Babbo Running Firenze, a five-kilometre run in Santa costumes with all proceeds going to the children’s charities Tommasino Bacciotti Foundation and La Compagnia di Babbo Natale. Winding through the streets of the historic centre for the ninth year in a row, ho-ho-hos will ring out and spread some festive cheer in support of those in need. Santa costumes provided! Sign up at www.babborunningfirenze.it (cost 15 euro for adults; kids under 11 go free).
Beginning and ending at piazza della Santissima Annunziata, Florence