What to do in Rome at Christmas
‘Tis the season to be jolly, and here in Rome jolly doesn’t even begin to cover the level of yuletide cheer and spirit you’ll feel after completing our top ten list of Christmas must-do’s. While Rome at Christmas is usually truly magical, this 2020 holiday season won’t be the same. According to the latest decree, theaters, concert halls, Christmas markets and ice-skating will have to remain closed, as well as restaurants and bars. Click here to read more about the anti-Covid Restrictions In Italy During Christmas And New Year’s.
Christmas Trees in Rome
Nothing says Christmas like Christmas trees, and nothing says Christmas in Rome like the mother of all Christmas Trees located in Saint Peter’s square. This year the Vatican wants the Nativity scene and Christmas tree to be a “sign of hope” against Covid-19. The inauguration of the tree and the Nativity scene will take place on Dec. 11 at 4.30 pm. While this year, the Christmas tree in Piazza Venezia (aka Spelacchio) won’t have a sponsor and it will be paid entirely by the Comune di Roma. The 23-meter-high tree will be inaugurated on December 8th by the Mayor of Rome. A luminous tree is also installed in Piazza Risorgimento.
Indulge in Panettone or Pandoro
By now you have probably noticed the colorful boxes of large round cake-bread stacked in every available corner of Rome’s supermarkets, pasticcerie, even the local “cinese.” Although it is considered perfectly acceptable by Italian standards to go hard on the panettone or pandoro of your choice before, during and after Christmas, be advised: not all panettone and pandoro were created equal. Here are some of the best places to purchase pandoro and panettone in Rome:
Le Levain, Via Luigi Santini 22/23
Antico Forno Roscioli, Via dei Chiavari 34
Bompiani, Largo Bompiani 8
Gruè, viale Regina Margherita 95/99
Panificio Bonci, via Trionfale 34/36
Cresci, Via Alcide de Gasperi, 11-17
Romoli, Viale Eritrea, 142
Go Ice Skating (not available till January 10, 2021)
Don’t act so surprised, Rome has its fair share of festive holiday rinks for ice skating, even if the weather in December is rarely close to freezing. Rome’s Christmas ice skating rinks are usually in the following locations, but we’re waiting to see if they’ll all be open as, according to the latest decree, all ice-skating activities are forbidden in Italy till January 10, 2021.
Auditorium Parco della Musica, Viale Pietro De Coubertin, 30
Ice Park Euroma2, Via dell’Oceano Pacifico, 83
Galleria Porta di Roma, Via Alberto Lionello, 201
See some Nativity Scenes
Christmas wouldn’t be complete without the star of the show (Baby Jesus that is, not Santa Claus.) To get your fill of nativity scenes for a lifetime, check out the 100 Presepi in Vaticano, or peek into the major churches to see the various forms of Christmas Nativities. Moreover, from 18 December, a Neapolitan crib from the 1700s will be set up in Piazza di Spagna, and a Pinelli nativity scene in Piazza del Popolo.
13 December – 10 January 2021
Colonnato di Piazza San Pietro
Enjoy Christmas lunch at a restaurant (cancelled)
The latest DPCM declares Italy a red zone for the Christmas and New Year’s 2020 holiday season, meaning all restaurants and bars will remain closed from December 24th till January 6th. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to celebrate Christmas or New Year’s at a restaurant. However, we invite you to visit each restaurant’s social media channels to check out their takeaway and delivery menus.
Gospel festival (cancelled)
One of the best ways to spread some holiday cheer is through music; however, for those of us who were not given the gift of song caroling is out of the question, nor would we suggest caroling around Rome for that matter. Thankfully, the Gospel Festival hosts a series of holiday concerts guaranteed to lift your spirits. Unfortunately the Gospel Festival has been cancelled this year due to the anti-covid restrictions.
Auditorium Parco della Musica
Concerts & Masses in Churches
See above. Music = Merriment and Holiday cheer. Attend a free concert in one of the beautiful churches throughout Rome.
Wander Around a Christmas Market (this year all Christmas Markets are cancelled due to covid-19)
Christmas markets in Rome have always been part of the holiday fun. While the success of the Piazza Navona Christmas Market in the last few years has been debatable (last year, the Christmas market was shut down by police), Christmas markets always bring in a certain joy during this time of year. Unfortunately, this year there will be no Christmas markets at all, according to the latest decree.
Ring in the New Year with the Oltre Tutto digital festival
(this year all New Year’s celebrations are cancelled due to covid-19)
While this year’s edition of La Festa di Roma – the all-day New Year’s extravaganza event that lasts 24 hours – has been cancelled due to covid-19, Rome has found a new way to kick off 2021: with the Oltre Tutto digital festival. It’s a digital-only experience that will be streamed on the the culture.roma.it website and on the Facebook page of @cultureroma, an occasion for the city to tell itself like never before, offering its citizens and the whole world unique and unprecedented footage, performances and installations.
Holiday Passeggiata & Christmas Lights
It’s beginning to look alot like Christmas, especially in the winding vicolos and side streets decked with twinkling lights and with glowing orbs hung above. Take a stroll down these decorated stradas, admire Christmas lights, take in the festive holiday vibes and while you’re at it try the chestnuts roasting on an open fire…
Via dei Condotti
Via del Governo Vecchio
Via del Corso
Via del Boschetto & Via Urbana
Via Vittorio Veneto
Piazza di Spagna
Via del Babuino
Enjoy the light show at Piazza Navona
Thanks to the collaboration with Acea, till January 6th 2021 you can enjoy a beautiful light show at Piazza Navona. Every evening, the piazza’s three monumental fountains are illuminated with blue lights. And every 20 minutes from 5pm till 9pm the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi is illuminated by a video-mapping projection accompanied by music.
Catch a Christmas play or concert (in streaming)
This year, due to the Covid-19 emergency, the Natale all’Auditorium Festival offers a rich calendar of shows and concerts broadcast in streaming every day from 24 December to 6 January, on the social channels of the Auditorium Parco della Musica and on the youtube channel Auditorium Tv. A musical journey that crosses various genres, from jazz to popular music, passing through indie pop and concert theater.
Also the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma goes digital with a streamed version of Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia (5 & 31 December), a symphonic concert by Daniele Gatti (4 & 19 December), the Christmas Concert, the New Year’s Eve Concert, Schubertiade (5 January) and Do you Like Brahms? (12 January). The concerts are available for free on the YouTube Channel of the Teatro dell’Opera.
What’s closed in Rome at Christmas
Rome during Christmas time follows normal opening hours (actually many shops have extended hours till January 6th) except on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Santo Stefano (the 26th of December) and New Year’s Day. The Vatican Museums will be closed on all these days as well as on the Befana (6th of January), while the Colosseum Archeological Park and the Borghese Gallery will be open on Santo Stefano. As far as restaurants are concerned, many will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (but not all, you’ll find many restaurants offering delicious Christmas Eve and Christmas Day menus, especially in the centro storico). While on New Year’s Eve restaurants are always open – book way in advance. Unfortunately, this year there are tight restrictions on opening hours, check out the latest decree to see what’s open and when.