Visit Florence during the holidays and you will find it at its most magical. Festive lights decorate the streets of the cradle of the Renaissance, while quaint Christmas markets are set up in the piazzas of the historic center.
The official starting date for the Christmas celebrations is, like for many Italian cities, December 8, which is a national holiday in Italy and traditionally marks the beginning of the holidays. This year however, celebrations have already begun, with streets and neighborhoods lighting up and creating a magical show against the backdrop of historic monuments and palaces that make Florence even more beautiful.
The traditional German-inspired Christmas market, an annual tradition in Florence for 20 years (except 2020) has already been set up on Piazza Santa Croce. Visitors can browse the 50 or so wooden stalls, buy handicrafts, find gift ideas, all while sipping hot mulled wine, just like the locals enjoy doing. The Weihnachtsmarkt is on until December 20.
(There are a number of other Christmas markets around town.)
The most awaited event may very well be the lighting of the Christmas tree on Piazza Duomo, which is always the heart of Florence’s festivities, on December 7 at 5:30 pm. That is not the only Christmas tree to be lighted in Florence, so you may be interested in checking out also the lighting at Palazzo Vecchio (5 pm), piazza della Repubblica (6 pm), Piazzale Michelangelo (6:30 pm) and San Lorenzo (7 pm).
The highlight of the festivities though may be the projection show on the iconic Ponte Vecchio. From December 8 to January 9, the festival dubbed ‘F-Light’ will project images on the facades of Ponte Vecchio and on churches and monuments, including the Basilica di San Lorenzo, Museo Galileo, Istituto degli Innocenti, the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte. This year’s theme is “Reflections: where we are, where we are going.” Local authorities have not revealed what will be projected, which they describe as a “surprise.”
All the gates and towers that surround the center will also be lighted, every day from 8 December to 9 January from 5:30 pm to midnight.
Via Tornabuoni, Florence’s shopping street, will be flooded with ‘luminous rain,’ decorated with lights, festoons and trees, making even a simple walk magical.
This year, Florence is adding another attraction: a Ferris wheel will be placed in the gardens of the Fortress (Giardini della Fortezza), allowing people to admire the Tuscan capital from 55 meters above. Alongside the wheel, the longest skating rink in Europe, measuring 320 meters, offers fun for the entire family. Entertainment includes Santa Claus’ appearances, as well as surprises and games for children from December 3 to 24. The Ferris wheel and ‘Florence on Ice Village’ are open from December 3 to January 16, 2022.