What's On in Sicily - Miscellaneous

Sat, 02/21/2015 - 02:00
Palio dei Normanni

Our What’s On in Italy series, which looks at Italy’s major events and festivals each month, has added a regional spin: every month, we will focus on a different Italian region to help you better plan your visits around great events that you may want to attend.

This month we are focusing on Sicily; we looked at music and film festivals first, then we looked at food festivals, today we are looking at a mix of folkloristic/cultural/outdoorsy events. 

Stay tuned for more fun events in Sicily!

SAGRA DEL MANDOROLO IN FIORE – Agrigento, February

One of the most joyous times of the year is the advance of Spring. It's the point in which everyone can anticipate a slew of sunny weather, blossoming trees and flowers in full bloom. It's a time in which the freezing gloom of the Winter disappears to be replaced by a sense of renewed optimism. To celebrate this season, Sicily's Sagra Del Mandorlo in Fiore is held in Agrigento each year. The event has been held since 1934 when it originated in the small town of Naro. It was an initiative which held the aim of promoting Sicilian products and culture. Dr. Earl Alfonso Gaetani initiated the festival which, following a break in 1941 as a result of the Second World War, has been running since 1948.

Part of this festival is devoted to the International Folklore Fest. Since 1966, international folk bands were added to the mix, and today this festival attracts its fair share of worldwide folk bands and acts. Folk music is a key aspect of the closing parade which marches from Agrigento to the Valley Of The Temples.

Other notable aspects of Sagra Del Mandorlo In Fiore include a Miss Spring contest, an exhibition of art at the base of the Temple of Concord, which also pays host to the traditional lighting of the Torch of Friendship – a visible beacon of peace that sums up the sense of hope and camaraderie that the festival possesses in abundance.

FESTIVAL INTERNAZIONALE DEGLI AQUILONI – San Vito Lo Capo, May

The Sicilian landscape offers the perfect backdrop for the international kite festival which takes place in May.

Kite enthusiasts can enjoy much in this festival which showcases all sorts of kites, from giant to acrobatic to static. The beach of San Vito Lo Capo provides a great locale for both kite displays and kite challenges. In addition to these initiatives, there are educational workshops and special kite flights. The night-time kite flights are just as amazing. To add to the approaching summery feel, the event lays on dance and music, with the end result being a festival that soars high on the Sicilian calendar.

FESTIVAL DI MORGANA – Palermo, November

There's strings attached with this festival – but only because Palermo's Festival di Morgana is all about puppets. It's a festival that dedicates itself to Pupi, Sicilian puppets, and also puppets from across the globe. Puppeteers come to this festival to put on special shows, performances and presentations.

In this day of instant online entertainment through mobile phones and computers, Once upon a time, people had to provide first-hand, live entertainment, and for the youngsters, puppet shows were one of the most popular forms of this kind. This festival is a charming and entertaining throwback to those days and is one that will appeal to both children and collectors. Indeed, there is a special display of rare Pupi at the Museo Internazionale delle Marionette.

PALIO DEI NORMANNI - Piazza Armerina, August

The Palio dei Normanni is a costumed representation of a historical fact that happened 1,000 years ago: the liberation of Sicily from the domination of the Saracens by the Normans.

It takes place every year in Piazza Armerina (Enna) on the 12, 13 and 14 August.

On the 12th of August, a costumed parade runs through the streets of the city; the Grand Master (once the highest authority in the city government) brings a votive lamp by the image of Our Lady of Victories, patroness of Piazza Armerina, located in the town’s cathedral. On the 13th, four different parades of costumed figures head to the square in front of the Cathedral to re-enact the encounter with Count Ruggero, who led the Normans to the liberation of Sicily. On the 14th, the Palio itself takes place in the town’s sports center, with chivalrous knights in costume representing the four historic districts of the city.