‘Tis the season for roasted chestnuts and twinkling Christmas lights in Rome. When the weather is dry, this is truly one of my favorite times to be in the Eternal City. The trees are lit up and the streets are sparkling with hanging stars and lights strung across alleyways.
Rome doesn’t have a great Christmas market culture, but there are still lots of events happening around the city this month to help get you in the holiday spirit. Honestly, the best thing to do is walk around to the beautifully decorated areas of the city.
Here’s what to do in December 2019 in Rome.
December 2019 Events in Rome
5 December: The Vatican will light up its Christmas tree and unveil the nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square tonight. Here is what else you can expect from Christmas at the Vatican.
7-8 December: The cafe at Chiostro del Bramante is hosting four baking masters over two days dedicated to panettone – the classic Italian Christmas cake. You can stop in to sample the cakes, buy some as gifts, and then go to the Bacon and Freud exhibit in the museum (though this is optional, it can be booked for €15).
8 December: Today is a national holiday in Italy for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This is the true kickoff to Christmas and the day when the main city tree will be illuminated at Piazza Venezia.
12 December: From 6:30 pm – 9 pm Babington’s Tea House at the bottom of the Spanish Steps is throwing a 1800s style tea party.
14 December: A new political movement is gaining ground around Italy and it is time for Rome to host its own “sardines.” The people pack into the squares, just like sardines in a tin, all in protest of one man – Matteo Salvini. Salvini heads a party that is trying to win a key regional election but his party is built on nationalist messages that the “sardines” oppose. The gathering will take place in Piazza San Giovanni at 3 pm. 100,000 people are expected to attend.
14 December: Rome’s civic museums will be open from 8 pm to 2 am (last entrance at 1 am) for just €1. The event, Musei in Musica, features live music inside the museums.
15 December: The Christmas market in Piazza Navona is no more for 2019, but you can still get into the holiday spirit. Visit Panettone Maximo for a day of cake tastings, cooking workshops, and even snag a photo with Babbo Natale (Santa Claus). The great panettone will also be on sale to take home as a part of the Panettone Maximo event. 11:30 am – 7:30 pm at Boscolo Circo Massimo.
21 and 22 December: Babington’s Tea House is having Christmas carolers to entertain diners over a traditional breakfast spread from 10 am to 12 pm.
25 December: Christmas Day! This is a national holiday in Italy, where most people stay home. Enjoy the quietness of the city. If you plan to eat out on Christmas day (lunch) or dinner on Christmas Eve, be aware that most restaurants will have a set menu and it is best to book ahead.
More December 2019 Events in Rome will be added as they are announced.