Verona, a UNESCO World Heritage site rich in history, culture, and monuments, and beautiful all year round. If you aren’t afraid of the cold and want to experience the city like a true local, come and visit during Christmas.
At this time of year, Verona isn’t just illuminated with Christmas lights and decorations that make it look even more amazing than usual, but it also offers many interesting activities for the whole family.
If this is your first time in Verona, you have to explore the historic centre: the Christmas lights, markets, decorations, and festive cheer make for an especially unforgettable atmosphere, which is already magical the rest of the year!
If you would like to have a more detailed guide for your holidays so you won’t miss out on any of the city’s festivities, here’s my personal list of the 5 things to do and see in Verona at Christmas. I hope you’ll find it helpful!
1. Wander around the Christmas markets
From 12 November to 26 December 2021, the Verona city centre will host the Nuremberg Market stalls for the twelfth year running.
This is an initiative in collaboration with the Nuremberg “Christkindlmarkt”, which brings more than 100 log cabin stalls to the city, offering traditional local crafts (made of glass, wood, and pottery) and food (in particular, delicious Christmas sweets, including the famous pandoro). But, you will also find many other ideas for your Christmas present list.
The stalls are open every day from 12 November to 26 December in Piazza dei Signori, Cortile Mercato Vecchio, via della Costa and Cortile del Tribunale. Opening hours:
- Sunday-Thursday: 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
- Friday, Saturday, and bank holiday eves: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- 24 December: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- 25 December: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- 26 December: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
This year, you will find Christmas stalls not only in the historic centre, but also in squares in the city outskirts.
2. Visit the “Nativity scenes from around the globe in Verona” exhibition
What’s more Christmassy than a nativity scene? If you’re curious about how this Christmas tradition can become a true art form, then don’t miss the “Nativity scenes from around the globe in Verona” (Presepi dal mondo) exhibition, from 20 November to 23 January in the Arena di Verona.
For this exhibition, organised by Fondazione Verona per l’Arena, the Arena arches will house more than 400 nativity scenes and Christmas-inspired artworks. In this evocative background (which includes the huge Star of Bethlehem designed by Rinaldo Olivieri), the artworks offer a complete view of how the nativity scene tradition is present throughout the world.
The staging includes special effects, providing a multi-sensory experience in which music, light, and projections play key roles. Both the exhibition, with more than 400 artworks, and the Star of Bethlehem (currently the largest architectural sculpture in the world) are in the Guinness Book of Records. If you want to fully experience the Christmas atmosphere of Verona, spend a morning or afternoon visiting this exhibition: you won’t regret it!
The “Nativity scenes from around the globe” exhibition is open every day from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., including weekends and bank holidays. Standard tickets for adults are 8 euros, reduced tickets (children aged 6 to 12, adults older than 65, or groups of over 20 people) are 7 euros, and school tickets are 5 euros. Entry for children under 6 is free. You can buy your tickets directly in the Arena (Arch 14) or online, in the official exhibition website.
3. Join outdoor celebrations and events
If you like outdoor activities, Verona is the city for you. Particularly over Christmas, you will find many events and celebrations in the city squares and streets. Temperatures may be cold, but don’t worry: you can always have a nice glass of vin brulè to warm you up!
Taking part in events is also a perfect idea to spend family time with the children. These are some of the events and celebrations that you can’t miss in Verona over Christmas, especially if you have children:
- Santa Lucia in Piazza Bra, with stalls selling sweets, fritters, and other delicious specialities;
- “Babbo Running”, the “Santa Claus Race”, now in its 11th year, will be held on 18 and 19 December 2021 to support scientific research against paediatric cancer;
- “Melegatti Christmas Run”, a similar event to the “Babbo Running Race”, held on 19 December, starting at Piazza Bra;
- the “Brusa la vecia” bonfire: See the traditional ‘burning the old woman’ (or rather ‘the witch’) in Piazza Bra, on 6 January. There, they burn a huge 10-metre puppet , which symbolises the end of the Christmas period and the start of the new year.
An extensive programme of events in all districts will also be published by the Verona City Hall in the next few days.
4. Admire the Christmas decorations
If you’d rather simply stroll through the city centre and admire not only the monuments but also the Christmas decorations, you shouldn’t miss:
- the Star of Bethlehem in Piazza Bra, which has been put on display there every year since 1984 and has become the symbol of Christmas in Verona;
- the four huge Christmas trees sponsored by the bakery giant Bauli (in Corso Porta Nuova, Piazza Erbe, Piazza dei Signori, and Corso Porta Borsari).
Don’t miss this year’s Christmas novelty in Verona, the ice-skating rink that will open in front of the Old Arsenal.
5. Visit Santa’s Village in Bussolengo
This one is in Bussolengo (about 20 minutes from the city), not Verona, but it’s a must-see if you’re here for Christmas, even more so if you have children. We are talking about the famous Flover Christmas village, also known simply as “Santa’s Village” (Villaggio di Babbo Natale).
The village offers much more than the traditional Christmas stalls and crafts: visiting Santa’s Village means you can fully get into the Christmas spirit.
Entry is completely free, and you will find attractions that your children will love and will take you back to your own childhood: from Santa’s House to the ice-skating rink, from the Flover Express train to the carousel, with a captivating and slightly vintage atmosphere.
In the village, you will also find restaurants and bars offering different types of food, a Christmas shop, and a shop selling typical gastronomic products (“La dispensa di Mamma Natale”). All you need for your shopping and to have a fun family day out.
Are you ready to spend Christmas in Verona? You won’t regret it, and you’ll even want to come back next year.