Along with a millennia-long history, Italy hosts events and festivals that are deeply rooted in society. Many festivals have been canceled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but in 2021, this southern European country aspires to welcome visitors to their legendary events once again.
In this article, we’ll provide you with a list of family-friendly festivals and events that are on the agenda for 2021, plus some tips for neat accommodations during the celebrations.
The 9 Best Family Events in Italy
1. Venice Carnival (30 January – 16 February 2021)
Venice is known to be the capital of romance, the enchanting city with numerous islands and picture-perfect canals. Apart from its channels and stunning medieval cathedrals, Venice also hosts one of Italy’s most well-known festivals. The Venice Carnival is an annual spectacle held in the city’s churches, streets, and waterways. Amuse yourself with opera performances, or head to one of the many bridges in the city to witness the concerts on the canals. The dress-up parties for visitors are the most fun part for the children and the parents alike, as you can choose to pick clothes and a masquerade mask for the celebrations. Anywhere in the city, you’ll find stages with musical, acrobatic, and juggling performances.
Where to stay during Venice Carnival?
The central location, stylish interior, and family rooms make this hotel a neat and budget-friendly option. You can enjoy a warm buffet breakfast or order a drink at the bar. This hotel is welcoming pets, so you can bring the entire family to Italy.
2. Rome’s birthday (21 April 2021)
The year 735 BC, when Rome and indirectly the Roman empire were born, can still be marked as one of the most significant days in Italy’s history. Everywhere in the capital, the celebrations are in full bloom each 21 April, a day that traditionally is seen as the moment when Romulus and Remus founded Rome at the place where they were raised as orphans by a wolf. During this festival, locally known as Natale di Rome, you’ll get to see spectacular gladiator shows, street parades with traditional Roman costumes, and splendid fireworks show on the shores of the Tiber river. Most of the re-enacting events take place around Circus Maximus. Don’t miss the Grand Parade at the Via Dei Fori Imperiali, the largest procession with 1500 participants.
What’s also unique is that all museums and city parks are freely accessible on Rome’s birthday.
Where to stay during Rome’s birthday?
As the name suggests, this place is close to Circus Maximus, where lots of the festivities take place. You’ll find a large TV screen and a furnished kitchen with an oven, microwave, and stove in the family rooms. A crib is available upon request for your youngest travel companion.
3. Mangialonga Lunigiana (May 2021)
‘Long eat’ is the literal meaning of this remarkable food festival in the province of Massa and Carrara. This event is a fantastic food walk, starting in the commune of Fivizzano. The Mangialonga route is 13 kilometers long and leads over rolling hills, through forests and enchanting villages. To fuel your walking adventures, the organization sets up 5 food stops. Come with an appetite, as you’ll be tasting cheese with honey, pasta dishes, and roast vegetable plates. For the adults, wine and grappa, an Italian pomace brandy, will keep the spirits high for this culinary walk. The children can sip on juices to stay hydrated during the Mangialonga.
Where to stay during Mangialonga Lunigiana?
Enjoy the wondrous countryside and the stellar mountain views from this farm stay, that’s is based in the most dreamy location imaginable. Outside, you can hang out on the veranda or in the pool, while the family rooms come with conveniences like a private bathroom and a wardrobe.
4. Infiorata Festival Noto (14 – 16 May 2021)
Infiorata is actually celebrated in cities all over Italy, but the bash in Noto on the island of Sicily is known to be the best. Infiorata or Flower Festival has been celebrated since 1980 and has become one of Sicily’s most prominent annual events.
Thanks to numerous artists’ relentless efforts, the streets of this picture-perfect Baroque town are covered with flowers and vivid petals, which makes for a stunning spectacle. Every edition, the organization adopts a new theme, from the Middle Ages to China and pop culture. Other than watching the breathtaking flower’ carpets’ on the streets, Noto offers exhibitions, free guided tours through museums and cathedrals, and stalls where you can taste local delicacies. One of the highlights is the Baroque procession, a loud and colorful parade with costumes, music, and traditional flags.
Where to stay during Infiorata Festival Noto?
This tastefully designed, classic establishment is an excellent place to experience Noto’s Baroque style and culture. The spacious suite sleeps 4 people, has a private outdoor terrace, airconditioning, and a lounge area with a TV.
5. Festa di San Giovanni Florence (24 June 2021)
This day of grand celebrations is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, or San Giovanni, the patron saint of Florence. Festa di San Giovanni has deep historical roots, as this yearly day has been celebrated for centuries. This commemoration is unique for its diverse activities, ranging from sports games to fireworks. The day starts with a civic parade and holy mass at Piazza del Duomo, where the magnificent Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore shines. Watch the unique Calcio Storico Fiorentino games at Piazza Santa Croce, and take a boat ride on the Arno river to watch the fireworks at 10 pm. 24 June is also the first opening day of the San Niccolò Tower, a medieval structure that offers brilliant views of Florence.
Where to stay during Festa di San Giovanni Florence?
A comfortable apartment within walking distance from Florence’s magical historical center, what else could you wish for? A large bathroom, fully furnished kitchen including dishwasher, coffee, and tea-making facilities are some of the perks of staying here.
6. Festa della Madonna Bruna Matera (2 July 2021)
Just like the Festa di San Giovanni in Florence, the Festa Della Madonna Bruna Matera is devoted to the holy protectress of the city, the Madonna Della Bruna. Although 2 July is the most important day of the festival, the celebrations go on for about one week. Expect vivid parades through Matera’s bumpy streets, with stunningly decorated procession carts and music. Look for local handicrafts and food at a collection of market stalls, watch city bands play, and see the fireworks explode in the sky to conclude the event.
Where to stay during Festa della Madonna Bruna Matera?
This guest house, conveniently located in the city center, is based in one of Matera’s typical stone houses. The suites have all amenities to prepare your own meals, a private entrance, and a complimentary with fresh home-baked loaves of bread and Italian coffee.
Get the Ultimate Guide to Matera, Italy.
7. Festa dell’Unicorno (July 2021)
If your kids are into comics, fantasy characters, or cosplaying, the Festa dell’Unicorno is the event to visit during Italy’s summer season. This celebration is all about fantasy worlds, and the variety of imaginary creatures here is simply sublime. Theater and live-action role-playing games are the main draws of this annual fair held in Vinci, a small commune within the Florence metropolitan area. Spread over 3 days, 400 shows are performed on several stages, from magic battles to elvish parades and a ‘beauty pageant’ for fantasy characters.
Where to stay during Festa dell’Unicorno?
This place is a little slice of paradise, with amazing features such as a swimming pool with hill views and barbecue facilities to cook yourself a feast. The comfy suites have a private balcony and a log burner, perfect for chilly nights.
8. Festa Della Rificolon (September 2021)
This festival of the paper lanterns takes place every 8 September in the heart of Florence, the capital and largest city in the legendary Tuscany region. The Festa Della Rificolon is dedicated to the birthday of the Virgin Mary. Farmers from outside Florence would travel to the town to participate in the religious, bringing lanterns to light the way.
Although the festival doesn’t even last for 24 hours, it’s worth stopping by Florence to be a part of it. The Festa Della Rificolon begins at night with an eye-catching procession from Piazza Santa Felicita to the Piazza Santissima under the guidance of bands, with thousands of paper lanterns rising up to the sky. More paper lanterns are set off on a journey over the Arno River at night, while during the second day, a large fresh market pops up in the center. This is also a part of the tradition of farmers venturing for Florence to honor the Virgin Mary.
Where to stay during Festa Della Rificolon?
With its location near the Arno river and the city’s heart, these apartments are a great choice to delve into the festivities. Enjoy a small kitchen, a loft bed, your own hangout space, and a handy washing machine if you’re on a longer trip.
9. Cous Cous Fest (September 2021)
Food and Italy are inevitably intertwined, and therefore, it’s almost mandatory to add a culinary festival to your travel itinerary. The Cous Cous Fest in the modest town San Vito Lo Capo on Sicily honors this wheat, which originates from Northern Africa, during a 10-day feast. There is an international couscous competition, with chefs battling for the highest-ranking and pride. You can purchase tickets to be part of the judging panels of this prestigious championship. Apart from the masterclasses, you can follow a cooking class, enjoy live music, and – of course – taste heaps of couscous dishes. If you particularly travel for food, this is one of Italy’s most attractive events.
Where to stay during Cous Cous Fest?
Other than a spacious bathroom and cozy living area, the accommodations provide guests with neat extras like books, a patio, and outdoor furniture. The location near the beach and the town center turn this bed and breakfast into a compelling option.
Planning a trip in winter? Check out our guide to the Ultimate Family Ski Trip in Europe.
Love the Mediterranean? We’ve collected all guides about the Mediterranean here, e.g. Mediterranean Destinations for Families, or check out Family Trip to Europe: The Most Underrated Destinations.