Rome Christmas 2021. Here you will learn everything about Christmas markets in Rome, nativity scenes, museum opening times, church dates, dates of the Pope and Christmas traditions in Rome.
Enjoy Christmas in Rome! The shops and the streets are decorated, the evenings are long, and the church is preparing for the solemn feast of the birth of the Lord. In our overview you can see what you can usually expect in Rome at Christmas.
Advent in Rome
The Xmas season starts in Rome on the 8th of December with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which is a holiday in Italy. On December 8, the Christmas decorations will be turned on in Rome. The tradition of St. Nicholas on December 6th is not celebrated in Rome.
The Xmas season ends in Rome with the feast of the Magi on January 6th. On the night of the 5th to the 6th of January the witch, La Befana, comes and brings sweets and coal to the children.
Nativity scenes in Rome
Rome Christmas cribs. In Rome there is at least one crib in each church. And there are many churches in Rome! You can also visit some exhibitions. The largest is near to the Vatican. In the surroundings of Rome there are nativity scenes with performers and animals, so-called “living cribs”.
The nativity scene on St. Peter’s Square
The most famous crib of Rome with life-size figures is built every year in St. Peter’s Square. In 2016 it came from Malta. Click here for the picture gallery of the crib 2016>
In 2017, the crib came from Naples. In 2018, the nativity scene was carved out of a block of sand from Jesolo.
In 2019 the crib and tree came from the Italian Alps. Photo gallery nativity 2019>
In 2020 the nativity scene came frome the city of Castelli in the Apennines and the 28 m / 92 ft high tree from Kočevje in Slovenia.
Castelli is a place at the foot of the highest mountain in the Apennines, the Gran Sasso. The tradition of ceramic art in Castelli goes back to the Etruscans and is still the most important industry in the place today. The ceramic nativity sculptures were made over a period of 10 years by the students of the “FA Grue” high school in Castelli. Photo gallery nativity 2020>
It is not yet known where the nativity scene will come from in 2021. The inauguration will take place between December 8th and 10th.
The origin of the Christmas tree in St. Peter’s Square is already marked for the next fifteen years.
Nativity scenes exhibition
100 Nativity scenes in the Vatican
In Rome you can find lovingly constructed cribs everywhere. Some show small models with moving figures.
The exhibition 100 Cribs in the Vatican is on St. Peter’s Square under the left colonnade of Bernini. It is called “100 presepi in Vaticano“. The exhibition shows 100 cribs from all over the worldmade of different materials like wood, glass or metal and in different styles. Entrance is free.St. Peter’s Square December 8 – January 9 10-20 Bus 23, 34, 40, 46, 62, 64, 98, 115, 280, 870, 881, 916, 982 (Lgt Sassia / S. Spirito), 23, 34, 40, 982 (Traspontina / Conciliazione)
The crib of the street sweepers (all year)
The crib of the street sweepers (il presepe dei netturbini) was created in 1972 and has grown steadily. The model of life in Palestine 2000 years ago consists of 200 buildings, roads and rivers with 8 bridges and 5 aqueducts. There are also springs and caves as well as numerous figures. The entrance is free.
The crib is located in a building of the garbage disposal company between San Pietro station and the Vatican.Via dei Cavalleggeri 5
all year Mon-Sat 9-19; Sun 8-11:30 15.12.-30.1. 8-20 Bus 34, 46, 98, 190F, 881, 916, 982 (Cavallegeri / San Pietro)
Crib exhibition in the Basilica of St. Anthony
Another nativity scene exhibition is in the crypt of the Basilica of St. Anthony of the Franciscan Order. Entrance is free. The basilica is located on the Via Merulana corner of Viale Manzoni. Via Merulana leads from the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore to the Basilica of St. John.Via Merulana 124 5.12.2021 -9.1.2022 16:30-19:00, an Feiertagen auch 9:30-12:45 Bus 16, 51, 85, 87, 714 Tram 3 (Manzoni / Merulana)
In the living cribs, participants recreate life at the time of Jesus’ birth in Palestine. There are stalls, artisans, shepherds with their animals, Roman officials and soldiers, and of course the holy family with the baby Jesus. Ox and donkey are also around somewhere.
It is not yet known which living nativity scenes will take place in 2021.
The living crib of the missionary community of Villaregia
Around 20 km south of Rome, a living crib is organized by the Villaregia mission community in Via Antonio Berlese 55. This nativity scene is lovingly prepared in months of work and the proceeds are used for the mission in Ethiopia.Via A. Berlese 51 28.12., 5.1. 14 – 18 Food and drinks from 13:00
How to get there: You can reach the crib by bus 703, stop Strampelli / Berlese. The line 703 departs from Via Cristoforo Colombo, previous to the obelisk, from the Civiltà del Lavoro stop. The bus runs about twice an hour and the journey time is just under 45 minutes. To get to the Civiltà del Lavoro, take bus 30, 170, 714 and 791. Or take the metro B to Eur Fermi and then take bus 703 at the Arte / America stop. For the journey you need a day ticket BIRG for 3 zones for the price of 8 Euro.
The living crib of Tarquinia
100 kilometers north of Rome, in the borgo Santa Maria di Castello at Tarquinia , there is a living nativity scene beginning at 5 pm on December 26 and on January 2 and 6. It is a big spectacle with fire-eaters and fakirs and local culinary specialties.
How to get to Tarquinia: Regional train 2342 at 2:12pm from Termini with arrival at 3:27 in Tarquinia or train 2344 at 4:12pm. From the station you can go by local bus to the city center or 3 km on foot. Return trains are at 8:29 and 10:29pm. For the journey you need a day ticket BIRG for 4 zones for the price of 9,30 Euro or train tickets for the price of 13,80 Euro for round trip. Children between the ages of 4 and 12 pay a reduced price of 7 euros round trip with the train ticket.
In Rome you will find a huge variety of culture, churches, archeology, gastronomy and shopping. But Xmas markets, as they are known from northern countries, do not exist in Rome. Reasons for this are the warmer climate and the missing gastronomic offer at the Christmas markets in Rome.
The traditional Christmas market in Piazza Navona has turned into a fun fair.
Very nice is the market in Piazza Mazzini in Prati. This year-round market offers Christmas decorations and has a nice ambience.
There are other markets scattered around the city, mostly in tents offering everything from used books to costume jewelery.
Throughout the year, on Sundays, the Porta Portese flea market takes place with housewares, second-hand goods, clothing, furniture and antiques. Tram lines 3 and 8.
In the past few years there have been some promising new initiatives in Christmas markets that we are proud to introduce to you. It is not yet known which events will also take place in 2021.
To be confirmed: There is a nice market at the Auditorium Parco della Musica on 7 and 8 December and from 13 December to 6 January. There is also a ice rink with skate rental. The auditorium can be reached by tram number 2. The market has an ice rink and a bar.
A kind of fair takes place in Piazza Navona until January 6th, the “Festa della Befana”, the festival of the witch.
It has beautiful carousel with horses from 1896. A few stalls sell handcrafted nativity scenes and there is a puppet theater. Most of the fairgrounds, however, sells worthless stuff. There are also numerous shooting galleries that draw attention to themselves. A serving of food and drinks does not exist. Piazza Navona Photo Gallery>
Christmas in the Vatican
Christmas in the Vatican is particularly impressive. On St. Peter’s Square, in front of the obelisk, a large nativity scene and a Christmas tree are being set. There is another nativity scene in St. Peter’s Basilica just on the left side in the baptistery.
Xmas is high season. Many tourists and pilgrims are in Rome. For the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum, you need to reserve in good time, as only a limited number of visitors are allowed. For St. Peter’s Cathedral, you can bypass the queue if you have pre-booked an audio guide or an official tour.
The Pope’s masses take place in small groups.
25.12. 12:00 Loggia delle Benedizioni, Urbi et Orbi. For Christmas, the Pope donates the blessing for the city and the world. You can follow the blessing live in St. Peter’s Square or on our page about the live broadcasts from the Vatican.
All dates can be found on the page December in Rome>
Read also Christmas Services in English Language>
Museums at Christmas
The National Museums and the Museums of the Municipality of Rome are closed on December 25th and January 1st. The museums of the Municipality of Rome will close on December 24th. and 31.12. at 14 o ‘clock. On January 1st, some museums in the municipality of Rome have a special opening time.
The Vatican Museums are closed on December 25th and 26th as well as on the 1st and 6th of January
Shopping for Christmas in Rome
The Romans plan not long in advance, and only in the last few days before the feast it is hectic in Rome. Many visitors come from the surrounding countryside to Rome for the Christmas shopping and it is tight on the streets and in the shops. everything is festive. In Via dei Condotti you will find the big fashion brands, on the Via del Corso and in the surroundings you will find an extensive offer in every price class.
In our gallery we show you a walk through the atmospheric streets of the city, with decorated shops and hot spiced wine.
During Xmas, different rinks are built in Rome.
One is located at the Auditorium on the Via Flaminia, Via Pietro de Coubertin 30 – tram 2. It is open from 10-midnight and the entrance fee is 10 euros including the rental of skates.
Another ice rink is located at the Euroma2 shopping center. It is open 10-22 and the entrance including skates costs 8 euros, on Sundays and public holidays 10 euros.
On these ice rinks children up to 6 years pay 2 Euro less.
Also the shopping center Porta di Roma offers an ice rink Mon-Fri 15-22, Sat-Sun 10-22 6€/30 min.
Christmas in the Luneur
In the district EUR is the amusement park Luneur. Luneur celebrates Christmas in December with Christmas decorations and mythical creatures. The children can hand over their wish list to Santa Claus. The opening times you find in their calendar.Via delle Tre Fontane, 100 Bus 30/130F, 170, 714, 791, N2, N3 Colombo/Agricoltura
Christmas at Cinecittà World
Next to the outlet center Castel Romano. Christmas in the Cinecittà World Amusement park with roller coaster, virtual flight with Santa Claus and many other attractions. Cinecittà WorldRegional bus COTRAL from Metro Laurentina to Castel Romano 2,60€ <->, buying the ticket on bord 14€
On Xmas Eve 24th December, bus, tram and metro will stop operation with a final departure at 9pm. The last departure on the line to Ostia is at 9:30 p.m., from Ostia at 8:45 p.m.
The night buses go according to the timetable. The lines of the night buses are marked with an N.
On the 25th December public transport will run from 8:30 to 13:00 and from 16:30 to 21:00. This also applies to the line to Ostia and to the city area of the line Rome-Flaminio Montebello. The night buses go according to the timetable.
On December 26, the normal holiday timetable applies.
Celebrating Christmas in Rome
On Christmas Day, the traditional Christmas message and the blessing “Urbi et Orbi” will take place at noon in St. Peter’s Square.
The 24th December is the day of the expectation of the birth of Christ and therefore not a holiday and there is no banquet. The tradition is fish or simple dishes.
On the 25th December the dishes will be served in the right way. The tradition includes a wide choice of appetizers, pasta, lamb (abbacchio) or rabbit (coniglio) or other specialties of the Roman cuisine. Finally, the traditional Christmas biscuits, Pannettone or Pandoro and, of course, caffè and a grappa or a liqueur such as limoncello as “Ammazzacaffè” (coffee butcher), which counteracts the taste and caffeine of the caffè.
On December 26, friends are visited and the leftovers are eaten.