A Festive Guide to Celebrating Christmas in Florence 2023

4.9
(198)

Florence is not only a wonderful place to travel during the Christmas season, but it may also be one of the best places to visit in Italy. Here’s why:

It is a cultural, artistic and architectural gem with iconic places like the Piazza Duomo, the Uffizi Gallery, the Accademia Gallery, the Ponte Vecchio and more.

Christmas in Florence transforms the city into a festive wonderland with twinkling lights, nativity scenes, majestic Christmas trees, and a crisp, cold atmosphere.

One of the highlights is the Christmas Market in Piazza Santa Croce, filled with traditional treats and the joyous sounds of the season. 

For those seeking spiritual solace, the Piazza Duomo hosts a captivating midnight Mass, adding a touch of tradition to the vibrant holiday celebrations.

This article lists things you can see and do when celebrating Christmas in Florence this year.

Christmas Traditions in Florence 

The 8th of December marks the official start of the Christmas season in Florence.

Christmas trees and nativity scenes are set up and decorated in homes, churches and shops and are up until January 8.

Nativity scenes, known as presepi, take center stage in homes, churches, and shops, depicting the birth of Jesus Christ with intricate details and handcrafted figurines. 

They are also set up before the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. 

These vibrant displays add a touch of magic to the city’s streets and squares.
Also, a large Christmas tree is set up in front of the Piazza del Duomo in the first week of December.

The lighting of the Christmas tree begins with an official public ceremony in which Florence’s mayor participates. It is followed by other events and concerts.

In Florence, the main part of Christmas is the “Christmas Lunch.”

The whole family gathers around the fireside early Christmas morning, where a huge wooden log (the so-called ceppo) burns, and they play games.

Deserts include homemade cakes and sweetmeats, together with the odd ”cavalluccio” (honey cake), pieces of Sienese panforte (hard fruitcake) or Prato Cantuccini (almond biscuits).

Another festive tradition is placing a bunch of grapes on the table on New Year’s Day because, as the saying goes: ”Whoever eats grapes on New Year’s Day counts their money throughout the year.”

Things to do in Florence during Christmas

Florence is a city that truly comes alive during the Christmas season. 

From twinkling lights and festive decorations to traditional markets and enchanting events, there’s something for everyone to enjoy during this magical time of year.

Here are some of the top things to do in Florence during Christmas:

1. Tend Midnight Mass at Duomo Florence

Visitors can attend the midnight mass on Christmas Eve in most of Florence’s churches.

The Florence Cathedral, or Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower, is one of the largest churches in Italy.

The Cathedral in Piazza del Duomo includes the Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile,

also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It is beautifully decorated with a large Christmas tree, nativity scenes and twinkling lights.

On December 24, there will be a special Christmas Vigil at 11 pm and mass at 5 and 6 pm. The Christmas mass, led by the Cardinal Archbishop, starts at twelve o’clock.

You can also attend the Lord’s Holy Masses on Christmas Day at 9 am, 12 pm, and 6 pm. 


Additionally, there is Sung Vespers at 5.15 pm and a holy mass at 10.30 am. 

There, you’ll be able to join thousands of Florentines and other travelers, along with the Cardinal of Florence.

If you want to attend the mass in the morning, Christmas Mass is celebrated at 10.30 am on Christmas morning.

2. Explore Florence Christmas Market

Piazza Santa Croce is one of the popular Christmas markets in Florence. It is the beautiful square outside of the Basilica di Santa Croce.

The annual Weihnachtsmarkt market has been a tradition in Florence for the past 500 years.

It sets up more than 50 charming wooden stalls in Piazza Santa Croce.

The market runs from November 18 to December 17, 2023, welcoming thousands of visitors annually.

It is open from 10 am to 8 pm, with some stalls extending their hours to 9 pm.

You can find decorations, handmade gifts, candles, ceramics, clothing, and local and international goods there.

Also, taste the delicious cheese, meats, wine and mouthwatering foods such as bratwurst and pretzels.

The market also offers a delightful shopping experience for everyone.

While Piazza Santa Croce is the main attraction, Florence hosts additional Christmas markets scattered throughout its charming streets and squares.

If you’re into antiques, visit the Fortezza Antiquaria, a two-day fair hosted in mid-December at Piazza Vittorio Veneto.

You can also explore artisanal crafts at the Florence Noel market at the Leopolda Center from mid-November to Christmas Eve.

If you have more time, you can check out the Christmas markets outside of Florence in Mugello, Fiesole, and Chianti.

3.Visit the Uffizi Gallery and Other Attractions

Visit the Uffizi Gallery and Other Attractions
Image: Viator.com

The Uffizi Gallery is a renowned art museum adjacent to the Piazza della Signoria in the Historic Center of Florence.

It is home to a vast collection of timeless masterpieces created by the greatest artists, like “David” by Michelangelo. 

The Uffizi Gallery welcomes over 2 million visitors annually, placing it among the world’s top 25 most-visited art museums.

Visiting the museum during Christmas will offer ample time to explore the paintings due to fewer crowds.

Various tickets and guided tour options are available for the Uffizi and the Accademia Gallery. You must book Uffizi Gallery tickets in advance for a hassle-free visit.

Experiences that you might like…

4. Christmas in Florence is a Green Line Festival

The city lights up from December 7 to January 8 with Christmas trees in many spots, like the Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio.

Stroll around the city from 5.30 pm to midnight to witness awesome light shows on Ponte Vecchio and places like Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Medici Riccardi.

See the 200 trees covered with 60 km of LED Christmas lights across the city, from the “viali di circonvallazione” to the streets in the outer residential neighborhoods.

You can also check out the exhibition called “WONDERFUL!” in Palazzo Vecchio‘s Sala d’Arme, featuring art by two young talents, Camilla Alberti and Anouk Chambaz. 

This light festival in Florence is one of the best in Europe, making it the best place for the Christmas holidays.

5. Shop Around the Dazzling Florentine Streets

During Christmas in Florence 2023, the streets are in full bloom with various shopping options.

You can walk down streets like Via Tornabuoni and Borgo degli Albizi to find amazing Christmas presents.

Florence offers every kind of shopping experience!

If you want to buy budget-friendly goodies, go to San Lorenzo Market. If you like fancy brands, you can go near Piazza della Repubblica.

And if you are looking for a department store, you can check out La Rinascente in Piazza della Repubblica. 

For a fun experience, you can also visit the Officina Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella.

It’s an old pharmacy in Florence that smells amazing, especially with its Christmas decorations.

6. Try Ice Skating on the Longest Ice Rink

Florence Ice Village has the longest ice ring in Europe. 

It is 300 meters long and is located around the Poggi Tank, called the “Swan Lake,” in the Fortezza da Basso gardens.

Those looking for a fun and adventurous Christmas activity can enjoy an ice skating experience there.

The ice skating track remains open every day from December 3 to January 15 from 10 am to midnight.

The village also has a stand nearby to enjoy typical winter foods. It organizes many musical and entertainment events dedicated to children.

Another outdoor ice-skating rink is in the wonderful Auditorium Parco della Musica of the Capital.

It also organizes a magic show, ice hockey performances, and exhibitions of famous ice skating champions.

Make all your reservations in advance if you intend to spend Christmas in Florence! 

The peak season runs from Christmas to New Year’s. Make reservations in advance to avoid last-minute disappointments! 

You may expect the same volume of visitors between December 24 and January 5 as during the summer, so plan ahead and budget for peak prices.

7. Take the Greatest Pictures at Piazzale Michelangelo

Take the Greatest Pictures at Piazzale Michelangelo
Photo by Tom Podmore on Unsplash

One of the nicest views in the city is available from the Piazzale Michelangelo, so don’t miss it if you’re visiting Florence around Christmas. 

This is a must-visit spot in Florence any time of the year. But the view on Christmas with the stunning decorations and lighting can’t be missed if your vacation falls around Christmas.

To fully experience the beauty of the city, it’s best to choose a time around dusk (sunset) when the city is gradually coming to life. 

Also, see the iconic landmarks and museums, including the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio, and the main streets and squares in twinkling lights.

8. Savor the Flavors of Florence’s Christmas Treats

No visit to Florence during the holiday season is complete without indulging in the delectable Christmas sweets that grace the city’s bakeries and cafes.

From the iconic panettone, studded with raisins or chocolate chips, to the rich pandoro, a golden sweet bread, the festive flavors will tantalize your taste buds.

Its fluffy texture and enticing aroma will transport you to the heart of a Florentine Christmas.

Each bite is a symphony of festive flavors that will leave you wanting more.

But the Christmas delights don’t end there. 

You can delight in the ricciarelli cookies, delicate treats made with egg white, almond flour, and sugar.

Their melt-in-your-mouth texture and hint of sweetness make them a perfect indulgence.

And if you’re seeking a more rustic treat, savor the Gallucci cookies, studded with candied fruit and nuts, offering a delightful contrast of textures and flavors.

Some of the best food tours…

9. Take a Christmas Stroll Across Florence

During this time of year, you can take a Christmas tour of the monuments, squares, and streets that are illuminated and decorated for the holiday season.

It includes points of interest such as Ponte Vecchio, Piazza del Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, Piazza Santa Croce, and Piazza San Lorenzo.

This tour runs throughout December and the first few days of January and will captivate you. 

Allow the Christmas joy to carry you away!

10. Seek Refuge from the Chill in Florence’s Renowned Museums

You can take a trip to Florence to escape the Tuscan winter’s chilly spell and experience the warmth of the city’s art treasures.

As a refuge from the elements and the bustle of the streets, the city’s museums provide a serene retreat from the outside world.

Uffizi Gallery:

The Uffizi Gallery is an absolute must-visit on your Florentine adventure. 

This renowned gallery houses a vast collection of masterpieces from the Renaissance era, including Botticelli’s iconic ‘Birth of Venus’ and Da Vinci’s exquisite ‘Annunciation.’

With over 1,500 works by renowned artists like Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian, Giotto, Fra Angelico, and Masaccio, the Uffizi Gallery offers a mesmerizing journey through the artistic genius of the Renaissance.

Galleria dell’Accademia:

Another gem not to be missed is the Galleria dell’Accademia, home to Michelangelo’s awe-inspiring sculpture of ‘David.’ 

This 5.2-meter-tall masterpiece represents the artist’s unparalleled skill and symbolizes Renaissance artistry. 

The gallery also boasts a collection of works by other Renaissance masters, including Fra Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, and Andrea Orcagna.

Temperatures in Florence during Christmas

Low temperatures and high humidity characterize the weather in Florence during Christmas, with temperatures ranging from 2°C to 10°C. 

It can even get lower on some days. If lucky, you can see snow.

With such low temperatures, we propose engaging in outdoor activities during the day’s warmest hours. 

Also, start your day early because it will be dark by 5 pm. 

Despite the cold, there is a lot of activity on the streets during Christmas, and retail and restaurant hours are extended compared to other winter weeks.

FAQs

1. Is Christmas a good time to visit Florence?

Absolutely! Christmas in Florence, Italy, is filled with festive lights, Christmas markets, and special events.

It’s a great time to experience the city’s rich culture!

2. How is Christmas celebrated in Florence?

Florence celebrates Christmas with festive traditions like lighting Christmas trees, decorating nativity scenes, going to Christmas markets, holding midnight masses, and many other activities.

Christmas Day in Florence is all about spending family time, playing games, having lunch, and attending Christmas mass.

The festival starts on December 7 and lasts until January 8.

3. Is Florence open during Christmas?

Yes, Florence is open during Christmas. It is advisable to plan and book activities in advance.

Many attractions, shops, and restaurants remain open, allowing visitors to enjoy the holidays in this beautiful city.

4. Are there Christmas markets in Florence?

Florence hosts several Christmas markets, including the traditional Weihnachtsmarkt in Piazza Santa Croce, offering unique gifts, decorations, and delicious holiday treats.

You can explore the Florence Noel market at the Leopolda Center, which offers a variety of festive goods.

Additionally, the annual Fortezza Antiquaria fair at Piazza Vittorio Veneto is amazing.

5. Can you attend Mass at the Duomo in Florence?

Yes, you can attend the Christmas Mass at the Florence Cathedral at midnight (After 11 pm) or Christmas morning at 10.30 am.

Make sure to arrive early, as the entry is on a first-come, first-served basis!

6. How do I attend Mass at Duomo?

To attend Christmas Mass at the Duomo, arrive early, as the cathedral can get crowded.

For midnight mass, consider joining the prayer vigils starting at 11 pm. Alternatively, arrive before 10.30 am on Christmas morning.

7. How long is Mass at Duomo Florence?

Mass at the Duomo in Florence can vary, but midnight mass typically lasts about one to two hours.

8. What to wear to Duomo Florence during Christmas?

Respecting a dress code that puts comfort and modesty first is crucial when visiting the Florence Duomo in the winter.

For women, this includes clothing that covers the chest, shoulders, and knees—knee-length gowns, skirts, or pants. 

Avoid wearing low-cut or bare-backed garments, shorts, tank tops, miniskirts, and hats.

Featured Image: Facebook.com/FlorenceMall

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!