Christmas in Milan is my most favourite time of the year! I think you can tell by how eager I am to share with you activities for the month, well in advance. I just love to walk the Duomo square to hear the Christmas songs blasting over the speakers – especially the song “All I Want for Christmas” by Mariah Carey. The season just makes me feel so warm-hearted and lifts my spirit. Whether you are a local or you are just spending Christmas in Milan, you will find my recommendations handy. Here you go:
The Sant’Ambrogio Festivities
Festival of Sant’Ambrogio happens once a year. On the 7th of December, Milan celebrates its patron saint, Saint Ambrose (Sant’Ambrogio), with a fair called: “O bej O bej”. This festival takes place on the streets in the area surrounding the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio in the centre of Milan.
For all Milanese, the commencement of the two-day festivity for the Immaculate Conception and Sant’Ambrogio is the signal of the start of the Christmas season. It is a fun-packed period full of exciting cultural and recreational events.
AF L’Artigiano in Fiera – Artisan craft market
Artigiano in Fiera is the international industry event that’s been celebrating artisans and their creations for more than twenty five years. The artisan craft market holds every December at Fieramilano-Rho featuring the excellence of craftsmanship and uniqueness of products that attract thousands of visitors. A great opportunity for your gifts in the run-up to Christmas!
Visit Milan Christmas Markets
An outdoor seasonal event with over 60 market huts will spread around the magnificent Duomo of Milan, dedicated to traditional Christmas products like Christmas decorations, baubles for the tree, nativity cribs, Befana stockings for the Epiphany and so on.
Christmas in Milan officially kicks off on December 7, better known as the local holiday that celebrates St. Ambrogio, Milan’s patron saint. The season always opens with the “O Bej, O Bej” Christmas market (which means “oh how nice!” in Milanese dialect). As they have for centuries, every year, hundreds of stands set up in front of Castello Sforzesco, selling everything from local delicacies like panettone (a sweet Christmas bread) to handmade goods.
Celebrate Christmas like the Milanese
In preparation for Christmas Day, Italians usually enjoy a multiple-course fish dinner with family, followed by midnight Mass. The vigil Mass at the Duomo with the Archbishop begins at 11:30 pm, but I advise you arrive well in advance to get a spot in the church. Other popular midnight Mass and Christmas Day services are celebrated at the churches of Sant’Ambrogio and Santa Maria delle Grazie. Christmas Mass in English is sometimes available at Chiesa Santa Maria del Carmine, but is not scheduled every year.
New Year’s Eve Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at Milan’s Auditorium Concert
From the 29th of December to the 1st of January, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony Re minor op. 125 – the protagonist of laVerdi’s New Year’s Eve programme will be holding. Traditionally conducted by Maestro Claus Peter Flor, the concert features the participation of both the Symphonic Orchestra and the Symphonic Choir Giuseppe Verdi.
Tickets are available on laVerdis official website.
Opening Night Season of Teatro alla Scala
The first night at La Scala Theatre, on December 7th, is a sophisticated melange of culture, showbiz, glamour, and entertainment. Every year a series of free events (concerts, performances, lectures, and workshops) is dedicated to the opera through the city. Go to the official website for more information.ù
Since you are spending your Christmas in Milan, start getting familiar with Italians wishing you “Buon Natale” which means Merry Christmas! What are your plans for this Christmas, are you traveling, staying with family, friends or loved one? Share your plans with me in the comment box, I would like to know.