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Rome events in December 2021 - Holidays, exhibits, concerts, and other things to do

Rome events in December include Christmas holiday dates of course. But there are a few other important things happening this month, too.

castel sant'angelo in decemberDecember has the shortest days of the year, and as a result, there is often a glow in the sky, especially in the afternoon. Find out all the events and things to do in Rome in December.

Find out all the things to see and do in Rome in December.

Rome events in December - What's happening

December is a great time to visit Rome for a lot of reasons, not the least of which are the lovely lights and decorations that start going up even before the month begins.

December weather in Rome is cool, which makes it comfortable for sight-seeing. It's also a good time to enjoy some hot Roman lunches and dinners indoors with some good wine.

Keep reading for more info about the best Rome events in December 2021:

Holidays and special dates in Rome in December

Besides the obvious holiday dates of Christmas and New Year's, there are a few other Christmas-related dates as well as non-Christmas related dates to note in December as well.

December 8 - Immacolata / Immaculate Conception

In Italy, the Catholic holiday of December 8, the Immaculate Conception, or Immacolata, is celebrated. Many shops will be closed, but sites are open (except for the Vatican Museums.)

If the 8th falls near a weekend, you can expect it to be busy in Rome.

At noon, you can head to St. Peter's Square to hear Pope Francis give the Angelus (free, lasting about 15 minutes.) 

Another thing you can do on December 8 is visit Piazza Mignanelli near the Spanish Steps.

Every December 8, at 4:30pm, the pope changes the Madonna's wreath at the top of the column there.

In recent years, there has been more and more security, and the event has become more and more popular, so you should expect huge crowds, and should try to get there as early as possible if you want to get anywhere close to the event.

The pope does not do it himself - the firemen do, but he is there for the event. 


Chabad Roma organizes the lighting of the menorah during Chanukah in Piazza Barberini.

menorah on first night of Chanukah in piazza barberiniRabbis are in attendance for the lighting of the "candle" of the menorah on the first night of Hanukkah in Piazza Barberini.

In 2021, Hanukkah is from November 28 - December 6.

You can attend the first night's lighting ceremony with Rome's rabbis at sundown on Sunday, November 28, 2021, but you can also go for the following 7 nights to see each "candle" being lit.

Christmas tree lightings

Several Christmas trees go up around Rome in December, but it seems the one people ask me about the most is the one at the Vatican

The Christmas tree in Vatican Square is a relatively new phenomenon (started in 1982 during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II), but it's typically been lit just before Christmas Eve.

According to the Vatican News websitethe inauguration of the Nativity scene and the lighting of the Christmas tree at Vatican Square are scheduled for Friday, 10 December, 2021.

Christmas Fair in Piazza Navona


There will NOT be a Christmas market in Piazza Navona this year.

christmas market in piazza navonaThe Christmas market in Piazza Navona has been a bit on and off in recent years. But when it's happening in full force, it's one of the best Rome events in December.

Usually, Piazza Navona is THE spot for Rome's Christmas biggest and most festive Christmas Market.

In 2020, we didn't have a market at all, and sadly, in 2021, it has been cancelled once again due to Covid restrictions.

Current exhibits and events at Rome's museums in December

The cooler fall and winter months are a great time to take in the arts and some art indoors. Some museums stay open later on the weekends.

There are several Rome events in December at various museums around the city.

Here are some special things you can do in Rome in December:


Palazzo Braschi - Museum of Rome

Klimt - This exhibition marks the return to Italy of some of his masterpieces from Vienna and other locations around the world. 

Through March 27, 2022.

Palazzo Braschi is on one end of Piazza Navona.

Open Mon - Fri 10 am - 8 pm; Sat - Sun 10 am - 10 pm.

13€ standard. 11€ reduced.

Advance booking strongly recommended.

inferno at scuderie

Scuderie al Quirinale

Inferno - in honor of the the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri.

More than 200 artworks depicting Hell. From public and private collections from across Europe.

Through January 9, 2022

Via XXIV Maggio 16.

Open: Sun - Thu 10am - 8pm; Fri - Sat 10am – 10:30pm. 

Full € 15; Reduced (ages 18-25) € 13

Free for anyone under 18, and anyone disabled and their care-giver, with written medical proof. 

Advanced booking is recommended. 

raphael domus aurea

Domus Aurea

Raphael and the Domus Aurea - the invention of the Grotesque.

Through 31 December, 2021.

Monday - Thursday, accompanied site visit. 12€ adult.

Friday - Sunday, guided visit including the workspace. 18€ adult.

Free for anyone under 6, and anyone disabled and their care-giver, with written medical proof. 

Advanced booking is required

guido reni

Galleria Borghese

Guido Reni

Through February 2022

Open: Tuesday - Sunday 9 am - 7 pm. Closed Mondays

Full € 13; Reduced (Europeans ages 18-25) € 2;

Advanced booking is required.

mausoleum of augustus

The Mausoleum of Augustus

Through 31 December, 2021.

Open daily but with availability only for the following few weeks at a time.

5€ full price. Free for Rome residents, children under 6, tour guides, and many other categories. For a full list, click the below link.

Advanced booking is required

torlonia marbles capitoline museum

EXTENDED! - Capitoline Museums

The Torlonia Marbles. Collecting Masterpieces

Visit this stunning exhibit of one of the most important private collections of ancient sculptures.

Through 9 January, 2022 the exhibition I marmi Torlonia, Collecting masterpieces is open in the new exhibition space of the Capitoline Museums, in Villa Caffarelli.

Advanced booking is required.

bansky chiostro del bramante

Chiostro del Bramante

All about Bansky: Exhibition 2

Through 9 January 2022.

Chiostro del Bramante is just behind Piazza Navona.

Open daily 10 am - 9 pm.

15€ Weekdays. 18 Saturdays and Sundays.

Advance booking required.

Sport/sporting Rome events in December

we run rome

Atleticom - We Run Rome

December 31, 2021

A fun 5k or 10k race through Rome's center.

You can pick the neighborhood where you want to run and you'll have a special course focused there.

The perfect 3-day itinerary in Rome

Trying to figure out how to organize your visit to Rome? I've got the perfect 3-day itinerary for first-time visitors (or those who have not been here in a while.) It works for a 2.5 day visit as well.

In my 3-day itinerary, you'll see all the major must-see Rome attractions like the Vatican, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, Castel Sant'Angelo, and much more.

And if you have more time, or want suggestions for extra/other things to do, you'll find that there too.

Visit my page with the best 3-day itinerary in Rome for first-timers.

Visit Rome's Parks and gardens

While December can be a cool month, it can still be a beautiful time to visit a park or garden in Rome.

Rome events in December - Free things to do

If you're looking for some fun Rome events in December that are free, there are very few so far confirmed for 2021.

The below are either confirmed for 2021.

capitline museums she wolf

The first Sunday of the month, Rome's Civic Museums are free for everyone.

On Sunday December 5, 2021, you can visit the Capitoline Museums, Ara Pacis, Villa Torlonia, Trajan's Market and many others for free. For more details and booking, click the link below to visit the official site.

Advance booking is required.

Green Pass is required.

Free Sunday Rome events in December 2022

NO FREE SUNDAY December 2021

Due to Post-Covid-lockdown new opening rules at Rome sites, there are currently no free dates at Rome's state museums, like the Colosseum, or at the Vatican.

We DO have the Free Sunday at Rome's civic museums (see above.)

You may wish to refer to the free Rome events in December below if you are planning to visit in December 2022 as these will hopefully have free dates by then.

As things evolve, I'll update you about opening rules and possible free dates as we go month to month.

In recent years, we've enjoyed the "Free Sunday," in which state sites and museums were free the first Sunday of the month, and the Vatican Museums were free the last Sunday of the month.

In December 2021, we will not have any free dates at these sites, but hopefully this will return by December 2022.


In December 2021, there are no free dates to visit the Colosseum.

The Colosseum will be free on the first Sunday of the month.

You can expect the Colosseum to be pretty much a mob scene. I'd highly recommend visiting one of the other sites that is also free on this day, like the Roman Forum/Palatine Hill, or Ostia Antica.

sistine chapel

In December 2021, there are no free dates to visit the Vatican.

On the last Sunday of the month, the Vatican Museums are open and free. Hours are reduced (9:30am - 2pm, with last entry at 12:30pm). Expect long lines.

If you are on a budget, or have limited time, this can be a great opportunity. 

You cannot buy tickets in advance for the Free Sunday, but you can book a tour of the museums through the Vatican. If you don't want to book this tour, just come early. By early I mean by 8am.

But otherwise I recommend you book your visit ahead of time and pay to go another day.

Nighttime things to do in Rome in December

At the beginning of the month, the weather is still really comfortable, even in the evenings.

By the end of December, the evenings can be pretty chilly and of course it is starting to get dark quite early.

But that doesn't mean you cannot enjoy the city after the sun goes down! 

For nighttime tours and Rome events in December, visit Viator.

Ready to plan your trip?

Rome events in December - Concerts, operas, shows

rome opera

There is lots of wonderful opera in Rome in December, right in Rome's beautiful Teatro dell'Opera (Opera House.)

rome auditorium

The Rome Auditorium is open and you can attend wonderful concerts and other events.

opera pass

Get your Rome Opera Pass to choose from a number of shows inside a scenic and suggestive setting in central Rome (locations vary).

These wonderful opera singers put on a mini-production of various operas, often in full costume.

capuchin crypt

Visit the extraordinary Capuchin Crypt, then head into the recently restored church to listen to sacred music in a gorgeous setting.

Wednesday afternoons.

rooftop aperitivo and opera

Don't miss this unique opera + aperitivo on one of Rome's most amazing rooftops, the Borromini Terrace. Combine beautiful music, with the stunning baroque setting on Piazza Navona, and a special aperitivo, to make for a fabulous evening in Rome.

There's a maximum 30 people (including an art historian guide), to keep this experience exclusive and special.

Friday evenings.

rooftop and aperitivo piazza navona

Enjoy private access to one of Rome's most exclusive rooftops right on Piazza Navona, while sipping your aperitivo and listening to Italian opera classics from Verdi, Rossini, and Puccini.

Sunday early evenings.

For more concerts and music Rome events in December, click here to visit Get Your Guide.

Tours to take in Rome in December

It's a good idea to take a tour in December.

December can be really busy in the first half of the month.

So booking a tour is a good way to make sure you get tickets to the sites you want to visit, and also get to enjoy them without fighting the crowds too much.

And even if it's not too crowded, a tour is a great way to see the sights and get to know a bit about them as you go.

For tours to take in December, start here:

Day trips to take in Rome in December

December is a wonderful time to take a day trip, especially if you want to try some food/wine ventures outside Rome.

We have lots of options for places to visit which you can easily reach within 1-2 hours of Rome. For organized day trips, visit Get Your Guide.

Activities with kids in Rome in December

Whether you are visiting Rome in December for the holidays or just for a short getaway, if you are coming with kids, there are plenty of tours and activities in Rome geared to children of all ages. 

If you're looking for some fun activities with kids, start here:

I've listed some of what I think are the most fun and interesting Rome events in December, and most central. For a complete list of Rome events in December, visit the website of the Rome Tourist Board.

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