Rome events in December 2023 - 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 2023:



Holidays and special dates in Rome in December


Besides the obvious holiday dates of Christmas and New Year, 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. 

Chanukah

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 2023, Hanukkah is from December 7 - December 15.

You can attend the first night's lighting ceremony with Rome's rabbis at sundown on Thursday, December 7, 2023, 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.

The inauguration of the Nativity scene and the lighting of the Christmas tree at Vatican Square is scheduled for Saturday December 9 2023 at 5:00 pm.

This Christmas in St Peter's Square, the Vatican will recreate the first living Nativity scene of Saint Francis on the 800th anniversary of its creation in Greccio north of Rome in 1223.

The tree that is normally in Piazza Venezia, due to construction, will be moved to Piazza Del Popolo for Christmas 2023, and will be lit on December 8th.

Christmas Fair in Piazza Navona

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.

Arrangements are currently being made for festive stalls and the carousel to be set up, with the market due to run from December 1, 2023 to January 6 2024.



Current exhibits and events at Rome's museums in December 2023

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:


paperstostoriescapitoline2023

Capitoline Historical Archive

The cultural meetings at the Capitoline Historical Archive From papers to stories. History and Archive stories involves historians, writers, archivists and teachers, invited to tell a story, reconstructed starting from one or more archival documentsand then returned through books and publications. In this way the speakers tell the history of the research and the intertwining of their human and professional story, with that of the protagonists of their investigations.

Through December 14th 2023

Get tickets here!


raphael domus aurea

Domus Aurea

The beloved Isis. Nero, Domus Aurea and Egypt

150 objects that recount the relationship between Rome and Egypt during the first century AD

Dates Confirmed from 22 June 2023 to 14 January 2024

Get tickets here!


The Gods Return Exhibit

The Quirinale Palace - The Gods Return exhibit.

The bronzes of San Casciano are being exhibited for the first time the since the amazing discovery in 2022 in the Etruscan and Roman thermal sanctuary of the Bagno Grande of San Casciano dei Bagni. The exhibit consists of 21 exceptionally preserved bronze statues. These statues were preserved in the warm mud of a thermo-mineral spring for over 2,300 years and can be dated between the 2nd and 1st century BC.

Get more details here!

Dates extended through December 22, 2023



La Deposizione di Cristo di Jacopo Tintoretto

Capitoline Museums

For the first time in Rome, the Deposizione di Cristo, an impressive artwork by Venetian painter Jacopo Robusti (Venezia 1519 -1594), better known as Tintoretto, a brilliant and unconventional painter from the Venetian Renaissance, second only in fame only to Tiziano, comes to the Musei Capitolini.

Dates confirmed from September 9th 2023 through December 3rd, 2023 

Get tickets here


VRBS Roma

Capitoline Museums

VRBS ROMA

For the first time, the golden glass with the personification of the city of Rome, found during excavations for the construction of the Metro C station at Porta Metronia, will be on display.

Through July 1st 2024

Buy tickets here.


FIDIA EXHIBIT CAPITOLINE

Capitoline Museums, Villa Caffarelli

FIDIA

An exhibition of the works of Phidias, hailed as the greatest Greek sculptor of the classical age.

The exhibition includes around over 100  works from the 5th century BC. Many have never left Greece until now.

An extraordinary journey through the artist's life and work including archaeological finds, paintings, manuscripts, drawings, plus a multimedia installation.

Buy tickets here


Caesar's heritage capitoline

Capitoline Museums

Caesar's heritage and the conquest of time.

A multimedia exhibition of the history of ancient Rome through the Fasti Capitolini. The Fasti Capitolini, extraordinary calendars engraved in marble, narrate the history of Rome from its origins to the dawn of the imperial age thanks to multimedia.

Through January 21, 2024

Buy tickets here.


Rediscovered fragments Capitoline

Capitoline Museums

The Rediscovered Fragment

The hand of the colossus of Constantine from the Capitoline Museums and the bronze finger from the Louvre.

Through April 28, 2026

Buy tickets here.


Jacovittissime Maxi

MAXXI

Jacovittissimevolmente -The irresistible art of humour

One hundred years after his birth, an exhibition on Jacovitti’s fantastic world and his playful, awkward and irreverent inventiveness.

Buy tickets here.

Through February 18, 2024


Trame Di Luce 2024

Rome's Botanic Garden

Trame di Luce 

Rome's Botanic Garden lights up the night  with a new multi-sensory event of light and sound through tunnels of lights and magical sound installations.

runs through January 7th 2024

Wednesday to Sunday, from 2.30 to 11.00 pm, with last admission at 10.30.

For details and online bookings, click here.

di Luce runs until 7 January 2024

Sport/sporting Rome events in December


we run rome

Atleticom - We Run Rome

December 31, 2023 at 14:00

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.

For 2023 and for the first time, the magic of Christmas will come alive at Christmas World in Villa Borghese Park with shows, live performances, and parades with more than 700 artists involved. Starting December 3rd through January 8th. For more information click here

Rome events in December - Free things to do

If you're looking for some fun Rome events in December that are free, there are a few so far confirmed for 2023.


capitline museums she wolf

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

On Sunday December 3, 2023, 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.


Free Sunday Rome events in December 2023

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.


colosseum

The Colosseum will be free on the first Sunday of the month, December 3 2023.

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

On the last Sunday of the month, the Vatican Museums are open and free. 

As the last Sunday in December 2023 is Christmas Day, they have moved the free day to Sunday December 17 instead.

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! 

Visit the Colosseum by moonlight!

From now through December 31, 2023, you can visit the Colosseum at night. I'd say this is one of the very best Rome events in October as you get to see the Colosseum lit up at night, and it's much less crowded than during the day.

Entry for night visits to the Colosseum is NOT part of the Roma Pass.

NB - They don't usually open this on Coopculture until right before the event so if you don't see availability for when you want to go, check back.

Book your tickets here.

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.

Thursday 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.


3 tenors - nessun dorma

The Three Tenors - Nessun Dorma

See the "Three Tenors" in a beautiful church setting.

You will be treated to three of Rome's most famous tenors singing some of the best-known and loved songs of Neapolitan opera, accompanied by the Mandolin Orchestra.

Music from La Traviata, Rigoletto, Tosca, and many others. 

Saturday evenings. From 25€.


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 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.

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.

Don't forget to bring these essential travel items with you!

Disclosure: If you make a purchase through a link on this page, I may receive a small commission - at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my site!

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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