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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 2022:

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. 


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 2022, Hanukkah is from December 18 - December 26.

You can attend the first night's lighting ceremony with Rome's rabbis at sundown on Sunday, December 18, 2022, 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 3 2022 at 5:00pm.

The mayor of Rome has also confirmed that there will once again be a tree in Piazza Venezia for Christmas 2022, and it appears it will be lit December 8.

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.

In 2021 we didn't have a market at all due to Covid restrictions, but it will be back for 2o22!

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

Current exhibits and events at Rome's museums in December 2022

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 Bonaparte

Van Gogh

Sixty works - including the famous Self-portrait - and numerous biographical testimonies reconstruct the human and artistic history of the sensitive Dutch painter, today universally celebrated but with a tormented life.

8 October 2022 - 26 March 2023

Regular hours:

Monday to Friday from 09.00 - 19.00

Saturday and Sunday 09.00 - 21.00

Book your tickets here.

raphael domus aurea

Domus Aurea

Domus Aurea Experience

Waiting for the completion of the restoration, the Domus Aurea comes to life again thanks to state-of-the-art multimedia technology. It is a true journey through time that allows the public to walk for 75 minutes through the original rooms of the palace, thanks to immersive reality and video narrative.

from 6 May 2022 to 31 December 2022

Advanced booking is required

mausoleum of augustus

The Mausoleum of Augustus

Tuesday - Sunday 09:00-16:00 (last access 15:00)

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

Capitoline Museums

Domitian Emperor. Hatred and love

An important archaeological exhibition dedicated to the figure of the emperor Domitian (51 AD - 96 AD), co-produced by the Capitoline Superintendence for Cultural Heritage and the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden of the Dutch city of Leiden.

from 13 July 2022 to 29 January 2023

Advanced booking is required.

The Colours of the Ancient. Santarelli Marbles at the Capitoline Museums

The exhibition in the rooms of Palazzo Clementino at the Capitoline Museums presents a wonderful selection of over 660 polychrome marbles from the imperial age from the Capitoline collection and the Dino and Ernesta Santarelli Foundation.

13 April 2022 - 30 April 2023

Book here

Cursus Honorum. The government of Rome before Caesar

The exhibition at the Capitoline Museums, which is part of the project “The Rome of the Republic. The story of Archeology ", focuses on the public offices of magistrates of the Republican age, that is the cursus honorum, a fundamental aspect of the political life of ancient Rome.

24 March 2022 - 23 April 2023

Book here

bansky chiostro del bramante

Chiostro del Bramante

CRAZY: Madness in Contemporary Art

Through 8 January 2023.

Chiostro del Bramante is just behind Piazza Navona.

Monday to Friday 10 am - 8 pm

Saturday and Sundays 10 am - 9 pm

The box office and show entrance close one hour before.

15€ Weekdays. 18€ Saturdays and Sundays.

Advance booking required.


Saint Peter’s Square | Piazza San Pietro

100 Presepi in Vaticano 2022

From the beginning of December, the representations of the Nativity will once again be at the center of the International Exhibition 100 Presepi in Vaticano, this year in its 5th edition. Promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, the exhibition can be visited free of charge for five weeks, for the entire holiday season.

4 December 2022 - 8 January 2023


The Borghese Gallery

A Timeless Wonder. Painting on Stone in Rome in the Seventeenth Century

The Borghese Gallery presents a suggestive exhibition dedicated to the invention of painting on stone, inspired by Sebastiano del Piombo. The great Venetian painter began to paint on more resistant supports than the canvas following the loss of numerous works of art during the Sack of Rome in 1527.

25 October 2022 - 29 January 2023

Hot Spot

The Galleria Nazionale

Hot Spot

The exhibition takes its title from Hot Spot III - a 2009 creation by Lebanese artist Mona Hatoum, a large installation in iron and neon depicting the Earth lit by a red light, a symbol of the conflicts that make it incandescent. The work represents how the frenetic and overwhelming system of the organization of human society seems to lead to environmental catastrophe.

24 October 2022 - 26 February 2023


Palazzo Braschi

Roma medievale. Il volto perduto della città

The lost face of the city between the 6th and 14th centuries and the legacy of the medieval phase of the city’s history are at the center of the exhibition. The exhibition is organized into 9 sections, with more than 160 works including mosaics, frescoes and movable works, from public collections and places of worship, as well as from prestigious museum institutions such as the Vatican Museums.

21 October 2022 - 5 February 2023


Archaeological area of the Imperial Fora

Roma Imperiale - Virtual Reality Bus

A truly moving exhibition on board a 16-seat, silent and environmentally friendly bus that travels through history and along the city streets, from the Imperial Forum to the Colosseum, from the Palatine Hill to the Circus Maximus and the Theater of Marcellus. 

23 June 2022 - 31 December 2022

Sport/sporting Rome events in December

we run rome

Atleticom - We Run Rome

December 31, 2022 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.

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 2022.

capitline museums she wolf

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

On Sunday December 4, 2022, 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 2022

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.


The Colosseum will be free on the first Sunday of the month, December 4 2022.

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 2022 is Christmas Day, they have moved the free day to Sunday December 18 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, 2022, 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.

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.

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. 

Wednesday 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 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.

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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