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Rome in December Christmas Markets - 2021

In Rome in December Christmas markets are one of the first things people ask me about.

Where are they? When do they go up?

UPDATE NOVEMBER 25, 2021

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

piazza navona christmas marketOne of Rome's most loved Christmas traditions is the Christmas fair and market in Piazza Navona.

And of course, the big question, will there be a Christmas market in Piazza Navona this year?

In 2021, sadly, the answer is no.

Rome in December Christmas Markets - everything you need to know

The idea of a Christmas market in Rome is a lovely thing.

Going from stall to stall, all bundled up to keep out the cold, maybe stopping for some cotton candy. . .

piazza navona christmas market in the rainThis is the Christmas Market in Piazza Navona from years past when there were a lot more stalls and vendors.

But did you know that Christmas markets are not part of Italian Christmas traditions?

Christmas markets, called mercatini di natale in Italian, tend to be more common in northern European countries.

They began in the Late Middle Ages in German-speaking parts of Europe and what was once the Holy Roman Empire, which also included France, Belgium, and Luxembourg, among other territories.

The first northern-European-style Christmas market in Italy was in Bolzano (northern Italy) in 1990, which is not that long ago.

And so, today you will find these types of Christmas markets in parts of northern Italy where Christmas traditions are closer to Swiss/German/Austrian cultures.

Do you really want to visit some authentic Christmas markets in Italy in December/January?

Head to the Dolomites!

This being said, we did have a pretty bustling market, Roman-style, in Piazza Navona.

Now it's pretty diminished (you can read why below).

But there are a few more places in Rome where you can check out Christmas Markets - just don't expect them to be like the one that used to be in Piazza Navona, or what you find in northern Europe!

On this page about Rome in December Christmas Markets, you'll find:

The main Rome Christmas market we ONCE had was at Piazza Navona.

It was arguably Rome's biggest and most popular Christmas market and fair.

Piazza Navona Christmas Market - a Rome Christmas Tradition

The history of Christmas street sellers is closely linked to the history of Piazza Navona and its function as a local market.

In 1477, the food market was transferred here from the Capitol, and remained until 1870. 

Eventually, as tourism began to grow, the food market moved and eventually combined with the already existing market at Campo dei Fiori (which exists still to this day).

At some point, it was decided that Piazza Navona would only have a market during Christmas.

Every year, from sometime in early December (typically either December 1 or December 8, the Immacolata, until January 6 (Befana), there was a family-oriented Christmas fair that took up most of Piazza Navona.

Rome in December Christmas markets - This is the Piazza Navona Christmas fair in 2013, the last year it was as people remember.

Stands went up all around the square. Vendors sold everything from Christmas tree decorations to carnival-type food to toys of varying qualities.

There was (and still is) a carousel and a kind of mini-stage with a nativity scene (presepe in Italian.)

carousel in piazza navonaRome in December Christmas Markets - One thing you can almost always count on is the carousel in Piazza Navona - the perfect place to bring kids at Christmas time.

The scandal - 2014 - present

In recent years, a bit of grumbling began.

First of all, the market was supposed to open ONLY on December 8, the Immacolata, or Immaculate Conception, the official beginning of the Italian Christmas season.

But it was starting to open earlier, often on December 1, which many thought was a sign of pure crass commercialism.

christmas toy vendor at piazza navonaRome in December Christmas Markets - Until 2014, the stands at Piazza Navona were full to the brim with toys and other Christmas items.

Then, the artists and artisans who traditionally sold their wares here began to notice an encroachment of foreign-made goods sold in bulk and at low prices, undercutting them.

In 2014the mayor at the time (Ignazio Marino) tried to "clean up" Piazza Navona and bring it back to its more traditional roots where it was made up of just local artisans and food vendors.

The idea was that Piazza Navona should be about families and children, and less about "commercial" things. 

piazza navona christmas market in 2014 with treeRome in December Christmas markets - In 2014, I tried to make the Piazza Navona Christmas fair look more full, so I snapped this near the tree (I think that was the only year there was a tree here.)

The number of concessions went from 115 to 72.

Then, those vendors who signed up for their concessions did not go pick them up, to show solidarity with their kicked-out brethren.

That year, there was a mini-protest in Piazza Navona, with only a handful of vendors (something like 4-5.) 

In 2016, there were about 6-7 stands, all with carnival-type games where you could win a stuffed animal.

That's it.

No food, no toys, no crafts, nothing to buy.

piazza navona christmas market with reduced stallsRome in December Christmas Markets - Here is Piazza Navona during Christmas 2016, with a pretty reduced fair.

In 2017, there was supposed to be a Christmas Market, with SOME stands, but it didn't even go up until December 14.

In 2018, there were as usual the carousel, a nativity scene, and a stage for some small shows.

On December 12, 2019, local police SHUT DOWN the Christmas Market in Piazza Navona (something to do with permits) and for the first time since I can remember, there was not even a carousel there (it did come back in time for Christmas but it was a pretty sad Christmas fair by then.)


In December 2019 I made a video about Christmas through recent years. At minute 6:16 I go over the recent history of the Christmas Fair in Piazza Navona:


In 2020, due to Covid, there were lots of restrictions in place so there was no Christmas Market in Piazza Navona, although we were treated to a beautiful light + music show.

piazza navona light show at christmas in 2020Rome in December Christmas Markets - In 2020, due to restrictions because of Covid, the only Christmas event in Piazza Navona was a beautiful light and music show.

You can watch a video of the light show in Piazza Navona from Christmas 2020 in my video below, at minute 02:57:

The point is that while you will find Piazza Navona festive, with a carousel, nativity scene, some lights, a handful of stands and maybe a tree, it is NOT the huge Christmas Fair in Rome we once had.

Piazza Navona in December 2019 when we very nearly had no Christmas Fair at all. But it's still Piazza Navona! And we did eventually get the carousel!

I suggest going there anyway as it's a beautiful ambiance no matter what.

It is Piazza Navona after all.

As for the current year of 2021, we don't know yet what will happen.

My guess is that we will have a carousel and Nativity Scene once again. As for vendors, we will see.

The Piazza Navona Christmas Market should go up at the beginning of December 2021, and come down January 6, 2022.

I will confirm dates once we know for sure.

Rome in December Christmas markets around the city

Besides Piazza Navona, there are a few spots around Rome where you can visit some Christmas markets.

The below list is made up of Rome in December Christmas markets from recent years.

In 2021, we are waiting for confirmation as to whether these will be open and if so, what dates/times. I will update this page once we have details.

Piazza di Spagna / Spanish Steps

Awaiting confirmation for 2021

In recent years, there has been a small Christmas Market and nativity scene at the bottom of the Spanish Steps. Stay tuned for news for 2021.

Piazza Mazzini

Awaiting confirmation for 2021

There is a vintage/antique market in Piazza Mazzini in Prati on the first and third Sunday of every month.

Throughout December the market turns into a fairly large Christmas Fair (it seems to be open daily during this time.) You will find gifts, crafts, food, Christmas decorations and more. 9am - 9pm.

Rome Auditorium

CONFIRMED November 25, 2021

From December 4, 2021 - January 9, 2022you can enjoy a small Christmas market with about 30 stands near the Rome Auditorium

Open daily 10am - 10pm, except Christmas Eve when it will close at 2pm. Food trucks, designers, artisans, Christmas food and decorations.

You can easily reach this market from Rome center, with the Metro red line A, and then transferring to tram 2.

Vintage Market

Vintage Market is a company that organizes large flea-market type events almost every weekend throughout the year.

They are usually held in one of several enormous warehouse spaces that were once bus depots around the capital.

Confirmed for December 2021!

christmasland in rome flyer

One of Vintage Market's events, Christmas Land in Rome, will be in Ragusa Off, which is about a 5-10 minute walk from the Ponte Lungo Metro stop not far from San Giovanni.

Looking for year-round vintage markets?

Visit my page all about the best vintage stores in Rome here!

Mercato Monti

Awaiting confirmation for 2021

Throughout December, head to the funky Mercato Monti, in the Monti neighborhood near the Colosseum.

This is a year-round market, normally open mostly on weekends. But during Christmas, they are open more often, and with more of a Christmas feel.

Now with 2 floors for twice the fun! 10am - 8pm, via Leonina 46.

Christmas Wonderland

Awaiting confirmation for 2021

The Christmas Wonderland in Prati is more than a Christmas market - it's more like a full-immersion Christmas experience for children.

PratiBus District – viale Angelico, 52 (Prati)

10am – 11pm

L'Artigianato Femminile - 2021

Confirmed for December 2021

l'artigianato femminile christmas flyer

L'artigianato femminile, which translates to "The Female Artisan", puts on several events throughout the year.

For Christmas 2021 they are having two events a bit further away from Rome's center, in the Centocelle and Monte Sacro neighborhoods.

Rome in December Christmas markets further afield

I listed above the Rome Christmas Markets that you can most easily reach from Rome's city center.

There are quite a few other Christmas Markets that are just outside Rome, or in sort of far-off neighborhoods of Rome, like in EUR and in Cinecittà.

If you'd like to see a complete listing even with the farther-away markets, visit this page (only in Italian.)


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.


Rome Christmas shopping

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!

If you're looking for Christmas ornaments from Rome, Italy, you have several options.

  • If you visit during the Christmas holiday season, you can buy some from the mercatini di natale, or Christmas markets you may find around Rome (see above.)
  • But as you just read above, Rome Christmas Markets are really not a big thing and they are few and far between. So you could visit some shops in Rome that sell Christmas decorations and ornaments during this period (listed below.)
  • Whether you are visiting Rome at Christmas or not, you could shop at the year-round Christmas shops in Rome (listed below.)
  • You can visit my Amazon shop and purchase Rome and Italy inspired Christmas ornaments and other decor.
  • You can purchase Romewise Christmas ornaments.

Below you'll find shops that sell Christmas decorations in Rome.

Some only sell them during the holiday season but they do carry a good selection.

Others are open year-round, where noted.

Sempre natale

I have a soft spot for this cute little store near Piazza Navona.

sempre natale in romeSempre Natale, which means "Always Christmas" is a wonderful little local shop near Piazza Navona and the Pantheon.

When it first opened, I thought, there is no way that shop will last.

We have huge year-round Christmas stores in the US and I know there is a market for them there but I didn't think there could be enough of a market for this in Rome.

ornaments at sempre natale in romeAt Sempre Natale, you will find a wide variety of beautiful gifts and ornaments, year-round.

And I was wrong.

This adorable shop sells an excellent variety of high-quality unique Christmas decorations and ornaments.

Some of my favorites include the ornament shaped like gorgonzola cheese and the one shaped like an old-fashioned Olympia typewriter.

Details:

a typewriter ornament at sempre nataleRome in December Christmas markets - I seriously cannot get over the cuteness of this typewriter ornament at Sempre Natale!

Mr. Christmas

Mr. Christmas was founded in Rome in 2016 and has become a small Italian chain that sells Christmas decor and ornaments year-round.

They specialize in personalizing your ornaments.

christmas decorations at mr. christmas in romeRome in December Christmas markets - shop year-round for Christmas decor at Mr. Christmas. Photo from Mr. Christmas website.

You can easily find this Christmas shop in Galleria Alberto Sordi, not far from the Trevi Fountain.

Details:

Flakes Trastevere

At Flakes Trastevere, you can find a treasure trove of wonderful gifts and souvenirs.

Chiara also sells Christmas ornaments, usually ceramic from Deruta, but sometimes she has other kinds, too.

Details:

  • Address: 00153 Via della Scala, 45
  • Opening hours: Monday: 11:30-19:30 | Tuesday CLOSED | Wednesday-Saturday: 11:30-19:30 | Sunday 10:00-20:00
christmas ornaments at Flakes TrastevereYou can find a wide variety of wonderful gifts and souvenirs at Flakes Trastevere, including Christmas ornaments.

Rinascente

There are two Rinascente department stores in Rome.

The flagship store is between the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain.

The other location is closer to Via Veneto and Termini train station.

Both have excellent Christmas supplies during the Christmas holiday season (but not throughout the year.)

Details: 

  • Address:

        - Via del Tritone, 61

        - Via dei Due Macelli, 23

Vertecchi

Vertecchi is a local stationery and gift shop that gets super decked out during the Christmas holidays. They sell everything from trees to tree decorations to wreaths and much more. They sell out quickly so you'll want to shop there early in the season.

vertecchi christmas giftsAt Vertecchi in late October, you can see the last remnants of Halloween decorations as the Christmas decorations begin to fill the store.

They don't sell Christmas items throughout the year but they do stock up on other seasonal gifts, for example Easter or Halloween decorations, at the appropriate time.

Details:

Vatican Museums

Many museum gift shops now sell Christmas ornaments, sometimes depicting a famous piece of art from their collection on the ornament.

vatican museums gift shopRome in December Christmas Markets - you can always find Christmas ornaments at the Vatican Museums gift shops.

You can count on being able to find a wide variety of Christmas ornaments and related items at the Vatican gift shops, which you will find at many spots inside the Vatican Museums and also just to the left of Saint Peter's Basilica.

christmas gifts in vatican museumsRome in December Christmas Markets - The Vatican Museums gift shop is a great place to buy Christmas-related items.

You can also visit the Vatican Museums gift shop online.


Rome in December Christmas Markets - a map

Click here to visit my interactive Google map showing all the Christmas markets and shops listed on this page. It will open in a new window.


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