Rome New Years Eve - 2017/2018

Planning to be in Rome New Years Eve? What more beautiful place to ring in the new year, with all around cheer, and . . . the Colosseum?

rome new years eveThe colosseum and via dei Fori Imperiali on New Years Eve in Rome. Photo courtesy of La Repubblica.

Rome New Years Eve - Everything You Need to Know

If you will be in Rome for New Years, here's what you need to know:

Rome New Years Eve - what's it like?

News for New Years 2017/2018

Despite the photo above (from an earlier New Year in Rome) there is no tree at the Colosseum in 2017/2018 because of Metro works there. 

But you can count on Rome to be festive for New Years.

Click here to jump down to the section about the latest schedule for city-sponsored events in Rome New Years Eve 2017/2018.

piazza navona during holidays in romeThere is a very festive ambiance in Rome during the holidays

Rome is a great place to spend New Years Eve!

There are plenty of options for enjoying a sumptuous New Years Eve dinner (cenone), fireworks, and a general atmosphere of partying and fun. Many Romans have dinner at home, or at friends' houses, but then go out afterwards to walk around soaking up the atmosphere, and to watch the fireworks.

Tourist-wise, I find it's generally busy in Rome from just after Christmas through the 6th of January (the Epiphany, or what in Italy is called Befana.

With the exception of New Years' Day, everything is open, the city is beautifully lit up, from the shops, to the street-decorations, to the giant trees at the Colosseum, Piazza Venezia and Saint Peter's.

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Rome New Years Eve - what to do

Things to do outdoors in Rome new years eve 2018

Below is the schedule for Rome New Years Eve activities sponsored by the City of Rome.

It was updated Tuesday December 26 2017. All information is accurate and up to date as of this time.

The official website for Rome New Years Eve by Turismo Roma, is available online here (Italian only). 

If you are visiting Rome New Years Eve, here are some things you can do besides eating (cenone or otherwise):

Photo by Comune di Roma

To kick off the festivities, head to Circus Maximus. The fun begins at 9:30pm, with the Catalan dance company LA FURA DELS BAUS. They will be performing dance and other live circus-type shows.

After midnight party to the VJ SET "Dimensione Suono Roma Special Party" with live dj playing music and videos.

(There will NOT be one large live concert in Circus Maximus as in previous years.)

Photo by Il Messaggero

From midnight, there will be fireworks going off all around Rome, for about 15 minutes. The biggest show put on by the city will be in the Circus Maximus (see below for why!)

You can also see fireworks from large monuments and piazzas in Rome, where you will likely be celebrating anyway. If you can get to a high up vantage point, you will have great views. Such points include the Gianicolo Hill, the Piazza del Popolo, and any rooftop you can get to. 

This includes hotel rooftops, so even if you don't go to one of their cenone, you can try the rooftop bar. It won't come cheaply though! Drinks on any hotel rooftop bar are always steep, any time of the year. But it might be worth it to view all the fireworks around you. (For those asking where to watch fireworks without crowds, the only way to do this is at a private home of someone with a rooftop. All the public spaces will likely be full of people and pretty loud.)

The Palatine Hill is gorgeous by day, but has not been lit at night for 13 years. That will change this New Years Eve!

This is one of the happenings in Rome New Years Eve 2018 I am most excited about!! After 13 years, they will be lighting up the Palatine Hill again. The lights will go on right at midnight, so if you are celebrating in Circus Maximus, you will see this happen right before your eyes! The event will be accompanied by a huge fireworks and music show.

The lights will be permanent from then on, as they are energy-conserving LED which means low environmental impact and low cost.

Photo courtesy of RomaToday.it

From 3am-8am, you can attend one of the many free performances, movies and other art installations in locations and cinemas around Rome.

These include Piazza Sant’Anastasia, Cinema Reale, and Teatro India. Finally from 7-8am, on Ponte della Scienza, there will be a live concert to salute dawn of the first day of the year.

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Giardino degli aranci on Aventine hill

FOR KIDSJanuary 1 2018 from 10am-4pm, you and your children can participate in a city-organized program of music, games, dance, exhibitions, tales and stories, and activities to promote reading, at the Giardino degli Aranci and the Biblioteca Centrale Ragazzi.

Things to do indoors in Rome New Years Eve

If you don't feel like being out in the cold, or dealing with large street crowds and noise, you might want to spend New Years Eve in Rome indoors. This includes having a big cenone (dinner), but you might also want something more lively like:

  • Take in a show at the Auditorium. For Rome New Years Eve 2017/2018, there will be a gospel concert at 10pm.
  • Attend a ballet at the opera house. The Nutcracker is playing through January 2 2018!
  • See a concert with the Three Tenors (Rome's most famous tenors) in the beautiful Caravita Church near the Pantheon. 9-11pm, drink included. 
  • Attend a New Year's concert gala with live singing and music from some of the most famous operas, and music by Strauss, Mozart, Verdi, Puccini and others. 8:30 - 10:30/11pm. Dessert and prosecco included. 
  • For something special and mellow and earlier in the day, attend a special Baroque concert in the amazing Doria Pamphilj gallery. Includes admission to the museums and to the princess's private apartments.
  • Attend a "Virtuosi dell'Opera" concert at the beautiful church of Saint Paul's Inside the Walls. Opera highlights by some of Rome's most talented opera singers. 8-10pm.
  • Want to take the guessing out of where to book for dinner? You can take a guided bus tour of Rome, that includes dinner and New Year's celebration. Included hotel pick-up and drop-off.
  • For more music, and nightclub events, visit this website. These are privately-held events around Rome and sometimes outside the city center. You should get your tickets in advance, and make sure you have a plan for transportation.

How to get around in Rome New Years Eve

Public Transportation in Rome New Years Eve

On December 31 2018, Rome's Metro will be running until 2:30am. Buses will be less frequent than normal.

You may expect the metro stops of Colosseum and Circus Maximus to close early (9-9:30pm) as in previous years. This is due to crowds and for security purposes.

On New Years Day, Rome's public transportation begins running at 8am.

For more about public transportation in Rome New Years Eve (and New Years Day), visit the ATAC website (much of this page is available also in English but holiday schedules are in Italian only.)

Taxis in Rome New Years Eve

Taxis will be hard to come by. Don't count on finding one easily!

And if you are thinking you will just use Uber, thank again. Find out more about taxing taxis in Rome here.

Bottom line - either pre-book a private car service through your hotel, or just don't plan to count on finding taxis in Rome New Years Eve.

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Weather in Rome New Years Eve

Well this one's kind of a no-brainer: In Rome, New Years Eve is cold. It's winter. The days are at their shortest. But for some reason, and this is of course only anecdotal, I don't remember it raining for any of the New Years Eves I've spent in Rome. And I've been here for New Years every year since 1997.

So count on cold weather (and rain, only just because you never know.) Bundle up! Especially if you will be standing still in a piazza, or to watch fireworks. Wear warm gloves, a scarf and a hat. Wear layers too, starting with a kind of silk/cashmere/light wool undergarment like a tank top, camisole, henley or t-shirt.

campo dei fiori during the holidays in romeAt Campo dei Fiori in Rome during the holidays, you can see how bundled everyone is. Hats, scarves and gloves are key!

New Years Traditions in Italy

You may not be surprised to know that Italians ring in the new year with spumante or prosecco (sparkling wine) and with fireworks displays starting at midnight. Here are some more interesting Italian New Years Eve traditions, you may not have heard of:

  • A very old-fashioned tradition in Italy is to start the new year fresh by literally throwing out the past. At the stroke of midnight, people would toss kitchenware, appliances, clothes and even furniture out of their windows and onto the street. This may be slightly more common in the south, in particular Naples, but is not much practiced in Rome (I've never witnessed this.) However, at midnight, just take care not to be standing underneath apartment windows. You never know.
  • A big New Year's Dinner, called cenone, is another popular tradition in Rome and around Italy. This can be at someone's house or out at a restaurant. Many, many restaurants in Rome are open New Years Eve so they can offer this dinner menu. Often there is an earlier seating, for those who might want to ring in the New Year out in the piazzas or streets; and a later seating, for those who want to toast the new year with some prosecco and....
  • Lentils! This one is a biggie and a must. If you are out at a restaurant, or at someone's house, just after midnight, you simply must have some lentils. Doesn't matter if you don't like them, are too full from dinner, or just don't want to. You have to eat lentils after midnight on New Years, because it brings fortune for the coming year (the shape of those lentils is kinda like money, see?) No amount of backing away from this will save you. Have the lentils and get on with the evening. (Don't get me wrong, I love lentils, but I usually feel done eating and drinking by then. But of course I partake. When in Rome...)
  • Another Rome New Years Eve tradition is wearing red underwear (men and women alike.) This is because in medieval times, the color red was used to ward off sickness and bad stuff in general. If you've arrived in Rome without your red underwear, you are in luck! You can find them being sold all around town.
  • My least favorite Rome New Years Eve tradition is the setting off of little firecrackers all around the city. This starts even a few days before New Years and goes until the 6th of January. People set them off at all times of day. It's generally not dangerous (unless you are the one doing it; accidents have happened), but it's quite loud and can be jarring. Just be prepared for this noise.

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red underwear for sale for rome new years eveIf you didn't bring your red underwear, you can easily buy a pair to wear in Rome New Years Eve!

What to do in Rome on New Years Day

Hopefully you've had a fun-filled Rome New Years Eve, and probably got to bed late. So sleep in and enjoy a nice breakfast in your hotel or apartment.

Now, what to do with the rest of the day? First of all, don't worry about finding someplace to eat. Some restaurants are closed for the day or just for lunch, but many are open.

january crowds in st peters squareA very crowded St. Peters Square in early January

The basilica of Saint Peter's will be open (and expect it to be very crowded.) Many churches will be open. And some smaller museums and those with special exhibits are open on New Years Day in Rome.

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What's closed on New Years Day in Rome

January 1 is a national holiday. Most shops will be closed (with the exception of shops in Termini station, and some tourist shops around the center.) The Vatican Museums are always closed on New Year's Day.

Most city and state museums and archeological sites are closed on January 1.

Museums, Sites and Exhibits Open New Years Day in Rome

Here are just a few of the exhibits and things to do on New Years Day 2018. For a complete listing, check Rome's tourist information site (the site is available in English, but this page is in Italian only.)

Don't miss this special exhibit of Monet paintings at the Complesso del Vittoriano. There will be over 60 works from the Parisian Musée Marmottan Monetby the father of Impressionism, many from home at Giverny.

Mon - Thu 9:30am - 7:30pm
Fri - Sat 9:30am - 10pm
Sun 9:30 am - 8:30 pm

Tickets are 15€. Advance booking highly recommended for this popular exhibit.

This museum will be open on New Years day 3:30 - 8:30pm.

Enjoy - Art Meets Amuseument - at the beautiful Chiostro del Bramante.

The Chiostro del Bramante is behind Piazza Navona, on Via Arco della Pace, 5. T. +39 06 915 19 41

Click here for tickets.

Open Mon - Fri 10am - 8pm; Sat - Sun 10am - 9pm. 13€ includes audioguide.

The Chiostro del Bramante is open Mon - Fri from 10am - 8pm, and Sat-Sun until 9pm. This museum will be open on New Years day 10am - 9pm.

Picasso - between Cubism and Classicism, 1915 - 1925. From September 22 - January 2018.

Scuderie del Quirinale, Via XXIV Maggio.

Click the picture to visit the museum's official site.

Museum hrs: Sunday - Thursday 10am - 8pm; Friday and Saturday 10am – 10:30pm. 12€ full price

This exhibit will be open on New Years day 4-8pm.

Check out this extraordinary collection of I Grandi Maestri. 100 Anni di fotografia Leica (great masters, 100 years of Leica photography), with more than 350 original vintage prints by renowned photographers.

At the Complesso del Vittoriano. 12€

Jan 1 open 3:30 - 8:30pm.

Mangasia: Wonderlands of Asian Comics - "the largest ever selection of original artworks from Asian comics, displayed alongside their printed, mass-produced forms, much of them rarely if ever shown outside their country of origin."

Palazzo delle Esposizioni, on via Nazionale. 12.50€.

Click here for tickets.

Open New Years Day 4-8pm.

Vatican happenings on New Years Day

st peters square during holidaysSaint Peter's Square is one of the prettiest places to be during New Years in Rome

January 1 is a Catholic holiday, called Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. On January 1, 2018 you can attend:

  • The Angelus, in Saint Peter's Square, at noon. Free, no ticket required.
  • Holy Mass inside Saint Peter's Basilica at 10:00. This mass is free but tickets are required

Tours you can take in Rome on New Years Day

If you're in Rome New Years Eve and not sure what to do New Years Day, don't let the fact that a lot of things are closed stop you! Here are some tours you can take:

New Years in Other Parts of Italy

If you are spending New Years in another part of Italy, check out this informative, up-to-date page by Martha Bakerjian. Happy New Year!!!

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