Christmas in Rome is a special experience. The shops and streets are adorned, the evenings are long and the Church are preparing for the high feast of the Nativity of the Lord.
Museums · Pope masses and audiences · Cribs · Shopping · Christmas markets · Ice skating · Public Transport · Celebrating Christmas in Rome · New Year’s Eve · New Year · Fireworks for sale in Rome · Weather
The Christmas season begins in Rome on December 8th with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, la Immacolata Concezione, which is a holiday in Italy. On December 8, Christmas decorations are switched on in Rome. The tradition of Saint Nicholas on the 6th December is not celebrated in Rome.
The Christmas season ends in Rome with the Feast of the Three Magi on 6 January. In the night from the 5th to the 6th of January the witch comes, La Befana, and brings the children sweets and coal.
The Vatican museums are open from Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm with last admission at 4pm. On Sunday 24th December 2017 and Sunday 28th January 2018, the Vatican Museums are open from 9 am to 2 pm with the last admission at 12:30 pm and admission is free .
In the December 2017, the Vatican museums are closed on Friday, 8th December, Sunday 10th December, Sunday 17 December, for Christmas from 25th to 26th December 2017 and 31st December. In January 2018 they are closed on Monday 1st January, Saturday 6th January as well as on Sundays 7th January, 14th January and 21st January 2018.
For the Vatican Museums, we advise you to take the early entrance, so that you can enjoy it with more peace.
The National Museums and the Museums of the Municipality of Rome are closed on 25 December and 1 January. The museums of the municipality of Rome close on December 24th and 31.st at 2 pm.
The Coliseum with Palatine and Roman Forum is open from November to mid-February from 8:30am-4:30pm with last admission at 3:30, except for the 25th December and January 1.
The Capitoline museums, the markets of the Trajan and the Ara Pacis are open from 9:30am-7:30pm with the last entry at 6:30. These museums close on 24th and 31st December at 2 pm and are closed on 25th December and 1st January.
Until the end of December, the Capitoline Museums will have an opening on Saturday evening from 8pm to midnight, with the last entry at 11pm. The entrance fee for this evening opening is 1 Euro.
The Angelus prayer is held on St. Peter’s square on every Sunday at noon except January 21st, 2018. Further Angelus prayer takes place on8th December at the Feast of Virgin’s conception and on 26th December. For the Angelus prayer you do not need a reservation.
The crib on St. Peter’s square will be opened on the 7th December at 4:30 pm.
On 8th December, the Marian veneration takes place at 4 pm at the Column of Maria in Piazza di Spagna.
The midnight mass at St. Peter’s starts on the 24th of December at 9:30pm.
25th December at noon the Pope gives the blessing “urbi et orbi”‘. No reservation is required.
On 31st December at 5pm, a Vesper with Te Deum will take place at St. Peter’s for the end of the year.
On 1st Januar 2018 at 10 o’clock Pope’s Mass Maria Most Holy Mother of God
On 6th January 2018 at 10 o’clock Pope’s Mass for the epiphany
On 7th January 2018 at 9:30am Pope’s Mass Celebration of the baptism of the Lord with the baptism of some children
For the Papal Masses in St. Peter’s, you can order invitation cards from the Prefecture of the Papal Household.
The general audiences with Pope Franziskus takes place every Wednesday at 10am with the exception of Wednesday 17th January.
The most famous crib with mostly life-size figures is built in the St Peter’s Square every year. In 2016, it came from Malta. The crib 2016 in the photo gallery>. This nativity scene is in Bethlehem this year.
The crib 2017 on St. Peter’s Square
The crib of the year 2017 on St. Peter’s Square comes from the south, from the region of Campania, and is donated by the territorial abbey of Montevergine. It is an abbey of the Benedictines, a sanctuary of the Virgin Mary and the destination of pilgrimages. It is located in the Regional Park of the Partenio mountain range near Avellino.
The crib comes from a craftsman company from Naples and is designed in the style of the 18th century according to the ancient Neapolitan tradition. The crib has a floor area of about 860 square feet and a height of around 23 feet. It is inspired by the works of mercy. It comprises twenty figures with a height of around two meters. The head and limbs are made of multi-color clay with crystal lures and fabric robes.
The tree is a gift from the Archdiocese of Elk in Poland. It is a spruce with a height of 93 feet and a circumference of 33 feet. The transport was around 1,250 miles through Central Europe.
As in the previous year, the tree decoration consists of clay balls and clay stars painted by carcinogenic children, which were created as part of a creative therapy with the support of the Lene Thun Foundation. The donation of the countess Lene Thun helps children with protracted illnesses, with the scope to distract them by modeling with clay and thus promote the healing. Learn more about the Foundation of Lene Thun. For decoration of the tree, the works were reproduced in synthetic material. This year, children from the earthquake areas of the Archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia are also involved.
The crib has been inaugurated on December 7, 2017 at 4:30 pm. Crib and tree remain illuminated until Sunday night January 7, 2018.
In Rome, you can find lovingly crafted cribs everywhere. Some are small models with moving figures.
In Piazza del Popolo, in the rooms of the Bramante in the Basilica of the Santa Maria del Popolo, you will find an exhibition of 100 cribs from around the world from November 23 to January 7, 2018.
For the first time in Rome, there is a living nativity scene near the Basilica of St. John, San Giovanni. In the city wall to the left of the basilica is a gate from the year 270, the Porta Asinara. It is only accessible to pedestrians. Here a Roman parish organizes a living nativity scene that takes visitors back to times long past. Admission is free, donations are welcome.
About 14 miles south of Rome, you can find a living crib beginning at at 2:30 pm on December 26, 2017, and January 6, 2018, at the Villaregia mission community on Via Antonio Berlese 55. You can reach the crib by bus 703, stop Strampelli / Berlese. The line 703 departs from Via Cristoforo Colombo, previous to the obelisk, from the Civiltà del Lavoro stop. The bus runs about twice an hour and the journey time is just under 45 minutes. To get to the Civiltà del Lavoro, take bus 30 (or on public holidays 130F), 170, 714 and 791. Or take the metro B to Eur Fermi and then take bus 703 at the Arte / America stop. For the journey you need a day ticket BIRG for 3 zones for the price of 8 Euro.
60 miles north of Rome, in the historic city center of Tarquinia, there is a living nativity scene on December 26 and 30, 2017, and on January 6, 2018. It is a big spectacle with fire-eaters and fakirs and local culinary specialties. Regional train 2442 at 2:12pm from Termini with arrival at 3:27 in Tarquinia or train 2344 at 4:12pm. From the station you can go by local bus to the city center or 2 miles on foot. Return trains are at 8:29 and 10:29pm. For the journey you need a day ticket BIRG for 4 zones for the price of 9,30 Euro or train tickets for the price of 13,80 Euro for round trip. Children between the ages of 4 and 12 pay a reduced price of 7 euros round trip with the train ticket.
The Romans plan not long in advance, and only in the last few days before the feast it is hectic in Rome. Many visitors come from the surrounding countryside to Rome for the Christmas shopping and it is tight on the streets and in the shops. everything is festive. In Via dei Condotti you will find the big fashion brands, on the Via del Corso and in the surroundings you will find an extensive offer in every price class.
In our gallery we show you a walk through the atmospheric streets of the city, with decorated shops and hot spiced wine.
Christmas markets, as you know them from northern countries, do not exist in Rome. If Romans want to visit a classic Christmas market, they go to Bolzano or further north.
Until January 6, Piazza Navona hosts the Festa della Befana, the festival of the witch. A special attraction for young and old is the beautiful carousel. In addition to sweets, especially toys and Christmas decorations are sold. The serving of food and drinks is not common. There are also some craft shops, especially traditional cribs, and a puppet theater.
There is a nice market at the Auditorium Parco della Musica from the 8th-10th December and from December 15 to January 7, 2018. There is also a skating rink there. To the Auditorium you come with the tram line 2.
Other markets are spread over the city, mostly in tents, where everything from used books to fashion jewelry is offered.
Throughout the year, every Sunday, Porta Portese flea market takes place with housewares, second-hand goods, clothing, furniture and antiques. Tramlines 3 and 8.
From Christmas to the beginning of February there are some ice rinks in Rome.
One is located at the Auditorium on the Via Flaminia, Via Pietro de Coubertin 30 – tram line 2. It is open from 10am to midnight and the entrance fee is 10 Euro including the rental of skates.
Another rink is located in Piazza Re di Roma. It is open from 10am to midnight and the admission including skates costs 8 Euro, on Sundays and public holidays 10 Euro.
There are also ice skating rinks at the Euroma2 shopping center and the Parco Leonardo shopping center. They are open from 10am to 10pm and the admission including skates costs 8 Euro, on Sundays and public holidays 10 Euro.
On all ice rinks children under 6 pay 2 Euro less.
Public transport stops earlier on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. All details you will find here.
Public transport Rome for Christmas
On 24 December, bus, tram and metro stop the operation with a last departure at 9 pm. On the line to Ostia is the last departure to Ostia at 9:30pm, the last departure to Rome at 9pm.
The night buses go according to the timetable. The lines of the night buses are marked with an N.
On 25 December public transport runs from 8:30am to 1pm and from 4:30pm to 9pm. On the line to Ostia is the last departure to Ostia at 1:30pm, the last departure to Rome at 1:15pm. The night buses go according to the timetable.
On December 26, the normal holiday schedule applies.
The metro runs from 5:30 am on December 31, 2017, to 2:30 am on January 1, 2018. From 2:30 to 8 o’clock the lines N1, N2, N2L and N28 drive along the metro lines. On January 1, the metro drives from 8 am to 11:30 pm. On the line to Ostia, on December 31, the last departure to Ostia is at 9:30pm, the last departure to Rome at 9pm. Until 8 o’clock in the morning the bus N3 goes to Ostia.
Bus and tram: On December 31, 2017, the holiday schedule applies. Last departure is at 9pm. The night buses do not operate.
From 9pm to 2:30am, the following lines operate:
Bus H: Termini-piazza Venezia-Trastevere-Gianicolense-Bravetta/Capasso
Tram 2: piazzale Flaminio-via Flaminia-piazza Mancini, is done with buses
Bus 50: Termini-stazione Vittorio Metro A-Porta Maggiore-stazione Metro C Pigneto
Bus 128: Metro B San Paolo-viale Marconi-via della Magliana-via Crocco
Bus 170: Eur Agricoltura-viale Marconi-piazza Venezia-Nazionale-Termini
Bus 200 piazza Mancini-Ponte Milvio-corso Francia-via Flaminia-stazione Prima Porta
Bus 280: piazza Mancini-Lepanto Metro A-Piramide Metro B-stazione Ostiense Fs
Bus 301: Grottarossa-via Cassia-Ponte Milvio-Lepanto Metro A-piazza Augusto Imperatore
Bus 336: Conca d’Oro Metro B1-Vigne Nuove-Fidene-via Quarrata
Bus 544: stazione Sant’Agnese/Annibaliano MetroB-Monti Tiburtini-stazione Gardenie Metro C-stazione Parco di Centocelle Metro C
Bus 766: via Andrea Millevoi-Grottaperfetta-Metro B San Paolo-stazione Trastevere (last departure 2:10am)
Bus 881: via Avanzini-via della Pisana-via Gregorio VII-via Paola
Bus 905: metro A Cornelia-via Boccea-via di Casal Selce-Casalotti-Malagrotta
Bus N6: Ottavia/via Tarsia-via Trionfale-viale delle Medaglie d’Oro
On 1st January 2018 the holiday schedule is valid from 8 am to 11:30 pm.
Information on the regional and national rail connections can be found in the Trenitalia booking portal .
In Rome you can find many religious services in English language.
Roman Catholic celebrations are in the American community at Saint Patricks in Via Boncompagni 31, at S. Isidoro in Via degli Artisti 41, at S. Silvestro in Capite in Piazza di S. Silvestro and at St. Francis Xavier in Via della Caravita 7.
The Baptist Church is at S. Lorenzo in Lucina 35, the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Via XX Settembre 7 and the Episcopal Church St. Paul’s within the Walls in Via Nazionale corner via Napoli.
The German Christmas tradition is maintained by the German parishes in the Catholic parish of Santa Maria dell’ Anima behind Piazza Navona and in the Evangelical parish in via Sicilia 70.
For the mass on Christmas Eve at St. Peter’s you must pre-order the tickets. On Christmas Day, the traditional Mass with the Christmas message and the blessing “Urbi et Orbi” takes place on St Peter’s Square.
24th of December is the day of expectation of the birth of Christ and therefore no holiday and there is also no feast. There are traditional fish or simple dishes. On the 25th of December the dishes are served with a wide selection of appetizers, pasta dishes, lamb (abbacchio) or rabbit (coniglio) or other specialties of Roman cuisine. Finally, the traditional Christmas cake, Pannettone or Pandoro and, of course, Caffè and a grappa or a liqueur, such as Limoncello as the “Ammazzacaffè” (coffee neutralizer), which counteracts the taste and caffeine of the Caffè. On 26 December friends are visited and the remains are eaten.
If you want to be lucky in the New Year, then you have to wear red underwear on New Year’s Eve, so it’s the tradition. A good portion of lentils with Cotechino, a kind of coarse cook sausage, promises financial success. Before, porcelain was also thrown out of the window, but this rite is no longer used today for security reasons.
New Year’s Eve is a street festival in the Roman city center. Many Romans eat at home or in the restaurant and come into the city center, the Colosseum or the observation hills to celebrate the fireworks at midnight. A ban on fireworks issued by the municipality has been collected by the Administrative Court. The discotheques are also starting to turn up at New Year’s Eve, to go for the new year.
The party starts at 9:30 pm at Circus Maximus. The event is named “201∞ ROMA ILLUMINA L’INFINITO”, meaning “Rome enlightens the infinite”. On the circus a big stage is set up, there is music and spectacle. Also the new lighting of the Palatine and the Circus Maximus will be inaugurated.
From 3 o’clock in the morning there will be more events. A movie marathon up to dawn takes place at Cinema Reale at the beginning of Viale Trastevere and at Teatro India near the Ponte della Scienza bridge. You can walk to the Teatro India on the right bank of the Tiber. The Tiber Island and the Circus Maximus are just around 2 miles away. There, at 3 o’clock, further events begin and at 7 o’clock the pianist Danilo Rea welcomes the sun with his performance.
It is very quiet in Rome on new year’s morning, apart from the events around the Circus Maximus. If you want to go for a walk, you should be careful about any unexploded firecrackers. You can also consider a visit to the church or, in good weather, a trip to the sea to Ostia.
From 10 am to 4 pm, the municipality of Rome organizes the New Year of the Children for children and families. The main event is in the orange garden at the Aventine with concerts, theater and artist laboratory. Other events can be found in the children’s library in Via di S. Paolo alla Regola 15, not far from Campo de’ Fiori and Ponte Sisto.
In the afternoon from 3pm to 9pm there will be events throughout the area between the bridge Ponte Sublicio in the south and the Tiber Island, the Orange Garden, the Bocca della Verità and the Circus Maximus. On your afternoon walk you can admire the Roman art scene here. From folk music to break dance, clowns and tightrope walkers everything you can find here.
In the supermarkets you will find in Rome only youth-free fireworks. There are very few specialized shops in Rome that sell real fireworks. The addresses can be found on the Internet under the search term “vendita fuochi d’artificio Roma”.
The decision of the mayor of Rome of 21 December 2016 on the ban on fireworks in the urban area from 29 December 2016 to 1 January 2017 has been lifted by the regional administrative court on 28 December 2016.
Before New Year’s Eve, long queues form in front of the fireworks shops and it can take several hours before it’s your turn. To acquire larger fireworks, you need a suitable certificate of competence.
The weather forecast for Rome in December is a minimum temperature of 40F and a maximum temperature of 56F as well as 6 rain days. It can be quite pleasant during the day and cold in the night. On some days the weather is rather unfriendly and more suitable for visiting a museum or churches. In the New Year’s Eve it can be quite cold and windy, especially at the viewpoints. You should therefore have appropriate clothes.
At the sea, it is rather fresh, but pleasant on sunny days. There is usually snow in the Apennine mountains and many Romans go to skiing in the mountains.