Events in Sicily
Events not to miss in Sicily
The Almond Blossom Festival – Agrigento – early March
The International Folklore Festival takes place every year in the evocative setting of the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. The festival begins with the lighting of the torch of friendship in front of the Temple of Concord and continues with a series of events including traditional Sicilian marionettes, concerts, cultural exhibitions and a parade of folk groups from all over the world.
Easter Festivities - Byzantine Easter - Piana degli Albanesi (Palermo)
Ancient Greek-Byzantine rituals, rich in suggestion and mystery, animate the celebrations of Easter week in the Piana degli Albanesi, a village in the province of Palermo, home to a community of Albanian origin. Religion, folklore and spirituality accompany the celebrations that begin with the traditional "lazeri" chants that recall the resurrection of Lazarus. Palm Sunday with the entrance of the bishop riding a donkey commemorates Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, while Holy Thursday sees the ritual of the washing of the feet. The rituals continue into Friday with the songs that narrate the Passion of Christ and into Saturday with the characteristic baptisms and finally into Easter Day with the solemn songs recalling the resurrection of Christ.
Easter Festivities – Procession of the Mysteries – Trapani – Good Friday
The procession of the Mysteries is a long and ancient religious celebration held in Trapani beginning on Good Friday and lasting for nearly 24 hours. This festival of Spanish origin has taken place for more than 400 years. The Mysteries are 20 statues that represent the Passion and Death of Christ, made by artisans from Trapani in the 17th and 18th centuries. The statues are carried on the shoulders of groups of men that sway to the music of the band in a movement known as the "annacata".
The Li Schietti Festival - Terrasini (Palermo) – Easter Saturday and Sunday
An ancient popular festival held in Terrasini, near Palermo, where local bachelors challenge each other in a show of strength. In an attempt to win the heart of their loved ones, the bachelors, or “schietti”, display their strength by lifting a 50 kg orange tree with one hand. One of the most important moments of the festival is the ritual cutting of the tree on the Saturday. The actual competition takes place the next day following the blessing of the tree.
Easter Festivities – U Gioia - Scicli (Ragusa) – Easter Sunday
Easter week in Scicli offers a wealth of celebrations, processions and intensely mystical and evocative rituals. The most spectacular of these is known as the "Uomo Vivo" or "Gioia", which takes place on Easter Day when young men run through random streets of the town carrying the statue of Christ resurrected, accompanied by music and firecrackers.
Easter Festivities - Madonna "Vasa Vasa" - Modica (Ragusa) – Easter Sunday
The most awaited moment of the Easter celebrations in Modica. On Easter Sunday, two processions leave the Church of Santa Maria di Betlem: one carrying the statue of Christ resurrected and one of the Madonna in a black cloak in sign of mourning. The two processions cross the town in opposite directions until they meet at midday for the traditional kiss or "Vasa Vasa": the Madonna, on seeing her son, opens her arms and drops the black cloak to reveal her blue one, bows three times and kisses the resurrected Christ to the joy of the faithful.
Flower Festival – Noto (Syracuse) – Third Sunday in May
Every third Sunday in May, Via Corrado Nicolaci in Noto, is transformed into a spectacular carpet of flowers. Courtyards, cloisters and roads are decorated with floral mosaics with a different religious, mythological or popular cultural theme every year.
Settimana Federiciana – Enna – May
A journey into the past with historical reenactments, parades in costume and medieval games in some of Enna’s most evocative places. A magnificent chance to see the cultural and artistic heritage of the town.
International Kite Festival - San Vito Lo Capo (Trapani) - May
The skies of San Vito lo Capo fill with colour for the International Kite Festival. The chance not only to admire the spectacular kites but also to taste the local cuisine and to enjoy live music and street entertainment.
Classical Performances, Greek Theatre in Syracuse – May-July
The National Institute of Ancient Drama, since 1914 has offered the chance to see two classical theatrical performances, on alternate nights, in the evocative setting of Syracuse’s Greek Theatre.
Muzzuni Festival - Alcara Li Fusi (Messina) - 24 June
Believed to be Italy’s oldest pagan festival, the Muzzuni festival, celebrated every year in the village of Alcara Li Fusi on the 24 June, originates in a ritual offering to the divinities of nature in the hope for fertile lands and abundant harvests. History has it that a group of people from Troy, fleeing the destruction of their homeland, sought shelter in what is now the village of Alcara.
The Festival of Saint Paul - Palazzolo Acreide (Syracuse) - 27-29 June
A spectacular festival dedicated to Saint Paul, in which the statue of the Saint is carried triumphantly around the town. The most important moment of the festival, at 13.00 on the 29th, is when the statue of the Saint is carried out of the church, to the sound of pealing bells and fire crackers and the throwing of the "nzareddi", long strips of coloured paper prepared by the women in the days leading up to the festival. The saint is then carried around the streets on the shoulders of local men and followed by the faithful, mostly barefoot women. A firework display concludes the procession, in front of the church.
Inycon Menfi (Agrigento) – June
Wine tasting, visits to the wine cellars, walks or rides through the vineyards on horseback or by bike to see the beauties of the area as well as the traditions of Menfi, a small wine making community between Agrigento and Trapani. A great chance for wine lovers to taste the wide variety of local wines and other quality local products.
The Strawberry Festival – Maletto (Catania) – June
Visitors swarm to the Strawberry Festival in Maletto, a village on the slopes of Etna, to taste this delicious fruit in a variety of dishes, from pasta and pizza, to ice creams and fruit salads and even risotto. A giant strawberry cake is also made and offered to all visitors.
Taormina Filmfest – Taormina (Messina) – June-July
The Taormina Filmfest is a prestigious annual Festival, second, in Italy, only to the Venice film Festival. The Filmfest is an open-air cinema on the stage of the magnificent Greek Theatre showing films with some of the world’s leading actors. The festival is part of a larger event: Taormina Arte, held every year between June and August, which includes musical performances, theatre and dance.
TaoArte – Taormina (Messina) - June-August
In one of the world’s most prestigious archeological settings, the Greek Theatre, Taormina Arte, since 1983, has been offering a programme with a wide variety of shows from dance to jazz and from theatrical performances to musical concerts.
Festival of Santa Rosalia – Palermo – 10-15 July
A spectacular religious and popular festival dedicated to the patron saint of Palermo celebrating the town’s liberation from the plague in 1624 thanks to the intervention of Saint Rosalia. As well as the procession of the majestic cart bearing the statue of the Saint which is carried through the streets of the town, the festival offers entertainment from marionette shows to orchestral music and jazz.
Stragusto - Festival of Mediterranean Street Food - Trapani – End of July
Once a year, Trapani is transformed into the capital of Street Food, for the Stragusto festival dedicated to Mediterranean gastronomy held in the evocative Piazza Mercato del Pesce, the old fish market square.
The Illuminated Steps - Caltagirone (Catania) - 24-25 July and 14-15 August
The festival of the patron saint of Caltagirone, a UNESCO heritage site near Etna, is a spectacular occasion. A display of lights illuminate the 142 steps of the Scala di Santa Maria del Monte, turning its famous ceramic tiles into a tapestry of light and colour. The characteristic fire-like lights are made using traditional multi-coloured paper cups containing oil fuelled lamps.
Teatro del Fuoco – International Firedancing Festival – Vulcano (Messina) – July
First held in 2007, the International Firedancing Festival begins in the Aeolian Islands before touring other islands in the Mediterranean with its extraordinary spectacles of theatre and dance. The festival is a celebration of fire with performances that alternate dance, acrobatics, mime, flames and lights.
Festival of Tindari (Messina) - July and August
The Festival of Tindari, for more than half a century, has been offering visitors a wealth of cultural exhibitions and musical and theatrical performances. Over time this festival has become one of the most important in Sicily’s summer calendar and artists of national and international fame have performed in the theatre on the promontory overlooking the sea.
Sagra della Spiga – Gangi (Palermo) – second Sunday in August
Gangi, one of Italy’s most beautiful ancient villages, on the second Sunday in August, hosts this festival dedicated to the rural traditions of the Madonie mountains with a parade of costumed figures and folk groups.
The Norman Palio - Piazza Armerina (Enna) – 12-14 August
A medieval atmosphere pervades the celebration of the Norman Palio in Piazza Armerina. Knights, ladies and troops of soldiers parade through the splendid streets of the historic centre. The historical reenactment culminates in the Quintain, when the four quarters of the town participate in an equestrian tournament accompanied by dance and music.
Ypsigrock Music Festival – Castelbuono (Palermo) – August
Castelbuono, an enchanting village in the Madonie mountains, is host to one of Italy’s most important annual alternative rock music festivals. A weekend of unforgettable concerts for all lovers of indie music.
Taranta Sicily Fest - Scicli (Ragusa) - August
For this event dedicated to southern Italian folk music, the baroque town of Scicli becomes the capital of the Taranta. Visitors can enjoy traditional “pizzica” folk dancing, as well as concerts and musical theatre ideal for a warm summer night immersed in Sicilian and southern Italian culture.
ViniMilo – Milo (Catania) – August-September
This food and wine festival offers its numerous visitors and wine lovers the chance to taste some of Etna’s famous wines. The event also hosts conferences and high-quality wine tasting, themed dinners, workshops, visits to the wine cellars and musical performances.
Couscous Festival – San Vito Lo Capo (Trapani) – End of September
The International Festival of Cultural Integration celebrates, at the end of September, in San Vito Lo Capo, couscous, a dish common to many Mediterranean cultures. The festival, one of the most important in Sicily in the Summer, offers visitors the chance to taste delicious food as well as to see top chefs in cooking competitions, to take part in workshops and to see concerts with some of Italy’s best-known musicians.
SalinaDocFest – Salina (Messina) - September
A must for all cinema lovers, this important festival is dedicated to the documentary narrative genre, held every year in Salina, one of the islands of the Aeolian archipelago. The festival also offers musical performances.
The Pistachio Festival - Bronte (Catania) – September - October
The town of Bronte on the slopes of Mount Etna dedicates a festival to its pistachios known as “green gold”, whose unique quality earned them PDO recognition from the European Union. For two weekends visitors can enjoy delicious meals and pastries made with pistachios by local chefs.
Ottobrata Zafferanese - Zafferana Etnea (Catania) – Every Sunday in October
The Ottobrata Zafferanese dedicates each Sunday in October to a different local product. This important food and wine festival offers visitors the chance to discover the traditions, folklore and arts and crafts of Etna and to taste the local produce.
Ibla-buskers - Ragusa-Ibla – October
A much loved festival of street artists, where acrobats, musicians, jugglers and theatre companies, from all over the world, meet in the historic centre of Ragusa-Ibla lending even more atmosphere to this charming baroque town.
Festival di Morgana – Palermo – November
At the Antonio Pasqualino international marionette museum in Palermo, Italian and foreign companies revive ancient traditions as they bring Sicilian puppets and marionettes to life.
Chocomodica – Modica (Ragusa) – December
In the splendid baroque town of Modica a gastronomic festival dedicated to Modica’s famous chocolate, still made today according to the ancient Aztec tradition.
Christmas Festivities – Live Nativity - December-January
In the Christmas period many towns and villages in Sicily have live traditional nativities where local people dress in costume. Some of the most famous of these are in Custonaci (Trapani), Agira (Enna), Ispica (Ragusa), Caltagirone (Catania), Sutera (Caltanissetta) and Castanea (Messina). Scenes from daily life and traditional crafts are represented, as well as the nativity itself, usually in natural surroundings or in evocative grottoes.
Festival of Sant’Agata – Catania – 3-5 February
One of the largest patron saint festivals in the world, attracting nearly a million people every year. A large processional cart or “vara" with the relics of Saint Agatha is led through the streets in the centre of town by devoted locals dressed in traditional white and carrying 11 huge wooden candles. A firework display in Piazza Duomo rounds off the events on the evening of the 3rd February.
Acireale Carnival (Catania)
The Carnival of Acireale is considered the best in Sicily. The parade of allegorical and grotesque floats with mechanical movements, lights and music is quite spectacular.
Sciacca Carnival (Agrigento)
The Carnival of Sciacca, in the province of Agrigento, is also well-known. Following tradition, Peppe Nappa, the masked symbol of the Carnival, opens and closes the festivities in spectacular style when Mardi Gras is detached from the cart and burned in the piazza.