10 Festive Things to do in Rome this December

By Megan Millisky

In December, the city of Rome illuminates with glowing Christmas lights and decorations. There is a wide variety of activities to choose from. Take advantage of free days at Rome's best historical sites, or catch a puppet show at the San Carlino theatre. Attend a tango festival or spend a night at the opera. Here is your guide to all the festive fun happening in Rome this December.

1. A Christmas Carol at San Carlino Puppet Theatre

See this classic Christmas tale at the San Carlino Puppet Theatre. The show is perfect for young children! The venue is located near many other common Roman tour sites.

Address: Viale dei Bambini, 00187 Roma RM, Italy

2. Free Days at Roman Historical Sites

This December, some of Rome’s most amazing sites are free to visit! You can visit the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum for free on December 1 and 18. Or, check out Borghese Gallery or Baths of Caracalla on other select days in December.

Address: 00186 Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy

3. Celebration of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

December 8, Roman Catholics pay homage to the Virgin Mary with a prayer at Piazza Mignanelli. Expect huge crowds - roads are closed but shops remain open. The Pope comes to Piazza Mignanelli to pray and place a wreath on the statue of Madonna.

Address: Piazza Mignanellia, 00187 Roma RM, Italy

4. Filarmonica d’Opera di Roma

Hear the sounds of the season when you visit Rome’s Filarmonica. An orchestra accompanied by singers dressed in 18th-century clothing. Performances are from December 31-January 1.

Address: Via del Babuino, 153, 00187 Roma RM, Italy

5. Italian Instrumental Taste Festival

December 10, enjoy classical music by Vivaldi, Verdi, BartĂłk and Marcello. This lovely show takes place at a world-famous chapel, Sagrestia del Borromini.

Address: Via di Santa Maria dell'Anima, 30/A, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

6. See the Vatican City and the Pope

The Pope will deliver mass on select days in December. These events are free, but tickets can be difficult to get, especially for masses on Christmas and the days leading up to the holiday. Historic Vatican City is decked out in beautiful decorations and lights.

Address: Vatican City, CittĂ  del Vaticano, 00120 Vatican City

7. Rome Tango Festival

Dance the tango while in you’re in Rome! This energetic festival runs from December 12-16. Dancers can attend a tango brunch or an intensive tango session. The festival welcomes guests from all over the world to dance along!

Address: Rome, Roma, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy

8. Christmas Opera Concert in Rome

Enjoy a classic Italian Opera in the Methodist Church of Ponte Sant’Angelo. Get swept away listening to romantic piano music or classical Italian Opera on December 22. After the show, sip Prosecco and meet the musicians.

Address: Via del Banco di Santo Spirito, 3, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

9. Vatican Museums Free Admission Day

While the Vatican museums, including the Sistine Chapel, are open most days of the year, there is usually a fee to get in. But if you want to save money, check out the Vatican Museums on December 24, when they’re free to the public.

Address: Viale Vaticano, 00165 Roma RM, Italy

10. New Year’s Eve at Circus Maximus

New Year’s Eve Festivities begin at Circus Maximus around 9 PM on December 31. There will be a theatrical performance followed by fireworks. The event, at Rome’s largest hippodrome, is free to attend.

Address: Via del Circo Massimo, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

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