Winter is not a big time for festivals or special events in Florence, however there are cultural events such as theater and concerts that take place indoors. Winter is a good time to take a cooking class such as Learn to Cook a Florentine Meal or Become a Tuscan Chef for a Day, both held right in Florence. January and February are also great months to visit Florence's top museums as they won't be so crowded, however it is still a good idea to book your Florence musuem tickets in advance to avoid standing in line.
Here are festivals, holidays, and events that happen each January in Florence:
January 1 - New Year's Day. New Year's Day is a national holiday in Italy. Most shops, museums, restaurants, and other services will be closed so that Florentines can recover from New Year's Eve Festivities. Ask at your hotel to find out which restaurants will be open.
January 6 - Epiphany and Befana. Another national holiday, Epiphany is officially the 12th day of Christmas and the day on which Italian children celebrate the arrival of La Befana, a good witch who brings gifts. This day is celebrated in Florence with a arade, called Cavalcata dei Magi, starting from the Pitti Palace and crossing the Arno River, continuing over to the Piazza della Signoria and finishing at Il Duomo. The spectacle includes marchers in Renaissance dress and colorfully clad flag bearers.
Read more about La Befana and Epiphany in Italy.
Here are festivals and events that happen each February in Florence.
Note: There are no national holidays in February.
As Early as February 3 - Carnevale and beginning of Lent. While Carnevale is not as big in Florence as it is in Venice or nearby Viareggio, Florence puts on a fun parade for the occasion. The colorful procession starts at Piazza Ognissanti and ends in Piazza della Signoria, where there is a costume contest and a concert of madrigals. Learn more about the upcoming dates for Carnevale and find out how Carnevale is celebrated in Italy.
Early to Mid February - Chocolate Fair or Fiera del Cioccolato Artigianale. An artisanal chocolate fair is held in Piazza Santa Croce for 10 days in early to mid February. There's lots of chocolate tasting as well as special events such as the opening evening apertivo and a cooking show. The fiera is in walking distance of Florence's Santa Maria Novella train station. See Fiera del Cioccolato for dates and events (in Italian).
February 14 - Valentine's Day (Festa di San Valentino). Only in recent years has Italy begun to celebrate the feast day of Saint Valentine with hearts, love letters, and romantic candlelight dinners. But although Florentines may not celebrate the holiday heartily, many visitors find Florence to be a very romantic city. For some romantic inspiration for Florence, check out this photo gallery of Florence By Night.
Editor's Note: This article has been edited and updated by Martha Bakerjian.