Winter is not an especially busy period for festivals and events in Florence, Italy. However, there are cultural events such as theater and concerts that take place indoors. January and February are also great months to visit Florence's top museums as they won't be so crowded. It's a good idea to book museum tickets in advance, if for no other reason than to avoid standing in line outside on a cold day.
Here are some of the top festivals, holidays, and events that happen each January and February in Florence.
Epiphany and La Befana (January 6)
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 parade, 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.
New Year's Day (January 1)
New Year's Day is a national holiday in Italy. Most shops, museums, restaurants, and other services will be closed so that Florence locals can recover from New Year's Eve Festivities. Ask at your hotel to find out which restaurants will be open.
Carnevale and the Beginning of Lent
Depending on the date of Easter, the pre-lenten festival of Carnevale may fall in February. 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.
Chocolate Fair (Early to Mid-February)
An artisanal chocolate fair is held in Piazza Santa Croce for 10 days with lots of chocolate tasting as well as special events such as the opening evening apertivo (happy hour) 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).
Valentine's Day (February 14)
Only in recent years has Italy begun to celebrate the feast day of Saint Valentine as a romantic holiday, with hearts, gifts, and romantic candlelight dinners. Although Florentines may not celebrate the holiday heartily, many visitors find Florence to be a very romantic city. You might not be the only person kissing their loved one under the moonlight on the Ponte Vecchio, but it will still be a Valentine's Day kiss to remember!