If you're visiting Milan in May, you'll have lots of company. It's a busy month in the city, when late spring weather is warm and sunny, without the high temperatures—or peak crowds—from June to August. Milan is a city known for its culture and May is a great month for visitors to get a taste of its offerings.
The following are some of the top festivals and events that happen each May in Milan.
Labor Day - May 1
May 1 is Labor Day, also called Primo Maggio or Festa dei Lavoratori in Italian, is a national holiday. Banks, businesses and even many restaurants, shops and museums will be closed. Many Milanese head out of town for a long weekend, with Lake Como being a popular destination.
Arte sul Naviglio Grande - Early to mid-May
More than 300 artists from around Italy set up an open-air gallery along the south Naviglio Grande for this annual juried show. Many vendors offer to ship larger works of art, making this event a great place to look for a unique souvenir. Plus it's a lovely strolling and looking at artwork along and canals of Milan's Navigli neighborhood. Check the Navigli Grande website for more information.
Orticola ai Giardini Pubblici - Mid-May
The Giardini Pubblici, Milan's Public Gardens, are a fantastic place to spend a spring day, especially when the Orticola (plant and flower show) is going on. The technicolor displays of native and exotic plants and flowers are a perfect antidote to the stress of the big city. More information is available on the Orticola website.
Cortilli Aperti - Late May
While it's correct name is a mouthful—Giornate Nazionali l’A.D.S.I.—the event informally known as Cortilli Aperti grants visitors access to courtyards (cortile), gardens and interiors of private palaces and grand homes, most of which are normally closed to the public.
Milano Food City/Food Week - Early May
This fun program sees pop-up food stands, tastings, cooking demos and classes spring up all over the city, with an emphasis on local cuisine, sustainability and combatting hunger and homelessness. Find more information at the Milano Food Week website.
Piano City Milano
This cultural program presents 50 hours of round-the-clock piano concerts in Milan's piazzas and concert halls, and even on subway platforms and ferries. Most events are free and you can just walk right up and listen. See the Piano City Milano website for more information.
Flea & Antiques Markets - Every weekend
Throughout most of the year, the long-standing Fiera di Sinigaglia runs every Saturday at the Ripa di Porta Ticinese in the Navigli District, offering well-curated vintage clothes, housewares and bric-a-brac.
Every Sunday morning, a stamp, coin and printed goods market – one of the largest in Europe – runs on Via Armorari, not far from the Duomo.
Performances at La Scala - Year-round
Milan's historic Teatro alla Scala, or La Scala, is one of the premier opera houses in Europe, and seeing a performance there is a treat any time of year. In May, there are periodic of opera and classical music, including some adapted for children. Visit La Scala's website for more information.
Melanie Renzulli contributed to this article.