The Best Events and Festivals in January in Rome, Italy

How to Celebrate New Year's Day, La Befana, and More in the Eternal City

Rome on a January Evening. ROMAOSLO/Getty Images

If you are planning a trip to Rome in January, you will avoid much of the summer and holiday season crowds, and while it doesn't get extremely cold, you will definitely want to pack a winter coat, scarf, hat, and gloves.

Just because the temperatures drop, it doesn't mean you won't have several festivals and events to attend in the Eternal City.

January Festivals and Events in Rome

New Year's Day (Capodanno): New Year's Day (January 1st) is a national holiday in Italy.

Most shops, museums, restaurants and other services will be closed so that Romans can recover from their wild New Year's Eve Festivities and spend time with loved ones before the holiday season comes to an end.

The Epiphany (La Festa dell'Epifania): A national holiday, the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, celebrating the baptism of Jesus Christ, falls on January 6th and is officially the Twelfth Night of Christmas. In Vatican City, a procession containing hundreds of people dressed in medieval costumes walks along the wide avenue leading up to the Vatican. The procession participants carry symbolic gifts for the Pope who then conducts a morning mass in Saint Peter's Basilica after the procession. Many churches perform living nativities for Epiphany and since it is less than two weeks after Christmas, many presepi (nativity scenes) are still on display as well. 

La Befana and the Epiphany in ItalyLa Befana also falls on January 6th and is a particularly special day for Italian children as they celebrate the arrival of La Befana, a good witch.

If you want to buy a Befana doll, head to Piazza Navona Christmas market, where you'll see many of them on display. 

Saint Anthony's Day (Festa di San Antonio Abate): The Feast Day of Saint Anthony Abbott celebrates the patron saint of butchers, domestic animals, basketmakers, and gravediggers. In Rome, this feast day is celebrated on January 17 at the church of Sant'Antonio Abate on the Esquiline Hill.

There is also the very popular annual "Blessing of the Beasts" ceremony that accompanies this day takes place in the nearby Piazza Pio XII. An open-air stable is assembled by the Italian Association of Livestock Farmers (AIA) in the piazza, directly in front of St Peter’s Square in Vatican City.

Each year, there is an exhibition of livestock animals, including cows, sheep, goats, and chickens that is open to the public. Following the arrival of the animals, an official Catholic mass is conducted for the farmers, their families, and all animal lovers by the Archpriest of St Peter’s. After the mass, the Archpriest conducts a blessing of all the animals. About midday, you will see a string of horses prancing down the street. This unique holiday is a great way for tourists to see an inside look at how the locals celebrate less frequented events.