Umbria has an enormous variety and number of traditional events throughout the year. The local communities treat these events as an opportunity to confirm their roots and identity and it is a wonderful opportunity for tourists to experience genuine expressions of Umbrian culture and folklore.
Also see http://www.umbria2000.it/for a list of events and festivals.
Terni – ‘St Valentine. A year of loving ‘
The month of February is dedicated to festivities in honour of St Valentine.
Norcia – ‘Fair of the prized Norcia Black Truffle’
An agricultural / food products fair which promotes the gastronomic specialitiesof the Valerina, in particular the prized black truffle as well as sausages, salamis, cheeses, Castelluccio lentils and wild berries.
Todi -‘Italian Antique Exhibition’
This exhibition is now considered a tradition and a no-miss event for antique lovers and dealers, hosting the most prestigious names in the Italian antique trade.
Assisi – ‘National Antique Trade Fair’
One of the biggest springtime events in the antique art trade.
A spectacular evocation of medieval and Renaissance costumes and life. The two districts of the town compete in a series of concerts and shows, among amazing floral decorations, torches, flags and candles.
This festival is one of the most unusual popular events in the religious calendar. In honour of the patron saint St.Urbaldo, three teams compete in a race through the town to the top of Mount Ingino. Carrying the ‘ceri’ – enormous wooden figures symbolising three saints.
Gubbio -‘Crossbow ‘Palio’ – Palio della Balestra
At this contest held at the end of May, the Crossbow societies of Gubbio and San Sepolcro compete using medieval crossbows and at the end a historical procession in medieval costumes winds through the torch-lit streets.
Foligno -‘Quintana Tournament’- Giostra della Quintana
A tournament held on horseback based on a tradition of knights competing for their lady-loves. On the eve of the competition, a procession of 600 people parade in costume through the streets. The contest is highly spectacular and usually held at night.
Spello – ‘Corpus Christi Floral Decorations’ – Infiorate del Corpus Domini
The traditional festival of Corpus Domini is held in Mid June and is marked by wonderful works of art created literally on the street using thousands of different coloured flower petals. The preparations require weeks of work but the compositions are completed with fresh flowers during the course of one night.
Orvieto – ‘Procession for Corpus Christ’- Corpus Domini
To celebrate the miracle of the Mass at the tomb of St Christina in 1264 a historical procession is held in which 400 figurants take part. On the eve of the festival there is a parade with ladies in 13th-century costumesand medieval music, songs and dances.
Bevagna – ‘The fair of the Gaite’- Il Mercato delle Gaite
A faithful recreation of Bevagna in the middle ages. People walk around and go about their daily business in full costume and little shops open up selling handicrafts. There are numerous taverne to eat and drink in and the whole thing is enriched by concerts, shows and demonstrations of medieval arts and crafts. A very popular festival.
Spoleto – ‘Festival of Two Worlds’ – Festival dei Due Mondi’
One of the most prestigious international events and offers performances of theatre, dance, opera, concerts and art exhibitions.
Montone – ‘Umbria Film Festival’
Week long film festival held in the stunning hill town town of Montone.
Perugia – ‘Umbria Jazz ‘
Launched in 1973, today it is one of the most important jazz events in Europe . It has in its time hosted the greatest modern jazz musicians. The event lasts ten full days: a hundred or so concerts take place from morning to night among the ancient buildings in the historic centre of Perugia.
Passignano Sul Trasimeno – ‘Palio of the Boats’ – Palio delle Barche’
This palio involves approx 160 contestants in a gruelling race in three separate stages, on the water, on the lakeside and up the winding streets of the historic centre, either rowing or carrying their boats. The highly spectacular palio is the only one of its kind in the world, and draws enormous crowds each year.
San Felicano – Festa del Giacchio
A festa on the shores of Lake Trasimeno featuring,naturally enough, fish from the lake cooked in several ways. There are concertsand dances and the whole thing culminates in a spectacular firework display.
Palio di Siena
The palio is disputed each year on 2 July and 16 August in the Piazza del Campo. It is one of the most famous folkloristic demonstrations of medieval origin that sparks up rivalry between the 17 districts of the town. The demonstration includes costume shows, ensign’s exhibitions but above all a horse race, dramatic, intense and very short.
Preggio – ‘Festival of Chamber and Sacred Music’
A series of concerts held in the church at Preggio, a beautiful hilltop village.
Corciano -‘Corciano Festival’
A series of concerts, theatre shows, pageants and conferences with exhibitions of the work of Umbrian artists.
Citta Di Castello- ‘Chamber Music Festival of the Nations’
One of the most important musical events in Italy. The festival features a guest nation each year, which presents internationally prestigious musical groups. While keeping music as its core, the Festival is moving in other artistic directions as well with a variety of events including dance, theatre and the visual arts.
Perugia – ‘Umbrian Festival of Sacred Music’- Sagra Musicale Umbria
One of the most important and prestigious Umbrian cultural events. First works and new musical interpretations are presented here and many famous conductors and composers have been guests of the Festival.
Umbertide comes alive, where taverns and restaurants are opened up in the bars and homes of Umbertide. The town celebrates the battles of Garribaldi against the French, and the inhabitants all dress in costumes of the time.
Preggio -‘Chestnut Festival’ – Sagra della Castagna
All the basement rooms of the old houses of the village open up as tiny botteghe and restaurants with varied menus and in the piazza there are roast chestnuts and plentiful red wine. If the sun shines on the Sunday of the festa there are thousands of visitors to this tiny village with resulting chaos for traffic: it’s worth the effort but get there early.
Assisi -‘Celebrations in honour of St.Francis’
The national celebrations in honour of St.Francis, patron saint of Italy, take place among solemn ceremonies in the basilicas of St. Francis and S.Maria degliAngeli.
A great event dedicated to the lovers of the Food of the Gods, which every year turns the town into a lively confectioner’s shop, featuring the biggest names in Italian and international chocolate making.
Gubbio -‘Trade Fair of White Truffles and Agro-Food Products’
This is one of the top events in the autumn calendar, both for the extraordinary quality of the local white truffle and the other exquisite foods on display -cheeses, prosciutto, salami, and extra virgin olive oil.
Christmas in Umbria
At Christmas-tide solemn rites are celebrated in the churches of Assisi. Concerts of church music and choirs are held in all the places of worship. There are many artistic crèches of great beauty to be enjoyed and also living crèches that are enacted in many towns.
The ‘presepe’ at Corciano is very special as the whole of the historical centre is lined with life-sized models of Three Kings, Baby Jesus and every medieval tradesmen you can think of. Also there is a typical products market.
Most villages and towns of Umbria will have their own presepe, the original being inspired by St Francis of Assisi.
Spectacular and charming is the Christmas Tree of Gubbio – the largest in the world.