Italy is renowned all over the world for its festivals and Sicily is no exception. With the incredible depth of culture that pervades the island, it will come as no surprise that the Italian festivals in Sicily are some of the most famous to be found anywhere in the country. Sicily has so much to offer holidaymakers and, with its wonderful climate and mild winters, there’s never a bad time to explore this beautiful island. But if you’re struggling to decide when to visit Sicily, why not time your visit to coincide with one of Sicily’s festivals. Here we’ve shared an insight into some of the biggest and most famous festivals in Sicily.
Processione dei Misteri
One of Sicily’s most ancient religious festivals dating back to the 15th century, this is also the longest procession in the country lasting around 24 hours from Good Friday through to Easter Sunday. Held in Trapani, it involves the carrying of 20 ancient ‘misteri‘ around the city. Each of these wooden sculptures depict the story of the Passion and Death of Christ and the procession is accompanied by traditional folklore music, prayers and songs.
Held each year in the seaside town of San Vito Lo Capo at the end of September, this 5 day culinary festival celebrates the Arab influences on Sicilian cuisine. Chefs from all over the world flock to this tiny town to take part in a culinary competition to re-create their best version of this ancient Arabic recipe, whilst tourists and residents have the opportunity to enjoy numerous tastings as well as browse through the many arts and crafts stalls, listen to the live music or even enjoy cooking classes on the 3 kilometre long sandy beach that the town boasts.
Usually held across the third weekend in May in Noto, this festival celebrates Spring in all its forms. The streets of Noto are literally covered with a blanket of petals, creating the most amazing flower displays. This is accompanied by live music and art exhibitions as well as a parade of people wearing costumes from the 18th century Baroque period.
The Almond Blossom Festival
The Sagra del Mandorlo has been held in Agrigento every February since 1934, coinciding with the period when the almond blossom is in full bloom and symbolising the start of Spring. These days the festival starts at the Valley of the Temples with the lighting of the torch of friendship in front of the Temple of the Concordia, designed to send a message of peace across the world. It culminates in a procession of Sicilian carts from the city back to the Valley of the Temples, accompanied by the lively sound of music. Everything to do with almonds is celebrated during the event and visitors mustn’t miss the opportunity to admire the most beautiful balcony festooned with almond blossom in the Via Atenea, Agrigento’s main street.
The month of February sees a swathe of carnivals (carnivale) taking place all over Italy and Sicily is no exception. At this time, you will find festivals and celebrations all over Sicily but the island’s biggest, most famous and most beautiful carnival celebration is in Acireale. With celebrations taking place over a number of weeks leading up to the big day, Sicilian Baroque style allegorical wagons parade up the main streets of Acireale, decorated with flowers and laden with larger-than-life papier-mâché masks and figures. The celebrations culminate on 5 March when the most beautiful wagon is crowned champion and visitors get to enjoy a spectacular firework display.
Held every October in the town of Bronte near Mount Etna, this Italian sagra celebrates the humble pistachio which grows on the fertile slopes of the volcano. A variety of pistachio inspired dishes are on hand for visitors to sample.
Saint Rosalia celebrations
Held every July, the Festa di Santa Rosalia is a famous Baroque festival that commemorates the patron Saint, Santa Rosalia. It’s a chance to enjoy an array of music from the Renaissance, Baroque and classical periods.
Festival of Saint Agata
This is Catania’s most important religious festival, honouring the city’s Patron Saint, Agata, a teenage girl that was kidnapped and tortured when she rejected the advances of a distinguished Roman. Every February, the city’s buildings are decorated, the streets filled with stalls and visitors flock to see the parade that makes its way through the city, culminating in fireworks.
Holy Week celebrations
Wherever you are in Italy at Easter there will be plenty of celebrations taking place. However, one of the most famous is the Good Friday procession in Enna when over 2000 friars parade through the streets of the city.
Want to learn more about other festivals in Italy? Then check out our other blog posts devoted to finding more about this aspect of Italian culture: