There are plenty of festivals to enjoy in Umbria, whatever time of year you choose to visit. For those interested in music, make sure your visit coincides with the Umbria Jazz Festival. Held every summer in Perugia, it is fast becoming one of the most important jazz festivals in the world and attracts the world’s best jazz musicians. A lot of the outdoor concerts are free, but there are charges for some of the headline events. For those who can’t make the summer event, you might also want to try the smaller Jazz Winter instead. In the run up to New Years Eve, the event fills the streets and buildings of Orvieto. For more information about both events including details about performers and ticket prices, please look at the website www.umbriajazz.com.
If you’re more a fan of blues than jazz, then Trasimeno Blues is the festival for you. Like Umbria Jazz, it’s held every summer in a variety of locations around Lake Trasimeno. There are even opportunities to enjoy a concert whilst crusing around the lake itself. www.trasimenoblues.it.
Lake Trasimeno also has several other smaller festivals during the year. There is the Bianco Rosso and Blues which involves music concerts with dinner and wine tasting, as well as Soul Christmas, Umbria’s gospel festival. Held in September and October, Bianco Rosso and Blues is extremely popular and so priority booking is given to those attending other music events during the year. Events are held each weekend across the two month period. Information for all these events can also be found at www.trasimenoblues.it.
The Festival of Two Worlds is another of the big Umbrian festivals. Held annually in Spoleto, the Festival dei Due Mondi also features jazz artists, however, has much more on offer to enjoy too, including opera, and classical music as well as dance, theatre and cinema events. Spoleto is a gorgeous town and provides a stunning backdrop to the event. www.festivaldispoleto.com.
For those wanting to hear more classical music, it’s worth finding out more about the Perugia Clasical Music programme of events at www.perugiamusicaclassica.com, whilst for those interested in folk, find out more about the Umbria Folk Festival at www.umbriafolkfestival.it.
Of course, Umbrian festivals are not just confined to music. With the Italian’s love of food, there are just as many festivals dedicated to the wonderful food of the Umbrian region.
Some of the biggest food festivals include the Festa dell’ Olivo (Olive Festival) and Sagra della Bruschetta held on the last Sunday before Lent. The event celebrates the end of the olive harvest and sees the olive farmers riding through the streets waving their olive branches whilst the Bruschetta Festival is handed out to give the locals the chance to taste the wonderful oil.
Held across the last weekend of February and first weekend of March, it’s also worth timing your visit to coincide with the Mostra Mercato del Tartufo Nero di Norcia, an event celebrating the famous black truffle from Norcia.
And finally, there are also festivals celebrating the historical traditions of the Umbrian region. Worth mentioning first is the Palio dei Terzieri in Citta della Pieve where spectators will enjoy a procession of people in traditional costumes.
Also of note is the Corsa all’ Anello at Narni. This is a really popular event with thousands of people taking the opportunity to witness a race between three enormous candles, each weighing 400kg, carried by groups of contestants to the Basilica of Sant’ Ubaldo.
The renowned Palio della Quintana at Foligno is also a colourful and exciting event, re-enacting a jousting tournament with knights on horseback. Ten horsemen, each representing one of the city’s wards, face off in a ring joust. On three successive runs, the horsemen must gallop along and insert their lance into the rings shose diamater shrinks with each run. There are three joust events each year – the Baroque Carnival in February, the June Challenge and the Rematch in September.