More Festivals and Events in Umbria

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Here are some of the most spectacular festivals and pageants held yearly in Umbria. They are arranged chronologically, so scroll down to see the month when you are traveling. Check with local sources for the exact date, as they may change from year to year.


Saint Valentine's Day. A year of loving (14th February)

This event, first held in 1989, awards a yearly prize in recognition of a special act of love. Past awards include those assigned to Mr. and Mrs. Green, to the memory of Premier Rabin of Israel, and to the Italian association "Telefono Azzurro." Included as part of this event are an exhibition of jewelry and a competition for the loveliest jewel created for Saint Valentine's Day.


Fair of the Prized Norcia Black Truffle and of Typical Specialties from the Valnerina (25th - 27th February)

This is an agricultural/food products fair which since the 1950s has promoted the gastronomic specialties of the Valnerina, and in particular the prized black truffle from Norcia, as well as sausages and salamis, cheeses, Castelluccio lentils, spelt, and wild berries. The exhibition area also includes crafts, farming implements, and typical national food products, and in 1993 it was expanded to include exhibitors from various European and non-European countries. Folkloristic entertainment, national conventions, shows and sports competitions are all centered around the theme of the truffle.

Benedictine Celebrations (20th - 21st March)

With the arrival of spring comes one of the most important and deeply felt festivals: the Feast of St. Benedict, the Patron Saint of Norcia and of Europe. On the evening of March 20th, a torch coming from one of the capitals of Europe arrives in Norcia and is welcomed by the ambassadors of the European nations. The following day the town lives for a day under the banner of its glorious medieval past.

This historical commemoration involves the entire town in a marvelous display of colors, sounds and flags, with a competition between the guaite, the six districts of the town, in a crossbow tournament.


Italian Antique Exhibition (15th April - 1st May)

This exhibition has by now become a tradition, and is considered a no-miss event for antique lovers and dealers, hosting the most prestigious names in the Italian antique trade in the renovated halls of the Palazzo del Vignola. Among the furniture, paintings, jewelry, carpets, bronzes and ceramics on display are unique and extremely valuable pieces which can be admired and purchased.

Castiglione del Lago

Painting the Skies ( late March - 1st May)

The Festival of Kites is held every other year on the shores of Lake Trasimeno. The aim of the festival is to promote the image of the Trasimeno area. The kite was chosen as its symbol since it brings to mind an activity that respects nature and is full of important cultural, scientific and poetic significance. "Painting the skies" is a festival open to expert as well as beginner kite-flyers, and anyone who wants to attend out of pure curiosity - all are welcome to express themselves freely and to enjoy the splendid spot where the event is held: the ex-airport of Castiglione del Lago. The highlight of the festival will be on the days of free flying, although the program also includes many other activities of great interest.


Cantamaggio (15th April - 20th May)

This is a popular festival which celebrates the return of spring and the reawakening of nature from its winter sleep. It dates back to the end of the nineteenth century and has agricultural roots. Groups are formed in each district of the town and in some small outlying localities which prepare allegorical floats for a procession through the crowded streets. In the days preceding and following the procession the organizers, in conjunction with cultural associations and theatre groups, set up performances, exhibitions and various shows.


Ring Race (28th April - 14th May)

Dating back to the first half of the fourteenth century, it takes place during the festivities held in honor of the patron St. Juvenal. It is a contest of skill in which the young men of the ancient Terzieri - Fraporta, Mezule and Santa Maria - take part. A ring is suspended from two lengths of string running between the houses at the beginning of via Maggiore; the youths, dressed in traditional historical costume, attempt to center it with a lance. On the eve of the race a procession of people in costume winds through the streets of the town which are decked with flags and lit by torches. In addition there are exhibitions, shows and concerts.

Piediluco - Terni

Paolo D'Aloja Memorial International Rowing Regatta (19th - 21st May)

The Paolo D'Aloja Memorial International Rowing Regatta is held every year in the splendid, natural setting of Lake Piediluco, dominated by the ruins of the medieval fortress and its walls, signaling the classic opening of the international rowing season. The regatta features top level competition, with the participation of many world and Olympic champions and over 30 representatives from all over the world. Along with the races are small side events for entertaining the ever-growing number of spectators.


Umbria Jazz Gospel & Soul Easter Festival 4(20th - 24th April)

The Festival retraces the grand Afro-American gospel music back to its origins, leaving space also for more contemporary music such as soul, funky, rhythm and blues and proper jazz. These events are held not only in the Politeama Theatre but also in the most beautiful churches in town: San Francesco, San Pietro and the Cathedral. Each day ends in the Round Midnight Jazz Club.


National Antique Trade Fair (21st April - 7th May)

The cream of Italian antique dealers is present, and the high quality of the exhibits has drawn public attention to this fair.

Calendimaggio (4th - 6th May)

This is a spectacular revocation of medieval and Renaissance costumes and life. The two ancient medieval wards, the Parte di Sopra and the Parte di Sotto, engage in a spectacular challenge which takes the form of theatre show, concerts, songs and choruses, dances, processions, archery, crossbow and flag-waving displays. The districts compete in a singing contest among the spectacular floral decorations, flags, torches and candles.


Ceri Race Festival (15th May)

Held on the eve of the anniversary of the death of the patron St. Ubaldo, it has time-honored traditions. The Ceri are three gigantic wooden structures weighing about 400 kilos each, surmounted by statues of St. Ubaldo, St. Giorgio and St. Antonio. Youths carry them on their shoulders from the historic part of the town to the top of Mount Ingino, where the basilica of the patron stands. The route is such that the ceri-bearers rush headlong through the streets; then face the arduous and tiring slope to the mount. They are followed throughout by an excited, cheering crowd. The festival is one of the most unusual popular religious events in Italy. It is imbued with very strong mystical emotion which fascinates the public.

The Ceri of Gubbio have been adopted as the coat-of-arms for the Region of Umbria.


Saint Rita Celebrations (21St - 22nd May)

These are religious celebrations in honor of St. Rita. They start with a torch-lit procession - which commemorates the Saint's death: thousands of small oil-lamps on buildings and in meadows along the valley of the river Corno are lit at sunset. The following morning a procession sets out from Roccaporena, the Birthplace of St. Rita, and joins a historical procession at Cascia, which recalls important episodes in the Saint's life. This procession has its origin in the pilgrimages undertaken to pay homage to St. Rita.


Crossbow "Palio" (28th May)

This target shooting contest using medieval fixed crossbows is referred to in a document as early as 1410. Taking part are the Crossbow Societies of Gubbio and San Sepolcro, two cities that for centuries have engaged in this sport. The bowmen wear ancient historical costumes; the consul, mayor and other authorities are all present at the contest. Flag-wavers engage in feats of great skill. The winner is awarded the palio (banner). At the end of the contest a historical procession winds through the torch-lit streets.


The Alessandro Casagrande International Piano Competition (31st May - 11th June)

This competition is held biennially in the month of June in even years, and entry forms must be received by the end of March. Contestants perform four times, the final performance being with an orchestra. The jury is made up of eminent musicians of various nationalities. Many of the winners of this competition, considered one of the ten most prestigious in the world, have become celebrated concert pianists. To name but a few: Marta Dejanova (Bulgaria), Boris Petrushanskiy (Soviet Union), Alexander Lonquich (Germany), Ivo Pogorelic (Yugoslavia), Bala'zs Szokolay (Hungary), Paolo Bruni (Italy), Alexei Nabioulin (Russia).


Sculpture Biennial (June - September)

The Biennial of Gubbio is one of the most important national exhibitions of contemporary art. For the year 2000, works will be displayed from the extraordinary collection from past editions - a "Biennial of Biennials" - which saw the debut of many artists who have made a name for themselves nationally and internationally. This year's event will feature the presence of a great contemporary master.


Festival of the Palombella (11th June)

This festivity was introduced in the 15th century by the Monaldeschi family. On Whitsunday a shrine depicting the Empyrean and a dove with trammeled wings is placed upon the Lantern of the Church of San Francesco. A Gothic tabernacle portraying the Cenacle is laid on the Cathedral steps. At midday fireworks issue from the Empyrean, while the dove descends towards the tabernacle along a wire. Auspices for the year are drawn according to the way the ceremony proceeds.


The Fair of the Gaite (16th - 25th June)

This is a faithful revisitation of daily life in the Middle Ages. Along the streets and in the intriguing nooks of medieval Bevagna, the inhabitants of the four Gaite (town wards) vie with one another in recreating the typical workshops, inns and markets of those times. Shows, concerts, exhibitions and conferences, together with an archery contest, concur in enlivening still further the animated evenings. Traditional craftwork is however the focal point of the fair. In the cramped, dimly lit workshops, skilled master artisans devise exclusive objects using the original medieval techniques.


Corpus Christi Floral Decorations (24th - 25th June)

The "floral decorations" are floral compositions representing liturgical figurations and ornamental motifs. The preparations require weeks of work but the compositions are completed with fresh flowers during the course of a single night. Using only strongly scented flowers and grasses obtains figures and ornamental motifs of brilliant colors and subtle shade. The floral decorations are the chef-d' oeuvre of Spello's artistic creativity and, with their colors and fragrances, create a highly evocative sight in the streets of the city.


Corpus Christi (25th June)

This procession celebrates the miracle which happened in 1264 in nearby Bolsena, when a Bohemian priest who was saying Mass at the tomb of St. Christina saw blood flowing and staining the corporal and liturgical cloth. Since then the precious ancient relic has been carried through the streets of the town in commemoration. It is accompanied by a historical procession in which 400 figurants take part. The variety and richness of the costumes evokes the era in which Orvieto was a magnificent papal see: 33 pontiffs had their residence here. On the eve of the festival there is a parade with ladies in 13th-century costumes and medieval music, songs and dances.


Spoleto Festival (in June or July)

It was established by Gian Carlo Menotti in 1958 with the aim of creating an opportunity for Italian, American and European cultures to meet and exchange ideas. Today it is one of the most prestigious international events and offers public performances of theatre, dance, opera, concerts, and art exhibitions, as well as films with the Spoletoscienza, with conferences/debates open to the public and the participation of leading persons from the world of science, including winners of the Nobel Prize.

Piediluco - Terni

Water Festival (Late June - Early July)

This event harks back to an extremely ancient tradition. Since very remote times Piediluco has always celebrated the summer solstice with rites, purification ceremonies, the lighting of fires and a water-parade of allegorical craft. As time passed the festival retained its original features while gradually expanding to include other events. Today it offers an illuminated procession of decorated oats by night, firework displays, theatrical performances and concerts of classical music.


Gubbio Festival (July - August)

The Corsi di perfezionamento musicale (musical specialization courses) are the heart of the event. These courses are taught by teachers of international fame and are attended by students from all over the world. At the end of each session teachers, accompanied by their best pupils, become the protagonists of a dense program of concerts held in the most characteristic corners of the historic center.

Classical Plays (July - August)

The summer season of classical plays with over 30 editions. It is held in the monumental and well-preserved theatre, which provides a suggestive setting for performances of plays by classical writers.


Umbria Jazz 2000 (14th - 23rd July)

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 center of Perugia. During this event Perugia becomes a meeting point for tens of thousands of young people from all over Europe and the United States, who come to meet the most famous contemporary jazz artists. Besides the concerts, the festival includes a two-week seminar held by the teachers from the prestigious "Berklee" in Boston.

Passignano sul Trasimeno

Palio of the Boats (24th - 30th July)

This is the commemoration of the last act of civil war in Perugia, when a small army of the Oddi family had to flee, boats on their shoulders, from the castle in Passignano, chased by the militias of the Baglioni and Della Corgna families. The "palio" of the boats involves approximately 160 contestants (40 from each district) in a grueling race in three separate stages: the first stage rowing from the lake to the shore; the second on foot, carrying the boat on their shoulders through the steep tiny streets and stairs of the historic center; and finally, the third stage with the boat in the water for a last furious effort by the rowers. The highly spectacular palio is the only one of its kind in the world, and draws enormous crowds each year.


Course of Chamber Music - the German Lied (July)

The course, conducted by Maestro Elio Battaglia, was established in 1973, but has only been held in Acquasparta since 1977. During the course the German Lied is studied in its historical, theoretical, technical and interpretative components. Amongst those who attended in the past are now world-famous names such as Mauro Trombetta, Lucia Rizzi, Jeanne Marrie Bima, Nuccia Focile. Celebrated artists such as Cathy Berberian, Takao Okumura, Graziella Sciutti, Daniela Uccello have sung in the opening and final concerts.


Montefalco August Festival (5th - 20th August)

Small ensembles of strings and wind instruments fill the charming streets and squares of the historic center with melodies, national and foreign representatives meet in the cloister of San Francesco, shows for kids, and pleasant evenings in the Taverns of the Town Quarters - August in Montefalco is full of events, culminating in the choreographic "Flight of the Ox". After over thirty years, the success of this festival continues to grow.


Corciano Festival (5th - 20th August)

The event was organized for the first time in 1964 as a survey of the visual arts devoted to Umbrian artists. The ensuing editions have been supplemented with plays, concerts, pageants and conferences on the theme of art. The program also comprises an international contest for original compositions of band music.

Città della Pieve

Palio dei Terzieri (12th - 20th August)

It's an old medieval festival: the three boroughs of the town - Borgo Dentro, Casalino and Castello parade through the streets with about 700 personages in costume, inspired by the works of the famous figure whose birthplace was Citta della Pieve - Pietro Vannucci, known as Il Perugino. The procession is made up of acrobats, jugglers, fire-eaters, cannons, catapults and so on. On arriving at the campo de li giochi (playing field), the Caccia del Toro (Bull Hunt) takes place: a remake of the rudimentary bullfights that were the original Palio of Siena, dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Nowadays these "hunts" are represented by archery contests using rotating silhouettes of bulls.


Umbrian Festival of Sacred Music (21st August - 16th September)

First established in 1937, it is one of the most important and prestigious Umbrian cultural events. In addition to the principal regional town it also involves some other localities. Merit has been given to the festival for promoting, on the one hand, knowledge of sacred music in Italy and, on the other, twentieth century music. First works and new musical interpretations are presented here. Among the guests are some very famous names: orchestra conductors like Karajan, Mitropoulos, Muti; contemporary composers such as Britten, Hindemith, Penderecki, Stockhausen.


Commemoration of the Amelia Charters and the Palio of the Doves (1st - 15th August)

The Amelia Charters of 1346 governed the social and political activities of the Commune of Amelia and also guided civic life. The historic commemoration of the Charters recreates moments and ceremonies of medieval life in the most suggestive corners of the historic center. The Palio of the Doves traces back to certain provisions of the Charters, by which shooting at pigeons, one of the most popular games at the time, was strictly forbidden. The Palio is a contest between the crossbowmen and the knights of the five quarters of the town; the object is to free a group of doves enclosed in a dovecote by shooting with a crossbow at a mechanism that opens the cage, without causing harm to the birds. A sumptuous procession in 14th-century costumes closes the festivities.

Gualdo Tadino

International Ceramics Competition and Exhibition (14th August - 30th September)

It dates back to 1959 and is attended by well-known ceramicists and exhibitors of widely differing artistic trends. The exhibition is an opportunity for artists and artisans to meet and compare their work. The exchange of cultural experiences from different environments is designed to stimulate artistic renewal.


Opera Season of the A. Belli Experimental Opera Theatre (August - October)

Founded in 1947, it is linked to a competition which, since 1988, is open also to newcomers from EU countries. It usually takes place at the beginning of the year and the winners are admitted to a five-month course held at Rome in collaboration with the Teatro dell'Opera. At the end of the course follows the opera season at Spoleto which marks the winners' debuts. Among the many singers who have come out here, are: Renato Bruson, Ruggero Raimondi, Antonietta Stella, Cesare Valletti.

Città di Castello

Chamber Music Festival of the Nations (19th August - 3rd September)

Established in 1968, the Festival of the Nations is one of the most important musical events in Italy. Now in its 33rd year, the Festival features a guest nation each year, which presents internationally prestigious musical groups through a rigorous selection of the highest artistic quality, in a musicological search that gives precedence to rare performances and first works, remaining alert to contemporary music so as to favor its production and publication with the awareness of its importance as an artistic expression of our time. 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, for best representing the personality of the guest nation.


Todiarte Festival 2000 (25th August - 3rd September)

This event is dedicated to music, theatre, the visual arts, ballet, poetry and literature. Completely renewed and under new artistic direction, the Festival proposes to promote works by talented young Italians and also to bring the works of foreign artists to the attention of the general public. The Municipal Theatre, churches, cloisters, and squares of Todi provide a splendid setting for the performances.

Città di Castello

National Horse Fair (8th - 10th September)

One of the most important equestrian events in Italy, it offers a vast program: exhibitions of selected breeds, an international class B Arab thoroughbred competition, horse auctions, a national horse show, and various equestrian performances. Steeplechases, Western-style riding and work-style riding contests, free jumping contests, horseshoeing contests and, starting last year, "Ippofestival", review of riding shows in which breeders and trainers of all breeds of horses may participate. Plus, the Exhibition also includes a Show of Equipment and Horse Promotion, as well as a Show of Farm Holidays and of Typical Specialties, offering to all persons interested in horses a complete picture of the major aspects of the world of horses: breeding, trade, and performances.


Quintana Tournament (two dates in early September)

The celebration, revived in 1946, is inspired by a horseback contest that dates back to the seventeenth century, to determine the order of priority for an honorable knight in his allegiance to the price or to his lady-love. Today ten knights, representing the ten districts of Foligno, test their skill by attempting, at a gallop, to transfix on their lances a series of rings which gradually become smaller and smaller. This contest is highly spectacular. On the eve of the competition, which is held in the town stadium, a procession of 600 people in costume parades through the streets.

Baroque Traces Festival (September)

Established in 1981, it comprises musical, theatrical and cinematographic events and exhibitions which have in some way a baroque quality. The search for this style of art is not confined to the seventeenth century alone but includes its later influences and revivals. The event is accompanied by costume parties, tournaments and games.


Perugia Classico (20th - 23rd September)

"Perugia Classico" is the most important exhibition of acoustic musical instruments in Italy, and is a key event for those involved in this field as well as for the vast public of music lovers. In the enchanting setting of the Rocca Paolina, Italian and foreign instrument makers exhibit works of the highest craftsman-ship. The exhibition, which is supported by a wide variety of conferences and instructional activities, is spreading to the theatres and historical locales of the city, with concerts and master classes by world-famous musicians, an international chamber music competition and historic exhibitions. For the year 2000 this event will feature the World piano Symposium.

Gualdo Tadino

The Games of the Gates (22nd - 24th September)

This event is inspired by the "Pallim decurrendum" that took place (probably beginning in the 13th century) on September 29, the Feast of Archangel Michael. Preceded by a historic procession, it revives the contest between the "Four Gates" of the town, which challenge each other in races with carts drawn by donkeys and riding donkeys bareback, an archery contest, and a sling-shooting contest. The winning Gate carries off the prize and also has the right to set fire to the Bastola, the atavistic witch that is enemy to Gualdo Tadino. During the Games there are also the characteristic "Taverns", for meeting friends and sampling area specialties.

San Gemini

Tournament of Arms (30th September - 8th October)

A historical-folkloristic event taken from the 14th-century communal "Charters", which mention the "Knights tournament" in honor of the patron saint of the town. The leading roles are played by the two quarters - "Rocca" and "Piazza" - which spark off a number of events, including a parade in 14th-century costumes, the staging of moments from the town's medieval history, and the portraying of rural and family life. The high point of the event is the Tournament of arms, a knightly contest between the town quarters. Taverns are opened for the entire period where one can enjoy typical dishes from the country tradition. Painting exhibitions and concerts will also be held.


Autumn Events (October)

Established in 1980, the Palio dei Terzieri commemorates the tenacity and ardor with which the youth of Trevi rebuilt their town after it was destroyed in 1214. Competing for each Terziere are twenty young men who take turns pushing a heavy wagon in a race against the clock, from Porta Nuova to Piazza del Comune. The Saturday evening before the Palio there is a suggestive historical procession, followed by a lively atmosphere of medieval life which is recreated until late at night in the streets, squares, courtyards and shops. Another autumn event to be remembered is the festival of the Black Celery, a specialty exclusive to Trevi.


Celebrations in honor of St. Francis (3rd - 4th October)

The national celebrations in honor of St. Francis, patron saint of Italy, take place among solemn liturgical ceremonies in the basilicas of St. Francis and of S. Maria degli Angeli. There will also be public events, with the participation of national government representatives along with regional, provincial and municipal authorities from the region which offers, in representation of all the regions of Italy, the oil for the votive lamp that burns before the tomb of the Patron Saint. Other related events include performances of the dances and popular songs from the offering region.


Eurochocolate (Second half of October)

A great event dedicated to the lovers of the Food of the Gods, which every year transforms the town of Perugia into a lively confectioner's shop. Amateur and semi-professional workshops, tastings, exhibitions and other events are held at the Teatro dei Golosi (Sweet Theatre), the International Chocolate Gallery and the Piazza del Bacio (Chocolate Kiss Square). This is a unique, varied festival, with some events also being held in nearby towns, and which features the biggest names in Italian and international confectionery making.

The City of Perugia Antique Trade Fair (28th October - 5th November)

Inaugurated in 1987, it hosts some of the most talented and sophisticated Italian and European dealers in antiques. Precious jewels, rare silver, elegant paintings, antique furniture, bronzes, tapestries, carpets and curiosities of the highest artistic quality are exhibited here.

Città di Castello

Trade Fair of the Truffle and Woodland Products (3rd - 5th November)

The event is due to be held in the historic town center to celebrate the white truffle or "Trifola" (Tuber Magnatum Pico), one of the most sought after species, which grows in fair quantities in the upper Tiber Valley. The white truffle is valued on many accounts, its intense and absolutely unique aroma, its size and shape which should be as even and rounded as possible, its peerless flavor which is best brought out when served uncooked, since it requires neither sauces nor dressing. The many stands in the fair also display other woodland delicacies besides the truffle, such as mushrooms, chestnuts, honey, wild-berry jams and also oil, wine and cheeses.


Tasting of Italian Wines (22nd - 26th November)

This competition, established in 1981 and which by now has drawn considerable attention for its professionalism and organizational excellence, is aimed at promoting, both nationally and internationally, wine from Umbria as a typical product of quality. This important competition uses the evaluation method of the Union Internationale des Oenologues, an agency that groups together the various organizations from the principal wine-producing countries. Thus it is a moment of attentive judgment of the best wines, a banner of "made in Italy" quality.

Another enjoyable event to be remembered is the "Vinarelli": a pleasant custom of spending time together amidst sumptuously laid tables, glasses of wine, and paper and colors, to paint, exchange ideas and enjoy oneself among people interested in the world of art and, naturally, of wine.


Christmas in Umbria (24th December - 6th January)

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 which are enacted in many towns: at Petrignano and Rocca Sant'Angelo (Assisi), Attigliano, Giove and Lugnano in Teverina (Amelia), Scanzano and Marcellano (Foligno), Monteleone d'Orvieto, Calvi (Terni), Perugia, Volterrano (Citta di Castello) and Citta della Pieve (Trasimeno). Very spectacular and charming indeed are the Christmas Tree of Gubbio (the largest in the world) and the Comet of Miranda (Terni).


Umbria Jazz Winter (29 December - 2nd January)

Since 1993 Umbria has been offering this winter festival, with concerts being held in the 19th-century Luigi Mancinelli Theatre, the halls of the Emilio Greco Museum, the 14th-century Palazzo Soliano, the Hall of the Quattrocento in the Palazzo del Popolo, and the Palazzo dei Sette. True to its own formula, Umbria Jazz Winter offers concerts from noon till late at night, in the atmosphere of a spectacular New Year's party, with a great feast on New Year's Eve. The New Year's Day gospel concert is held in the magnificent Cathedral.

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