On January 6 the Catholic Church celebrates the solemnity of the Epiphany. This religious feast brings a perfect fulfillment of all the purposes of Advent. Epiphany, therefore, marks the liturgical zenith of the Advent-Christmas season. Three mysteries are encompassed in this solemnity: the adoration of the Christ Child by the Magi, the Baptism of Christ and the wedding feast at Cana.
It is customary to replace the images of the shepherds at the crib with the three kings and their gifts. Being the Epiphany, an very important Catholic holiday, Rome is an ideal place to celebrate (for other key religious holidays in Rome read our Christmas and Easter stories).
And our tour of the best events taking place on January 6 will start right from the Vatican. At 10:45 the 27th edition of the historical parade – with more than one thousand participants with Renaissance-age costumes and 15 decorated horses accompanied by a musical band and the main Italian character of Epiphany, the Befana – will pass through via della Conciliazione, following the Three Kings.
The Befana, a typical character of the Italian folklore probably originated in central Italy, and then become a nation-wide tradition, is an old woman who flies on a broomstick wearing a black shawl to deliver candies, sweets and little gifts to children throughout Italy on the night of January 5 in a similar way to Santa Claus. And the Befana’s headquarters in Rome will be Piazza Navona market with dozens of food and gift stalls and the traditional merry-go-round open until late at night on January 8.
Another Befana market will be held in Piazza San Giovanni, with sweets, cakes, Christimas items and some clothes and vintage furniture on sale. (For a review of Rome’s best markets check out this)
Rome’s Befana Village with sweets, cotton candy, sugar coal, clowns, puppets, and lots of Befanas will be in Largo Boccea (reachable by bus 46 – downtown terminal in Piazza Venezia – or bus 49 – downtown terminal in Piazza Cavour). January 6, from 12pm to 8pm. Free entrance.
An itinerant music show, Carillon, will take place in the main shopping road of the EUR area, viale Europa, from 4:30pm to 6:30pm featuring a dancer performing on a moving piano. January 6.
Rome’s Zoo, Bioparco, has organized special Befana-inspired shows, games and activities from 10:30am to 3:30pm.
The old ugly lady will also show up in Piazza Vittorio at 3pm. Free. Metro stop: Vittorio Emanuele.
In the town of Greccio, where St Francis invented the nativity in 1223, there will be three shows on January 6, 7 and 8 at 5:45pm. (for a wrap-up of the best cribs and nativities in Rome and surroundings, read this story)
Some Epiphany celebrations start on January 5. In via Latina, near the Colli Albani Metro stop – Line A, at 3pm there will be a free, interactive show by Emporio delle Arti.
The puppet theatre San Carlino features a special event on both January 5 and 6 with songs, sweets, games and dances with the Befana in person.
January 6 will be the second day of the Winter sales here in Rome therefore stores will be packed with shoppers! The Winter sales run through March 5.