Befana Marks the end of the Christmas holidays. Here’s how Rome Celebrates it on January 6

Befana Marks the end of the Christmas holidays. Here’s how Rome Celebrates it on January 6

On January 6 the Catholic Church celebrates the Epiphany, a religious feast that marks the liturgical end of the Advent-Christmas season. It is customary to replace the images of the shepherds in the manger scene with the three kings and their gifts. Being the Epiphany a very important Catholic solemnity, Rome is an ideal place to celebrate it or simply to enjoy the festive atmosphere.


The key character of this ancient holiday is the Befana, a typical Italian folk figure which probably originated in central Italy, and then become a nation-wide tradition. This old woman 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 the Piazza Navona market with dozens of food and gift stalls and the traditional merry-go-round open until late. This will also be the final day of the market as from January 7 everything is back to normal and the Christmas holidays are definitely over.

A one-off market specifically conceived for this holiday will be held at Circolo degli artisti, one of Rome’s best live music venues. From 5pm, with Supermarket DJ set. [1]


But the main event of the day will probably be the 28th edition of the historical parade in the morning (no precise time info is available yet, last year it was at 10:45am) with hundreds of participants from the Arezzo province – Tuscany – wearing Renaissance-age costumes, decorated horses accompanied by a musical band and the main Italian character of Epiphany, Befana – passing through via della Conciliazione, after the Three Kings.


Kids will have several choices. All the circus crews in Rome for Christmas will stage one or more shows on January 6. While the puppet theatre S. Carlino will feature a show, with a special guest, games and dances. [2] A Befana village in the Monti borough will entertain your children from January 2 through January 6 with jugglers, season sweets, free make-up, songs and tales about Befana. [3] While Rome’s zoo, Bioparco, features special activities on mysterious animals such as the unicorn. [4]


If music is your passion, there are quite some options to consider. The beautiful church of S. Agnese in Agone, in Piazza Navona, designed by one of the top architects who worked in Rome, Borromini, hosts at 12:15pm a sung Mass performed by the Rome academic choir [5]. Free admission.

Another complimentary event is in the church of S. Maria sopra Minerva, very close to the Pantheon. At 8:30pm, concert for two pianos and choir. [6]

Free performance also at the Auditorium of the Rome scout center for the Choir Winter Fest. At 12pm. [7]

Free organ concert with music by Bach and Chopin at the church of S. Marcello from 7pm. [8]


Last but not least, don’t forget that January 6 will be the second day of the Winter sales here in Rome therefore stores will be packed with shoppers! The Winter sales in Rome’s region, Lazio, run through February 15.