Travel Notes blog
Our recommended Sicily events and festivals
by Max Lane
36 min read

Our recommended Sicily events and festivals

Our recommended Sicily events and festivals
Sicily loves to party, and if that means showing off its rich culture and heritage, even better. Learn about its events and festivals here.
Table of contents

On an island with such a complex and convoluted history as Sicily’s, it is perhaps no surprise to learn that the variety and number of cultural events and local festivals is huge. Whatever the season and no matter where you are, there will always be something going on.

Every town and village has its patron saint who is dutifully celebrated with processions through the streets, mammoth firework displays and plenty of food and drink. Two of the most spectacular are in Palermo and Catania, where the deeds of Santa Rosalia and Sant’Agata are commemorated with lavish displays of devotion and rejoicing. The masked processions on Good Friday are arguably the most moving expressions of Sicilian religious culture, and these take place in towns and villages all over the island. Of particular note are the so-called misteri of Trapani, in which twenty wooden sculptures are carried through the town, whose streets are thronged with well-wishers.

Man cannot live on religion alone, however, and even the most revered saint may be forgotten when a Sicilian’s stomach begins to rumble. As a result 'God Food' is celebrated with earnest devotion, and most small towns and villages in the hinterland spend a few days every year celebrating the fruits of their agricultural labours, whether it be artichokes in Cerda, pistachios in Bronte, Slow Food capers in Salina, couscous in San Vito Lo Capo or sausages in Caccamo. These sagre  - food festivals - offer an excellent excuse to visit places you might otherwise have neglected while having a memorable gastronomic experience at the same time.

While most Sicilian towns can claim a patron saint or a gastronomic speciality others prefer to celebrate their uniqueness in other ways: Piazza Armerina, for example, celebrates its history with a Norman-Arab jousting tournament; Caltagirone annually illuminates the 142 ceramic-tiled steps of the Scala di Santa Maria del Monte; Sciacca, Acireale and other towns launch themselves into a good old pagan carnevale; San Vito Lo Capo puts on a kite festival, and Noto invites artists to cover one of its streets with petal mosaics - the Infiorata.

Culture with a capital C is also wonderfully varied and includes international opera seasons at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo and the Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania, Greek theatre festivals and musical events in the ancient Greek theatres of Syracuse, Segesta, Tindari and  Taormina.

So, if you really want to get under Sicily’s skin and learn what makes its people tick, just turn up to one of these events (or one of the hundreds we haven’t had space to mention here) and let yourself be swept along by the passion, the sense of fun and the hospitality of your fellow revellers.

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Winter events

January

Palermo Manciataria

An aperitive tour through the old streets of the city centre, with stops to taste the traditional local specialties which have made Palermo the most famous Street-food City of Italy.

Forget about calories and embark on this tasty tour!

Where? Piazza Marina, PalermoWhen? January

Sagra della Sfince

The festival celebrates Montelepre’s typical pastry, a sweet delicacy made with flour, sugar, eggs, milk and cinnamon, traditionally eaten during the Christmas festivities. As well as tasting the “sfince”, spectators will be able to assist to the living nativity scene, in the main square.

Where? Montelepre (near Palermo)When? 6 January, every year

February

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Festa di Sant’Agata

With crowds of up to 1,000,000 strong, there are few mass expressions of devotion as popular as the Festa di Sant'Agata in Catania. The city turns out en masse, tens of thousands come from afar to express their gratitude or to pray for intercession, and many others just come for the incredible atmosphere, the fireworks and the food.

So important is Sant'Agata in the spiritual lives of the Catanesi that they celebrate her life twice a year: the first, most important festa takes place from 3rd - 5th February and commemorates her martyrdom, while the second, held on 17th August, records the return of her mortal remains to the city from Constantinople in 1126, after an absence of 86 years.

Born into a patrician family in Catania, the devoutly religious Agata soon attracted the amorous attentions of the Roman Proconsul Quintianus, who wished to take her as his wife. She refused, staunchly defending her honour and her faith, and Quintianus's courtship quickly turned to religious persecution and psychopathic hatred. After enduring the horrific torture of being rolled on hot coals and having her breasts amputated, Sant'Agata died on 5th February 251.

News of her martyrdom spread quickly, and within a year she was already the subject of a devotional cult. She also became an icon of Sicily's struggle against its Roman oppressors, a theme that is echoed in her motto:

"Mentem Sanctam Spontaneam, Honorem Deo et Patriae Liberationem."A Saintly and Spontaneous Mind, Love of God and Liberation of the Patria

3rd February

The opening day of the festival is devoted to the procession of the cannalori: 11 huge candles, enshrined in elaborate gilt baroque casings and weighing up to 1,000kg, are carried through the streets accompanied by a marching band and cheering crowds. 'A sira 'O Tri (on the evening of the 3rd), Piazza Duomo is the scene of a concert of songs dedicated to Sant'Agata, followed by a pyrotechnic firework display.

4th February

For many, the second day of the festa is the most special. Sant'Agata's reliquary statue is carried out of the cathedral and through the crowded streets of the city, in a day-long procession that stops off at all the places that have a connection with the saint's life, including the Church of Sant'Agata alla Fornace, the site of her martyrdom. As evening falls,the statue is taken back to its resting place in the cathedral for a well-earned rest.

5th February

The climax of the festa! After a Solemn Mass and a day of reflection, at around 6:00pm the reliquary statue of Sant'Agata is once more brought out of the cathedral for another tour of the city, up Via Etnea, across to the Church of Sant'Agata al Borgo (where she is greeted by another firework display) and then back down to the bottom of the steep Via San Giuliano for the cchianata 'i Sangiulianu. Here the statue bearers give a demonstration of their courage, faith and devotion by running to the top of the road with their heavy load, urged on by a cheering crowd. A final stop is made outside the Benedictine Convent in Via dei Crociferi before the statue is once more returned to the cathedral. More fireworks, general rejoicing and a fantastic party ensue! 

A gastronomic note: after so much devotion, it is curious (and slightly heretical) that Sant'Agata's terrible plight is also remembered by a special cake: mini breast-shaped cassatelle - sponge cakes filled with ricotta, covered with virginal white icing and topped with a blushing candied cherry - called minne di Sant'Agata or, in local dialect, minnuzzi ri Sant'Ajita (breasts of Sant'Agata).

Where? CataniaWhen? 3rd - 5th February every year

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Carnevale di Acireale

The “most beautiful Carnival in Sicily”, more than 2 weeks filled with humour, fun, confetti, flowers, music and more, culminating with the parades of allegorical-grotesque floats, handmade by local artisans.

Where? AcirealeWhen? usually February - March

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Spring events

March

Carnevale di Acireale

The “most beautiful Carnival in Sicily”, more than 2 weeks filled with humour, fun, confetti, flowers, music and more, culminating with the parades of allegorical-grotesque floats, handmade by local artisans.

Where? AcirealeWhen? usually February - March

April

Le Contrade dell’Etna

A 3-days event celebrating the volcano’s wines and its wineries.

Where? Il Picciolo Etna Golf Resort / Castiglione di Sicilia, EtnaWhen? April

Settimana delle Culture

An annual week-long programme of cultural activities, concerts, exhibitions and much more besides.

Where? PalermoWhen? usually April - May

Artichoke Festival

Every year the village of Cerda, in the Palermo Province, pays a tribute to its most important local produce: Carciofo (artichoke). Get ready to taste a variety of artichoke recipes, surrounded by a lively atmosphere of folk music and dance and market stalls.

Where? Cerda (Palermo)When? 25th April, every year

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Easter in Sicily

Sicily takes Easter very seriously and there is no better way to experience it than from one of our villas in Sicily. All over the island, in large towns and tiny villages alike, processions weave their way through narrow streets, central thoroughfares and piazzas until finally they arrive at the local parish church or Cathedral.

Easter also signals the arrival of spring, and many pagan traditions that used to mark the arrival of la bella stagione have been incorporated into the religious festivities.

For food lovers, Easter is a great time to come to Sicily: enticing seasonal delicacies and gastronomic delights celebrate the bounty of primavera. It is the time for martorana (also known as pasta reale, marzipan confectionery that's shaped and painted to resemble fruit, vegetables and, especially for Easter, lambs. With Easter being a time for celebration, the cassata, Sicily's signature cake, made of sweetened ricotta cheese, marzipan and candied fruit, graces tables all over the island. Fresh peas, fava beans and artichokes combine wonderfully in frittella, and the tuna fish season gets underway...

The Cassata, Sicily's signature cake, made of sweetened ricotta chesse, marzipan and candied fruit, graces tables all over the island.

Returning to the more sacred aspects of pasqua, however, here are a few interesting events to experience if you're visiting Sicily at Easter and want to taste the atmosphere of age-old traditions:

In the west

Probably the most renowned religious manifestations of devotion in Sicily are the misteri of Trapani on Good Friday. A series of statues representing the stations of the cross - each one designed by the town's guilds - are carried solemnly through the streets of town. To these are added statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary who, in an age-old tradition, go in search of each other, a mother seeking her son. Thousands of Sicilians turn out to pay their respects and the atmosphere is very moving.

Palermo and around

In Partanna-Mondello, a suburb of Palermo, the Easter week is celebrated with costumed and scripted recreations of Christ's arrival at Jerusalem (5.00pm on Palm Sunday), the Last Supper (9.00pm on Maundy Thursday) and the Stations of the Cross (11.00am on the Saturday before Easter Sunday). Thousands of locals attend these events and the atmosphere is one of great devotion.

Also of great interest, though not only at Easter, is the mountain town of Piana degli Albanesi just south of Palermo. As the name suggests, Piana degli Albanesi was founded by Albanian immigrants fleeing a Turkish invasion in 1488. Being somewhat isolated, the town has managed to maintain much of its original identity and many of its traditions, one of which is its Orthodox Easter celebrations (it has been a Greek Orthodox Bishopric since 1937). On Palm Sunday, there is a procession through the streets to mark Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem. Festivities continue all week until Easter Sunday when the townsfolk put on their traditional 15th century costumes and hand out previously blessed, hand-painted red eggs. After Mass there is the procession of the Holy Veil, a piece of fabric in which believers can make out the face of Christ.

Another option is a trip to San Martino delle Scale, a small village hidden away in the mountains just behind Palermo. Here, on Easter Monday, the monks of the Benedictine monastery celebrate Easter and the coming of spring by freeing the birds they have saved from the harsh mountain winter. The birds are kept in a large specially-built aviary and their release is part of a tradition that goes back over 300 years. The arrival of spring is also celebrated with concerts, enormous floral arrangements and Gregorian chant, all of which create a wonderful festive atmosphere.

On Palm Sunday, Caccamo, a mountain town east of Palermo hosts a marathon procession called U Signuruzzu a Cavaddu. At 9.00am the bells of the many churches signal the commencement of proceedings and an altar boy, riding a donkey, is accompanied through the streets by the local band and by 12 children dressed in red tunics, holding palm fronds. For three hours, the troupe tours the town's churches, receiving, at each one, a tumultuous welcome.

In Prizzi, in the hills south of Palermo, a very different event takes place on Easter Sunday: The Dance of the Devils. Wearing red and black satanic masks complete with horns and grotesque noses, some of the locals run through town, wreaking havoc and constraining passers-by to buy them drinks (a metaphor for stealing their souls). In the struggle that ensues between good and evil, it is Christ and the Madonna who triumph, along with other locals dressed as angels. During the ensuing celebrations the devils are forced to get the next round in and cannateddi, a typical Easter cake, is distributed.

In Gangi, in the Madonie Mountains, the most important day of the Easter calendar is Palm Sunday. A procession of drummers and religious confraternities dressed in white tunics and coloured cloaks weave through the streets carrying specially-created arrangements of palm fronds and flowers. Mass in the Chiesa Madre is signalled by a drum voluntary.

Catania and around

On Easter Sunday in Adrano, on the southwest flanks of Mount Etna, the triumph of good over evil - as in Prizzi - is celebrated with the Diavolata. A stage is erected in the central piazza and divided into two parts: one devoted to hell, inhabited by the Devil and five demons, the other to heaven. The Diavolata is, in effect, a play in which an angel battles against the Devil, trying to make him and his demons say the words Viva Maria. The costumes are colourful and there are even some stage effects, such as smoke and fire. The outcome of the struggle, seeing that it takes place on Easter Day, leaves no one surprised.

At Bronte, on the western flanks of Mount Etna, Good Friday and the Passion of Christ is celebrated with a heartfelt, highly-charged costumed procession re-enacting the stations of the cross. Silence is expected from observers and only the beating of drums can be heard. A similar event takes place in Caltagirone.

On Easter Monday in Forza d'Agrò, just north of Taormina, the locals continue an age-old tradition that includes a procession of holy oils, laurels, the distribution of home-made bread called cuddure, and a small competition to choose the best religious banner made out of laurel leaves.

In the south-east

Easter Sunday in Modica is characterised by the solemn procession of the Madonna Vasa Vasa. A statue of the Virgin Mary is carried around the town before arriving at Piazza San Domenico, where she encounters a statue of Jesus and kisses him.

Just up the road in Noto, the week of Easter is celebrated with a series of processions, including one in the afternoon of Good Friday and another in the morning of Easter Day. Similar events also take place in Ragusa Ibla.

On Palm Sunday in Scicli, an ancient statue of the Madonna della Pietà, which was discovered in around 1100 CE after having been hidden from the Saracens for several hundred years - is transferred from the Church of Santa Maria La Nova to the Church of Carmine.

If you're staying in the southeast, you could also pop along to Ferla, near Syracuse, on Holy Saturday. Here at 9.00pm the town's church bells signal the beginning of the Easter Day celebrations. Churches are illuminated, a fireworks display lights up the skies, the town band plays, and a statue of Christ's body is carried through town in an all-night torch-lit vigil.

In San Biagio Platani (in the province of Agrigento) Easter Sunday is celebrated with a design and engineering competition: two religious confraternities deck the town in colourful decorative arches made from all sorts of materials, including vegetables and cereals. Each group's work is prepared in absolute secrecy during the weeks leading up to Easter and each attempts to outdo the other. The competitive spirit is, however, just a backdrop to the more important celebration of the resurrection of Christ.

Where? Various citiesWhen? usually mid-April

Villas in the south-east of Sicily

May

The Greek Theatre Festival

Two months of ancient Greek plays in the original Greek Theatre in Syracuse. The 2022 season, the 57th Cycle of Classical Plays features Aeschylus's Oresteia (Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers and The Eumenides), Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, and Iphigenia in Tauris by Euripides.

Once upon a time, Syracuse was one of the most eminent cities in the ancient Greek world, a status that riled Athens so much that in 414 BCE it sent an enormous fleet to put the colonial upstart in its place. After a series of battles and a lengthy siege, Syracuse inflicted a heavy defeat on the aggressors, an event that rocked Athens to its core and further increased Syracuse's influence and standing as one of the most important commercial and cultural centres in the Mediterranean.

With such wealth and fame, it was only fitting that Syracuse should have one of the most impressive theatres in the Greek world: its cavea was one of the largest ever built, its 59 rows accommodated up to 15,000 spectators. An opening night must have been quite a sight!

Today, the theatre is one of Sicily's most visited attractions, especially from mid-May to the end of June when it is transformed into a buzzing hive of dramatic activity, just as it was 2,500 years ago.

The annual Greek Theatre Festival is one of Sicily’s most prestigious cultural events, attracting visitors from all over the world. In a magical, thoroughly evocative atmosphere, the curtain rises as the sun sets, and the audience is transported back in time.

Three classical Greek tragedies and comedies are performed for around five weeks in a ritual that dates back to 1914. Over the many years since its inception, the festival has covered the whole gamma of ancient Greek theatre, always performed and directed by specialists of the genre.

For more information see the official site: Istituto Nazionale del Dramma Antico

Where? SyracuseWhen? May - July

Settimana delle Culture

An annual week-long programme of cultural activities, concerts, exhibitions and much more besides.

Where? PalermoWhen? usually beginning of May

Avvinando WineFest

A weekend of wine-tastings, workshops and opportunities to discover the world of Sicilian wine in all its many guises. Many of the island's most prestigious producers participate.

Where? PalermoWhen? usually May

Gustissimo and the Manifestazioni Garibaldine

Three days devoted to Sicily's traditional street food, the island's most authentic gastronomic products, wine and artisinal beers. On the 11th, Garibaldi's historical arrival in Marsala to begin the reunification of Italy is celebrated with costumed parades, music and general partying.

Where? MarsalaWhen? usually May

Buongiorno Ceramica!

A nationwide event celebrating Italy's unparalleled traditions in the creation of ceramics. In Sicily, artists' studios, craft workshops and museums in four of the region's most renowned ceramics centres will be open to the public. A piece of Sicilian ceramics is the perfect gift for someone at home (or indeed for yourself!).

Where? Caltagirone, Burgio, Santo Stefano di Camastra and Sciacca When? the third weekend in May each year

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The Infiorata di Noto

A flower art festival during which artists come from around the world to cover Via Nicolaci with their petal mosaics. This year's theme is I Siciliani in America (Sicilians in America).

The Infiorata di Noto, one of the most colourful festivals in Mediterranean, takes place every year over the third weekend of May.

For two and a half days, Via Nicolaci, one of Noto's many delightful streets, is taken over by local and foreign artists who work together on a set theme to create a kaleidoscopic carpet of petal mosaics using flowers grown especially for the event.

The artists set up shop and begin work on their allotted sections of pavement on Friday and the "exhibition" is open to all-comers on Saturday and Sunday.

A variety of other activities, including parades and sideshows, add to the general carnival atmosphere, while the delightful, ingenious baroque palazzi and churches of Noto provide the perfect backdrop.

Monday morning is the day of the town's children, who are let loose to run through the temporary artworks in a symbolic display of destruction and renewal.

Part celebration of spring, part homage to Noto's virtuosic artistic heritage, the festival provides an excellent excuse for a mid-May getaway.

The perfect place to stay while experiencing all this? One of our villas near Noto of course.

Where? NotoWhen? the third weekend in May each year

Little Sicily

Sicilian food, wine, folklore, traditions, music and cinema are celebrated for three days at this spring festival.

Where? Capo d'OrlandoWhen? usually May

La Via degli Odori

The gorgeous old centre of Gangi plays host to a floral festival, the historic streets lined with fragrant flowers, plants and medicinal herbs. To complement the event, there are stands showing off the town's local agricultural produce, from cheese to pasta and more.

Where? Gangi in the Madonie MountainsWhen? usually May

World Festival on the Beach

Mondello's long-running annual beach and water sports festival includes wind-surfing, kite-surfing, surfing and beach volleyball competitions. In the evening it's all about partying.

Where? MondelloWhen? usually May

International Kite Festival

The 10th edition of this wonderful family event. The long, white sandy beach of San Vito lo Capo is given over to an exhibition of kite-flying from all over the world.

Where? San Vito lo Capo (on the northwestern tip of Sicily)When? usually May

Sagra del Cannolo

One of Sicily's best-loved specialities, the mighty cannolo is celebrated for three days.

Where? Aci BonaccorsiWhen? usually May

Teatro dei Due Mari di Tindari

The Greek Theatre Festival in Syracuse is rivalled by the smaller but no less interesting Festival del Teatro dei Due Mari at the wonderful Greek theatre in Tindari's archaeological site. With the sea and the Aeolian Islands as the backdrop you can watch two plays.

Where? Tindari archeaological siteWhen? usually May

Beer Catania Spring

For those with a taste for craft beer, Catania beer festival is the place to be at the end of May. In the fine surroundings of the cloisters of Istituto Ardizzone Gioeni, near the top of Via Etnea, there'll be around 20 producers, street food stands and live music.

Where? CataniaWhen? usually May

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Summer events

June

The Greek Theatre Festival

Two months of ancient Greek plays in the original Greek Theatre in Syracuse. The 2022 season, the 57th Cycle of Classical Plays, features The Agamennone, The Coefore Eumenidi and The Orestea by Aeschylus, The Edipo Re by Sophocles and The Ifigenia in Tauride by Euripides.

Where? SyracuseWhen? May – JulyRead more

Festa del Cappero in Fiore

Salina, one of the seven Aeolian Islands, is known for its uncontaminated beauty, its wines and its capers! This Slow Food festival is a great opportunity for learning about capers and trying some of the island's delicious caper-infused recipes!

Where? Salina (in the Piazza di Sant'Onofrio in Pollara)When? the first Sunday in June every year

Taormina Film Festival

Taormina's magical Graeco-Roman theatre plays host to a week-long festival of film.

Where? Teatro Antico, TaorminaWhen? usually June

Sagra delle Fave di San Pietro

One of Sicily's favourite foodstuffs, fava beans, are celebrated every year at Isnello in the Madonie Mountains. Accompanied by roasted onions, boiled potatoes and lashings of local wine

Where? Isnello (in the Madonie Mountains)When? 29th June every year

July

Taormina Film Festival

Taormina's magical Graeco-Roman theatre plays host to a week-long festival of film.

Where? Teatro Antico, TaorminaWhen? usually July

The Greek Theatre Festival

Two months of ancient Greek plays in the original Greek Theatre in Syracuse. The 2022 season, the 57th Cycle of Classical Plays, features The Agamennone, The Coefore Eumenidi and The Orestea by Aeschylus, The Edipo Re by Sophocles and The Ifigenia in Tauride by Euripides.

Where? SyracuseWhen? May – JulyRead more

Taormina Festival

In the summer months, Taormina's Teatro Antico plays host to an almost nightly series of concerts. There's opera, rock, jazz and classical concerts and much more.

Where? Teatro Antico, TaorminaWhen? July and August

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Ortigia Film Festival

Syracuse's beating island heart, Ortigia, comes alive with the light, colour and sound of films. There are several al fresco screenings around the historic centre as well as more traditional indoor ones. There are old classics, a short film competition, homages to great actors and directors and much more.

Where? SyracuseWhen? usually July

La Festa di Santa Rosalia

14th July means one thing only to Palermitani: the climax of the annual celebrations of their beloved patron saint, Santa Rosalia.

The tradition, which sees the relics of the santuzza paraded through the town's central thoroughfares, dates all the way back to 1624 and is a must-see for anyone staying near Palermo in the middle of July.

Rosalia was born to a wealthy Norman family in 1130, but soon renounced her privileged position in society, preferring, instead, a solitary hermit’s life in a cave on Monte Pellegrino, now a sanctuary devoted to her cult. She died in 1166 but it wasn’t until 1624 that Rosalia first worked her magic.

As the plague devastated Palermo’s population, Rosalia appeared in a dream to a feverish citizen, instructing him to find her remains and to take them around the city. This he duly did and the miracles followed immediately: as Rosalia’s bones passed through the streets, those afflicted by the plague were cured and the city saved.

Viva Palermo e Santa Rosalia! as the locals say!

Where? PalermoWhen? 14th July every year

La Scala Illuminata

The 142 steps of the Scalinata di Santa Maria del Monte in Caltagirone are illuminated hundreds of small oil lights to create a polychromatic effect of great beauty.

Where? CaltagironeWhen? 24th-25th July every year

Stragusto!

A celebration of street food both Sicilian, Italian and Tunisian, all washed down by good local wine and accompanied by music and other events.

Where? TrapaniWhen? usually end of July

August

Segesta Teatro Festival

Over a month of plays (including many Greek classics), music and other events in the evocative surroundings of the Archaeological Site of Segesta. 

Where? at the temple and theatre of Segesta (and a few other venues in the area)When? August - September

Festivalle

Four evenings of jazz al fresco in the inspiring surroundings of the Valley of the Temples.

Where? AgrigentoWhen? usually August

Taormina Festival

In the summer months, Taormina's Teatro Antico plays host to an almost nightly series of concerts. There's opera, rock, jazz and classical concerts and much more. We will add more specific information as and when it is confirmed.

Where? Teatro Antico, TaorminaWhen? July and August

Calici di Stelle

Vineyards open up for a night of wine under the August stars.

Where? to be confirmedWhen? usually August

Santissimo Salvatore

A few days of processions, celebrations, good eating (including a typical dish called Pasta in Taianu made with meat, tomatoes, aubergines and pecorino cheese) to celebrate Cefalù's patron saint. The big day is the final one, but beware of the crowds!

Where? CefalùWhen? annually from 2nd-6th August

Ypsigrock Music Festival

An annual indie rock music festival featuring artists from all over the world, in the stunning surroundings of the castle in Castelbuono.

Where? Castelbuono (in the Madonie)When? usually August

Il Palio dei Normanni

Three days of knightly combat and horsemanship and partying to record the heroics of the Norman invaders who ousted the Arabs from Sicily in around 1060.

Where? Piazza ArmerinaWhen? usually August

Festa di San Bartolomeo Apostolo

The patron saint of Lipari is honoured over four days, culminating on 24th August with a series of processions around the town. The festivities end in the Marina Corta (the old harbour) with a fabulous fireworks display over the sea. The best view of this is from our villa Posidonia.

Where? LipariWhen? 21st - 24th August every year (the most important date is 24th August)

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Autumn events

September

Segesta Teatro Festival

Over a month of plays (including many Greek classics), music and other events in the evocative surroundings of the Archaeological Site of Segesta.

Where? at the temple and theatre of Segesta (and a few other venues in the area)When? August - September

Festa del pesce azzurro

Two days devoted to all "blue" fish, which include sardines, anchovies, scabbard fish, mackerel and more. There's plenty to eat and plenty to see and do.

Where? MarzamemiWhen? usually September

Festival del Cinema di Frontiera

Four days of al fresco screenings in the picturesque piazza of Marzamemi. The festival promotes independent, inter-cultural films dealing with the theme of geographical, cultural and artistic borders.

Where? MarzamemiWhen? usually September

Le Vie dei Tesori

Hidden churches, lesser-spotted oratorios, unfrequented museums, private aristocratic palaces, art galleries, panoramic terraces, secret gardens and closed courtyards... Originating in Palermo, Le Vie dei Tesori has now expanded to include other cities and towns in Sicily, opening doors to dozens of rarely visited treasures.

Where? A variety of cities and towns around Sicily (precise information not yet published)When? usually September

Sagra della Salsiccia

A celebration of the mighty sausage! Of course there are also stalls, fairground rides, music, and a homage to the local patron saint, San Vincenzo, but the sausage reigns supreme!

Where? Aragona, near AgrigentoWhen? second Sunday of September every year

CousCous Fest

The CousCous Fest in San Vito Lo Capo is one of Sicily's most popular and international festivals, celebrating a dish that is eaten by millions and cooked in myriad different ways around the Mediterranean basin. The focus of the festival is a highly competitive cook-off with chefs arriving from Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Marocco, Palestine, Israel, Egypt, Turkey the Ivory Coast and many other nations. Live music, dancing and a carnival atmosphere make the event a must for anyone staying in western Sicily towards the end of September!

Where? San Vito Lo Capo (near Trapani on Sicily's most northwest tip)When? usually September

Sagra del pesce

As with most islands, the Aeolian cuisine centres around fish and seafood. It should come as no surprise, then, that Lipari, the largest island in the archipelago has a festival dedicated to the bounty of the sea to coincide with the festival of Santi Cosma and Damiano, protectors of fishermen. 

Where? Lipari, the Aeolian IslandsWhen? 26th - 27th September each year

Sherbeth Festival

If you like ice cream, this festival is a must! Sherbeth, from the Arabic for frozen drink, celebrates the very best creations of the very best artisanal ice-cream and granita producers around... Yum! There are also concerts and other events.

Where? CataniaWhen? usually September

Sagra del Pistacchio

Bronte is known for its Castello di Nelson (yes, that Nelson!) but rather more for its pistachio nuts, widely considered to be amongst the best in the world and protected by a DOP label. Come and try them in all forms - cakes, ice-cream, pasta and much more - at this wonderful tribute a humble but exceedingly tasty and versatile nut!

Where? Bronte (on the western flanks of Mount Etna)When? usually September

Cefalù Street Food Festival

For two days in mid-September, Cefalù unofficially changes its street names: welcome to Farm Square, Pannelle Place, Milza Avenue, Beer Street, Wine Road and Ice-Cream Alley. There's lots to taste and lots to enjoy at this celebration of some of Sicily's most delicious street food.

Where? CefalùWhen? usually September

PaniCunzato Fest

Pani Cunzato is no ordinary sandwich, but a delicious mix of crusty bread, cheese, olive oil, anchovies, oregano and tomato, typical of Scopello. It's so tasty that it's celebrated each year.

Where? ScopelloWhen? usually September

Etna in Festa

A week of events celebrating the very best of Mount Etna, including its traditional recipes, its wine and its traditions.

Where? LinguaglossaWhen? usually September

ViniMilo

Wine, Slow Food stands, art exhibitions, masterclasses, demonstrations... over two weeks of bliss for wine lovers!

Where? Milo, on Mount EtnaWhen? usually September

Sagra dell'Uva

The grape harvest is well underway by mid-September and the first step in the production of wine - must - is complete. Basically non-alcoholic grape juice, must is not only drunk but also used to make jams and conserves, which will be available to taste. There'll also be some wine proper, not to mention the local speciality: sausage.

Where? Chiaramonte GulfiWhen? usually September 

October

The Targa Florio Classic

One of the oldest competitive motor car races in the world is battled out on the flanks of the Madonie Mountains. Competitors arrive from around the world with the trusty classic cars for a series of reliability races and time trials.

Where? Palermo and the Madonie Mountains,When? usually October

Speed, endurance, danger and thrills: the Targa Florio was one of the very first international motor racing events.

It was the brainchild of car-crazy Vincenzo Florio, an Italian businessman who had made a vast fortune in Sicily. The first race was run in 1906, the beginning of a tradition that still continues today, though no longer in a competitive format.

The setting was the Madonie Mountains, which, at the time of the first race, had few real roads - much of the route was made up of mule tracks. The event quickly became popular not only with racing enthusiasts but also with the local population, who became experts in all things mechanical virtually overnight. Such was their passion for the race that many would walk for miles and sleep out overnight in all weather just to catch a glimpse of those magnificent men in their driving machines.

Usually, sleepy villages would come to life as the rally circus passed through, and livestock along the route had to be kept at a safe distance. By the 1920s, the Targa Florio was one of the most important events in the motor racing calendar.

All major sports car producers were soon entering their newest, fastest models and the great rivalry between Mercedes, Ferrari, Maserati, Jaguar and other illustrious names was played out along roads of the Madonie. The hairpin curves, sheer drops, and muddy mountainous tracks were irresistible to the world’s best drivers too. Stirling Moss and his great rival, Juan Manuel Fangio, both participated in 1955. Moss won, for once getting the better of the Argentine, who regularly beat him on Grand Prix circuits.

As safety became ever more important, the Targa Florio came under scrutiny and a series of deaths led to it being excluded from the World Championships in 1973. It remained a fixture in the National Championships for four more years but was then abandoned.

Today the Rally Targa Florio is a showcase event for lovers of classic and vintage cars. Every year in May, participants line up their treasured automobiles in the centre of Palermo and head out for the mountains, where they are greeted like old friends by the locals, whose love for the rally has never died.

Villas along the north coast and in the mountains of Sicily

Le Vie dei Tesori

Hidden churches, lesser-spotted oratorios, unfrequented museums, private aristocratic palaces, art galleries, panoramic terraces, secret gardens and closed courtyards... Originating in Palermo, Le Vie dei Tesori has now expanded to include other cities and towns in Sicily, opening doors to dozens of rarely visited treasures.

Where? A variety of cities and towns around Sicily (precise information not yet published)When? 2022 Dates to be confirmed

Ottobrata Zafferanese

Five Sundays, five sagre, each one dedicated to a classic autumnal speciality produced on Mount Etna: the sagra dell'uva (grapes and wine); the sagra del miele (honey); the sagra delle mele (apples); the sagra dei funghi (mushrooms); and the sagra delle castagne (chestnuts).

Where? Zafferana Etnea (Mount Etna)When? usually October

Funghi Fest

Autumn in the mountains means it's time for mushrooms. Locals take to the woods to pick the multiple varieties that grow on the slopes of the Madonie Mountains and this bounty is celebrated in Castelbuono.

Where? Castelbuono, in the Madonie MountainsWhen? usually October

Sagra del Pistacchio

Bronte is known for its Castello di Nelson (yes, that Nelson!) but rather more for its pistachio nuts, widely considered to be amongst the best in the world and protected by a DOP label. Come and try them in all forms - cakes, ice-cream, pasta and much more - at this wonderful tribute a humble but exceedingly tasty and versatile nut!

Where? Bronte (on the western flanks of Mount Etna)When? usually October

Scale del Gusto

For a few days towards the end of October, the long flight of steps connecting upper Ragusa and Ragusa Ibla becomes a temple to taste and a celebration of Ragusa's agricultural pedigree. Visitors can taste olives and olive oil, cheeses, wine, grapes, Indian figs, citrus fruits, and almonds, and learn about the area's farming history.

Where? RagusaWhen? usually October

ChocoModica

Modica has been making chocolate following ancient South American traditions ever since the Spanish introduced cacao to Sicily in the 17th century. ChocoModica celebrates the town's great contribution to the world of chocolate, with tastings, music, workshops, cultural events, exhibitions and much more.

Where? ModicaWhen? usually October

Agrimontana | I Sapori degli Ibeli

The Iblei Mountains rise between Syracuse and Ragusa and are one of Sicily's least explored areas. In October, local specialities, from mushrooms and truffles, to sausages, cheeses and honey are celebrated over three days.

Where? Palazzolo AcreideWhen? usually October

December

Presepe Vivente di Custonaci

Thousands of visitors gather to Custonaci every year, where the Nativity Scenes come alive in the natural setting of the prehistoric Mangiapane Cave. Thanks to the effort of more than 150 artisans-artists, a number of Sicilian ancient crafts, traditions and costumes are faithfully recreated in a magic atmosphere.

The Presepe Vivente is now part of the 100 Intangible Heritage of the Sicilian Region.

Where? CustonaciWhen? usually December

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Christmas in Sicily

Christmas celebrations in Sicily begin in earnest on 8th December when families traditionally start decorating their homes for the festive season. While Christmas trees are now common, it was only with the liberating arrival of the Allies during the 2nd World War that they first became popular.

A much more widespread custom is the nativity scene, invented, so they say, by Saint Francis of Assisi. While popular all over Italy, Sicily, along with Puglia, is probably second only to Napoli for the magnificence of its presepi, which can be found in most homes and the vast majority of churches. 

One of the most intriguing nativity scenes on the island is the presepe vivente in Custonaci, between Trapani and San Vito Lo Capo. Here, deep in the enormous Mangiapane cave, is a little hamlet which, until about 60 years ago, was still inhabited. Now it provides an extremely evocative backdrop for the living presepe, in which the locals dress up and re-enact the Nativity from 25th December to Epiphany. 

During the novena - the nine-day countdown to Christmas - it was traditional for Sicilian children to dedicate their time to singing carols and novene (lullabies), studying the story of the nativity, and helping the family create little altars decorated with citrus fruit and dedicated to the baby Jesus.

Another wonderful tradition that can be seen in many small towns, such as Isnello and Collesano in the Madonie Mountains, is the night of the luminari on 24th December when large bonfires are lit to keep baby Jesus warm.

Gastronomically speaking, there is no one particular dish that all Sicilians eat at Christmas. However, such important festivities call for groaning tables and banquets of Epicurean proportions. Serious eating begins on the evening of 24th December and continues for 24 hours. As might be expected in the land of cassata and cannoli, sweets and desserts are of tantamount importance. The most traditional of these are buccellati, large round biscuits filled with almonds, pistachios and dried fruits (not a million miles away from a mince pie). Presents are opened after dinner on Christmas Eve and large  family gatherings are considered par for the course.

Serious eating begins on the evening of 24th December and continues for 24 hours.

If all that wasn’t enough, barely a week later it is time for another cenone (literally big dinner) to celebrate the New Year. Traditionally lasagne is supposed to bring good luck but more and more people are now turning to the mainland Italian tradition of eating lentils, which auger wealth. However, what you eat is not so important – the essential thing is that there must be copious quantities and that at midnight a bottle or two of spumante are chilled to perfection and ready to pop.

The final curtain comes down on Christmas with the arrival of Epiphany (and the Wise Men) on 6th January. Children jiggle with excitement as they wait for the arrival of La Befana an ugly witch-like figure who distributes sweets to children who have been good, and coal to those who have not.

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