It’s the first day of summer and while the temperatures may be sweltering in Northern Italy, I’m still excited summer has finally arrived. It’s the season of some of my favorite festivals. Here are 5 summer festivals not to miss in Northern Italy:
Festa del Redentore
Originally a celebration to give thanks for the end of the plague in 1576, today the Festa del Redentore is Venice’s hottest summer party. Venetians come from all over the Venetian Islands to moor their boats in the lagoon and celebrate literally from sundown to sunrise. The evening culminates in a massive fireworks display that lights up the sky for a whooping 45 minutes.
The Festa del Redentore is on July 18, 2015. Pack a picnic and party the evening away with hundreds of others. Fireworks start at 11:30pm, though you’ll need to secure your spot in San Marco much earlier if you want “front row” viewing.
Sculture di Sabbia
Each year the city of Jesolo, a city north of Venice on the Adriatic Sea, hosts an International Sand Sculpture festival. The annual contest has a different theme each year, like featuring the story of Pinocchio and his fantastic world. Sand artists from all over the world are the painstaking creators of the sculptures depicting the year’s tale or theme and tell a story through sand.
The Sculture di Sabbia runs June 12 – August 2, 2015 daily from 9am – 11pm. Admission is €2 and children are free.
Calling all garlic lovers! The village of Voghiera in the Emilia Romanga region celebrates one of the most renowned varieties of garlic, a gastronomic treasure that even has the status PDO (Protected Denomination of Origin) with a garlic fair each year. You’ll find almost only locals at this festival as they celebrate with food (all including garlic, of course), wine, and live music on the grounds of an ancient castle.
The Fiera dell’Aglio di Voghiera takes place at Belriguardo Castle from August 7 – 9, 2015 with food tents opening at 7pm. A fixed menu plate is €18 per person and includes ravioli in a garlic sauce, french fries seasoned with roasted garlic, garlic bruschetta, garlic sausage, garlic-breaded pork kebob, garlic seasoned steak, a slice of melon, a nectarine, and a nectarine torte for dessert.
Tractor Pulling Mania
Tractor pulling in Italy? That was my reaction too! But this was a surprisingly fun festival filled with beer, food, and lots of tractor pulling fun. Cheer on tractor, some decked out with specially modified engines, as they attempt to pull a massive block the furthest. Of course, the festival wouldn’t be complete without a Miss Tractor Pulling Contest followed by live music and partying until you can’t party no more.
Tractor Pulling Mania takes place in Fiume Veneto in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region from June 20 – 21 beginning at 6pm.
Imagine sitting under the stars in the 3rd largest arena in the world built by the Romans in 30AD while strands of Italian opera dance across the night air. Each summer from June – September, you can do just that at the annual Verona Opera Festival. Each year operas like Aida come to the stage of the 3000 year old Roman amphitheater and tickets on the stone steps are incredibly affordable. Just be sure to bring a cushion to sit on!
The various operas run June – September multiple times weekly and start at either 9:15pm or 10pm, so prepare for a long and late night. Tickets range from €21 – €183 depending on the seats selected. Book tickets online.