Looking to attend a festival in Sicily? Fantastic! You’ll have plenty to choose from. This large island in the Mediterranean Sea is one of the most famous places to visit off of mainland Italy. It’s known for being the home to Mount Etna, Europe’s tallest active volcano, as well as it’s coastal scenery and beaches. While Sicily has a lot to offer, it’s especially notable for the festival selection. It depends on the time of year, but you’re bound to find some kind of festival that sounds intriguing. Not sure when to visit Sicily? Here are some of the best festivals to help you decide when to explore.
This festival/holiday is the Christian feast day that celebrates God’s incarnation of Jesus Christ. The date of the celebration is typically on January 6th. There will be singing, winter swimming, church services, and lots of decorations. Visitors will most likely see locals chalking their front doors and spending time with family.
Festa di San Sebastiano
This three-day festival takes place in Palazzolo Acreide. There are processions, masses, concerts, light shows, and fireworks. Expect lots of colour, enthusiastic locals, and a cheery atmosphere. It usually takes place in January.
Festa di San Paolo
This festival is located in Palazzolo Acreide and is a celebration to honour Saint Paul. There are celebrations for three days which include fireworks, masses, processions, and concerts. It usually takes place in January.
Festa di Sant’Agata
Sant’Agata is the Catania patron saint who was a teenager when she received advances from an elite Roman. She denied these advances and was then kidnapped and tortured by the rejected Roman. He even cut off her breasts, which is why her statue is shown holding a severed breast on a platter. Sure, it’s a bit gruesome, but each year millions of people come to Catania to honour her with a parade, exhibits, and shows. You’ll find singing performances in the cathedral square as well as stalls selling sweets and barbecued meats. The houses are decorated and there are usually fireworks. It typically takes place in February.
Almond Blossom Festival
This festival is found in Agrigento and is considered a folk festival also known as Sagra del Mandorlo. The entire occasion is meant to celebrate everything having to do with almonds since the almond trees are in full bloom. You’ll find dance performances, a parade of Sicilian carts, and tons of people walking around in historic costumes. Check out the craft exhibits, shows, fireworks, and concerts. It typically takes place in February.
Carnival typically happens 40 days before Easter so the exact date may vary. You’ll find festivals and celebrations in Taormina, Acireale, Sciacca. If you’re visiting around this time, you’ll probably notice celebrations happening in the weeks leading up to the big day. Otherwise known as Mardi Gras, you’ll see people in traditional masks, elaborate floats in the parades, and lots of festivities going on. Check out the games, performances, and all of the holiday food. If you’re in Taormina for carnival, you’ll get to the see the wagon competition, parties in the central square, singing competitions, the greasy pole climb, and line dancing. Attending carnival in Sciacca will offer the chance to see the Chariot of Peppe Nappa burned in the central square. And, those visiting Acireale for the main event will be met with plenty of folk music and concerts.
Sagra Della Formaggio & Ricotta Festival
A festival taking place in April in the town of Vizinni. If you love cheese you’ll definitely want to be a part of this event. It celebrates the famous Ricotta cheese of Sicily. You’ll get to celebrate and eat cheese for three whole days! It’s one of the oldest food festivals in Sicily and offers tons of cheese products, local dishes, music, and cultural events. Honestly, who doesn’t love cheese?
Sagra del Pistacchio
This pistachio festival takes place in October in the town of Bronte near Mount Etna. Bronte is known around the world for its pistachios, which grow well in the fertile soil that is mixed with lava from Mount Etna. You’ll see a variety of dishes showcased, all using this special ingredient. Get ready to try granita, ice cream, Nutella, and pesto.
Cannoli & Friends
This festival takes place in May and celebrates some of the most delicious and well-loved deserts in Italy; the cassata and cannoli. To be honest, the cannolis are the main attraction here so make sure to get your fill. Some years the festival sells more than 50,000 cannolis, which is quite impressive if you ask us.
Festa del Cappero in Fiore
This festival takes place on the Aeolian island of Salina in June. The location is known for its unspoiled beauty, the wine, and the capers. This Slow Food Festival has a focus on capers, so get ready to do some taste testing. There are tons of local recipes that use these tasty morsels so try as many as you can.
La Sagre del Mare
This festival takes place in Mazara del Vallo, one of the largest fishing fleets in the Mediterranean. It celebrates all of the delicious things that come from the sea. You’ll see massive frying pans cooking up prawns, fish, squid, and octopus. Make sure to check out all of the fresh seafood dishes and wash it all down with some local wine. The festival takes place in August.
Cous Cous Festival
Taking place in September, this festival can be found in San Vito Lo Capo. It lasts for five days and is dedicated to celebrating one of the most delicious dishes in the Mediterranean. You’ll also get to experience free, live music from both international and Sicilian artists. There are open-air markets, a couscous cooking competition, and a food village to try local dishes.
This traditional festival is celebrated all around Sicily. The best places to experience it is are Enna, Trapani, Caltanissetta, and Piana degli Albanesi. You’ll find various parades and Orthodox ceremonies.
Processione dei Misteri
Located in Trapani, this festival runs from Good Friday through Easter Sunday. It’s one of Sicily’s longest-running religious festivals as it’s start dates back to 1612. It typically lasts anywhere from 16 to 24 hours so there will be lots of celebrations. You’ll see people carrying around ‘Misteri,’ which are wooden sculptures depicting the Passion.
Il Ballo dei Diavoli
This is the Good Friday celebration in Prizzi. You’ll get to experience the Dance of the Devils, which is an Easter tradition in Sicily. It dates back to ancient pagan celebrations of the Spring Equinox and is said to celebrate the triumph of good over evil. Otherwise, Jesus Christ and the devil.
Sagra della Salsiccia
This food festival is located in Chiaramonte Gulfi and celebrates the sausage. It takes place during the carnival at Piazza Duomo. Get ready to eat hearty sandwiches featuring the famous pork sausages of Chiaramonte Gulfi. There will also be plenty of wine and dancing in the main town square.
This festival takes place in Cerda on the 25th of April. Artichokes have been growing in Sicily since 287 BC, and many say that they originated in this area. Visitors will get to sample local artichokes and taste a variety of local dishes featuring this vegetable. Get ready for entertainment, parades, and live bands.
Festival del Vento
This lively festival takes place in Trapani during April and May. Visitors will see dancing, concerts, theatre, cooking show, street artists, and a triathlon. There will also be food tasting, sailing, kites windsurfing, and the chance to kayak.
World Festival on the Beach
This beachy festival takes place in May in Mondello and celebrates life on the beach. Aside from sun and sand, visitors can watch people sailing, windsurfing, and playing beach volleyball. Get involved in the beach activities or spend some time playing golf or listening to live music.
Infiorata & Baroque Spring Festival
Typically taking place the third weekend in May in Noto, this festival celebrates spring. There is live music, art exhibitions, and flower displays made by artists. You’ll also see a Baroque parade of people wearing costumes from the 18th century.
Festa di San Giorgio
This festival takes place on the last Sunday of May in Ragusa. You’ll get to see the Ragusa-Ibla illuminated as well as the parades taking the St. George statue around the city. Get ready for lots of live music and fireworks.
May and June are when the Greek dramas are performed in Syracuse. If you love theatre, this is definitely a must-see. The shows take place in the Greek amphitheatre, making it the perfect setting for these ancient stories. Even if you don’t understand what they’re saying, the atmosphere is worth experiencing.
Taormina Film Fest
This festival takes place during the second week of June. It’s a great start to the summer and kicks off at the Greco-Roman amphitheatre. You’ll get to see some of the newest movies while in this ancient theatre that looks out over the views of Mount Etna. You’ll get to see previews, independent films, tributes, and an awards ceremony at the end. Famous stars like Audrey Hepburn and Robert de Niro have attended this film festival.
This is a great festival for anyone who loves music and theatre. It takes place from June to September in the town’s ancient theatre. There are all types of styles like pop, classical music, rock music, opera, theatre, and dance performances. You’ll be treated to the works of both international and national stars. Famous artists like Lauryn Hill, Moby, Andrea Bocelli, and John Zorn have all played at this festival.
Festa di Santa Rosalia
This festival takes place in Palermo from the 10th through the 15th of July. It celebrates the patron saint, Santa Rosalia and includes festivals, plays, parades, and fireworks. It’s a famous Baroque festival that is known throughout Europe. Make sure to check out the Baroque performers, the Renaissance and classical styles of music and dancing.
La Scala Illuminata
This festival is held in Caltagirone in July and August. It’s one of the more famous festivals in Sicily. You’ll see the beautiful ceramic staircase of the town completely lit up with lanterns to honour the patron saint of the city, St. James.
This festival takes place in Palermo from July to mid-September. It focuses on young European artists and offers tons of culture and beauty. Visitors can see street performances, as well as shows in the parks and piazzas. There are also art installations, exhibitions, video, and paintings.
Sagra del Miele (Honey Festival)
This festival takes place at the beginning of October and celebrates everything having to do with honey. Its name comes from the honey of Hyblea, which was considered a prize for Romans and Greeks. The festival is located in a small hilltown near Pantalica National park. It’s full of food, festivities, and of course, lots of honey varieties. It’s a great place for honey-lovers and anyone who wants to bring back delicious souvenirs for their friends and family.
Festa dell’Immacolata (Festival of the Immaculate Conception)
This festival takes place in December is happens in towns all over Sicily. It’s the celebration of the Virgin Mary, which is shown off by a procession of the Holy Mother carried through the streets. You’ll see this paired with fireworks, garlands, finely dressed locals, and garlands.
Palio dei Normanni
This festival takes place in August at Piazza Armerina. You’ll get to see Renaissance and Medieval shows, equestrian games, parades, and costumes. There is a horsemanship competition, a battle of the knights, and reenactments of historical events (featuring period costumes of course.) Don’t forget about the dancing, music, colours, and live entertainment.
Visiting Sicily is always a fantastic idea, but if you can pair your trip with a festival, it can be even better. Whether you want to learn about history, eat delicious food, or just take a peek into the local culture, there is a festival here for you.