The beautiful region of Abruzzo, like all the regions of Italy loves festivals, and in Abruzzo there are dozens of festivals taking place every year. This article explores some of the main festivals in Abruzzo and provides you with a calendar of some of the main festivals by month and location. Dates are approximate so always confirm dates and timings with the local tourist office before you make your plans.
The majority of annual festivals in Abruzzo are in the spring or the summer months to coincide with good weather. Mostly they revolve around the twin Italian passions of religion and food. This is just a small selection, there are many, many more throughout the year.
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Picciano – The Traditional Befana Festival: Celebrated all over Italy (not just in Picciano) and coinciding with the Feast of the Epiphany. Befana is the witch who delivers gifts to good children all over Italy on the eve of the 5th January.
Rivisondoli – Living Nativity: A ‘living nativity’ featuring hundreds of costumed characters re-enacting the Three Kings arriving at the birthplace of the baby Jesus.
Fara Filorum Petri – The Farchie Festival: This festival celebrates the folklore around St. Anthony who transformed an oak wood into a defending army and saved the village from invading French troops back in 1799. Like a lot of Italian festivals, the celebrations conclude with an extravagant firework display. This festival usually takes place on the 16th January.
Francavilla al Mare – Carnival: Every February the resort town of Francavilla al Mare plays host to a typical Italian carnival featuring a host of unlikely characters and flamboyant floats. All the shenanigans are overseen by the leader of the carnival King Patanello. Great fun.
Citta Sant’Angelo – Carnival: Another carnival featuring a parade of amazing floats.
Festivals in Abruzzo: Where to stay in Abruzzo
Abruzzo is another diverse region of Italy, so you have plenty of options when booking accommodation.
If you decide you want to be near the beach and maybe explore the resorts along the Adriatic and the Trobocchi coast then La Chiave dei Trabocchi could be a great option.
Or if you want to explore inland amongst the national parks then the lakeside Hotel Don Luis is certainly worth consideration.
Also, Agriturismi (usually farm-based accommodation) is also a popular option for stays in this region, such as the Agriturismo di Charme erbadoro.
Easter is a big deal throughout the whole of Italy, and usually when festival season really takes off. Here are some more festivals in the Abruzzo region of Italy:
Chieti – Procession of the Body of Christ: This sombre procession commences on Good Friday at the cathedral of San Giustino in the hilltop town of Chieti. An atmospheric and solemn event with musicians and hooded, lantern bearers weaving their way slowly through the streets of old Chieti. Many other towns in Abruzzo follow a similar ritual including L’Aquila and Sulmona.
Orsogna – I Talami: The village of Orsogna plays host to a procession with performances of some of the key biblical scenes over the Easter period.
Sulmona – Madonna che scappa in Piazza: This Easter festival featuring ‘The Running Madonna’, takes place in Sulmona, and marks the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, culminating with a statue of the Madonna, carried by eight very fit locals, ‘running’ to meet the newly resurrected Christ. The spectacle takes on Easter Sunday in Piazza Garibaldi. Be there early, as there are always hundreds of onlookers and the spectacle is often televised on the local TV networks.
San Valentino – Frittata Festival: Celebrating that staple of Italian cuisine, the frittata, this festival usually takes place on Good Friday.
Cocullo – Snake festival: The venue for this festival is a small town nestled amongst the hills of Abruzzo. The festival traditionally happens every year usually on the first Thursday in May. The festival honours Cocullo’s patron saint, San Domenico, whose effigy is draped in dozens of live snakes and paraded through the streets of the town. Again it is a small town, that is generally quiet, but on this day can be very crowded.
Rocca di Mezzo – Daffodil Festival: Celebrating the beginning of Spring, this pagan inspired festival.
Pratola Peligna – Festival of the Madonna della Libera: This festival usually takes place in early May, and stretches over ten days of entertainment, music and food. A spectacular firework display is the finale on the evening of the festival.
After the first flush of festivals in the Abruzzo region of Italy take place over the Easter period, more festivals take place throughout the whole of the summer.
Getting to Abruzzo
Fly: At the last look at flights started from £16 from destinations including the UK to the main airport in Abruzzo – Pescara. We generally check with Skyscanner for flights and if you are flexible with your travel dates, use the ‘search by month tool’ to find the cheapest flights.
Train: Train connections, like the rest of Italy, are generally good, especially between the major hubs. However given that the country is pretty rugged, getting to the smaller, out-of-the-way towns may not always be possible on trains. Use Rail Europe to search for trains in Abruzzo.
Bus: The Flixbus service covers the main towns and also can get you from/return you to Rome. Otherwise, the local bus services are also very good and inexpensive.
How to get around Abruzzo
Because of the wild and rugged nature of Abruzzo, we often find the best way to travel is by car. That way you have the option of travelling to the less well-known spots in Abruzzo such as appear in this guide. If we hire a car we tend to use AutoEurope in the first instance as this website compares car rentals across Europe and further afield.
If you planning to visit the main towns then local buses or trains as above will likely suffice.
Cherry Festival: This festival takes place in Raiano every year for one day only. A treat for cherry lovers.
Pescara – International Jazz Festival: This annual event takes place in the resort town of Pescara on the Adriatic coast, and each year features some of the greatest best-known names in the jazz world and those on the periphery (We’ve seen Brian May of Queen play there!).
Villa Magna – Festa of Santa Margherita: This festival celebrates the miracle of Santa Margherita, when the Saint as a young girl saved the town from marauding Saracen invaders.
Sulmona – Giostra Cavalleresca: This festival sees the main square of Piazza Garibaldi in the medieval town of Sulmona transformed into a giant open-air arena, where brightly dressed horsemen compete in a jousting tournament featuring games of skill and accuracy. The festival also features parades in traditional costumes and armour and incredible displays of flag-throwing.
Popoli – Trout & Shrimp Festival: Another Abruzzo celebration of food, this time with a fishy twist taking place in August.
Cappelli Sul Tavo – Palio del Pupo: Colourful costumed races are the centrepiece of this festival.
Cepagatti _ Historical Parade: Celebrations in honour of the local saints, Rocco and Lucia featuring floats, medieval re-enactment “Palio dei Saraceni” . There are, of course, lots of fireworks. Usually takes place around the 13th-16th of August.
Top Tips – Abruzzo
Use Omio to compare buses versus trains, very useful.
For Hotels including self-catering apartments we use Booking.com, where you can filter by review score and many properties have a pay later/late cancellation policy should your plans suddenly change.
For travel insurance, we use and recommend using Staysure – specialists in over 50’s travel insurance, as we have always found them fair and easy to deal with.
Check our resources page for more budget tips and discounts from our days in transit!
Casoli – Festival of Santa Reparata and San Gilberto: This 2-3 day Festa Patronale honours two local saints of the Casoli region, featuring, of course, the best in wine and food, local costumes, floats, and, a tractor parade! Usually takes place every year from October the 7th to 8th. As always check with the local tourist office.
Lanciano – Mediaeval Week: The highlight of the many activities taking place in this town during this week-long festival is the Mastogiurato re-enactment. It takes place around the first week in September.
Pacentro – Festival of the Madonna of Loreto: In celebration of the Madonna di Loreto, the brave and the fit partake in a gruelling barefoot race, known as the Corsa Degli Zingari or the ‘Gypsy Race’.
Santo Stefano di Sessanio – Sagra delle Lenticchie: A food festival featuring the humble lentil.
Vittorito – Sagra delle Castagne e del Vino Novello: Chestnut and wine festival.
Whenever and whichever festivals in Abruzzo you decide to visit, remember to check dates and times with the local tourist boards before your visit. I do my best to keep this list current and accurate, but there can be changes so always best to check before setting off for a festival in Abruzzo.