Wondering what it will be like to spend the New Year in Florence?
What events take place on New Year’s Eve, and what is closed on New Year's Day?
Keep reading to find out!
New Year’s Eve to me has always been a bit of a difficult holiday.
It’s easy to feel a bit lost, especially if you’re not a big party-goer, but you still want to enjoy your night.
Some of my best New Year’s however have happened since I moved to Florence.
In Italy I feel New Year’s Eve is a lot less about attending some kind of cool party, and a lot more about things I love doing; spending time with friends and cooking and eating together.
So, here’s a few ways in which you can have a great New Year’s in Florence too:
Like I already mentioned, New Year’s Eve in Florence is not so much about big fancy parties.
Instead, in my group of friends we like to cook together, sit down for an (almost endless) meal, play games, watch some fireworks and then… call it a night!
I feel that this is true for a lot of Italians, even though, of course, there are going to be events and private fancy parties in lots of places as well.
If people are not cooking at home, they will go out for a cenone, a big dinner on New Year’s Eve in a restaurant.
Restaurants tend to have special menus for this night, and they serve a glass of bubbles at midnight on December 31.
Fundamental for the New Year event are lentils. Lentils? Yes, lentils!
Their round shape represent fortune and money, and therefore must be consumed right after midnight to ensure that you will be prosperous in the year ahead.
There’s no way of getting around this.
You don’t want to miss out on your good fortune, right?!
You’ll also find a lot of young Florentines setting off firecrackers around midnight.
It’s something I hate (and my dog equally so), because people by then have usually had quite a bit to drink, so the things fly everywhere.
If you’re anything like me and get jumpy with loud noises, you might want to avoid going for a walk in the city streets between midnight and 1AM...
There are bigger, more official fun firework displays to see as well, keep reading for details of this year's NYE parties!
A tradition that has nothing to do with New Year’s Eve as we know it, but that Florentines are still very proud of is the Florentine New Year, celebrated on March 25.
These celebrations date back to medieval times, when the Florentine calendar was still based on religious holidays.
March 25 corresponds exactly to 9 months before Christmas, and thus with the day on which Mary got the announcement that she was pregnant with Jesus.
In 1582 Florence adopted the Gregorian calendar, with January 1 being the first day of the year, but stubborn as Florentines are they refused to give up on their traditional New Year.
Until 1749 this situation remained unresolved, and March 25 was the official New Year in Florence.
And ever since it has been the unofficial one…
If you happen to be in Florence on March 25, go watch the parade that departs from the Palagio di Parte Guelfa and ends at the church of Santissima Annunziata to honour the Virgin Mary.
Back to the official New Year in Florence.
What are you going to do to start the new year in a memorable way?
First of all, on New Year’s Eve in Florence there will be public and free concerts all around the historic center in various squares.
Usually around 6PM on December 31 there is a big gala concert in the Teatro di Maggio Musicale, followed by a gala dinner and of course the midnight toast.
Details on the official celebrations are not fully available yet - watch this space and we'll update this page as soon as we know more!
There will also be theatre and all kinds of other entertainment leading up to midnight.
People will usually do a big countdown together, and after that open bottles of sparkling wine and exchange auguri (best wishes) for the new year.
If you’re spending New Year’s Eve in Florence in the Oltrarno area of the city, you’ll probably run into one of the marching bands playing around midnight, being followed by a big crowd of people.
Here are some of the confirmed events for 2023/2024 New Year's Eve:
Head out of Florence and enjoy a wonderful evening at Villa Tolomei to celebrate New Year's Eve.
After welcome drinks there is an extensive New Year's Eve dinner, followed by dancing and drinks, not forgetting the midnight lentils and toasting!
Click here for more details and to book this grand dinner.
Enjoy a traditional Italian meal (choose from either a fish or meat menu) at this restaurant, found just across the Arno river from Santa Maria Novella.
All details here.
Choose from either a sushi or fish menu, accompanied by a DJ, for New Year's Eve 2023 to enjoy at hip and happening Via Vai restaurant in the Santo Spirito area.
See the details and book here.
Found at the base of the hill of Piazzale Michelangelo, Rifrullo has two options for New Year's Eve 2023.
You can either join for aperitivo from 6PM to 8:30PM, or dinner complete with DJ set until 1AM.
Check out all the information here.
Enjoy a traditional Tuscan meal with this special menu for New Year's Eve including wine, water and coffee at La Grotta di Leo.
Next door to Space nightclub, you can move to the dance floor after dinner if you want (extra ticket needed).
Keep an eye on the different event location websites for updates on prices, times etc. or ask your hotel or accommodation to figure out the details for you.
Most big hotels will also have special arrangements both for this night and for breakfast the next morning.
All the big clubs in Florence will have their own New Year’s Eve parties.
The biggest ones are:
At midnight a big firework display will start from Piazzale Michelangelo to mark New Year's Eve in Florence.
If you want to see it, make sure you get to the river (preferable the northern shore) on time, because everyone flocks to the river to watch the spectacle.
Don't forget to wrap up warm, those winter nights can be cold!
If you’re looking for spectacular pictures with the Ponte Vecchio against a sky full of fireworks, you want to be on the Ponte Santa Trinita or at the Lungarno between the Ponte Vecchio and Ponte Santa Trinita.
Because of the river views, the fireworks here can be impressive than in other cities like Rome.
If classical music is more your thing, there are various places where you can enjoy a New Year's concert:
Starting at 9:30PM, listen to live music from classic operas before toasting the New Year in this beautiful church in the Oltrarno district.
One for classical music lovers, this concert highlights the skills of three soloists, who will be pulling from the world of Italian opera and Viennese operetta.
Complete with free champagne during the interval, book here to secure your spot.
Many museums and shops are closed, as Italians tend to spend this day at home with family and make the most of the national holiday.
Some restaurants will organize a New Year’s lunch, with a similar concept to the night before, a big set menu for a set price, but many will be open as normal for lunch if not for dinner.
However, don’t be fooled by the closed businesses.
A lot of Florentines and tourists will actually be out and about, going for a walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo for example or along the Arno River.
And even with many museums closed, there are still a ton of things to do in Florence on this day.
Most churches will be open after mass is finished.
So, you can make your way to one of the many gems you’ll find in the city, like San Miniato al Monte, Santa Trinita or Santo Spirito.
Most tour operators will also run tours on January 1, doing guided tours of the Tuscan capital and running other activities.
Take a look at what they are doing or check with your hotel to see if they know of any activities being organized in the city.
The festive season continues until January 8, Epiphany, so you will still be able to enjoy the illuminated streets with Christmas decorations.
The light shows of the Green Line Florence light festival also are still up at this time, which is fun to see if you're traveling with kids.
Take a walk through the city, and after that warm up with a glass of wine or hot chocolate in one of the bars that are open.
There are some excellent music performances to see in the city on January 1:
Taking place at the Auditorium di Santo Stefano al Ponte Vecchio, the Firenze Academy Ensemble will be performing some wonderful pieces of music.
See all the details here.
Philharmonic Orchestra della Toscana will be on the stage at one of Florence's main concert venues for a special afternoon concert.
Book your tickets here.
If you are planning to visit Florence over the New Year, you're probably wondering what it will be like.
Public transport does run on both days, but on a Sunday/holiday timetable.
This means that there are reduced options that run less frequently, so if your travel plans depend on taking public transportation, check your options well in advance.
As noted above, January 1 is a public holiday so shops, banks, museums and other businesses will be closed.
New Year's Eve is not a public holiday but you'll likely find places close earlier than normal.