After two pandemic years, Christmas celebrations and holiday markets in Abruzzo are better than ever. While our region never features as a top of Christmas destinations in Italy, there are more than 40 mercatini di Natale in Abruzzo, which normally start at the end of November and run until January 8. We won’t list them all here, instead, we have picked some of the best Christmas markets in Abruzzo that offer plenty of festive cheer and good food. Make sure to check the dates and opening times before heading to a market for the day.
Christmas magic in L’Aquila
Without a doubt, one of the biggest and most beautiful markets in the region, the Mercatino di Natale di L’Aquila animates the main streets in the heart of the city from December 8 to January 8. The skating rink and colourful giant Ferris wheel on Piazza Duomo transform the old part of the city the kingdom of Christmas. Vendors sell local delicacies and a wide array of holiday ornaments, from tacky to quality handmade. This year, due to the popular demand, on December 16-18, there will also be a Harry Potter-themed market with many events for all fans of the famous wizard.
Enchanted Borgo of Campo Di Giove
Small, but one of the most charming the Christmas market in the centre of Campo Di Giove runs until January 8. The stalls in Piazza Duval showcase local artisans and their products such as cheeses, cured meats, traditional liqueurs and other goodies. There is no shortage of arrosticini, porchetta sandwiches, hearty soups, mulled wine, and other festive treats. Families with kids can enjoy a ride in a mini-train along the main street. On Sundays, the market is packed with visitors arriving on board the Transiberiana, the vintage train that runs between Sulmona and Roccaraso (see below). See the full programme here.
Christmas market in Pacentro
On December 10-11, Pacentro’s little squares and old streets will be lit up with Christmas lights for the town’s annual festive market. More than 50 stalls will be set up in small wooden houses and cellars the town’s old palazzi houses. It is one of the best markets in the region for the quality of the gifts and food on offer as well as the magic atmosphere of Pacentro, one of the most beautiful towns in the whole of Italy. There will Santa Claus greeting kids, music, and a great atmosphere. On December 26, at 6pm, the town will host a living Nativity scene. A dedicated parking space just outside the old part of the town will be available at €5 per car. More details here.
Caramanico Terme Christmas Village
Don’t miss the twinkle-light-laden Christmas village market in Caramanico Terme, one of the biggest and most beautiful in Abruzzo. Both kids and adults can hop on a little train to travel along the main street, enjoy a pony ride, or go skating on a small rink. Kids can pay a visit to the elves’ village and hand-deliver their letters to Santa. Most of the evening there will be live music and folk bands performances. One of the most mesmerising shows of the season will be the stilt walkers dressed as giant luminous white butterflies. See the full programme on the municipality’s website or and on the dedicated Facebook page.
Quality crafts in Spoltore
Spoltore celebrates with one of newest Christmas markets in Abruzzo and what a market it is: 40 local artisans selling excellent quality ceramics, quirky jewellery, festive biscuits, recycled wood and stylish vintage fabric decorations. Starting from December 8, the 13-day programme is filled with magic soap bubble shows, zampognari and gospel choir performances, tombola games, donkey rides, Santas marching band, and guided tours of the town centre. Walking along the town’s old streets you will see many miniature Nativity scenes that participated in the presepe (manger scene in Italian) competition. See the dates and full programme here.
White Christmas in Scanno
In its second year, Scanno’s Christmas market might not be the biggest but certainly one of the most beautiful. Recent snowfalls draped the mountains around the village in white and it might snow again, so the atmosphere will be very Christmas-y. Wrap up well and make sure to stay till the evening when the festive illumination is turned on and live music performances start. The market stands close between 1pm and 4pm. More details should be published on the organisers’ Facebook page.
Christmas market by the castle in Roccascalegna
On December 8-11, head to Roccascalegna for a browse through craft and food stalls, festive cheer and a visit to the medieval castle which will be open throughout the days (yes, even during lunch time!) until late evening. From 10am to 8pm, there will be theatre performances for kids, flamethrowers, and, on December 8, a gospel choir performance. See the full programme here or on the event’s page.
Christmas Markets Train
Bookings are open for the vintage train day trips through Abruzzo. The trains follow the so-called Transiberiana d’Italia line from Sulmona to Roccaraso and Castel di Sangro through hillside villages and the Majella National Park. It stops in the beautiful town of Campo di Giove, where the passengers can visit the market, buy local handicrafts, taste typical foods, and enjoy traditional music. There are two departures per day starting on November 26 and through December, but tickets sell out fast. Book your place via the company’s website.
Featured image: Christmas market in Pacentro. Photo via ProLoco Pacentro/Facebook