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Christmas in Puglia

Christmas in Puglia

Puglia is a region of talented artisans, food lovers and winemakers. These people are traditionalists, used to formal celebrations and get-togethers based around food (such as ‘The Octopus Festival of Mola di Bari’), music (‘Night of the Tarantula’), historic reenactments (‘Joust of Districts’) and religious ceremony (Parabita’s ‘The Madonna of Cultivation’).

Rest assured, then, the Puglian people know how to eat, drink, dance and celebrate festivities. So how does this translate to Christmas? Let’s take a look at the best Christmas traditions (and public displays!) in Puglia.

1. Nativity scenes

One thing Puglia loves is historical reenactments. For a Christmas edition of this, look no further than the Living Nativity Scene, an 8-day event which has taken place since 1976. However, this goes much further than people dressing up. Monte Orco in the town of Tricase, Lecce, is completely transformed into Bethlehem, complete with a real-life set made from local craftwork.

Across the region, you’ll find many other towns with beautiful reenactments such as Puglia’s oldest nativity scene in Galantina, as well as scenes in Polignano a Mare and Martina Franca.

2. Christmas markets

Christmas market tourism is something mostly associated with Germany, Hungary or Austria. However, Puglia hosts Christmas markets like no other. The small beautiful village of Locorotondo, a stone’s throw from Alberobello’s famous trulli huts.

The whitewashed alleys are covered with thousands of Christmas decorations in traditional red and gold. Throughout December they run workshops, plays, craft markets and concerts. It’s the closest thing to a Christmas village you can get.

Christmas also comes to the trulli huts of Alberobello with the Christmas Markets festival. Look out too for the Santa Bikers parade, where comical Santa Clauses ride their bikes to gift presents to children.

Bari also hosts a unique Aspettando il Natale (‘Waiting for Christmas’) fair for six weeks between November and January. Craft stalls line the streets and the city’s gifted artisans come to showcase their talent; selling candles, handmade toys and, of course, food.

3. Music

Music is a staple in Puglian Christmas celebrations. Not just any music, however. Puglia has a talent for idiosyncracies and Christmas is a good example of that. Classic Christmas songs are paraded through the streets, lights spell out famous lyrics and people sing in the streets.

Whether it’s bagpipes played during Acquaviva delle Fonti Christmas markets, tamburellos in Presicce or music concerts played across the city of Bari, Christmas barely goes by in silence.

4. Displays

We’ve already mentioned the trulli, Tricasa and Locorotondo (whose amazing ‘Night of the Candles’ event has to be seen), but the stunning Christmas displays are perhaps how Puglia is best known at this time of year.

As well as spectacular lighting displays in Polignano a Mare, Ruvo di Puglia in Bari hosts a fantastic light display, with the city’s Piazza Ferrarese also playing host to an illuminated Christmas tree.

Ostuni also looks beautiful with its Christmas lights and decorations. There is a jam-packed timetable based around the display too, which is enough to whet any Puglian appetite for that final Christmas tradition: fish on Christmas Eve.