There is a dose of magic in Milan during the days of December when the city transforms into a wintery landscape. From glittering Christmas lights and decorations to the traditional Christmas markets, Milan offers plenty to see and to do. The excitement starts on the 7th of December when the city celebrate its patron Saint Ambrose and Teatro alla Scala opens the season with the “Premiere” show.Also 8th of December is a public holiday in Italy. According to the Catholic belief this day commemorates the mother of Jesus graced by God to lead a life “free of sin” (the Immaculate Conception).
Best things to do at Christmas time
Taste a slice of panettone
Panettone is a real local speciality, garnished with raisins or candied fruits, this classic Christmas cake hits the shelves of the stores as soon as the season begins. The word “Panettone” comes from the Milanese dialect “Pan del ton” and it means luxury bread.You find the best handmade Panettone in one of the historic addresses of the city: Pasticceria Martesana, Pasticceria Marchesi, Pasticceria Cova or Sant’Ambroeus, Maria Marinoni, Bar Cucchi.
Something equally traditional and popular is Pandoro, another Christmas sweet bread often served with a spoonful of sabayon or mascarpone cream.
Drink a hot chocolate
There is nothing quite like a hot chocolate break to warm up a little after an endless markets visit and city walks. Top quality chocolate can be found at the famous chocolatiers Zaini (taste its dark chocolate and hot milk chocolate with berries) and Venchi (indulge yourself with its hot chocolate with whipped cream and hazelnuts).
At Guido Gobino you find the real dense Piedmontese hazelnut chocolate that is worth trying for sure.😋More places in the center for a quality chocolate pause are CHOCOLAT, Cioccolati Italiani, Bianco Latte and Gay Odin.
Admire the masterpieces at Palazzo Marino, for free
Every year at Christmas time the city gives to its citizens and guests the chance to admire the works of art housed in the charming Sala Alessi in Palazzo Marino, accompanied by guides who illustrate them.
A special exhibition that houses four masterpieces of Florentine and Tuscan art, all created between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, immersed in a game of lights and fabrics. It will last from 2 December 2022 to 15 January 2023. Admission is free and no reservation is required.
Spend the day at a Christmas Village of Wonders
The Village of Wonders will animate the charming area of Porta Venezia and it is one of the most awaited events by children. From November 19th to January 8th the Indro Montanelli Park will be transformed into the magic Christmas forest with many attractions, including the Magic Circus of the Elves, the Christmas market, the rides or shows at the Santa’s house for the whole family, various workshops and Christmas street food like frittella!
Check the calendar and the working time on the official website.
Go Ice Skating
In my opinion ice skating is a quintessential part of the Christmas holidays. The Christmas skating rinks dot the Milan landscape from December till the mid of January and can be found at the following spots:
The historic swimming pool of Bagni Misteriosi transforms into an ice-skating rink dotted with elegant mountain chalets. Visitors can enjoy the wintery atmosphere thanks to festive music and a variety of artistic performances, workshops for children and other activities.
Address: Via Carlo Botta, 18, 20135 Milano MI
The Village of Wonders in the heart of Milan
The Village of Wonders at the Indro Montanelli Gardens can not miss a skating rink. It is a double track partly covered and heated and partly outdoor 80 meters long, and is the largest in northern Italy. You can skate with your own skates or rent them.
Address: Indro Montanelli Gardens (Porta Venezia)
Gae Aulenti on Ice
At the center of the skyscrapers that separate Corso Como from Garibaldi station, in the middle of Piazza Gae Aulenti, you find a small skating rink dedicated to adults and children. There is also a Christmas Market with a selection of gastronomic and handicrafts products.
Address: piazza Gae Aulenti (Milano)
In the shadow of Palazzo Lombardia has been installed the ice skating rink for children and adults with the possibility to attend lessons with specialized masters. It is probably my favourite spot for ice skating. Don’t miss to order a glass of mulled wine or hot chocolate to warm up.
Address: piazza Città di Lombardia (Milan)
Discover the Christmas Trees of the city
This year Milan will light up 19 Christmas trees in the city. Among the most visited there are the Christmas tree in Duomo square decorated by VeraLab (the sponsor) and the imposing Swarovski Tree in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II right under its dome boasting over 10,000 crystal ornaments and more than 35,000 lights. The Christmas trees will remain until the Epiphany.
At the base of Swarovski Tree there will be eight large and precious sculptures made by the Austrian maison.
There will be other 17 projects of the “Christmas of the trees” installed at: Piazza della Scala (Dior), Piazza Diaz, Via Muratori, Piazzale Cadorna, Piazzale Archinto, Via Tolstoi/ang. via Savona, piazza Olivetti, via Flaminio and Arco della Pace (Dils), via Statuto/ang. Largo La Foppa (Acqua di Parma), Piazza Cordusio (Chanel), Piazza San Carlo (Wopta), Piazza XXV Aprile (Subaru), Piazza XXIV Maggio (Plenitude Be Charge), Corso Garibaldi (A2A), Piazza Duca d’Aosta (Great Retail Stations) and Piazza Tre Torri (City City Disney Make-A-Wish).
Visit Christmas markets
Milan is home to a variety of Christmas markets that bring cheer to the city during the holiday season. The most famous is the one in Piazza Duomo, made up of a number of traditional wooden stalls, each selling different kinds of Christmas decorations, food, and other festive items. Along with the stalls, there are also various entertainment acts providing festive music and street performances.
Another particularly famed fair is “Obei Obei” held by the ramparts of the Castello Sforzesco. The name Oh Bej, Oh Bej refers to the exclamations oh beautiful! oh beautiful! It offers a huge selection of products, from food, drinks to decorations and handmade gifts. It is a perfect place to find something special for yourself or a gift for a friend.
The Elf market at Christmas village in Giardini Indro Montanelli or Piazza Gae Aulenti are another great places to pick up Christmas gifts and delicious street food.
Enjoy your Chrismas holidays in Milan! 🎄