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What's on at Christmas & New Year in Milan 2016-17

The festive season is well and truly upon us!

featured in News & reviews Author Ana Hernández, Milan Editor Updated

Italy's second city is one of the best places in Europe to celebrate Christmas, as the whole town turns into a beautiful winter wonderland full of delightful markets, stunning lights and decorations and activities for the whole family, with the snowy Alpine peaks as the perfect Christmassy background.

We've chosen some of our favourite things to do in Milan during the festive season, from the dozens of events happening all around the city from this week to January 6th, when the arrival of Befana - an old witch-like woman who brings presents to children in Italy - signals the end of the celebrations.

Magical Lights

Milan turns into an enchanting Christmas wonderland at the beginning of December, and one of the best ways to enjoy its magic is by visiting the Christmas trees set up all around town. The largest one stands over 28 metres tall on Piazza del Duomo, Joy - as it was named this year - has been decorated with more than 6 km of lights. If you're in the area, you can also pop into Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and check out their wonderful Christmas tree; located under the building's central glass dome, it has been decorated with 36,000 lights and over 10,000 Swarovski crystals creating a luminous effect. But Milan's most glamorous fir is located in La Scala Theatre, decorated by none other than designers Dolce & Gabanna.

Christmas Markets

The best way to get into the festive spirit and buy those last-minute presents and decorations are Milan's Christmas markets, where you can browse hand-made objects while sipping on a cup of mulled wine or hot chocolate. Piazza Duomo is, once more, the heart of Milan's Christmas celebrations, with a large selection of stalls right in front of the cathedral's impressive façade. And, if you're there at 18:00, you'll be able to witness the musical advent calendar every day until the 24th from the windows of the palazzo on the southern portico of the square.

Festive Family Fun

Children are the true stars in Milan during Christmas, as the city offers lots of fun activities for the whole family to enjoy together. There are two main hubs of entertainment for kids: the Darsena Christmas village by the Naviglio Grande and the Wonderland Village in the Porta Venezia area. There you'll have the chance to meet Santa Claus and his helpers, sail the canal on an illuminated Christmas boat, buy gifts and decorations or practice some ice skating. A large ice rink has also been set in Piazza Gae Aulenti, perfect even for complete beginners as there are instructors available.

Classical Concerts

A visit to Milan is never complete without witnessing a performance at La Scala. The new season started last week with a glamorous premiere of Madame Butterfly. Puccini's Japanese opera will be on throughout Christmas and New Year as will be Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet ballet, starring La Scala's celebrated dancer Roberto Bolle together with famous American lead dancer Misty Copeland. This year's Christmas Concert will be held on December 22nd, conducted by Christoph von Dohnányi who will put his own stamp on Beethoven's Symphony n. 9.

NYE Parties

There are tonnes of New Year's Eve parties in Milan to choose from and celebrate the beginning of 2017. Perhaps the best way to start the evening is to head to Piazza del Duomo, where there'll be a free concert by Mario Biondi and Annalisa that ends just after midnight. The perfect way to warm up for one of the glamorous bashes taking place at the city's nightclubs, such as Just Cavalli's Great Gatsby party.

This is only a small selection of all the possibilities that Milan has on offer during Christmas and New Year. Check out our events calendar for a full run down and book your accommodation to spend Christmas in the most glamorous city in Europe.