Whether you are looking for a traditional religious celebration, a remake of a historic event, a celebration of harvest time and local food production (called sagre) or you simply want to enjoy a good festival and have fun, then Puglia has lots to offer all year round. Many celebrations and religious events are common to all provinces, among the other we recommend:
San Giuseppe – 19th March
It is Father’s Day in Italy and lots of bonfires are lit in most of the towns in Puglia in honour of St. Joseph, the oldest and most beautiful bonfire is in San Marzano (Taranto Province). The typical dessert zeppole are also prepared during this period.
Holy Week – Usually held during the months of March or April
Holy Week is celebrated all across the region and is a must for all visitors. Celebrations start on Palm Sunday but the most evocative are on Thursday and Friday when all towns and villages stage the procession with the Virgin and represent the passion of Jesus Christ. The most significant are in Taranto and Francavilla Fontana where barefooted men wearing a hooded cape carry huge cross throughout the city.
Christmas – 25th December
Many religious celebrations take place all across the region. Most of villages and towns set up very large presepi (nativity scenes), usually set in castels, churches or ancient buildings. Unique and elaborate are the live presepi where people act recreating the nativity of Jesus. The most spectacular is held in Crispiano (Taranto).
Vico del Gargano – 14th February
A procession through the streets of the city welcomes the statue of the patron St. Valentino, with decorations of oranges, lemons and bay leaves hung off houses and balconies.
Apricena – 17th/22nd August, Suoni in Cava
This pretty little town hosts a musical event called “Suoni in Cava” in a unique context: the event is in fact held in limestone quarries characterized by bright colors such as red and ivory and expertly lit.
Bovino – 27th/29th August, Festival of Saint Maria of Valleverde
In this little village of the Daunia Mountains, it is held every year a medieval pageant to celebrate the Virgin Maria of Valleverde, patron of Bovino, where locals and visitors can wear typical costumes and walk along the small alleys of the village, followed by knights and coaches, bringing to live its ancient past.
Barletta – 13th February & 22nd July, Disfida di Barletta
A fantastic medieval pageant, the re-enactment of the battle “Disfida di Barletta“, between 13 French and 13 Italian knights, which took place on 13th February 1503.
Trani, 16th July, Madonna del Carmine
The statue of the Virgin protector of fishermen is placed on a boat and then left off in the Trani‘s water. Blessed floreal wreath are thrown in the water in memory of those lost in the sea.
Castellana Grotte – 11th January
Huge falò (bonfires) are lit in the streets of Castellana Grotte where tons of firewood are burnt in honour of the Madonna della Vetrana. Local food and wine is also offered to all visitors.
Carnevale – Usually held in the month of February
Many towns in the region stage the Carnival with big parades, the most important and longest is the Carnival of Putignano which starts on the 26th of December, it is one of the biggest in Italy and one of the oldest in the world.
Bari – 7th & 8th May, Festival of St. Nicola
One of the most traditional and colourful religious celebration in Puglia, where the statue of St. Nicola is carried from the Basilica to the Port of Bari. Here a sea procession takes the statues along the seafront and is accompanied by fireworks and music.
Locorotondo – 16th August, St. Rocco
The town of Locorotondo celebrates the patron St. Rocco with spectacular fireworks, along with a competition that award the best ones.
Ruvo di Puglia – 1st/10th September, Talos Festival
A spectacular International Jazz Music festival which is held in honour of the Talos giant myth depicted on a Greek vase.
Bari – 2nd Sunday in September, Fiera del Levante
It is the largest fair in Souther Italy and it’s the second one after Milan’s. Held in Bari since 1930, it is attended by exhibitors from all over the world and it’s mainly focused on industry and agricolture.
Brindisi – 70 days after Easter, Processione del Cavallo Parato
This event dates back to 1254 and commemorates the Crusaders of the Middle Ages. The archbishop carries the Sacrament of Corpus Christi through the main streets of Brindisi mounted on a white horse.
Oria – Second half of August, Corteo Storico di Federico
One of Italy’s best medieval pageants that celebrates the emperor. A tournament between the four districts called Palio dei Rioni, is held every year in the charming village of Oria.
Ostuni – 26th August, La Cavalcata
A stunning procession of horsemen dressed in red & white uniforms parade through the streets of Ostuni carrying the statue of the patron St. Oronzo.
Brindisi – 3rd/4th September, St. Teodoro
To celebrate the Saint, a historical regatta and boat race take place in the port of Brindisi accompanied by fireworks.
Lecce – End of May, Cortili Aperti (Open Courtyards)
This is an event that each year attracts an increasing number of tourists who, thanks to this initiative, can spend a happy day in the charming Lecce‘s historic city center and admire the beautiful courtyards, historic buildings and churches.
Galatina – 29th June, San Pietro & Paolo
This festival celebrate the two patrons of Galatina, St. Peter and Paul. For the occasion the frenetic and rhythmic Tarantella dance is performed.
Lecce – All summer, Mediterranea Estate
A series of free events including concerts, theater, dance and more that take place throughout the summer and offer great entertainment all around Lecce.
Melpignano – 16th August, Notte della Taranta
This small village gets so crowded in occasion of this event, now known worldwide. Every year it welcomes more than 100K tourists for its festival, where artists feature folk songs and traditional local dances, such as the Pizzica.
Lecce – 24th/26th August, Sant’Oronzo
Lecce celebrates its patron St. Oronzo with spectacular fireworks, processions, shows, music and food.
Lecce – 13th/24th December, Festival of Saint Lucia
The week before Christmas, Lecce celebrates one of its hallmark, the papier-mâché craft, artists and masters create nativity figures and many other that can also be purchased as a nice gift idea.
Taranto – 8th/10th May – Festival of St. Cataldo
A sea procession takes place where the statue of the Saint is carried on board of the Navy’s ship and followed by hundreds of small fishing boats. They navigate through connecting the Small Sea to the Big Sea of Taranto. Here is where the spectacular fireworks are lit.
Martina Franca – 22nd July/10th August, Festival Valle d’Itria
Martina Franca welcomes thousands of tourists for this famous International Music Festival. Artists from all around the world come to perform all different type of music.