When I think of festivals, I think of cultural breadth: a shortcut to a destination’s most iconic customs and traditions. While I have already introduced you to some of the best beaches in Southern Italy, today I wish to delve deeper into this region’s culture by showcasing the best Sicily summer festivals.
Best Sicily Summer Festivals for Cultural Breadth
August 15: anywhere in Sicily
Ferragosto is the grand Sicily fiesta no summer traveler can miss.
The main draws of Assumption Day in harbor cities include a vast array of authentic Sicilian foods; firework displays; traditional Sicilian boat races and yacht regattas with the Madonna herself as one of the sailors.
A sample festive dish you might not find any other time of the year? Gelo di mellone: a traditional watermelon dessert in Palermo. Akin to a gelatine pie, it is sprinkled with jasmine flowers and other toppings.
There are other secrets to discover in Sicily however, so you must visit the island to uncover them! 😉
Palio dei Normanni
August 12-14: Piazza Armerina, Enna
Medieval enthusiasts will love the raucous horse races known as “palio.” Particularly, the jousts, full-costume processions, parades, and shows with over 600 participants have regarded the Norman Palio as the most important medieval history reconstruction of Southern Italy.
Being part of the Italian Federation of Historical Games and listed in the Register of Intangible Heritage of the Sicilian Region add to its historical and cultural importance.
Renaissance Music Festival
August 13-15: Erice, Trapani
One of the best music festivals in Sicily is another medieval-themed event. The Renaissance Music Festival puts together not only local, but also internationally-acclaimed medieval artists.
The beauty of this festival is that it intertwines with popular Ferragosto, allowing attendees to enjoy several nuances of Sicilian culture.
Taormina International Arts Festival
July-September: Taormina, Messina
One of the longest, most culturally-diverse Sicily summer festivals takes place in and around the ancient Greek amphitheater of Taormina.
With performances ranging from symphonic orchestras and operettas to classical dance, art exhibitions to special cinema viewings, Taormina Arte has become not only one of the most acclaimed cultural festivals in Italy, but the world.
Passeggiata di Giganti
August 13-14: capital of Messina
Passeggiata di Giganti Festival is the feast of the mythical founders of the city, preceding the important procession of “La Vara.”
The legend of the two giants, Mata and Grifone, varies greatly: were they Muslim prisoners taken by the mercenary Ruggero D’Altavilla or the authentic founders of Messina?
Variations aside, they are mostly known as a Saracen soldier (Grifone) who converted to Christianity to finally capture the heart of Mata–and live happily ever after with many children.
Madonna della Luce
August 14: Cefalù, Palermo
During the Feast of the Mother of Light, Sicilians honor their patron saint and heritage, carrying the Madonna along the seas. The beautiful nocturnal procession, which culminates the festival, typically runs from the coast of Kalura to the Old Harbor.