12 December, 2023

8 classic things to do in Milan on Christmas

christmas in milan

Ph Rubina Ajdary Via Unsplash 

The many Christmas trees decorated for the holiday, the draped lights, the artfully packaged panettoni: December is the perfect month to visit Milan, and there is an infinite number of Christmas-themed opportunities and events in the Ambrosian city. We have selected 8 insider suggestions for you: what to do, where to go, what to eat in the city during the end-of-year festivities. Book now!

1) Panettone Tour

The symbolic sweet of Milan is now available in the main pastry shops and bakeries throughout the year, but it reaches its maximum splendour in this vacation period with gift boxes and festive decorations. Discover it in its original recipe in one of the shops listed by the Milan, Monza Brianza and Lodi Chamber of Commerce (divided by geographical area). Information here

2) Tree Tour 

Not only the Piazza del Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele (location of the new “Gift of Love” installation by Gucci): in Milan, decorated Christmas trees are found throughout the central ring of the city thanks to the format conceived in 2020 by creative Marco Balich. The unique trees, in fact, are spread throughout the focal points of the city, from Piazza della Scala to Piazza Cadorna and from Corso Garibaldi to Piazza Duca D’Aosta. And wandering through the streets of the city centre have never been so pleasing.

3) Art at Palazzo Marino

Every year the Town Hall of Milan makes space for painting masterpieces from other Italian cities: the Sala Alessi of Palazzo Marino is dedicated this year to the Battesimo di Cristo by Perugino (The Baptism of Christ), painted in the 16th century and loaned by the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria (visits are free, with tours guided by art historians, until January 14th, 2024).

4) Christmas Village

It’s called “Christmas Magic”, the largest Christmas village in Italy, set up at the MiCo Conference Centre (in the Portello / Citylife area) until January 7th, 2024. Over-sized decorations, a maxi-tree standing 9 metres, sparkling hot air balloons and the longest indoor skating rink of the country extend over 20,000m2 of space, with an abundance of food corners and photographic sets for Christmas-oriented selfies!

5) Market Tours

They are literally everywhere, but the most characteristic remain the “Oh Bej Oh Bej”, the oldest fair of Milan (in front of Castello Sforzesco), and the market in Piazza del Duomo, which surrounds the Cathedral with the classic wooden chalets and a life-sized Nativity scene. Darsena is also transformed, through Epiphany, into a Christmas village full of lights and street food, while the plaza of Via Marco Pagano hosts the “Banco di Garabombo” selling ethical fashion accessories and natural cosmetic products.

6) A theatre musical

Like every respectable metropolis, Milan’s December theatre calendar abounds with great productions. Don’t miss one of the many musicals in production: in addition to ‘Peter Pan’ at Teatro degli Arcimboldi and ‘Cenerentola’ (Cinderella) at the Repower Theatre, during the peak holidays – Christmas Eve, Christmas and St. Stephen’s Day – Teatro Carcano offers the great classic, ‘A Christmas Carol’, while musical ‘Chicago’ takes over the Teatro Nazionale CheBanca! on New Year’s Eve.

7) Tour of churches and Nativity scenes

In addition to the previously mentioned Nativity scenes of the Duomo and Santa Maria delle Grazie in the Magenta area, a must-see is the exhibition of the Diocesano Museum Carlo Maria Martini that features collections of different types of Nativity scenes until January 28th, 2024. As in the churches, the magic of Christmas doesn’t stop with the Duomo, but continues in every religious site, each with its own representation of the Nativity: a must-sees are the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, the Basilica of San Simpliciano in Brera and the Church of San Marco, one of the oldest of the city. 

8) Toy store tour

Like the heart of Manhattan, the new FAO Schwartz store triumphs in the centre of Milan in Piazza Cordusio, already an obligatory stop for the purchase of gifts for the little ones, with the mythic “Dance-on-Piano” that’s played by dancing.  But the recently opened flagship store of Giochi Preziosi in Piazza Duomo merits a visit, with its tram dedicated to Trudy plush toys that runs over the two floors of the store. Finally, special mention goes to the Lego Store in Piazza San Babila, whose windows feature a faithful reproduction of the Duomo in white Danish blocks!