No mum, I’m sorry I won’t be with you this year for Christmas, I must have lost my passport somewhere and they won’t let me through at the airport…

No auntie, I’m stuck in Milan. It’s snowing a blizzard and there are no trains running”.

Any excuse is a good one this year if it means you get to enjoy the magic of Christmas in Milan!

The countdown to Christmas starts on 7 December, the feast day of Milan’s patron saint St. Ambrose, when the lights are switched on and the city comes alive with events, shows and traditional markets all over town.

And so, diary in hand, let’s take a quick look at Milan’s must-see Christmas events for 2016, a mixture of tradition and innovation.

 

For art lovers: Piero della Francesca and the Sassi di Matera Nativity at Palazzo Marino

Once again this Christmas Palazzo Marino will be a venue for great art: from 6 December to 8 January visitors will be able to admire, free of charge, one of the most iconic works of the Italian Renaissance, the Virgin of Mercy by Piero della Francesca, on show in the Alessi Room.

But that’s not all; between the same dates, visitors can also see a unique nativity at the City Hall, the Monumental Sassi di Matera Nativity by none other than the extraordinary, internationally famous artist from Basilicata, Francesco Artese, who has already exhibited in New York, Paris, Bethlehem and many other cities around the world.

 

For traditionalists: the magic of Christmas trees in the centre of Milan

If you’re walking through the city centre, get ready to look up and be amazed: on 7 December the jumbo Christmas tree in Piazza Duomo was switched on. Positioned in front of the magnificent cathedral, it stands 28 metres tall and is decorated with 6 kilometres of lights. A project with a highly charitable purpose: this year the Christmas tree is connected with the theme of “the joy of giving” and supports a number of foster homes to which donations will be made for the purchase of presents for their children. And there’s more: the tree in Piazza Duomo also has sustainable DNA and when it is taken down this huge fir will be recycled by an Italian company to make wooden furniture for the city.

With your back to the cathedral, just turn right and take a walk through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, ready to be dazzled by a multitude of glittering reflections. This is the Swarovski Christmas Tree, 12 metres tall and decorated with 36,000 LEDs and crystals. Festive premiumness!

 

For shopaholics: the Christmas markets

Those who love their Christmas shopping won’t want to miss the Darsena Christmas Village, a whole area dedicated to festive retail therapy, where a multitude of Christmas markets reign supreme. Sweets, food and drink, and plenty of gift ideas for a Christmas steeped in taste and tradition.

But that’s not all. This year in Milan shopaholics are totally spoilt for choice with Christmas markets all over the city! From the XMas Market in Via San Vittore, via the Mercatino del Gusto at City Life through to the ever-present Fairtrade market in Piazza Pagano.

May the force of Christmas be with you!