What To Do on New Year’s Eve In and Around Bologna

New Year's Eve in Bologna
Bologna traditionally celebrates the arrival of the new year with the ‘Rogo del Vecchione’ in Piazza Maggiore (photo source Il Resto del Carlino).

If you’re spending New Year’s Eve in Bologna or around Emilia-Romagna and you want to mingle with the locals, head to the piazzas. Pretty much every town in the region is hosting a New Year’s Eve bash in their main squares, with music, live performances and fireworks displays going off at midnight.

Below is a selection of Capodanno events happening in and around Bologna.

Bologna – out with the old, in the new

The saying ‘out with the old, in the new’ couldn’t ring more true in Bologna where the arrival of the new year is celebrated with the traditional Rogo del Vecchione, literally the ‘Burning of the Old Man’: a giant puppet is burned at the stroke of midnight in Piazza Maggiore, representing the year that has just passed. Every year, a different artist is commissioned with the making of the Vecchione, with the effigy varying through the years as well.

The party in Piazza Maggiore begins at 10:30 pm, with a DJ set playing from the balcony of Palazzo del Podestà.

Ferrara – at the court of the Este

Approximately half an hour from Bologna is the Renaissance city of Ferrara. The 14th century Castello Estense, one of the city’s major attractions, hosts a spectacular fireworks display accompanied by music, lighting up the castle at midnight. Before then, you can feast on the traditional ‘cenone’ by taking part in the Renaissance-themed ‘A cena con l’Ariosto’ (‘Dinner with Ariosto’), referring to the author of the romance epic Orlando Furioso, which celebrates 500 years since publication in 2016; the menu is inspired by Renaissance recipes, while people in historical costumes parade around the rooms and courtyard. Then dance the night away at the castle as a DJ set begins at 12:30 am.

New Year's Eve in Ferrara
The fireworks display at Castello Estense in Ferrara is quite the show.

Parma – electronic music fans rejoice

The town synonymous with prosciutto and Parmigiano has managed to snatch up the internationally-renowned English DJ Fatboy Slim, who will host a concert in the courtyard of the Renaissance palace Palazzo della Pilotta, expected to attract thousands of people. And it’s free! The electronic music affair begins at 10:30 pm.

Rimini – party capital

The capital of the Riviera Romagnola is famous for its lively nightlife all year round, so you can expect quite the party if you’re in the area. The hometown of director Federico Fellini is hosting a live concert in Piazzale Fellini, while a midnight fireworks display will be held near the sea by the Grand Hotel, made famous through the films of Fellini, who loved to be a guest of the hotel. The party will continue all night long in the  streets and squares, and in the many bars and clubs of the city center.

San Leo – countryside charm

San Leo would be worth visiting even if there was nothing going on, such is the charm of this borgo in the countryside of Romagna, rated as one of the most beautiful in Italy. But while you’re there, enjoy the live music entertainment in the piazza, and the midnight fireworks by the Fortress that looms from a bluff over town.

Ravenna  – video mapping galore

Besides the music entertainment in Piazza del Popolo, Ravenna will feature 3D video mapping installations on the Unesco-inscribed Mausoleum of Galla Placidia and Baptistery of Neon. At the stroke of midnight, these virtual animations will light up the Palazzetto Veneziano in Piazza del Popolo, with the show Il Cielo di Ravenna (Ravenna’s Sky).

Want more New Year’s Eve fun in Emilia-Romagna? Here’s a list by the Emilia Romagna Tourism Board.

*If you’re not too hung over, don’t forget that on Sunday, January, 1, like all first Sundays of the month, the museums of Istituzione Bologna Musei (Museo Civico Archeologico, Museo Civico Medievale, Collezioni Comunali d’Arte, MAMbo, Museo Morandi), the Pinacoteca Nazionale and Palazzo Pepoli Campogrande will have free admission.

Buon Anno!

4 comments

  1. Grande! I was in Bologna for NYEve 2015. Spent the evening with a group of friends eating a fabulous dinner of course. Might have to put the Ferrara experience on the bucket list. (I’ve been there for Buskers. Love that city). Buon Anno a te Silvia! Spero di trovarti qualche volta quando sto in Italia in 2017.

    • I like Ferrara too! I often go there to see friends who live nearby. Buon anno to you and thank you for following my blog. I always enjoy to hear from readers. Let me know when you’re in Emilia-Romagna next!

  2. I spent Christmas and New Year’s in Bologna in 2001 and remember watching the fireworks from our rooftop. I’m going to be living there starting in January, so I’m happy to learn about the free admission to the museums on first Sundays!

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