Christmas holidays amidst markets, shows and the Living Crib
12 Dec 2022
Deciding where to spend the Christmas holidays is never easy. If you want to combine natural heritage, festive spirit and excellent food and wine in one trip, then the right choice is to spend Christmas in Matera.
The city in Basilicata, famous everywhere for its Sassi, is just as well known for its Christmas attire and the events that take place there every year in a unique setting. It is no coincidence that over time it has become the 'City of Christmas':
The link between Matera and the Nativity is also due to the cinematographic tradition: did you know that it was here that great national and international directors shot films inspired by the life of Jesus?
Titles such as Pasolini's The Gospel According to Matthew (1964), Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ (2004), or even Garth Davis' Mary Magdalene (2018) see some of the main scenes come to life in the very streets of the city.
So discover with us what to do during Christmas 2022 in Matera to experience the festive atmosphere in a unique way.
Admiring the Living Crib
The custom of the Living Crib is very widespread in our country, so much so that examples can be found in many places, from cities to the smallest villages in the mountains. The one in Matera is considered one of the most beautiful in Italy.
Thanks to the atmosphere of the Sassi, the evocative re-enactment has over the years become one of the main reasons to visit Matera at Christmas. It is a narrative nativity set in the typical historical districts of the city.
Within each station, a theatrical representation of the events of the Nativity narrated in the Bible comes to life, which visitors can admire on the dedicated tour.
The visit to Matera's living nativity scene also includes the experience 'Christmas among the Sassi of Matera: discovering the nativity scenes', a journey on foot through the city's most characteristic districts. Local guides will accompany you.
What are the dates to attend the Living Nativity? The show runs from 8 to 10 December, 17, 18 and 4 to 6 January 2023. The four daily performances lasting about 50 minutes each are an exciting way to experience the spirit of Christmas, retracing the most famous moments between the Annunciation and the Nativity.
Visiting the Matera Christmas Village
What to do in Matera at Christmas? The town has two spaces dedicated to Christmas: the Matera Christmas Village and the Father Christmas Village.
The first, sponsored by the Municipality of Matera, Pro Loco Basilicata and Pro Loco Matera, colours the central Piazza Vittorio Veneto from 3 December to 6 January 2023. It is a real event, eagerly awaited both by the city's inhabitants and by the many tourists who arrive here in December.
Christmas markets in Matera are complemented by street performers, musical performances, puppet theatres and concerts of all kinds. Events come to life throughout the month to accompany young and old alike during the festivities.
As per tradition, there is the characteristic Father Christmas House, where the little ones can have fun and meet the elves, and the Befana in early January.
Santa's Village is ideal for Christmas decoration lovers: it is the largest indoor Christmas market with over 2,000 square metres of exhibition space. You will find it open from 5 November 2022 to 6 January 2023.
Between beauty and local food
Visiting Matera at Christmas can be a nice opportunity to admire the beauty this city has to offer.
Can there be any other starting point than the Sassi of Matera? The ancient core of the city is an urban treasure trove with caves, courtyards, downhill alleys and underground passages to explore.
The area is divided into three main zones: the Sasso Caveoso, where the cave dwellings have remained intact, the Sasso Barisano with its shops and craftsmen at work, and the Civita. The latter is the oldest part of Matera and stands on a hill with several entrances.
It is impossible not to mention the Matera Regional Historical and Natural Archaeological Park, better known as the Murgia Materana Park. Here, in addition to the natural beauty, there are also the typical Rupestrian Churches: these are small churches carved into the rock, which become even more evocative at Christmas, combining art, spirituality and history.
Among the things to do in Matera at Christmas is to watch the sunset from the Murgia plateau. It is a unique spectacle that will surprise you the moment the sun's rays descend on the Sassi and reveal their colours.
It would not be a holiday in Matera without tasting the local gastronomy, especially the typical Christmas sweets.
Let yourself be enveloped in the flavour of strazzate, typical Lucanian biscuits with almonds and cocoa, and cartellate covered with honey or vin cotto. Christmas in Basilicata also means ricotta cake, a real must.
Spending Christmas in Matera is a great idea for many reasons: you can visit the Living Crib, admire the natural beauty and taste delicious delicacies. All this while staying at UNAHOTELS MH Matera and experiencing a Christmas atmosphere with few equals in Italy.