December is a month of celebration and time dedicated to family and friends. It’s a month of super gorgeous or very tamarried Christmas trees, but always made with enthusiasm. It is a month in which one indulges in a few more culinary whims, toasts with friends, dinners with colleagues. But it is also a month full of events and opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities, despite the pressing cold. Here are our tips on what to do in December between Lake Garda and its beautiful cities:
A trip to the Christmas markets.
From Trento to Mantua, from Verona to Brescia and among the picturesque villages on the lake shores, Santa Claus is always buzzing! Taking a look at the various Christmas markets is also an opportunity to visit characteristic villages and cities. You can find the complete list of all the 2022 Christmas markets by clicking here.
On the hunt for unique and particular nativity scenes.
The charm of the handcrafted crib is timeless and ageless. Lake Garda offers many spots in which to admire one-of-a-kind nativity scenes. Here is the list:
In Cassone di Malcesine (VR) the nativity scene is built astride the Aril river, the shortest river in the world which flows into eastern Lake Garda after only 175 m. For more info click here.
The ancient medieval village of Campo di Brenzone (VR) becomes even more evocative during the Christmas period, with the display of about 120-130 nativity scenes scattered throughout the village and which can be freely visited (from early December to early February). For more info click here.
In Peschiera del Garda (VR) the traditional underwater nativity scene is set up along the canal, called Presepe del Lago. This original nativity scene can be easily admired from the San Giovanni bridge.
The old port of Desenzano (BS) becomes the spectacular scenography of the traditional “floating nativity scene“: old restored mannequins are transformed into the characters of the nativity scene, dressed and made up by the volunteers who set it up. For more info click here.
From 19 November 2022 to 22 January 2023, the alcoves of the Arena di Verona host more than 400 nativity scenes from all over the world. A spectacular exhibition for young and old! For info and tickets click here.
Visit the witch of Balbido, the largest in the world.
Since 2019, the small village of Balbido (TN) has hosted a curious Guinness Book of Records: the largest Stria (witch) in the world. It is 10.77 meters high and 4.5 wide. Made with the same technique as the basket: a dense weave of bamboo and wood canes. Located at the entrance to the town, it is a tribute to the popular tradition of mischievous and prankster witches who enjoyed throwing stones at the wheels of the carts of the peasants returning from Val Marcia.
Also worthy of note are the 222 frescoed murals on the walls of the houses, using a naive or graffiti technique. They portray nature, the toil of the fields, the legend of the witches, the beauty of a woman, the long stories of the grandmother, the colors of spring, the horse race at the Palio of S. Giustina di Balbido. An enchanting scenography to be admired in the streets of the village.
During the Christmas holidays, many towns and cities, in conjunction with the markets, set up beautiful rinks to try ice skating. On Lake Garda this year you can find them in: Verona, Lazise, Bardolino, Malcesine, Salò, Sirmione, Verona and Mantua.
Visit to the Sanctuary of Madonna della Corona.
If during Advent you want to visit a unique and spectacular place of worship both for its location and architecture, this Sanctuary is the ideal destination. It can be reached on foot from Brentino Belluno for those who love trekking, or comfortably by car from Spiazzi. For more info click here.
Walks, ski mountaineering, snowshoeing on the mountains of Lake Garda.
What is December without snow? A beautiful trip in the mountains with a breathtaking view of Lake Garda is ideal for playing sports and then refresh yourself in the various refuges. If you want to know where to go, find the list of the most beautiful and panoramic itineraries for walking and snowshoeing in the snow by clicking here.
Events December 2022.
We list, in chronological order, the list of the main events in the area in the month of December 2022:
Christmas magic in Brescia: where the atmosphere of Christmas intertwines with the festivities in the city. Merry Christmas Brescia 2023 is the showcase of beautiful events organized for the city of Brescia, let’s remember it loudly: this year it is also the Italian Capital of Culture. From November 26, 2023, to January 7, 2024, you will be immersed in a fabulous year-end atmosphere, with secret corners to discover, lots of music, and intriguing initiatives for all tastes and ages. Palaces dressed up for the celebration, alleys and squares ready for an exciting journey: Brescia offers a world of wonders to explore in the heart of the holiday season
Christmas events in Trento. Starting from December 1st, to find out the whole calendar click here.
Vite di Luce.. The small village of Santa Massenza (TN), hosts the now thirty-year craft market. Unique and unobtainable productions, combined with a complete food and wine proposal, will be housed in the old town halls.
Saturday 2 December – Sunday 3 December
from Thursday 8 December to Sunday 10 December
Saturday 16 December – Sunday 17 December
Wine&Vinyl. If you like good wine and vintage music, Vino&Vinile is the appointment on Saturday 2 December 2023 not to be missed! Imagine a small village on the shores of Lake Santa Massenza, 30 minutes from Riva del Garda and 15 minutes from Trento, along the road that connects the Valle dei Laghi to Garda. Here you will walk through alleys and narrow streets. Following an illuminated Ape that broadcasts 50s-60s music, stopping from cellar to cellar to enjoy a good glass of wine accompanied by delicious local products. VinilDj Marc Pyson will play the hits of the past aboard his “Apetta”, transforming each tasting into a convivial and cheerful experience. Five tastings are scheduled in five different cellars, to get to know the family businesses that have taken care of the territory for generations and transform the fruits of this work into high quality products thanks to the experience, craftsmanship and raw materials that the vineyards of the Valley of the lakes offer.
Tickets that can be purchased online and at the Garda Trentino Info Points until 12:00 on Friday 02/12/2022. In the event of free places, it will be possible to purchase them close to the event at the accreditation point in Piazza San Vigilio in Santa Massenza.
When booking, you must select one of the available shifts: 17:00 and 20:30;
Meeting point: Piazza San Vigilio in Santa Massenza;
Duration of each shift: about 3 hours;
Services included: 5 glasses of wine, 5 tastings and DJ;
The activity will take place even in case of rain.
Mandorlato Festival in Cologna Veneta (VR). It takes place on 8, 9 and 10 December 2023, an event full of delicacies, crafts, music, shows for young and old and, of course, the Mandorlato. Mandorlato is a typical Christmas dessert with distant origins, which with its noble ingredients and mastery in processing, is a real refined and above all inimitable delicacy. The first taste of Mandorlato is estimated to be around 1840, when an apothecary had the happy intuition: to amalgamate what the ancients called the food of the gods, that is honey, with egg whites, sugar and peeled almonds. Today the Mandorlato Festival has widened its borders and also hosts other typical local products such as potatoes and red radicchio, simple and genuine fruits of the Colognese land. It is currently produced in Cologna Veneta by seven renowned companies.
The night of the lit alembics. From 7 December 2023 to 10 December 2023, the historic distilleries of the Istituto di Tutela Grappa del Trentino are at the center of a traveling show in the streets of the village of Santa Massenza (TN). The Christmas atmosphere, the ancient art of lambicar that is renewed from year to year, the scent of tradition: this is what makes Christmas in the Valle dei Laghi special. For info and tickets click here.
Saint Lucia banquets. From 10/12/2023 to 13/12/2023. Hours 8:00 – 23:00 and day 13 closing at 20:00. Every year in Verona, on the occasion of the feast of Santa Lucia, the central Piazza Brà hosts a large and varied market, which the Veronese affectionately call “i banchéti de Santa Lùssia”. The Sicilian martyr, who lived at the end of the third century, is much venerated in the city of Verona and her name is linked to a very ancient tradition: in fact, it is she who, on the night between 12 and 13 December, accompanied by her faithful donkey (el mussetto ) brings sweets and gifts to the good children, pieces of carbon black to the mischievous ones. Nowadays, the centuries-old Santa Lucia Market attracts more than two hundred and fifty stalls from all over Italy and tens of thousands of visitors to the center of the city of Verona, who buy gifts, toys, clothing, local handicraft products, gastronomic specialties, merchandise of all sorts related to Christmas and sweets. Lots of desserts including the typical St. Lucia pancakes which are prepared with flour, butter and icing sugar and swell once immersed in boiling oil. A large steel comet watches over everything, which starts from the Arena and dives luminously into the square.
Garda Trentino XmasTrail. This foot race will be held on Saturday 09 December 2023 with start and finish in Torbole sul Garda (TN). The layout reproduces the route of the race of the same name, i.e. the ring that surrounds the Alto Garda Trentino area, on paths, mule tracks, carriageways and some asphalted sections, at an altitude of between 78 and 530 m, for a length of 30 km and with 1370 m of elevation gain. For info and registration click here.
SantaLake. On Sunday 10 December 2023, the Lazise – Bardolino cycle/pedestrian path will turn into a run/walk strictly all dressed up as Santa Claus! For info and tickets click here.
Melegatti Christmas Run. Sunday 17 December 2023 run or walk within the walls of Verona dressed as Santa Claus! For info and reservations click here.
The Christmas of the Tree. In Brentonico from 16 December 2023 to 6 January 2024 the Wood Sculpture Symposium returns where you can admire the local sculptors while they create sumptuous wooden works, there will be fun Lumberjack Olympics, a series of woodcutter competitions and games. The little ones will be able to listen to the enchanted stories also set in the magical Baldo woods. For info click here.
See you next time dear Outdoors!
Silvia Turazza – Garda Outdoors editorial team