Rome is one of the most popular places to visit in Italy year-round, and with good reason. On New Year’s Eve, the city gets even more popular, with Italians from other parts of Italy heading to the capital for the festivities. If you’ll be in Rome over New Year’s Eve, there are a few events going on that you can attend (most of them completely free of charge), but keep in mind that hotels in the historic center get booked quickly over the holidays – so don’t delay in making your own arrangements for accommodation.
There are free concerts in a few places around Rome on New Year’s Eve, most of which are followed by a fireworks display at midnight. The most popular spot for music, dancing, and fireworks is the Piazza del Popolo. Performances usually get underway at about 10pm, and the whole piazza is full of Romans and visitors celebrating the end of another year together. There’s another public and free concert near the Piazza Venezia and the Roman Forum on the Via dei Fori Imperiali. This one also starts around 10pm and usually has at least one big Italian rockstar on the roster as the headlining act. Both of these venues draw large crowds, so if you’re keen on being close to the stage you’ll need to arrive early. If not, get there at any time and just enjoy the festive atmosphere. And remember, Rome in December can be quite chilly – so prepare to dress warmly.
For a slightly less rock-and-roll affair, there’s a free classical concert at the Piazza del Quirinale, which the Italian President typically attends (the Quirinale is the Italian President’s official residence), and there’s often a New Year’s Eve theatrical performance at the Auditorium Conciliazione. There are also plenty of night clubs in Rome that turn up the music and light shows on New Year’s Eve. Most of these require that you buy tickets in advance, so be sure to find out before December 31st.
The concerts in the city center all feature a fireworks display at midnight – Italians adore their fireworks – so even if you’re not in the throngs of the concertgoers you can still get a look at fireworks if you’ve got a good vantage point overlooking the city. Of course, given the Italian love of fireworks, there are also plenty of explosives being set off by families celebrating on their own streets – so be alert when you’re walking around.
If you’re in Rome with children over New Year’s Eve, plan to spend time at Oasi Park, an amusement park southeast of the city center. Starting in the afternoon, there is music and dancing for the kids, along with the playground of a huge amusement park. The fireworks display at the park goes off early, usually around 6:30pm, so parents can get children into bed at a reasonable hour (and, maybe, catch the midnight fireworks back in Rome). You’ll need a car to get to Oasi Park.
On New Year’s Day there’s a parade that starts in Vatican City’s St. Peter’s Square and ends at the Castel Sant’Angelo, and if you’re traveling with kids you can head back over to the Piazza del Popolo for New Year’s Day kid-friendly fun, with all sorts of circus-type entertainment just for the little ones.
You can also consider a Rome walking tour on New Year’s Day to give yourself something to do when many attractions and shops are likely to be closed.