Christmas by candlelight at the Candelara festival

Christmas by candlelight at the Candelara festival

by: Stacy Roman | .
Stripes Europe | .
published: November 30, 2016

It’s no secret that the holiday season in Europe is magical — rustic wooden stalls, festive mugs of hot beverages, and globe lights twinkling above the walkways. While most markets have their own unique flair, the Candelara festival in Pesaro, Italy is truly one of a kind.

Located on the beautiful central Adriatic coast, Pesaro is approximately one hour north of Ancona. Now in its 13th year, Candelara is celebrated over an 8-day period. Twice each day, at 5:30 p.m. and again at 6:30 p.m., all electric lighting in the town center is turned off for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. The soft glow from a procession of thousands of candles creates a romantic and enchanting atmosphere.  In addition to the candlelight procession, elaborate nativity scenes, a snow-laden alley, street artists and delicious regional delicacies can be found.

Beyond the market

With cool, mild temperatures and sunny skies, outdoor enthusiasts have many options in Pesaro. Take a hike along the steep, sandy cliffs at Parco Naturale Monte San Bartalo. For sweeping panoramic views of the Adriatic Sea, visit the Castello di Fiorenzuola di Focara. If motorcycles are more your style, walk back through the history of one of Italy’s oldest motorbike companies at the Museo Benelli.

Why not cross another country off your bucket list? Encompassing a mere 24-square miles, the small Republic of San Marino is just a short one-hour drive northwest of Pesaro. Founded in 301, this country is one of the oldest constitutional republics in the world. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, Monte Titano and the Three Towers of San Marino are worth a visit.

Know before you go

The Candelara festival is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 8 through Sunday, Dec. 11. Admission is 2.50 euros, with children under 12 years free.  If driving, be sure to take advantage of the car parks outside of the city center and take the free shuttles in. Train service with complimentary shuttles to the festival is also available. For more information, visit

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