THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS
During the festive season, the city of the Savoys is transformed into an enchanted place, amidst luminous artworks, artisanal nativity scenes, markets, magic shows and concerts.
During the festive season, the city of Turin is transformed into an enchantic place.
In November, the festivities in Turin get off to a magical start when the ‘Luci d’Artista’ are switched on. For the past twenty two years, these magnificent luminous artworks have lit up the city of the Savoys, anticipating the annual Christmas events by about a month. On 1 December, with the lighting of the huge Christmas tree in piazza Castello, ‘Un Natale coi Fiocchi’, the action-packed programme of city-wide events, kicks off. These include traditional Christmas markets, nativity scenes, concerts, an advent calendar, multi- cultural events and festive food and drink.
Below, you’ll find a detailed overview of all the activities that animate Turin during the holidays.
AN OPEN-AIR MUSEUM
From 31 October to 13 January, Luci d’Artista, an event currently celebrating its 22nd anniversary, transforms the city into an openair museum with a dazzling display of luminous artworks located in squares and streets across Turin. A stunning collective exhibition featuring Mario Airò’s ‘Cosmometrie’ in piazza Carignano, one of the most picturesque and historical squares in the region of Piedmont; Daniel Buren’s ‘Flying Carpet’ in piazza Palazzo di Città; Francesco Casorati’s ‘Flight over…’ in via Roma, Turin’s main shopping street; Mario Merz’s ‘ The Flight of Numbers’ which dominates the dome of the city’s landmark Mole Antonelliana; Giulio Paolini’s ‘Palomar’ which illuminates via Po with planets, satellites and tightrope walkers and Michelangelo Pistoletto’s ‘Love Difference’, a message of peace and tolerance, aptly located in the multi-ethnic district of Porta Palazzo.
To ensure that you don’t miss any of the artists’ lights take a special tour onboard a CitySightseeing bus. The ‘ Luci d’artista special tour’ offers visitors spectacular views of the installations scattered across the city. Guided tours are available in English, French and Italian (www.city-sightseeing.it/it/torino)
TURIN’S ENCHANTED CHRISTMAS
Two of Turin’s main Christmas attractions are hosted against the spectacular backdrop of piazza San Carlo: the Advent Calendar and the Christmas tree. Every day, at 6pm, until 25 December, one of the calendar’s huge windows is opened by the firemen of the Comando Provinciale di Torino. The calendar is a fairytale-like work of art created by Turin’s Teatro Regio based on sketches by renowned illustrator and set designer Emanuele Luzzati. The opening of the first window of the calendar coincides with the lighting of the city’s huge Christmas tree. Another symbol of the Christmas holidays in Turin is the Nativity scene which has been hosted, for several years now, in Parco Valentino’s Medieval Village on the Po River. Built for the Italian General Exposition of Turin in 1884, though initially destined for demolition, the Medieval Village became a civic museum in 1942. This replica of a typical late medieval town is based on a model of authentic 15th century Piedmontese and Valdostan villages.
Houses, ‘palazzi’, walls, fountains, a drawbridge and artisanal ‘botteghe’ contribute to giving visitors the illusion of a real, inhabited medieval village. While walking along the paths of the village, you’ll notice a scattering of figurines from the nativity scene, illuminated and displayed amidst the porticoes and courtyards leading to Piazza del Melograno, where the main scene is hosted. The work, which was executed by the late renowned Genoese set designer Emanuele Luzzati, comprises 90 hand-painted wood figures, including characters from wellknown fairytales for children. The nativity scene, the medieval atmosphere of the village and the spectacular natural backdrop of the park contribute to creating a magical, enchanted atmosphere. The nativity continues to be one of the undisputed symbols of Christmas, and is deeply rooted in Italian tradition. Another not-to-be-missed nativity in the Piedmontese capital is the one found in the church of SS. Annunziata, a magnificent example of neoBaroque architecture situated in via Po, just a short distance from the Mole Antonelliana. This historic nativity was built by Italian set designer Francesco Canonica at the beginning of the 1900s. It comprises more than 200 characters, many of which were sculpted by expert artisans from Val Gardena, of which 100 are animated. Apropos enchanted atmospheres, Turin is renowned for its traditional Christmas markets which, thanks to their decorations, lights, music and aromas, conjure up images of traditional Northern European cities. At their myriad stalls, resembling charming wooden chalets, in addition to purchasing souvenirs, handicrafts, clothing, leather goods, ceramics and nativity scenes, you can sample local specialties from Piedmont and other Italian regions. Among the largest and most picturesque markets in Turin, the one set up in the covered courtyard (Cortile del Maglio) of the vibrant, multi-ethnic Borgo Dora neighbourhood, is a real Santa’s village, featuring 80 stalls, plus four projectors screening iconic Christmas-themed images. In bygone days, the covered square was used as a foundry to build canons for the military compex of the Arsenale. The courtyard takes its name from the large structure located at its centre, a machine, known as a ‘maglio’, that was used to forge and mould metal pieces. The courtyard now houses artisanal ‘botteghe’, shops and cafes.
Other markets can be found in piazza Solferino, which hosts an ice rink during the festive season, in piazza Santa Rita and in piazza Castello, formerly the hub of court life during the reign of the Savoys and still one of the most vibrant areas of the historic centre.
DEDICATED TO MAGIC
The city’s traditional festive events also include numerous initiatives associated with magic, this year’s theme for ‘ Un Natale coi Fiocchi’, featuring an action-packed program.
The organizers’ objective is to transform the Savoy city into an ‘enchanted castle’ for the whole month of December. Various locations across the city will treat the public to sleights of hand and conjuring tricks. In particular, the ‘ One man show’ will be the focus of the events in piazza San Carlo, while an ‘ Illusionarium’, an interactive museum featuring the most famous optical illusions in the world, will be set up in piazza Solferino. Alternately, magicians from the ‘Close-Up’ Theatre will entertain the public in piazza Santa Rita with performances of table magic, involving direct audience participation. The Cortile del Maglio will host a ‘Magic School’ where masters specializing in the art of magic will tell stories about famous magicians and teach magic tricks to children.
New Year’s Eve will also be dedicated to magic, with a New Year’s Eve party in piazza Castello and a performance by the ‘ Masters of Magic’, featuring internationally renowned dancers, artists and illusionists.
MUSIC ALL THE WAY
Even fans of music will be spoilt for choice. Turin’s 2018 Christmas program will include a fabulous line-up of concerts at churches, in squares and at period ‘palazzi’. In particular, the ‘ Intrecci Barocchi’ event takes place at several different spectacular locations in the centre of Turin including historic houses, religious buildings and concert halls. Here, orchestras, choirs, soloists and ensembles will entertain audiences with recitals ranging from some of the greatest masterpieces of music to less well-known Baroque works, in a bid to promote this vast, yet often unknown repertoire of sacred works. The highlight of the event will be held on 15 and 18 December at Tempio Valdese, with the execution of one of the most famous sacred compositions of all time, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, conducted by Ruben Jais. During the same period, for the third consecutive year, ‘ Back to Bach’ returns to Turin with the aim of demonstrating how the music by this famous German composer can serve as inspiration for a wider appreciation of different types of sensory experiences. The 2018 edition, which ends on 15 December, features performances by prestigious ensembles and world-class soloists, plus a series of more educationally-oriented ‘off-site’ events, developed in collaboration with the most important Piedmontese and European institutions, to present Bach’s music in an innovative and, at times, almost irreverent way (www.coromaghini.it).
On 19 December, the Teatro Colosseo and ‘ The Harlem Spirit of Gospel Choir’ will welcome audiences to one of their legendary Christmas shows. This fabulous concert, featuring some of the best voices on the American Gospel scene, will cover a wide range of styles, ranging from classical songs to the re-visitation of contemporary pieces, in a blend of innovative, uplifting sounds.
Christmas market in Piazza Castello
Christmas tree in Piazza Castello