How to Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Palermo

Today, Old Don Tano is gonna provide you with all the details about what you can (and should) do to celebrate the upcoming New Year’s Eve Palermo Festivities for 2021.

New Year in Palermo Sicily

Here in Palermo, we just can’t wait to participate in celebrations, so starting from December first, the question that weighs most heavily on every Sicilian’s mind for New Year’s Eve is “Cosa faremo” (What are we gonna do) to celebrate New Year’s Eve?

And as the days tick by and New Year’s Eve grows closer, the state of every Sicilian’s anxiety grows. At the same time, however — for some unexplainable reason — the average Sicilian manages to wait until the last day (the 30th of December) to finally decide where to go and what to do. Figurati!

During the two suddenly frantic days before St. Sylvester’s Day (December 31st), the hunt for the last tickets left begins. This is a time when many turn to friends “in high places” to be admitted to an outstanding party or restaurant dinner party. And they know perfectly well they could have bought the tickets easily only two or three days earlier.

As always, wherever you go, a few knotty problems always arise. Here, for some reason, clubs, restaurants, party planners and other event promoters don’t take advantage of the Internet to do promotions.

Perhaps you’ll see one here or there on Facebook posts in Italian, but almost none mention how to get your tickets. In Palermo, it’s all done by word of mouth save for the official event organized each year by the Municipality of Palermo which takes place in one of the city’s main public squares.

For you, as a tourist arriving from abroad this means: if you want to visit the city during Christmastime and enjoy the New Year’s Eve Celebration, you’ll have a hard time finding something to do save for attending the aforementioned event organized the Municipality, or possibly, some touristy restaurant that serves mediocre food.

The Municipality of Palermo event is open to all and there’s no charge to attend. Many famous, as well as emerging Italian singers, accompany the audience right up to midnight when the amazing firework show welcomes the arrival of 2021.

Aside from the fireworks show, etc. you may find it hard to know what to do, but fortunately for you, old Don Tano is here to help you find your way around and choose what to do while you’re here in Palermo.

UPDATE 2020:

Unfortunately, there will not be any Christmas activities to talk about this year. In order to limit COVID-19’s spread, all the leisure and entertainment spots, including restaurants and bars, will be closed during the festivities. Similarly, all parties and celebrations for New Year’s Eve are strictly prohibited by law.

The 5 Best Things to Do in Palermo on Saint Sylvester’s Day 2021

1. The Celebration in Giulio Cesare Square

First of all, the most coming thing.

That would be the vast square Giulio Cesare (Piazza Giulio Cesare). Every year the holds just about its biggest celebration. And if you book early, you can enjoy a nearby bed and breakfast room with “camera matrimoniale” (double bed), for very attractive prices. Then the events presented by the Municipality of Palermo are close by.

palermo concert politeama

After the fireworks show has ended not everyone has a lot of people don’t have a party waiting, so these people — people of all ages — families with children, teenagers, middle-aged people, and many single guys and gals, all head for Old Town and the New City Center.

Unfortunately, I recommend the party locales just mentioned only if you can’t find any other options. I’m pretty sure you come to Sicily to enjoy yourself. While having foreigners as guests for New Year’s Eve might be fun for locals, it’s not something I’d recommend to visitors the festivities in Old Town and the New City Center.

Nico


Nico’s Take:

Unless you’re deep into the study of Italian and want to have a genuine Italian experience, I don’t think you’re gonna get much fun out of listening to a lot of people talking in a language you can’t understand.

2. Cenone di Capodanno (New Year’s Eve Dinner)

The Cenone is a must in Italy for the New Year’s Eve. It’s not like a Christmas lunch when the main goal of the locals seems to kill themselves with an intestinal explosion. The feature of this dinner s the wine.

new year's dinner

Not all restaurants organize a New Year’s Eve dinner for la Notte di San Silvestro. In fact, the majority remain closed because so many locals prefer their own private dinners among friends. Having said that, many restaurants do set up a special cenone.

Two types of cenones:

  1. The classic Cenone. Here a restaurant offers a set menu at a fixed price with unlimited wine. This will normally cost each diner between €30 to €50 (somewhere between $35 to $60).
  2. The Veglione (Dinner and a party) This dinner comes with a set menu as above and after a toast to midnight, the restaurant turns into a nightclub with dance music. This dine and dance evening will cost around €70 to €80 (Approximately $80 to $115) per person.

While the cost may not seem too extravagant, these places seldom offer more than mediocre dinners. Perhaps understandably, many restaurateurs who have little interest in encouraging new visitors.

They choose rather to increase their cash register receipts as much as possible, knowing their patrons will be foreigners who are unlikely to return and certainly will never become regular customers.

Nico


Nico’s Take:

Cenone is a must in the whole Belpaese, but it’s not easy to find a place that really serves good food around the end of each year.

3. Hire a local cook/bartender

Without a doubt, this is the best way to enjoy great food and have fun in Sicily, especially if you plan to rent an apartment and spend a little time here. You can hire a local cook who will prepare dinner right in your residence.

italian chef

You’ll have not only the opportunity to try the best dishes of the variegated Sicilian cuisine but you’ll become immersed in a total culinary experience while the chef prepares a dinner cooks right in front of you (if you want to watch). In the morning you may accompany your cook out to the historic street markets for the daily shopping while your cook explains the secrets of Sicilian cuisine.

This sort of service can cost some €200 to €300 (Around $230-$350) but it’s well worth the expense.

If you come together with a group, for the same price of Cenone you’ll have a local cook in your apartment and…you’ll return home after having lived an unforgettable experience. Priceless!

You can also have a bartender who will prepare original Italian cocktails from Negroni to Aperol Spritz. Maggie Hoffman says a Spritz is a bit more adult than a soda but still sweet and friendly.

These services run about €150. Alcohol not included of course.

If there’s any drawback to having private cooks and bartenders it would be that they’re hard to find since locals hire most if not all of them well in advance. If you want to hire a cook, a bartender (or both), send an email to Nico ([email protected]) and I’ll give you some contacts.

Nico


Nico’s Take:

If you can afford it, the best way to enjoy real Sicilian food on New Year’s Eve is the in-house cook. You’ll enjoy real Sicilian food on New Year’s Eve, as well as enjoying a fun culinary experience with a real cook preparing a sumptuous repast just for you and your guests. What a great Saint Sylvester evening, especially for a group. Great.

4. After-dinner party

For young locals especially, dancing is the definite epilogue to a long New Year’s Eve night on the town. They’re famous for their wild parties, with plenty of fun and plenty of alcohol to wash it down.

party sicily new year

These parties, at least the organized parties, are generally divided into age and type. That means there are parties for teenagers, parties for 20 to 25 years old, parties for 25 to 32 years, and parties for 32 to 45 years old.

You’d have a hard time finding a 30-year-old dancing with 20-year-old students. And you wouldn’t see stylish people dancing with rockers. Palermo is a city where different kinds don’t mix well at all.

But no matter who you are, don’t despair. Thee are parties for everyone and the only drawback is that if you’re not a local it’s not easy finding the right party. Besides, it’s not like in other European cities where many clubs become famous but also plan the parties.

As I already mentioned, everything works with word of mouth and the only way to learn about the best parties is by talking with some of the locals. If you really intend to attend a party, just drop me an email at ([email protected]) and I’ll try to propose some solutions based on your needs.

Nico


Nico’s Take:

Parties in Palermo are really lots of fun but it’s hard to learn the protocol here. It’s hard to find the best parties for you and your group, and even harder to get a ticket on time. If you hope to get in some dancing on New Year’s Eve, just email me at ([email protected]) and I’ll give you all the details I can.

5. Barhopping

Barhopping or pub crawling may sound a bit desperate but I can assure you that it’s anything but boring.

wine cheers

A lot of bars in the Old Town and downtown as well remain open until early morning and jammed with thousands of people who didn’t make it to any party and with that number of people who prefer to raise their elbows for another while socializing with their neighbor next to them.

Felice anno nuovo amici miei! Happy new year!

Nico Barcellona

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About Nico

I am a 100%, authentic, full blooded Sicilian loves Palermo like Romeo loves Juliet. I will talk obsessively about this city and I know every part intimately. I know all of Palermo secrets. I want to share with you everything great about this city, but I will not hide its flaws. After all, love is made out of flaws as well.