Fabulous Festivals: Cosenza, Calabria

A profusion of fabulous festivals awaits when visiting the city of Cosenza, in Italy’s beautiful southern region of Calabria…

Why festivals?

Why not? Who doesn’t love a good festival? A gathering of locals to have fun, enjoy, and celebrate just about anything? Who needs an excuse? Italians certainly don’t…

Each year Cosenza and its surrounding cities, villages, and towns host a plethora of festivals. Whether for Saint’s Day, a public holiday, or celebrating seasonal crops (and there are many to celebrate), it’s an excuse really to have a party, fun, and frivolity.

Festival delle Invasioni, di piazza in piazza, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy, Europe

At any one time, you can head out to wine, chestnut, chocolate, potato, bread, pork, or other festivals for loads of delicious authentic food, but also to absorb the Italian culture.

Moving from one culinary artisan vendor to another until you’ve eaten your own body weight in Italian indulgences, is a must. And, if this isn’t enough to entice you to Calabria, then enjoy loads of amazing art, music, and street festivals thrown in for good measure, but I’m sure I’ve missed a few in this post. All this is offered for free, so why wouldn’t anyone make the effort?

Festival delle Invasioni, di piazza in piazza, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy, Europe
Festival enjoyment

Actually, Calabria hosts so many festivals, that I’ll probably dedicate another post on festivals in Cosenza as this city really does hold loads, but for now, these are a few of the must-experience festivals. So, onto the festivals that you need to check out during your visit to Cosenza and Calabria’s region…

Fiera di S.Giuseppe

Remember, every town, village, and city in Italy has a patron saint, as does just about every name – although, I haven’t heard one for my name yet.

Typically held in March over several days each year, the Fiera di S. Giuseppe (Festival of St Joseph), is a large street fair with mountains of clothing, household goods, and traditional Italian culinary specialities.

Fiera di S.Giuseppe spans many streets in Cosenza. Starting at the base of Cosenza’s Old Town and weaving its way up to the end of Corso G. Mancini, roads are closed off to vehicles and both sides are bursting with intriguing stalls. The festival is probably a couple of kilometres long.

Festa del Cioccolato

Festa del Cioccolato (Chocolate Festival) held at the end of October each year is my absolute favourite festival of all time in Cosenza. You cannot miss this one.

This festival is especially for all you chocoholics out there as the four days of tasting incredible chocolate delights are absolutely divine. Watch chocolatiers at their craft creating chocolate art, sublime cake making at its best, and sample the heavenly morsels. If you haven’t eaten enough chocolate, then you can always buy loads to take home, as I always do…

I’ve published a couple of longer posts just on this chocolate festival and this is one that I’m sharing with you that includes more enticing photos: Cosenza’s Divine Chocolate Festival.

Festival delle Candele

Held each year in May, the Festival delle Candele (Festival of Candles) in Consenza’s Centro Storico (Historic Centre or Old Town), is in the charming medieval Norman-Swabian Castle. The castle is illuminated by over 5,000 magical candles.

Castello Svevo, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy, Europe
Norman-Swabian Castle

No other lighting but candlelight turns the castle into an otherworldy venue.

The festival’s inception was back in 2017 and Piano B – Event Project Management organises this dreamy gathering, with artistic and cultural events, but of course, there’s always food – this is Italy after all.

candle festival, Norman castle, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy
Mirrored infinite reflections

Not only is the castle adorned with thousands of candles, but also hosts a couple of live mesmerising fire shows…

…and gymnastic acrobatics keep audiences enthralled while hanging from thin wires and hoops.

The spectacular but surreal event is attended by many Cosentini and locals from the region. Read a longer post with many more stunning photos: 5,000 Magical Candles Illuminate Cosenza’s Medieval Castle.

Festival delle Invasioni – ‘Di Piazza in Piazza’

The unusual “Invasion” festival in July 2018 lasted three days and is a festival that invaded almost every cobbled laneway bringing to life, Cosenza’s historic centre. By far, one of my favourite festivals.

programma di piazza in piazza, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy, Europe
Official festival poster (credit: eventiesagre.it)

Due to COVID, I’m not sure whether this festival still exists. Wandering through ancient alleyways, you bump into fires shows, juggling, aerial acrobatics, clowns, miming, performers on stilts, living statues, magic, arts and craft shows…

…and street musicians, which are just some of the activities offered during the interactive Festival delle Invasioni.

Free for all, this festival draws large inquisitive crowds each night.

Stroll from piazza to piazza and enjoy this unmissable festival that invades every alleyway and piazza in the historic centre, while welcoming summer.

The intriguing travelling art installation, “Blink Circus” is captivating.

The tent oozes a subdued darkened sombre ambience and is dotted with disturbing circus images and sculptures.

A short video of an amazing improvised and synchronised pianist with a festival performer.

Haven’t heard of Cosenza?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Northern regions of Italy are much more traversed and renowned with tourists than the south, but this is what makes Cosenza so appealing.

The advantage of this city of around 70,000 inhabitants not being on the tourist radar is that you’re not swamped or elbowing tourists out of the way to take a photo at an important sight. Instead, enjoy fabulous experiences sans tourists and with locals for an authentic experience. I’ve published over 80 posts on Italy of which the majority involve Calabria as there really is so much to see in this alluring historical Italian region.

So, where is Cosenza?

Calabria lies snugly between the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas – a gorgeous part of the Mediterranean Sea. And, Cosenza is one of the cities gracing Calabria.

map of Cosenza, Calabria, Italy, Europe

Famed as one of the older academies of philosophical and literary studies in Italy and Europe, this cultural hub boasts libraries, theatres, countless monuments, museums, and libraries.

This post is just a small savoury taste of the wonderful festivals held in Cosenza. I have much more to share with you because I love that Calabria hosts so many festivals. It feels as though any excuse is used to hold a festival, exhibition, or party – and why not? Life is too short.

Tgevents Television‘s interview with Lorenzo Mastroianni, the creator of the unique travelling art and photographic theatre, the Blink Circus.

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more global images. More posts on Italy.



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15 responses to “Fabulous Festivals: Cosenza, Calabria”

  1. Gill Morris Avatar
    Gill Morris

    Great post Nilla! I really want to see more of Italy and Cosenza is on my list and would love to go to any of these festivals. What plans to go back? xx

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you, Gill.
      I still have a few more to write about, hopefully, this week. I love the festivals in Calabria but also the art exhibitions.
      You’re much closer to Cosenza (only a 3-hour flight from Stansted to Lamezia) than I am. Not sure yet, maybe next year… 😉

  2. nitinsingh Avatar

    wonderful post ,

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you for your kind feedback!
      Please feel free to share with anyone that you think may like festivals.

  3. equinoxio21 Avatar

    Amazing. I sometimes wonder whether winter in Europe isn’t the main explanation for the explosion of activity in the summer. (Though it’s not that cold in Italy…)

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      The festivals in Calabria are fantastic and really miss these a lot.
      I tend to agree on that front and I’m sure the cold winters have something to do with the summer celebrations, although the European Christmas markets are also pretty special.
      Italy isn’t that cold, really? It snows in Cosenza albeit not a lot but it’s cold enough. 😉

      1. equinoxio21 Avatar

        True. Apart from Milano and Lombardia, Italy is not that cold. You made me wonder about Christmas. Maybe it’s because it was “pasted” on pagan rites, the beginning of the end of winter?

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        We’ll agree to disagree on this point as it’s relative to how much you feel the cold. 😉
        Could well be pasted on Pagan rites. I guess when you’ve endured a long cold northern hemisphere winter, then going crazy with activities in summer is a release.

      3. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Disagreements are fine. Yes, sensations are important. As a kid raised in Africa, I find the Mediterranean bl..dy cold. 😉
        And Spring and summer are certainly a release.

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Ha, ha, yes it can be bloody cold even in southern Italy! Don’t forget, the stunning Italian Appennino mountain range…bitterly cold.
        A rebirth, emerging from the dark, cold, and gloom of winter.

      5. equinoxio21 Avatar

        I had seen that post. Amazing.

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Missing Calabria…

      7. equinoxio21 Avatar

        I can imagine…

  4. Yetismith Avatar

    A whole festival devoted to chocolate! I know a few people who would approve of that. For me it would be the candles. When I was a kid we had lighted candles on our Christmas tree and I’ve always wondered how they did not set everything alight! Candle light is special. Those European festivals are such fun. There is a whole “vibe” which is missing here. It’s good to get a taste through your posts. Thank you.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Can you believe a festival devoted to chocolate…this festival travels around Italy.
      Candles are very special and to have them lit on the tree, is quite adventurous!
      I don’t believe we have a chocolate festival in Brisbane or in Australia, or at least, I don’t know of any such festivals. Agree, the European vibe is missing from our festivals also, but we do tend to have many music festivals (pre-COVID).

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