Christmas in Trieste: the street markets and the Fair of San Nicolò

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Christmas in Trieste arrives early, more precisely between December 5th and 6th. In the city, in fact, we celebrate the tradition of San Nicolò, the saint which brings gifts to children and invades Trieste with a long-awaited, historical fair.

Christmas in Trieste

The tradition of San Nicolò

Saint Nicholas was a priest in the Middle East around 300 A.D. He is considered a patron saint of children because he is attributed several good deeds for infants: the most famous tells of when, to help three poor girls, he had them find bags full of gold coins on the window for three nights.

The cult of Saint Nicholas is very present in several European countries, from Greece to Austria, and it is believed that it developed in Trieste at the end of the 18th century with the establishment of the free port. Many traders from the Middle East and Greece arrived in the city at that time, and named the main Orthodox church of Trieste after Saint Nicholas.

Since then, every year on the morning of December 6th the children of Trieste wake up hoping to find gifts left during the night by San Nicolò, especially sweets and toys. On the contrary, if they were naughty the saint may have left them some coal – but don’t worry, that’s sweet too: a little warning more than a real punishment.

Fair of San Nicolò Trieste

The Fair of San Nicolò in Trieste and the Christmas markets

It was always the Greek community that inaugurated the first street markets dedicated to the saint in Trieste. Over time, the Fair of San Nicolò has grown to become one of the most anticipated events in Trieste, which in 2023 will celebrate its first centenary. From December 1st to 8th, 93 exhibitors will animate Viale XX Settembre and surroundings with stalls of objects and local products, including toys and sweets to prepare the gift bags for Saint Nicholas’ night.

The most awaited moment of the Fair is the arrival of the Saint: over the years he has made his appearance in the most spectacular ways, aboard carriages, vintage trains, motorboats, even a helicopter, to distribute his treats to children.

At the end of the San Nicolò Fair, the proper Christmas markets begin and continue until the Epiphany in the central squares, from Piazza Sant’Antonio to Piazza della Borsa. The event is inspired by the markets of Central and Northern Europe, with dozens of wooden houses that offer decorations, gift ideas and gastronomic products: a perfect opportunity to combine a visit to the city and the search for Christmas gifts.

If you are planning a weekend in Trieste in December, get ready then for a magical atmosphere that will last all month – and that will also dress up our DoubleTree by Hilton!

For the festivities is also available a Christmas in Trieste package, which includes accommodation, welcome drink, Christmas Eve dinner and a sweet gift in the room: we look forward to share this special moment with you.

Christmas in Trieste DoubleTree by Hilton