While it might initially seem like there's not a lot going on as far as music festivals in this Sicilian city are concerned, start investigating exactly what is happening in Catania music-wise and you could be in for some eye-opening moments.
Catania is on the island of Sicily which is definitely not the same as the Italian mainland. Sicily has its own unique culture. In Sicily, you can forget about getting an earache from non-stop opera and classical music the same as if you were in the cultural epicenters of Rome or Pisa.
In Catania, you'll find you can attend a one-day music festival or a concert at pretty much any time of the year. They cover a multitude of diverse music genres too, so they will both surprise and delight you. Depending on your personal plans for visiting Sicily, you might just be able to catch one of the big bands like Jethro Tull or Simple Minds that are performing in Catania in early summer this year. If you have more time to spare, and the budget to go with it, you may want to start planning a five-day festival spree while hopping around the Aeolian Islands.
Whichever concert or festival you decide to attend there's no point turning up with your backpack and luggage because all that will happen is you'll get denied entry. Save yourself from that disappointment by storing your bags at a Bounce luggage storage facility in Catania.
All Bounce luggage lockers are security tagged and have full insurance coverage, but they're still super economical to hire so you won't be out of pocket. Once you've dropped your bags off, get your festival hat on, and whether you're going to be tangoing the afternoon away or rocking to the beat, you know your belongings will be there when you're ready to pick them up again.
Best Music Festivals In 2022 In Catania
Unless you're taking a year-long sabbatical and traveling around Sicily for quite some time you won't get the chance to attend all of the festivals and concerts that are held here. Hopefully, your visit to this sunny Mediterranean island doesn't coincide with a rainy day in Catania and you get to enjoy at least one outdoor event while you're in town.
There's no debating that one of the best concert venues in Sicily is about 30 miles (50km) outside of Catania. While that might seem like a bit of a trek and make you consider sticking to local festivals only, check out the location in detail and you'll be jumping on the first bus you can to get there. Don't doubt the efficiency of the local bus service to get you there for the start of the performance, the bus is one of the best and cheapest ways of getting around Catania there is. Read on to find out where you could be going.
Teatro Antico di Taormina
Attend a concert or the annual film festival held at the Teatro Antico di Taormina and you won't be seated in a modern auditorium. The Teatro Antico di Taormina is a Greek-Roman amphitheater in a location that's more spectacular than any spectacle that takes to its stage. It's a very special place that a lot of top artists love to add to their tour dates.
The Teatro Antico di Taormina sits in an elevated position on the Sicilian coast and from the tiered seating area, there are incredible views of the sea and of Mount Etna. There are no gladiator fights or performances of classical plays like Shakespeare's Julius Caesar here, but rather open-air live music concerts from popular artists from June through to the end of September.
Okay, so yes there are occasional classical and operatic renditions from modern stars like Il Volo, but the amphitheater is the ideal setting for it. It's also perfect for big bands with enormous followings like Jethro Tull, Simple Minds, and rock group The Smile, as well as hosting one of the tour dates for the Genesis Revival Tour plus world-class individual artists like Ben Harper.
Events at the Teatro Antico di Taormina are mostly one night only so make sure you don't miss out on something you'll regret not seeing by checking on the official website before you head to Sicily. Whoever you go to see, the location alone will make for an unforgettable experience especially if Mount Etna is glowing red against the night sky. If that happens, you won't need a fireworks display to end the event as just the view will be enough.
Eolie Music Fest
The Eolie Music Fest is one you will have to go a little out of your way to attend if you're staying in Catania, but it'll be well worth the effort and you'll have a new place to add to your been there, seen it, done it list.
The Eolie Music Fest takes place over five days starting on the 30th of June and concluding on the 5th of July on the Aeolian islands. The festival takes place on four of the islands on consecutive dates and they are Lipardi, Vulcano, Salina, and Stromboli.
If you're into volcano tourism, then you'll be in your element at this music festival in Vulcano. It's the second-largest island in the Aeolian archipelago and one which is home to one of Italy's other active volcanoes apart from Mount Etna. It was causing disruptions on the island as recently as 2021 but hopefully, it won't interrupt the festival.
The live music events of the Eolie Music Fest on Vulcano are not all held on dry land. The stage is on a boat anchored out in a bay. Festival attendees need to be afloat too, but there's usually space to be found on one yacht or another. There will be some events on land, especially on the other islands, but locations and performers have still to be published.
If island hopping to attend several music festivals in a row gets your festival juices flowing, you'll find it easy enough to get from Catania to the islands. All you have to do is jump on a train from Catania to Messina, it takes about an hour, then catch the hydrofoil or ferry to the islands.
While there are no music festivals as such at the villa, the front of the Villa Bellini in the Bellini gardens in Catania is a frequently chosen spot for outdoor summer concerts by top artists of all music genres.
The concerts are usually for one night only so it's a good idea to keep an eye on the villa's official events webpage to see who's headlining when you're visiting Sicily. It could be someone you've never heard of or it could be someone like the Black Eyed Peas who will be on the stage there at the end of July.
If it's a group or performer you want to see, don't delay in getting your tickets as seating is limited and tickets sell out fast.
Ricci Weekender - Mercati Generali
The Ricci Weekender is a three-day event that takes place in the southern suburbs of Catania from the 9th to the 11th of September at the Mercati Generali.
The Mercati Generali is a special events venue in the Contrado Junghetto neighborhood of Catania. This series of Catania concerts takes place on a stage inside a high-walled patio among a forest of palm trees strung with lights. It's the perfect backdrop for this mega-laid-back event which is as much about Sicily's gastronomic culture as it is music. The nightly live music performances, mostly in the jazz genre, are accompanied by food and wine tasting sessions. There are also relaxed afternoon sessions held in the gardens of the venue which have fantastic views of the Sicilian countryside.
Aside from the Ricci Weekender, the Mercati Generali also has a full summer and winter concert program. The summer program takes place between May and October when the performances showcase Italian and international jazz artists. The winter program runs from November through to the end of April. In winter the events are held inside a renovated stone-walled mill on the property.
Catania Tango Festival
The 11th to the 16th of August is when the melancholy strains of tango music can be heard just about everywhere on the streets of Catania including in the Piazza Duomo.
The six-day-long Catania Tango Festival is a massive celebration of the music and dance that originated in the slums of Buenos Aires and then spread around the world. The festival begins with a presentation of the participants outside of the Palazzo degli Elefanti in the Piazzo Duomo before everyone heads to the Ciminiere Amphitheater where the milongas will be held.
Throughout the festival, there are live music performances both indoors and out at various locations in the city from top tango ensembles. There are also workshops, seminars, and master classes for those who want to perfect their tango. It's serious stuff, so if you have two left feet, forget trying to get involved. To attend even the lowest level workshop, you need to have been practicing tango for at least a year with a professional tango teacher.
Entrance tickets plus information on events and workshops can be obtained from the information desk at the Hotel Plaza on Viale Ruggero di Lauria.
One Day Music Festival
No, you won't be able to make the One Day Music Festival in Catania in 2022 as it's already over and done with. What you can do though is start planning a trip to Sicily for 2023 because this festival is a truly amazing way to kick off your summer.
The One Day Music Festival is an annual event held at the beginning of May, usually the first Sunday of the month, right on the sands of Catania Beach. There's plenty of space for the crowds that gather as the beach is over 11 miles (18km) long. The festival doesn't spread out quite that far, though, or you'd never hear the music. You can see Mount Etna from here, which makes this beach party a little more surreal than any other beach party you might go to.
The festival is held in front of the Afrobar, a beachfront nightclub that sponsors the event, and lasts for an incredible 24 hours straight with sets from DJs and bands. Yes, you'll need some staying power for this one as dancing on the sand can be pretty hard work, but when you start to tire, you can head for a quick swim or float and still hear the beat. Does it end with a fireworks display finale? You'll just have to go in 2023 to find out.
Planning To Spend Some More Days In Catania?
When you have three days in Catania, you won't mind so much if your visit is interrupted by hundreds of locals dressed in traditional costumes parading through the streets in honor of the city's patron saint or the Virgin Mary as you'll still have time to do other things.
In all honesty, local fiestas, especially ones held during Easter week, are often a great chance to get involved in the culture and history of a place and try some of the typical cuisines that always pop up as some of the best street food in Catania at these events. Catania can keep you busy well beyond concerts and food, with plenty of exciting local museums and fantastic shopping locations.
Whatever concert or festival you attend in Catania you can guarantee it'll be in a spectacular setting. A Greek-Roman amphitheater, a magnificent villa, the patio of a renovated mill, a beach with views of Mount Etna, or on a boat off the coast of a volcanic island; the locations are all incredible. What more could you possibly ask for?