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Best things to do in Rome in May 2024

A local's guide to the best events and things to do in Rome in May.

May is one of the best times to visit Rome as spring is in full bloom and temperatures become warmer (despite a rainy start to the month), with many events moving outdoors. Here are some tips for the best things to do in Rome in May 2024.

Primo Maggio concert

Primo Maggio concert stage


May kicks off with Labour Day, or the Festa del Lavoro, a public holiday in Italy. Rome will mark the event with a free concert or "concertone" at the Circus Maximus. The line-up of Italian acts includes Geolier, Achil­le Lau­ro, Rose Villain, Morgan, Mahmood, Ultimo, Ariete and Piero Pelù. The Primo Maggio concert begins at 15.00 and lasts until around midnight. Rain is expected.


Free Museums Sunday

Capitoline Museums. Photo Wanted in Rome.


State museums and archaeological sites in Rome and across Italy will open for free on Sunday 5 May. The free landmark sites in the capital range from the Capitoline Museums to Palazzo Altemps while a new entry on the list is the Museo Forma Urbis where visitors can walk across a glass floor over the surviving fragments of a famed marble map of ancient Rome.


Italian Open

Italian Open at the Foro Italico. Photo credit: FRANCESCO PANUNZIO / Shutterstock.com.


Rome hosts the 81st edition of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, also known as the Italian Open, with the world's top tennis stars battling it out at the Foro Italico from 6-19 May. Ahead of the prestigious tennis event, the city has set up a red clay court in Piazza del Popolo where the public can watch pre-qualifying men's and women's games twice a day - at 11.00 and 15.00 - until 4 May.


Race for the Cure

Race for the Cure. Photo credit: Angelo Cordeschi / Shutterstock.com.


The Komen Race for the Cure takes place on the streets of central Rome on Sunday 12 May to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer. The charity sporting event is divided into three categories: a non-competitive 5-km run; a 2-km walk; and a competitive 5-km race. The main event is preceded by a three-day festival of health and fitness workshops, family activities and free medical screening at the Race Village in the Circus Maximus.


Spanish Steps in full bloom

Azaleas on the Spanish Steps. Photo Wanted in Rome.


Visitors to the Spanish Steps will be able to enjoy one of Rome's most spectacular spring traditions: hundreds of flowering azaleas decorate the historic staircase linking Piazza di Spagna with the church of Trinità de’ Monti. However the azaleas may not remain in place for too long in May: once the plants cease flowering they will be returned to the city nurseries until next spring.


Rose garden

Roseto Comunale. Photo Wanted in Rome.


Another much-anticipated spring tradition in Rome is the reopening of the city's rose garden on the slopes of the Aventine Hill. Home to around 1,200 varieties of botanical, ancient and modern roses from all over the world, the Roseto Comunale can be visited every day from 08.30 to 19.30 until 16 June. Visits are free and no reservation is required.


Night of Museums

View of Trajan's Markets. Photo Wanted in Rome.


Rome's city-run museums will stay open until 02.00 on the night of Saturday 18 May as the capital celebrates Notte dei Musei or Night of Museums. The popular initiative will include free performances of live music, concerts, theatre and dance in municipal museums, from 20.00 until 02.00, with a symbolic entry fee of just €1.

 

Rose petals at the Pantheon


The spectacular tradition of rose petals fluttering down through the oculus of the Pantheon is held each year on the feast of Pentecost, which this year falls on Sunday 19 May. The unique ceremony occurs at around midday, following 10.30 Mass, when fire-fighters drop tens of thousands of rose petals 43 metres into the interior of the Pantheon. This is the first time the event takes place under the Pantheon's new ticketed entry system.


Piazza di Siena

Piazza di Siena horse jumping show. Photo: Marco Iacobucci Epp / Shutterstock.com.


The 91st edition of the Piazza di Siena horse show takes place in Rome's Villa Borghese park, both in the Piazza di Siena grounds and the Galopattoio, from 22-26 May. The prestigious five-day event, described by organisers as "the most beautiful horse show in the world", is open to the public and features the cream of international show jumpers in competition.



Giro d'Italia

Giro d'Italia ends in Rome. Photo credit: Nicola Devecchi / Shutterstock.com.


The final stage of the 107th edition of the Giro d'Italia, the cycling world's second-biggest annual stage race after the Tour de France, will be held in Rome on 26 May. Cyclists participating in the race - which will cover 3,386 km in 21 stages spread out over three weeks - will pass the finish line against the backdrop of the Colosseum, taking in many of the city's best known landmarks along the way.


For details of current and upcoming events in Rome including exhibitions, concerts, festival and opera see our What's On section. Cover image: Rose garden, photo credit: Boris-B / Shutterstock.com.

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