LifestyleTimeless tradition. Italy's oldest carnival in Putignano turns 630, attracting tourists worldwide

Timeless tradition. Italy's oldest carnival in Putignano turns 630, attracting tourists worldwide

Parade during the famous carnival in Putignano in 2020.
Parade during the famous carnival in Putignano in 2020.
Images source: © Getty Images | Davide Pischettola/NurPhoto

12:09 PM EST, December 27, 2023

The longest-running Italian Carnival in Putignano in Apulia is 630 years old. Its festivities began on the second day of Christmas, December 26, and will run until Shrove Tuesday, which falls on February 13 next year.

A tradition stretching back centuries

The year was 1394. The Saracens were invading the coasts of Apulia. Among the local people, fear of plunder was proliferating. The local authorities decided to safeguard what was most precious there - the relics of their first martyr's patron, St. Stephen, which until then had been kept in the abbey in Monopoli.

From this coastal town, the relics were moved inland to Putignano. This move took place on December 26, the feast day of St. Stephen. According to legend, the solemn ceremony of moving the relics mingled the sacred with the secular as entertainment, dances, and satirical songs accompanied it. This marked the birth of the carnival in this town.

The 2024 version of Putignano's Carnival started on Tuesday, December 26, with a morning rite asking for the local church's forgiveness for the forthcoming frolics and raunchy jokes. Throughout its duration, tourists from various countries worldwide travel to the quaint towns of this region to partake in the celebrations, parades, planned shows, and parties.

The famous Carnival of Putignano

One of the pinnacle events of this year's inauguration will be a competition between eight groups of comedians in historical attire. They will duel for the title of sharpest irony in the local dialect.

This most enduring carnival in Italy, at the same time one of the oldest in Europe, ranks among the Apulia region's main attractions, drawing numerous tourists from all over the globe.

One of the performances during the carnival in 2020.
One of the performances during the carnival in 2020.© Getty Images | Davide Pischettola/NurPhoto
Related content