The fair, which attracts around 150,000 people each year, takes place in the historic centre of Aosta and around its Roman walls, in honour of Saint Ursus.
On January 30 and 31 each year, more than 700 woodcarvers from all over the valley gather to display their works along the winding streets and present an item to the saint at the collegiate church of Saint Ursus.
In the Middle Ages, the fair took place in the “Borgo di Aosta”, the area surrounding the church.
Legend has it that it all began opposite the church, where the saint, who was of Irish origins but lived in Aosta during the sixth century, apparently used to help the poor by giving out clothes and sabot, the typical wooden clogs visitors can still find at the fair today.
You’ll also find old-fashioned tools and machinery, sculptures, wood and stone carvings, textiles, masks, toys, and other items made from copper and wrought iron, creating an atmosphere of what life might have been like in a village in the Aosta Valley a millennium ago.
The fair is not only a celebration of the creativity and industriousness of mountain people, but also a popular event during which the peculiar characteristics of the identity of the valley’s population are revealed.
A visit to the fair is an extraordinary, unforgettable, intensely emotional experience, because the craftsmen present are there less for commercial reasons than out of a desire to venture outside their workshops in search of contact with visitors able to appreciate creativity and quality craftsmanship, deriving from a tradition stretching back centuries.
The fair is also about music, folklore and a chance to taste the traditional gourmet products and wines.
In the food and wine pavilion, visitors can taste the typical flavours of the Aosta Valley and local street food.
At information points around the town, you will also find the menus of local restaurants preparing regional dishes.
The highlight of the fair is the Veillà, on the night between January 30 and 31, when the streets are bustling until dawn.
Locals open their cellars to visitors and musicians and singers roam the narrow streets entertaining the crowds.
Food, music and tradition in a magical mountainous wonderland ... what more could you want?!