Belly Dance

Etna Belly Dance Festival. Sicily Italy

Valeria from Tremestieri

Valeria Lo Iacono, a belly dancer from Tremestieri, on the Etna in Sicily.

When: February annually.

Where: Catania, Sicily.

One of the most popular annual belly dance events which takes place in Italy now, is the Etna Belly Dance Festival, a show which has gained widespread popularity in the last few years.

Normally taking place at the start of each year, most often in February, this 3 day festival brings together many professional standard teachers and is an event which is worth attending, no matter what your level of ability, i.e. is worth intermediate and advanced dancers attending. The event is organised by the dancer Daniela Russo Hunaida and has developed into an event which includes over thirty workshops. The event also includes a bazaar (where you can buy belly dance clothing, accessories and also try a mix of Northern African and Sicilian foods), a competition and the chance to mix with dancers from around the world. This event atttracts visitors from the US, UK, Australia and from a number of other countries.

Sicily makes a particularly interesting location given the Northern African influences which have shaped parts of Sicilian culture over the centuries, with Sicily located relatively close to the tip of Northern Africa. Countries such as Tunisia and Morocco have influenced Sicily and foods such as cous-cous, sorbets and granitas are common in Sicily.

Visiting this show also makes for a great way to combine a belly dance festival with a holiday. Take the chance to go up the Etna to the old craters, visit the stunning cliff top town of Taormina and pop down in Catania for shopping, taking the chance to buy Italian brand names, whilst in Italy.

What to Expect

A number of well known names from the world belly dance community attend this show to teach the workshops and these, in recent years, have included:

  • Tito Seif (from Egypt)
  • Sonia Ochoa (from California, USA)
  • Perla Elias Nemer (from Lebanon)
  • Julia Torgoska (from Ukraine)
  • Catherine Mancera (from Germany)
  • Khaled Seif (who used to train under the choreographer Hassan Afifi).

Location and Accommodation

BOOK and STAY in the hotel which is also the festival venue!


Another cheaper and close alternative hotel is:

  • AGA Hotel – located at Viale Ruggero Di Lauria 43, it is a close distance from the venue.

Tito Seif Video – One of the Regulars

Flights to Sicily

lt really depends of course where you are flying from, as to the price and airline it is best to choose. You can though fly direct straight into Catania International Airport and you can normally connect from Milan or Rome if you are coming from USA, Canada, Australia or some other distant location. From a country such as the UK, Easyjet are normally the best option, because they offer direct flights from airport such as London Gatwick and from Luton airports, with flight time around 2 hours 30 minutes and with the most competitive prices. British Airways also fly direct and from London, but tend to be more costly. Germanwings, Meridiana, Vueling and Alitalia can also be worth checking.

Etna dance festival

Other Things To Do

There are so many wonderful things to do and see in Sicily, that I highly recommend allowing a few days after the event to see and explore some of the local region. If you have made the effort to come to Sicily, why not take advantage of the opportunity to sample a little of Sicily itself. Some very good tours I can recommend, having tried each of them in the past, are:

  • Sicilian Cooking class
  • Mount Etna Tour, which also includes a visit at the Alcantara river gorges, famous for its canyons with beautiful basaltic stone formations.
  • In Catania centre, the fish market is a great photo opportunity and worth seeing, and there is also a very good day market which takes place in the centre.
  • Visit the local town of Taormina to visit the Greek theatre and the quaint clifftop town.
  • Visit Acireale, a quaint Baroque town near Catania, famous for its ice cream and for its Mardi Gras parades (Carnevale in Italian) that take place around February / March every year.
  • Another attraction worth seeing around Catania, is the Villa del Casale with its still very well preserved Roman mosaics. Find out more about the tour to Agrigento Temples and Villa del Casale.

More Information

Where is Catania, Sicily

In case you are wondering exactly where Catania is and where Sicily is, the map below reveals all. Sicily is just north of the island of Malta and is North East of the African coast. The island of Sicily is at the bottom of Italy and is a short boat ride from the Italian mainland. You can fly straight onto Sicily though direct to Catania airport.

catania map

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Valeria is a dance researcher completing a PhD in dance and heritage. Valeria also teaches and performs as a belly dance but also enjoys learning ballet, jazz dance and other dance genres.

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