Rural Sicily is at its best in spring (April-early June) and autumn (September-October) - though be aware that the interior can be chilly. The cities move to their own rhythm, but winter is certainly an option if you want to escape the crowds. Summer (July and August) can bring scorching temperatures and packed beaches.
As life moves outdoors from June to September, Sicily's squares, ancient theatres and gardens host all manner of concerts, shows and religious and folklore events…
World Festival on the Beach, Mondello (near Palermo), mid-May
Windsurfing, kite-surfing, beach volleyball, sailing, golf, jazz and classical music.
Greek Theatre Festival, Siracusa, May to June
Open-air performances of Greek plays and tragedies in Siracusa's vast amphitheatre.
Taormina Arte, Taormina, June to late August
A series of open-air performances in Taormina's ancient Greek theatre, including dance, theatre and rock, jazz and classical music concerts (past appearances include Sting and the Bolshoi Ballet). It kicks off in June with the star-studded Taormina Film Festival.
Kals'Art, Palermo, mid-July to mid-September
A 2-month open-air celebration in the city's Kalsa quarter, which has gone from strength to strength since its 2003 inauguration. It covers music (mostly ethnic, jazz and emerging local pop bands), cinema (open-air screenings, mostly in Italian), theatre (daily performances in Italian during the middle fortnight of the festival) and art (mostly modern). There's also an open-door policy on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings to all the churches and other historic buildings within the Kalsa quarter.
Verdura Festival, Palermo, July
Pop, rock and jazz gigs take over the Teatro Massimo during the summer months. Recent performers include Chick Corea, Caetano Veloso, Simple Minds and Gianna Nannini.
Santa Rosalia Festival, Palermo, 9-15 July
Huge parades and processions through the historical centre, in memory of Palermo's patron saint who saved the city from plague 400 years ago and has been honoured annually ever since. It culminates in an evening of music and fireworks.
Kals'Art Winter, Palermo, December to early January
Classical music concerts in churches around the city, plus fairy-tale street lighting.
Other events include 'Church Music at Monreale' (late October to early November), a pilgrimage to Monte Pellegrino (4 September) and 'Il Genio di Palermo' contemporary art exhibitions (late May).
NB, please do not rely solely on this information for your travel planning.
SICILY: BY AIR
From the UK: carriers include British Airways, easyJet, Air Malta, TUI and
Within Europe: try Meridiana, Germanwings, Aer Lingus, easyJet, Brussels Airlines, Transavia, Windjet, Lufthansa, Air Berlin, Lux Air, Helvetic and Ryanair.
BY CAR: Driving is the easiest way to get around Sicily. See our car rental recommendations.
BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Rail services link most larger towns and cities - the most useful for tourists are Palermo-Catania, Messina-Catania, and Catania to Siracusa and on to Modica and Ragusa. Note that services can be infrequent and slow. For more information see Seat 61.