In the Veneto Region (Po Valley, Northeastern Italy) on the eve of Epiphany, an important religious celebration, during the night between January 5th and 6th thousands of folk fires traditionally burn wooden material. The object of this study is to characterize the 2013 episode, bymonitoring the effects on the air quality in the region's lowlands. The daily concentrations ofPM2.5 and PM10 exceeded 250 and 300 μg m−3, respectively and the PM10 hourly values were above 600 μg m−3 in many sites. The levels of total carbon, major inorganic ions, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and biomass burning tracers (levoglucosan and K+)weremeasured in 84 samples of PM10 and 38 of PM2.5 collected at 32 sites between January 4th and 7th. Total carbon ranged from 11 μg m−3 before the pollution episode to 131 μg m−3 a day afterwards, K+ from 0.6 to 5.1 μg m−3, benzo(a)pyrene from 2 to 23 ng m−3, and levoglucosan from 0.5 to 8.3 μg m−3. The dispersion of the particulate matter was traced by analyzing the levels of PM10 and PM2.5 in 133 and 51 sites, respectively, in the Veneto and neighboring regions. In addition to biomass burning the formation of secondary inorganic aerosol was revealed to be a key factor on a multivariate statistical data processing. By providing direct information on the effects of an intense and widespread biomass burning episode in the Po Valley, this study also enables some general considerations on biomass burning practices.