The Feast of San Gennaro: What You Need to Know

NYC's feast of all feasts has returned to Little Italy, and it will run from September 14th - 24th!

Where is The Feast of San Gennaro?

The Festival takes place on and around Mulberry Street between Canal and Houston Streets.

Each year, the vibrant streets of New York City's Little Italy come alive with the sights, sounds, and flavors of the Feast of San Gennaro. It’s more than just a festival – it’s a testament to the enduring spirit and contributions of the Italian-American community. But what exactly is the Feast of San Gennaro, and why has it captured the hearts of so many? Here’s everything you need to know.

The Feast of San Gennaro traces its roots back to Naples, Italy. San Gennaro, or Saint Januarius, is the patron saint of Naples. According to tradition, during a period of persecution of Christians in the early fourth century, San Gennaro was beheaded for his faith. Miraculously, a small amount of his blood which was saved has been known to liquefy on his feast days, a phenomenon that still draws pilgrims to Naples' cathedral.

Photo: [littleny] ©

While the religious observance of San Gennaro’s feast day has been held in Naples for centuries, the celebration made its way to New York in 1926. Italian immigrants in Manhattan's Little Italy started the feast as a one-day religious commemoration. Today, it has grown into an 11-day event featuring religious processions, parades, live music, and a variety of vendors and entertainers.

The Heart of the Festival: Mulberry Street

The main activities and stalls are set up along Mulberry Street. Here, visitors can indulge in a plethora of Italian delicacies – think cannoli, zeppole, sausage and peppers, and fresh mozzarella stands. The tantalizing aroma that wafts through the streets is enough to make anyone's mouth water!

Amidst the entertainment and food, the religious aspect of the festival remains at its core. A religious procession featuring the statue of San Gennaro is a highlight, with devotees pinning money to the statue as an offering and act of devotion.

Photo: [littleny] ©

The Cannoli-Eating Contest

While there are many attractions, one of the most anticipated events at the Feast of San Gennaro is the cannoli-eating contest. Contestants race against the clock to consume as many of these delicious pastries as they can, adding a fun and light-hearted spirit to the festivities.

Beyond the food and religious ceremonies, the Feast of San Gennaro offers visitors an immersive experience into Italian-American culture. From live performances of traditional Italian songs to puppet shows and storytelling, there's something for everyone.

Tips for Visitors

If you plan on attending:

Arrive early to avoid the biggest crowds, especially on weekends.

Wear comfortable shoes; you'll be walking a lot!

Bring cash. While some vendors might accept cards, many operate cash-only stalls.

Respect the religious processions and ceremonies. Remember, for many, this is a deeply spiritual event.

The Feast of San Gennaro serves as a beautiful bridge between the old and the new, a celebration of faith, culture, and community. Whether you're drawn to it for the food, the history, or the religious significance, there's no denying its magnetic allure. It's a testament to the enduring spirit of the Italian-American community and a tradition that continues to thrive nearly a century later.