Happening now through September 18th, The Feast of San Gennaro is the US incarnation of the centuries-old San Gennaro Festival in Naples, Italy, and has been a popular – and free – New York food and cultural festival since 1926.
During the celebration, Little Italy’s Mulberry Street is almost entirely taken over during the Feast of San Gennaro, turning into a temporary pedestrian thoroughfare with street vendors pedaling everything from sausages to carnival-style games. More than 35 of Little Italy's most famous Italian restaurants roll out the red carpet for Feast visitors, and many provide outdoor dining facilities for the event, offering a variety of Italian specialty foods and pastries. Some restaurants even have strolling musicians to entertain their customers.
In addition, there are more than 200 street vendors who set up shop along the Festival Streets selling a wide variety of goods and merchandise, including international foods, official Little Italy souvenir items and boutique merchandise including jewelry and clothing. The Feast also has a number of arcade games as well as many fun activities for the younger members of the family, including carnival rides.
Visitors to the 2014 Feast of San Gennaro can also check out a cannoli eating contest, a series of religious ceremonies – including a procession of priests blessing all the area’s shops and eateries – and consume more zeppole (fried dough with sugar) than they ever imagined possible.
Apart from hosting the eating contests, the stage also features regular live bands at the Feast of San Gennaro 2014, ranging from Italian folk and opera to rock and doo wop to old standards. There will be musical entertainment to satisfy all tastes, ranging from Italian folk songs and opera, to rock 'n roll and doo wop to old standards. There will also be live radio broadcasts from this stage during the feast on Saturday, September 13 (WCBSFM program hosted by Joe Causi) and on Saturday, September 20, (Sirius XM Radio program hosted by Bruce Morrow (Cousin Brucie). Unless otherwise noted, the stage will be active most nights until 9 p.m. The performances and demonstrations will be held on the Fiat Performance Stage located at the intersection of Grand and Mott Streets in the heart of Little Italy.
Although it is free to attend the 2014 Feast of San Gennaro, donations are encouraged, as proceeds go to a number of local charities. Food and drink prices vary at the individual restaurants and vendors, though it shouldn’t be hard for anyone to (over) fill up without breaking the bank.
The beloved Feast of San Gennaro is an annual celebration of the Patron Saint of Naples. The first Feast in New York City took place on September 19, 1926 when newly arrived immigrants from Naples settled along Mulberry Street in the Little Italy section of New York City and decided to continue the tradition they had followed in Italy to celebrate the day in 305 A.D. when Saint Gennaro was martyred for the faith. Since that time, the Feast of San Gennaro has bloomed into an 11-day event in mid-September, with lots of food and drink, music, a colorful parade, marching bands, and more.
The continued growth of the Feast over the past ten years has enabled Figli di San Gennaro, Inc. to donate more than $1.8-million to worthy causes providing valuable services for children and education in the Little Italy community and beyond. At the conclusion of each annual Feast, sizeable donations are distributed to scores of worthy organizations in all five boroughs and the tri-state area to help the needy and the young. No other public festival donates more money to charity than does the Feast of San Gennaro.