For eleven days this month, the streets of Little Italy will be teeming with food, games, food, rides, food, opera, food, processions, food, power-eating contests, food, a miracle, and more food! The San Gennaro Festival returns this year on Thursday, September 14, through Sunday, September 24. Whether you’re a first-timer or a repeat attendee, there is something for everyone at this “feast of all feasts.” Just be sure to bring your appetite.


San Who?

The Feast celebrates the life of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples. Neapolitans pray to him for protection from natural disasters as their champion and universal helper. In 1926, in keeping with Neapolitan traditions, neighbors around Mulberry Street decided to have a one-day block party for their patron saint. The event continued year after year and over the decades, has become not only a staple of the New York calendar that celebrates Italian ancestry, culture, and traditions,



At the heart of the San Gennaro Feast is an exceptional display of food. Traditional savory Italian dishes like pizza, stromboli, sausage and peppers, and arancini (fried rice balls), as well as sweets like torrone, gelato, cannolis, fried rainbow cookies, and zeppoles (deep-fried dough with sugar), are among the favorites sold by food vendors at every turn. 

The Feast is also a great opportunity for local restaurants that have become neighborhood institutions like Umberto's Clam House, Puglia, and Casa D’Angelo to draw in new customers and welcome back regulars. Reservations are recommended if you can get one. And although Lombardi’s is a few blocks from the heart of the Feast, it’s worth the short walk to visit America’s first pizzeria.


O Sole Mio

In keeping with its celebration of Italian culture, the Feast features an array of musical artists who regularly take to the stage on Grand and Mott Streets to perform popular Italian standards and Neopolitan art songs. A highlight of the musical offerings each year takes place during the Enrico Caruso Opera night where classically trained singers treat the open-air audience to arias by Verdi, Puccini, Donizetti, and the like.


The Blessing and Procession

In spite of the food and festivities, the heart of the Feast is still religious. The Feast opens each year with The Blessing of the Stands where the Parish Priest goes through the streets of the festival blessing all of the stores, restaurants, and vendors for a successful feast. Floats, gondolas, marching bands, local politicians, and celebrities are always a part of the Grand Procession every year, in which the statue of San Gennaro is carried through the streets of Little Italy. A solemn high mass is celebrated on the Saint’s Feast Day each year on September 19 at Little Italy’s Shrine Church of the Most Precious Blood located at 113 Baxter Street.


A Good Omen?

According to church legend, when Gennaro was martyred in 305 AD, a devout woman collected some of his blood. The crystallized blood is taken out three times annually. Each year on the morning of September 19, a vial of 1,700-year-old blood belonging to San Gennaro is brought out. If the blood liquefies quickly, the faithful expect a period of peace and prosperity ahead. If it fails to liquefy or does so after long hours or days of prayer, they believe it is a signal of impending disaster.


On Your Mark, Get Set, Chew!

Calling all power eaters! The San Gennaro Feast is also a spot where you can test the limits of your own stomach. For a quarter of a century, festival goers have entered the famed cannoli eating contest sponsored by Ferrara’s. In recent years, a meatball eating contest and zeppole contest have joined the list of activities. A contest to see who can eat an entire pizza the fastest is the newest entry into the power-eating competition.


When & Where?

The Feast of San Gennaro takes place on Mulberry Street (Little Italy) between Canal and Houston AND on Hester between Baxter St. and Centre St. AND Grand between Baxter St. and Centre Market Place daily from September 14 through September 24.

For more information on the Feast and for a calendar of events, visit: