This year, the 86th Annual Feast of San Gennaro is being hosted in Little Italy until Sept. 23. The holiday offers a variety of food, entertainment and events for all to enjoy. Visitors can listen to the live music and partake in fun events like the annual cannoli-eating contest, but the main attraction, as always, is the abundance of authentic Italian cuisine.
The first Feast of San Gennaro was a one-day event on Sept. 19, 1926, intended as a salute to the Patron Saint of Naples from newly arrived immigrants from Naples. Since then, the Feast has grown from an event for the Italian-immigrant community to an 11-day festival now hosted by Figli di San Gennaro, Inc. — which translates to the Children of San Gennaro — a non-profit community organization dedicated to preserving Italian culture since 1996.
The highlight of the Feast of San Gennaro is the various vendors selling every kind of Italian food, both sweet and savory. Visitors can walk around and compare cannolis, calzones, pizza, pasta and zeppoles from different vendors. This year, a vendor highly praised by both NYU students and the event staff sold Frozen-olis – cannolis with a soft-serve ice cream filling.
“[The highlight of my night was] the ice cream-filled cannolis.” Steinhardt freshman Tyler Erickson said. “I enjoyed that greatly.”
If you need a break from Italian food, there are plenty of vendors to choose from. selling fresh juices, cocktails and street food.
When asked what the best part of the Feast was, Stern freshman Jewel Wei said, “Free refills of drinks.”
If taking food on-the-go does not appeal to you, there is an extensive list of dine-in restaurants participating in the Feast, and many of them provide outdoor seating for their guests to enjoy the festive atmosphere. According to one event staffer, Il Cortile on the corner of Mulberry and Hester Sts. is “one of the best on the block”. Other Mulberry Street recommendations from the event staff included Da Gennaro and Angelo’s.
Although the main attraction of the Feast of San Gennaro is the wide variety of food, the entertainment is definitely worth checking out as well.
The Feast is not only a party for food lovers, but rather a religious celebration, and the religious component is certainly interesting. On Sept. 19, a Celebratory High Mass will be held in honor of San Gennaro in the Most Precious Blood Church on Mulberry Street. A religious procession will follow the mass, in which the Statue of San Gennaro will be carried through the streets of the Feast.
If you are stuffed with food but do not know what to do for fun, be sure to stop by the multiple musical performances, which all take place on the Feast Performance Stage at the northwest corner of Grand and Mott streets.
The food, culture, entertainment and overall atmosphere of the Feast of San Gennaro is so lively and vibrant – this Feast may just be the best of Italy, brought right here to our neighborhood.
Ami Saito is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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