There’s more to Little Italy’s San Gennaro festival than cannolis — like sausage and peppers, meatballs and zeppoles, too.
This year marks the 90th anniversary of the 11-day feast that brings more than one million tourists and locals downtown, donning red, green and white.
The festival is historic for Italian immigrants and the Society of San Gennaro, who first took to the Manhattan streets in 1926 to honor the Roman Catholic patron saint of Naples, Saint Januarius.
The event is a tradition brought to America from Italy. It celebrates the miracle of Januarius’ blood, which is saved in a vial in the Naples Cathedral and liquefies three times each year, including Sept. 19, Januarius' saint day. It’s an occurrence known to be a miracle by millions who gather in Italy to watch and in Manhattan to celebrate, said John Fratta, whose great grandfather was the first president of the Society of San Gennaro.
The Figli di San Gennaro (children of San Gennaro), a nonprofit organization composed of locals and founding family members, have organized the feast since 1996.
Although faith is at the root of the event, it’s well-known for its Italian eats. The fest holds a cannoli-eating contest annually, with pastries provided by Ferrara Bakery. To honor the 90th anniversary, there will also be a meatball-eating contest at this year’s event, Fratta, a member of the Figli di San Gennaro, said.
The full event lineup, which Fratta said will also include an Opera night, has not yet been announced.
When: Thursday, Sept. 15 to Sunday, Sept. 25; Sundays through Thursdays, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, 11:30 a.m. to midnight.
Where: The feast runs along Mulberry Street, between Canal and Hudson streets, and on Grand Street, between Mott and Baxter streets.