The Feast of San Gennaro, also known as the San Gennaro Festival, is an Italian festival held in the Little Italy neighborhood of New York City. Here are all the details about when the 2023 San Gennaro festival will take place, where it’s held, and some of the best foods to try.
The festival celebrates Saint Gennaro, who was the Bishop of Benevento, Italy, a city outside Naples. During the persecution of Christians at that time, he was beheaded in 305 A.D. His body remains in Naples, where locals still honor him.
Italian immigrants began settling throughout the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the early 1900s. Those from Naples settled mostly on Mulberry Street. And in 1926 they began a block party to honor their patron Saint. What began as a one-day party has now grown into an 11-day street festival.
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When is the Feast of San Gennaro 2023
The 2023 San Gennaro festival in NYC runs from Thursday, September 14 through Sunday, September 24th. Vendors open for business at 11:30 am every day and close at 11pm during the week and midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.
The Grand Procession occurs at 2pm on Saturday, September 16th.
Where is the NYC Feast of San Gennaro Held
The San Gennaro vendors set up on Mulbury St in the heart of Manhattan’s Little Italy, between Houston and Canal. It also extends west a block or two on Grand and Hester Streets.
Mulberry Street will be blocked off and traffic around the area can make travel by car slow. So I recommend taking the subway. To get there by subway, take the 6 local train to Spring Street and walk one block east. But the Prince St stop on the R, W is close, as is the Canal St stop.
to Spring St, then walk one block east
to Prince St
to Canal St
What to Eat at the Feast of San Gennaro
Mulberry Street is lined with vendors selling food. Here are some of the foods you’ll generally find at them.
- Zeppole: These are a staple of the NYC San Gennaro festival. They are deep fried dough balls covered in powdered sugar. They are often served in a paper bag, and you are guaranteed to get powdered sugar all over your shirt.
- Cannoli: Sicilian tube-shaped pastries filled with a sweet cream filling containing ricotta. There is even a cannoli eating contest sponsored by Ferrara Bakery, often regarded as having the best cannoli in Little Italy.
- Italian Sausage & Pepper Sandwiches: The sausages are often long spirals that they cut and serve on a sub roll. Get one with plenty of peppers and onions.
- Gelato: Italian style ice cream
Best Italian Cafes in Little Italy
The restaurants along Mulberry Street will have areas set up for outdoor dining and cocktails. So, you can sit down for a full meal or just grab a Peroni, Aperol Spritz, or Italian wine and then wander through the San Gennaro food vendors. But here are two of the best cafes in Little Italy to check out.
Ferrara Bakery & Cafe
Ferrara Bakery might be regarded has having the best cannoli in Little Italy, but don’t miss all the other Italian pastries and cookies. They have been around since 1892. They are also holding a cannoli eating contest this year.
The Best Pizza in Little Italy
While there are plenty of Italian restaurants in Little Italy, there are generally two places for pizza that stand out above the rest.
Lombardi’s has perhaps the most famous pizza in New York City, as it’s the oldest pizzeria in the United States. Gennaro Lombardi began making pizza here in 1905 using his training in Naples. He is largely credited with developing New York style pizza.
Lombardi’s is quite touristy these days (although Little Italy itself is quite touristy). Pizza here is a bit expensive, and many other pizza shops have opened over the years that locals prefer. But I still think the pizza here is very good and recommend coming here when you’re in NYC.