Italian heritage is an important part of both the Italian-American culture and American culture as a whole. There are many festivals and events that celebrate this. Although many of these center around Colombus Day and National Italian Heritage Month, both October, there are many other festivals that take place throughout the year that honor the Italian-American culture.
Italian Film Festivals
If you have a passion for the movies, then a film festival is something that you will really enjoy. These are held throughout the year in many of the major cities in the United States. These are a celebration of the best cinematography of Italia origin.
St. Joseph’s Day Parade- March
This celebration is hosted in New Orleans in March each year. St. Joseph’s Day is 19th March. While some of the celebrations take place actually on the day, others are held on the closest weekend. One tradition upheld for the festival is the erection of St. Joseph’s altars around the city. There is also a parade that is put on by the Italian-American Marching Club.
Memphis Italian Festival- May
This festival is usually held in the last weekend of May at Marquette Park. The first ever Memphis Italian Festival was held in 1989 and it is now an annual tradition. Some of the things you can expect to enjoy during the festival include Italian food stands, cooking competitions, arts and crafts, Italian wine sampling, a heritage tent, children’s games, musical arts, pizza tossing, grape stomping, volleyball and a range of displays.
Summer in Little Italy Festival
Rather than a single-day festival, this festival takes place every weekend throughout the summer months. It is hosted at Mulberry Street Pedestrian Mall in Little Italy, Manhattan. What you should expect will depend on which week you visit the area as the program of events changes each week. However, you will usually find that local eateries have opened sidewalk cafes for people to sample Italian food and drinks, music and a range of displays. There are also some special events that take place at different points during the festival. For example, the Annual Little Italy Pasta Eating Competition is an important element of this festival.
North Beach Festival- June
This is one of the largest street fairs in San Francisco and it was first held in 1954. The main stage is on the corner of Columbus and Broadway, with all other attractions in the surrounding streets. This two-day event has live music, children’s activities, food vendors, arts and crafts, Italian street painting and many more attractions. One of the highlights is the ‘blessing of the animals’ ceremony. This takes place on both afternoons in the festival.
Venetian Night and Boat Parade- July
Started in 1958, this event in Chicago is named after the boat parades in Venice. It was originally part of the Chicago Lakeside Festival, but this is now defunct. However, Venetian Night continues. Approximately 30 boats take to the waters completely decked out in lights and decorations for the celebrations. There is also live music and a firework display.
Feast of the Assumption-August
In Italy, the Feast of the Assumption is a big deal, and Cleveland shows the religious festival the same respect. Although the official date is the 15th August, the Little Italy neighborhood in Cleveland celebrates with a four-day street fair. This includes rides, a procession, live music, food stalls and lots of fun and games.
San Gennaro Festival and Feast of San Gennaro- September
These are two separate events in different cities, but both take place in September. The Feast of San Gennaro is a weekend festival in Los Angeles. The San Gennaro Festival is a larger event that lasts for ten days and takes place in, Little Italy, New York City.
These are just some of the main events that take place throughout the year in the United States to celebrate Italian heritage. There are many smaller events that take place throughout the year.