This directory lists 361 Italian festivals held in 45 states plus the District of Columbia this year with at least one festa each month. The directory supplies each festival’s name, month, city, state and contact information.
The directory was compiled by the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), with the assistance of Paul Porcelli.
The custom of honoring favorite saints with outdoor ceremonies was brought to America more than 100 years ago by the early Italian immigrants. The festivals vary in size and character. Some consist of only the saint’s statue, a band and a procession while others are colossal celebrations that last several days and include symphonic bands, entertainers, food stands, rides and fireworks. A familiar sight at most festivals is the saint’s statue covered with money or jewelry, later donated to the local church or saint’s society.
The oldest festival is believed to be the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Hammonton, NJ, which this year celebrates its 139th anniversary in July. The biggest festival is the Feast of San Gennaro held every September in New York City, which attracts about one million people. Large festivals can also be found in West Virginia (Wheeling’s Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival in July and Clarksburg’s Italian Heritage Festival in September) and in Wisconsin (Milwaukee’s Festa Italiana in July), among others.
According to Sons of Italy research, the five states with the most festivals are: New York (61); New Jersey (50); California (34); Pennsylvania (35); and Illinois (26). Other states with significant numbers of festivals include Massachusetts (21), Ohio (20), Connecticut (14) and Florida (14).
Italian festivals are held coast to coast. Some festivals include such traditional events as the flight of the angels (the Feast of the Madonna del Soccorso di Sciacca in Boston in August); the greased pole contest (the Feast of St. Peter in Gloucester, MA in June); and the Dance of the Lily (Festa del Giglio), in which about 100 men carry a five-ton platform through the streets for hours (in Brooklyn and East Harlem and in July and August).
To add your festival to next year’s directory, please contact the OSIA headquarters in Washington, D.C. by mail, fax, or e-mail. [No telephone calls, please]. Send the name of the festival, month held, city, state and a contact person or organization with a telephone number and/or email address. Deadline: December 15, 2016.
Sons of Italy Festival Directory
219 E Street N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002
To view a printable full copy of the directory organized by month, click here.
To view a printable full copy of the directory organized by state, click here.
Do you have a festival you would like us to add to the next directory? E-mail us!