Ciao! Come to an Italian-American Festival This Year

Celebrate Italian American Heritage Across the US

Italian Heratege Ethnic street procession, Little Italy feast of the Assumption, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Douglas Sacha / Getty Images

Italian-Americans pay tribute to their ethnic culture and their country in so many ways all year long. They have a good deal to be thankful for. And so does America.

More than 5.4 million emigrated to the United States from 1820 to 1992 in search of a better life. Today there are more than 26 million ethnic Italians living in the United States, making them the country's fifth-largest ethnic group. And they love to hold festivals nearly every month of the year, just as Italians do in Italy.

The Italian American Contribution

Many of these festivals focus on the cuisine that Italian-Americans have contributed to the American culinary patchwork; Italian-American heritage organizations often take the opportunity in October to introduce members and others to regional Italian cuisines, which go far beyond pasta.

Others celebrate the great art of Italy, from Michelangelo to Leonardo da Vinci. Or the great Italian innovators who have profoundly shaped American history, like explorer Christopher Columbus and geographer Amerigo Vespucci.

The Italian American Festivals

It's easy to find an Italian heritage festival. Many coincide with Columbus Day—also known as Indigenous People’s Day—and National Italian American Heritage month in October, but there are spring and summer Italian festivals as well. If you can't make it to a festival, you can still visit Little Italy in a city near you. 

Here are some great places to find Italy in the United States: the joyful, delicious Italian-American festivals held every year from March through October.

01 of 10

St. Joseph's Day Parade - New Orleans

St Joseph Altar, New Orleans

Bart Everson/CC BY 2.0

March: St. Joseph's Day is celebrated in New Orleans in early March. There's a parade organized by the Italian-American Marching Club, and St. Joseph's altars are erected around the city.

02 of 10

Memphis Italian Festival - Memphis

Memphis Italian Festival

Memphis Italian Festival 

May: The Memphis Italian Festival is usually the last weekend of May and there's always plenty of amazing and unexpected Italian food on hand, as well as concerts, cooking demos, and carnival rides.

03 of 10

North Beach Festival - San Francisco

Blessing of the animals at the North Beach Festival

North Beach Festival

June: The North Beach Festival, usually the second or third weekend of June, is held in San Francisco's best-known Italian neighborhood. The festival itself is said to be the oldest urban street fair in the country. Activities include food stalls, arts and crafts vendors, live entertainment, street painting, a blessing of the animals and a kids' play area.

04 of 10

Venetian Night and Boat Parade - Chicago

July: Chicago's Venetian Night is a beautiful nighttime boat parade, modeled after boat parades in Venice itself. The parade culminates with a fireworks show.

Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10

Feast of the Assumption - Cleveland

Feast of the Assumption parade, Cleveland

 Erik Drost/Wikimedia Commons

August: In Italy, the feast of the Assumption, on August 15, is a huge holiday. And Cleveland, where there's a substantial Italian American population, celebrates Feast of the Assumption with a major festival.

06 of 10

San Gennaro Festival - New York City

Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy, New York

Jazz Guy/CC by 2.0 

September: This is the biggest festival in New York's Little Italy – a 10-day celebration of San Gennaro. With food stands, entertainment, and a cannoli-eating contest, it's the most famous Italian American celebration in America.

07 of 10

Italian Heritage Parade - San Francisco

October: San Francisco's Italian Heritage Parade, held in North Beach on the second Monday in October, has been going on since 1868 and is apparently the nation's oldest Italian Heritage Parade. (New York, did you hear that?)

08 of 10

Columbus Italian Festival - Columbus

October: Columbus, Ohio celebrates big on Columbus Day weekend, with a 3-day Italian Festival.

Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

"Columbus Day" Parade

October: Again with New York? Yes, this time it's NYC's annual "Columbus Day" parade, with around 1 million spectators and tens of thousands of marchers.

10 of 10

Italian Film Festivals

Fall: Italian film festivals are held throughout the year both in the United States and other parts of the world. The top Italian film festivals outside Italy tend to be held at this time of year.