Travel, USA, Weekend Activities

The NYC Feast of San Gennaro 2021

Starting the second Thursday in the month of September, lasting 10 days, The Feast of San Gennaro is a fun event to attend. If you’re ever in New York City around mid to late September, be sure to stop by and experience all that the feast has to offer! This is another fun fall activity to do in New York City and it’s completely free to attend.

The Feast of San Gennaro is an annual festival which celebrates the life of San Gennaro of Naples. You can read more about his history here. Thousands of people flock to Mulberry St. in Little Italy to celebrate San Gennaro and enjoy wonderful Italian food.

There’s tons of street food vendors selling delicious food, desserts, and more. Plus, there’s games and rides for kids as well. And I can’t forget about the amazing Italian restaurants that line the street! I mean, it’s a feast after all. You can’t go to a feast, especially this one, without trying the food options.

Getting To The Feast

On Sunday, September 26th, my family and I went to The Feast of San Gennaro in Manhattan. It’s tradition for us to go to the festival every year. We didn’t go last year because COVID prevented the feast from occurring. But we were so happy to be able to attend this year.

The journey from Staten Island took us about an hour and thirty minutes. It takes a while when you’re using public transportation. My siblings enjoyed the journey because it’s not often they get to take the ferry or train.

The Staten Island Ferry

From Staten Island, we had to take the bus to the ferry which was about 40 minutes altogther. It normally doesn’t take that long but since it was Sunday, the buses didn’t run as often, so we had to wait a while for one. Luckily, we managed to catch the ferry right as the doors opened. The ferry takes about 30 minutes to get from Staten Island to Manhattan.

Once we docked in the city, we had to take the “R” train. The train took about 17 minutes to arrive at our stop, which was Whitehall South Ferry. When it did arrive, it took about 10 minutes to get from South Ferry to Canal St. From Canal St., you have to walk towards Little Italy, which is about four to five blocks away from the subway.

It doesn’t take that long to walk there. It’s usually the crowded conditions that slow you down.

Mulberry St. – The Feast of San Gennaro

Arriving At The Fest

You can tell where the feast is the minute you see Mulberry St. The street is blocked off to cars with blue barriers. Once you turn the corner, you see the street vendors and all the glorious food. Not only do you see the vendors but hundreds of people walking up and down the street. Trust me, you’ll know you’re there when you see it.

Pizza, Italian sausage and peppers, cookies, pasta, fried Oreos, zeppoles (Italian donuts), is normally sold at the fest. When you visit the festival, you have to try some of the food! Whether it’s from a restaurant or a street vendor, you won’t regret it.

Near the entrance to the feast is the statue of San Gennaro, whom the feast is names after. People pin money to the cloth under the statue and pay their respects. Some people pray over in this section. You don’t have to do this but the option is there. My mom did this but neither myself or my siblings did. We’re not as religious as our mother.

Mulberry St. – The Feast of San Gennaro

Walking Down Mulberry St.

If you’ve ever walked in Manhattan before, then you’ll know how packed and crowded it can be. Well, multiply that by 5 and have everyone walking down a small, narrow street. That sums up walking through The Feast of San Gennaro.

You literally have to walk like a penguin through the crowd. It’s not uncommon for people to cut in front of you, bump into you, or outright push you. Be prepared when visiting this place.

However, because of COVID there didn’t seem to be as many people like in previous years. For the most part, my family and I managed to walk through people, albeit at a very slow pace. Normally, you’d literally be taking baby steps to get through everyone.

Square pizzas at The Feast of San Gennaro

The Experience

It was just like old times. Walking down the crowded street, looking at all the marvelous food, and planning which vendor to stop at for food. My siblings wanted pizza because they were hungry, so we pit stopped at one of the pizza vendors to get them slices.

When they were done eating, we continued to walk through the crowd down Mulberry St. The oldest of my brothers, my mom, and I wanted something to eat other than pizza. While walking, my mom and I tried to look for the Italian restaurant we ate before a couple of years ago.

We couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant, so we continued to look for another place to eat. That was ok, because we found another restaurant to eat at. The food was amazing and everyone enjoyed their meals. I especially enjoyed mine with a aperol spritz.

Aperol Spritz at an Italian Restaurant in Little Italy

From there, we continued walking down Mulberry St. After a while, my brother wanted to play this basketball game at a vendor so we stopped to let him do so. He won a prize and was very happy about it.

My mom wanted all of us to take a picture on this huge chair which is normally at the festival. We’ve done that plenty of times and this time was no different. However, this year they didn’t have the big chair so my mom didn’t get her family picture.

Manhattan skyline view

The End Of The Day

We finished walking most of the length of the feast. It spans several blocks up Mulberry St. and even continues onto some side streets as well. None of my siblings wanted to play anymore games. So, my mom bought some zeppoles, Italian sausage and peppers, and Italian cookies to take back with us.

The hard part was trying to make your way back down Mulberry St., with small children, in a crowd. That’s the one, annoying thing we’ve always disliked about the feast. But when you’re in the city for a festival, you can’t really escape that.

Once we finally made our way to the end of Mulberry St., we made our way back to Canal St. to catch the subway to go back home. My siblings said they enjoyed themselves and had a good day. My mom did as well. I enjoyed spending time with my family, going to a festival, carrying on our family tradition.