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What Is an Italian Festival?

By Bethany Keene
Updated: May 17, 2024

An Italian festival is an event that celebrates Italian history and culture, and is open to everyone to enjoy, not just Italians. Typically, it will last for an entire day or even a few days, and will include a great deal of Italian food as well as music and entertainment. Italian festivals do not just take place in Italy; they occur in different regions of the world, typically in communities where a number of Italians live. Cultural festivals like these can be a great way to have fun, eat delicious food, and learn about other people.

In many cases, these types of cultural festivals will take place right on the streets of a city. This allows visitors to walk around the city and visit different street vendors or purchase souvenirs. An Italian festival might also take place in a large venue; festivals that include music will typically include a main stage under a large tent, or possibly a parade. Frequently, cultural festivals take place outdoors, and as a result are popular in the spring and summer months. Looking in local magazines and newspapers is the best way to find out where and when these festivals will be taking place.

The food is often the central point of an Italian festival. Most will include dozens of different vendors offering different foods to try, as well as items to take home. For instance, in addition to getting a hot meal, visitors to an Italian festival might be able to purchase fresh cheeses, herbs and spices, or homemade sauces and meats to take home for later, similar to a farmer's market. Fancy coffees and beverages are also often available at an Italian festival, and many people will spend the whole day simply sampling different foods.

Of course, the cultural events are another very important and fun aspect of an Italian festival. Music and entertainment are two of the most common examples of festival entertainment; there will typically different performers throughout the day, singing, playing musical instruments, or dancing to traditional Italian music. For kids, games and activities are often provided, as well as things like face-painting. Since these festivals are also attempting to celebrate Italian heritage, people may be able to trace the history of their last name, and receive take-home histories of their family to display. There are typically plenty of opportunities for shopping for souvenirs at an Italian festival as well, making it a fun day for the whole family.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Spotiche5 — On Jan 09, 2015

@ocelot60- I have been to several Italian festivals in different cities. Though each one was different, they were all great events with plenty of ethnic foods for visitors to enjoy.

Most of these types of festivals are put on by organizers who want to keep them authentic. That is why Italian festivals typically offer any type of Italian food you can imagine. Though most festivals focus on typical fair food like fries and cotton candy, you can expect any Italian festival that you attend to offer Italian favorites like pizza, paninis, pastas, and ethnic desserts like cannolis and Tiramasu.

By Ocelot60 — On Jan 08, 2015

I noticed that there is an Italian festival in a city about an hour from where I live, but I've never been to it. I'm wondering if it is worth the trip, and if there is likely to be the types of Italian foods mentioned in this article.

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