The Houston Italian Festival — or Festa Italiana — takes place this year from Oct 12-15. It is one of the largest ethnic festivals in the city and attracts thousands of visitors from around the U.S. who come to enjoy the heritage, culture and romance of Italy.
The festival is presented by the Italian Culture & Community Center of Houston. Admission is free beginning Thursday at 5 p.m. until Friday at 4 p.m., and then admission is $8 at the gate (with discounted tickets available online).
Festival goers can taste authentic Italian food, drink Italian wine and see live music performances. There are activities for all ages, including:
- Bocce ball tournament
- Classic car show
- Cooking demonstrations
- Craft beer tastings
- Grape stomping
- Italian folk dancing
- Italian language classes
- Italian movies
- Marionette puppet shows
- Pasta eating contest
- Photography contest
- Sidewalk art contest
- Wine tastings
From Humble Beginnings to Thousands of Visitors
Houston Italians have long been proud of their cultural heritage. Festa Italiana started in 1978 as a small event at Sacred Heart Hall with Italian music and only 15 booths filled with Italian pastries, food and wines. In 1990, the event moved to Saint Anne’s Church on Westheimer, where it had more space, and therefore a greater audience potential. It expanded to 25 booths and added the Italian bowling game of Bocce Ball, as well as Italian performers and bands.
As it became more popular, the Festa expanded to the streets of downtown in 1993 and added a children’s area, a video center, more art booths and three entertainment stages for music and dance. From 1996-98, Festa Italiana was celebrated in Velvet Park off Buffalo Speedway, but then returned to downtown in 1999 as crowds swelled to the thousands. Following the national tragedy on Sept. 11, 2001 and then a significant rainout in 2002, there was no event in 2003.
In 2004, the event moved its location again to the Farm & Ranch Club and began anew with a return to the tradition of affiliate clubs offering amazing Italian foods. Most recently, starting in 2009, the festival started new traditions on the grounds of the University of St. Thomas on the Campus Life Mall, located at 3818 Graustark Street in Houston.
Buy Tickets Now
Visit www.HoustonItalianFestival.com for a full schedule of events and more information.