Your Ultimate Guide to the 2018 Festa Italiana in Honolulu
Eat, drink and immerse yourself in Italian culture at Festa Italiana, the only event of its kind in Hawai‘i, on Oct. 6.
Photos: Courtesy of Friends of Italy Society of Hawai‘i
If you’ve ever faced the dilemma of where to find good authentic Italian food in the Islands, you’re not alone. Insert Festa Italiana, and all of our pasta, pizza, wine and gelato dreams have come true.
The second annual event brings a taste of Italy to Honolulu with a mix of authentic Italian food, drinks, performances and a showcase of European luxury cars. Here’s your guide to what to expect, what to eat (and drink), where to park and more.
What It Is
Organized by the nonprofit Friends of Italy Society of Hawai‘i, Festa Italiana is in its second year, making it the newest ethnic festival in town. The event seeks to showcase Italian culture’s presence and significance in the Islands, despite Italy being more than 8,000 miles away.
The first part of the event is the open-street festival, called Festa Italiana in Strada, featuring vendors selling food and drinks, along with several Italian and Italian-inspired performances and a live chalk artist reproducing the famous Italian painting, “Birth of Venus.”
The second part is the ticketed 21-and-older VIP experience, called “Passaporto Italiano,” or Passport to Italy, which includes seven food tastings, six wine pours and one specialty cocktail from Hawaiian Aroma Caffe. Other VIP packages and add-ons are also available.
When and Where
The street festival will be held from 4 to 10 p.m. on Oct. 6 in Kaka‘ako along Cooke Street, from Auahi to Halekauwila streets, and on Pohukaina Street from Cooke to Coral streets; all of the streets will be closed to traffic during the event. Those who bought VIP tickets can head to 445 Cooke St. on the same day from 6 to 9 p.m., with early entry starting at 5 p.m.
How Much It Costs
The street festival is free and open to the public. All food dishes will cost $8 or less, so treat yourself to a host of Italian cuisine. And bring cash (credit cards will be accepted, depending on the vendor).
VIP tickets cost $110 each through Oct. 5 and $125 at the door. Check out other packages and perks that you can tack onto your VIP experience.
Where to Park
Street parking is available throughout Kaka‘ako. You can also park at Restaurant Row for $6 (get your ticket validated at the Festa Italiana booth).
If you’d like to bike to the festival, there are two nearby Biki stops at the intersections of Auahi and Cooke streets and Pohukaina and Kō‘ula streets.
What to Eat and Drink
Grab a drink (or two) at the beer and wine garden, located on Pohukaina Street.
Enjoy live music and performances—from Italian comedian and musician Enrico Rennella to local band Mango Season to the Hawai‘i Youth Symphony and more. Catch a live flash performance by the Hawai‘i Opera Theatre at 5:45 p.m. near Cooke and Auahi streets.
Head to Mother Waldron Park for live chalk art by The Artery Design Co. and free children’s activities, including learning the Italian language, drawing and making pasta decorations.
Festa Italiana is partnering with Velocity Honolulu to display a selection of ultra-sleek Italian cars on the streets of Kaka‘ako. (We checked, and you will be able to sit in the cars. You’re welcome.)
Wear comfortable shoes so you can scope out all of the food and drink booths.
Bring your own lawn chairs and picnic mats to sprawl out on at Mother Waldron Park (there will also be chairs and 25 tables dispersed throughout the streets and at the park).
Port-a-potties will be located near the beer and wine garden and in the back of the stage (intersection of Cooke and Pohukaina streets).
Bring an umbrella or poncho just in case it rains.
Map: Courtesy of Fest Italiana Hawai‘i
For more information, visit festaitalianahawaii.com.