Your Ultimate Guide to the 2019 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 September 28.
Photos: Courtesy of festa italiana 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 third 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.
SEE ALSO: 2018 Festa Italiana Photo Gallery
What It Is
Festa Italiana is in its third 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.
The second part is the ticketed 21-and-older VIP experience, called “Passaporto Italiano,” or Passport to Italy, which includes a selection of food tastings from Vino Italian Tapas & Wine Bar, Arancino at The Kāhala, IL Gelato Hawai‘i and more, plus six wine pours.
SEE ALSO: How 5 Popular Ethnic Festivals in Honolulu Adapt While Keeping Traditions Alive
When and Where
The street festival will be held from 4 to 10 p.m. on Sept. 28 in Kaka‘ako along Cooke Street, from Auahi to Halekauwila streets; all of the streets will be closed to traffic during the event. Those who buy VIP tickets can head to Cooke Street on the same day from 6 to 9 p.m.
How Much It Costs
The street festival is free and open to the public, so treat yourself to a host of Italian cuisine. And bring cash (credit cards will be accepted, depending on the vendor).
VIP tickets cost $100 each through Aug. 31, $115 from Sept. 1 to 27 and $125 at the door. If you pay an extra $15, you can enter the VIP area an hour earlier at 5 p.m.
SEE ALSO: Best of the Fests: O‘ahu’s 21 Annual Ethnic Festivals
Where to Park
Street parking is available throughout Kaka‘ako. Take a Lyft using the festival’s special promo codes for new users (FESTAITALIANAHI) and existing users (FESTA19) for a discount on the day of the event.
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
Stuff your face with authentic Italian food from more than 20 restaurants, including Butcher & Bird, Mediterraneo Ristorante Italiano and Ricado’s Italian Restaurant.
Grab a drink (or two) at the beer and wine garden.
Enjoy live music and performances—from the Hawai‘i Youth Symphony to the Hawai‘i Opera Theatre to local singer-songwriter Alx Kawakami and more. Head to Mother Waldron Park for children’s activities and an artist corner (the event will also be partnering with Pow! Wow! Hawai‘i this year).
Velocity Honolulu will also display a selection of ultra-sleek Italian cars on the streets of Kaka‘ako.
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 be chairs and tables dispersed throughout the streets and at the park).
Portable toilets will be located throughout the area.
Bring an umbrella or poncho just in case it rains.
Arrive early for shorter lines for the food vendors. Once it reaches dinnertime, lines can get pretty long.
For more information, visit festaitalianahawaii.com.
READ MORE STORIES BY JAYNA OMAYE