There are several large Italian festivals in New Jersey (two in Hoboken alone!), which makes sense, given the large population of Italian descent in the state; one of the biggest is this week in Hoboken.

Officially called the Feast of the Madonna Dei Martiri, this year’s edition, the 85th, takes place for four days, Sep. 7-10. Its roots, however, are much older, dating back to 1399 when the first festival was held in Mofetta, Italy.

A mural on the Hoboken waterfront
A mural on the Hoboken waterfront (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The centerpiece of the festival comes on Saturday when the 800-pound statue of the Madonna Dei Martiri (Madonna of the Martyrs) is carried through the streets of Hoboken. Then there is the blessing of the fleet on the Hudson River as the statue is sailed around the Hudson before being returned to the church.

Of course, it’s not all religious or serious; there will be tons of food, drink, music, even fireworks for festivalgoers to enjoy.

Hoboken ItalianFestival via Facebook
Hoboken ItalianFestival via Facebook

You can expect a variety of Italian food, including pasta, pizza, zeppoles, and gelato. Typically, the festival has rides and games and lots of vendors.

Some of the music includes the Joe Baracata Band and the Beverlees on Thursday, the R3 Brothers on Friday, and on Saturday, an Elton John/Billy Joel tribute, and more; see Saturday’s full lineup here.

The four-day festival will take place on the Hudson River waterfront on Sinatra Drive Promenade between Newark Street and 2nd Street from Thursday, September 7th to Sunday, September 10th, 2023.

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