Festa Italiana Seattle Italian Festival, Sept. 26-27, Seattle Center.
Italian food, grape stomping, cooking demos and puppy parades are among crowd-pleasers at Festa Italiana Seattle Italian Festival Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 26 and 27, at Seattle Center.
If they had you at “Italian food,” you’re not alone. “Come for the food, stay for the fun” is the festival’s motto, with food vendors offering pizza, pasta, sausage and meatball sandwiches, Italian sodas and sorbet, along with three wine and beer gardens.
Celebrity chef Nick Stellino, the originator of the Great Italian Chefs Cooking Stage at the first Italian Festival in 1994 and host of his own public television cooking show, is the headliner at the festival’s Great Italian Chefs Cooking Stage, appearing at 4 p.m. both days. Hourly demos with free samples on the Cooking Stage feature chefs from Tutta Bella, Il Fornaio, Assaggio, Pellegrini Marketand other local favorites. Taste of Italy, a ticketed event for ages 21 and older only Saturday evening, offers samples from a selection of 60 Italian wines with bread, antipasti and live music. Old-school winemaking at the Grape Stomp is always a crowd-pleaser, with preregistered barefoot teams competing to see who can stomp the most juice out of 20 pounds of grapes, 12:45 to 4:45 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Festa Italiana Seattle Italian Festival
Time: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 26-27
Location: Seattle Center
Taste of Italy: 7-10 p.m. Saturday, Seattle Center Armory; $25/advance, $30 at the door
Festival activities include a bocce (lawn bowling) tournament, Italian car, motorcycle and scooter show, vendors, historic photo exhibit on Seattle’s earliest Italians, Italian puppy parades at 12:30 and 2:15 p.m. each day and indoor Kids Courtyard with pizza toss, Sicilian puppet show and soccer clinics. Entertainment throughout both days includes Seattle Mandolin Orchestra, Italian Choir of B.C., Bill Halsey and the Italian Orchestra and, Sunday at 4 p.m., headliners Portland indie band Mbrascatu’s Tarantella, rock sung in the regional Italian Calabrese dialect.
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Events are in Fisher Pavilion, Seattle Center Armory and Pavilion, and around the Seattle Center grounds. Admission is free.