South Philadelphia’s Italian Market is the nation’s oldest outdoor market, and always abuzz. But this weekend, May 18-19, the already-bustling heart of South Philly welcomes the rest of the city to its sidewalks for the annual blockbuster event, the 9th Street Italian Market Festival.
Head to 9th Street to experience a weekend filled with the flavors and sights of Italian-American culture, from tastes of Italian cuisine to the Annual Procession of Saints.
The neighborhood revolves around the festival for the weekend, with 9th Street from Fitzwater to Federal streets shut down to vehicular traffic and the shops and stalls of the market spilling onto the sidewalks from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more than six blocks, the streets are lined with food vendors offering every Italian delicacy imaginable and artisans peddling handmade wares, as well as multiple stages with day-long live entertainment.
Plus, look out for family-friendly activities, crafting, contests, live cooking demonstrations and lots more.
Read on for our complete festival guide.
The festival takes over two neighborhoods, running on 9th Street from Fitzwater to Federal streets in Bella Vista and East Passyunk Avenue.
Streets will be blocked off to make way for the tremendous crowds and eats.
The Food and Drink
On any given day, the Italian Market is a food lover’s mecca, with vendors hawking any and every food imaginable, including fresh produce, meats and seafood (check out the full list of market vendors here).
On Saturday and Sunday, prepared foods take precedence as vendors line 9th Street between Fitzwater and Federal Streets. The incredible diversity of both the Bella Vista and East Passyunk Avenue neighborhoods will be on display, as merchants dish everything from Italian sausage sandwiches to carnitas tacos, and hand-carved mango roses on a stick to fresh seafood on the go.
The star of the weekend is usually the whole porchetta from market butchers Esposito’s and Cannuli’s, as well as the grilled sausage from Cappucio’s. Of course, no one should go home without indulging in a fresh cannoli from Isgro’s bakery.
New participants this year include chef Michael Santoro’s The Mildred, brunching superstar Sabrina’s and gourmet hot dog destination Underdogs.
As for beer, find Peroni pouring at Villa DiRoma and Yuengling at 12 Steps Down, with additional beers on tap. For a sip of bubbly, Anastasi Seafood is featuring Prosecco.
A number of area restaurants will extend table service to the sidewalks so you can sit down and dine alfresco. And of course, at East Passyunk Avenue, two of Philly’s notable cheesesteaks slingers, Pat’s and Geno’s, cap the south edge of the festival.
Artists and crafters come out to the market to peddle handmade creations from booths stationed at 9th and Catherine streets and 9th and Ellsworth. Look for jewelry, apparel, accessories, home furnishings and fittings and more. For a smattering of attending artisans, check here.
The Procession of Saints
A Roman-Catholic tradition, Sunday, May 19, brings the annual Procession of Saints at 11 a.m.
The St. Paul Parish in the Italian Market, holds a procession where parishioners carry approximately 20 statues of saints, including two Blessed Mother statues throughout the neighborhood. Children who have recently made their first holy communion attend, too, donning their white first communion attire.
The procession starts at historic Saint Mary Magdalen Church at 7th and Montrose streets, and pauses for the Blessing of the Market at 9th and Washington. The procession ends at Saint Paul Catholic Church at Christian Street.
Rockin’ live music and family-friendly fun span the entire block party. At 9th and Montrose, the Fiat Fun Zone brings an interactive piazza to the festival the for the first time. Kids of all ages are welcome to the party with music by DJ Donny Chiro, balloon making, face painting, magic and games. Plus, look out for author appearances and a special musical guest.
Classic rock and modern pop keep crowds grooving all weekend long with stages at Federal, Washington and Christian, and an obligatory accordion player at Carpenter Street.
Finally, returning to the 9th Street Italian Market Festival where it was created in 2009, the John Marzano Halfball Tournament marks its fourth anniversary with a lineup of top players at one of the city’s favorite street games.
For a complete festival map, see below!
9th Street Italian Market Festival
Where: 9th Street between Fitzwater and Federal Streets
When: May 18-19, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: Pay as you go
More info: www.italianmarketfestival.com