Who’s hungry for a blockbuster street festival?
This Saturday and Sunday, May 17 and 18, the already-bustling heart of South Philly welcomes more than 70,000 visitors to the neighborhood’s streets for its annual 9th Street Italian Market Festival.
South Philadelphia’s Italian Market is the nation’s oldest continuously operating outdoor market, and always filled with lively and entertaining action.
During this weekend-long annual bash, though, the neighborhood’s vibe goes from high-spirited to positively rowdy as the city’s best-attended block party takes over 9th Street from Fitzwater to Federal streets from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for two days, rain or shine.
Read on for more about this stupendous South Philly fest.
The festival takes over two neighborhoods, running on 9th Street from Fitzwater to Federal streets in Bella Vista and East Passyunk Avenue.
Streets will shut down to vehicle traffic and remain blocked off to make way for the tremendous crowds and eats of the market overflowing onto the sidewalks.
For more than six blocks, the streets are lined with vendors of international foods, wine and beer, and tons of fine arts and crafts, too.
More than 70,000 festivalgoers are expected to attend the event over the course of two days, making this block party one of Philadelphia’s largest annual extravaganzas.
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 with the variety of vendors hawking eats on 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.
Truly, the Italian Market has become a delicious melting pot of cultures, and the festival does a great job of highlighting the tasty variety of global cuisine available in the neighborhood.
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 (or two) from Isgro’s bakery.
New participants this year, Cardenas Oil & Vinegar Taproom will serve up freshly popped popcorn smothered in flavored oils and/or vinegars.
As for boozy beverages, find the Giardino di Birra at 9th and Carpenter streets with a variety of brews and the Piazza del Vino at Washington Avenue and 9th Street with wines by the glass.
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.
More on the Italian Market Festival, below.
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 the complete lineup of attending artisans, check here.
The Procession of Saints
A Roman-Catholic tradition, Sunday, May 18, 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, often wearing 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.
Plus, for the first time this year, historic Saint Mary Magdalen dePazzi Church at 712 Montrose Street will be open for tours and a photo essay book offering a look at the market will be on sale.
Rockin’ live music and family-friendly fun span the entire block party, with four stages and two street-party areas.
The annual John Marzano Half Ball Tournament takes place at the Christopher Columbus Charter School at 9th and Christian streets, and at 9th and Montrose attendees should look for a big party surrounding Di Bruno Bros. 75th anniversary celebration.
Kids of all ages are welcome to the event 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, Ellsworth, Washington and Christian, and an obligatory accordion player at Carpenter Street.
Getting There & Staying Over
Should you drive, there are parking lots at Christian and 8th streets, Washington Avenue and 10th Street, and many others. Check the map below for additional parking locations.
We recommend, though, that festivalgoers avoid the trouble of looking for parking and arrive on foot, by bike or by public transportation via SEPTA.
Or, you could just make a weekend out of the festival and stay overnight in Philadelphia. Check out Visitphilly.com for super deals on hotel stays and the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package.
For a complete festival map, see below!
9th Street Italian Market Festival
Where: 9th Street between Fitzwater and Federal Streets
When: May 17-18, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
More info: www.italianmarketfestival.com