Say ciao to cannolis, roast pork, pizza and more this weekend!
The 9th Street Italian Market Festival returns for a two-day celebration full of eats, drinks, music and fun(ny) festivities at the nation’s oldest continuously operating outdoor market.
ITALIAN MARKET FESTIVAL FAST FACTS
- The 9th Street Italian Market Festival runs from May 20-21, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., rain or shine.
- Find dozens of food, drink and artisan vendors along 9th Street.
- The action spans eight city blocks from Fitzwater to Wharton streets.
- The festival celebrates the nation’s oldest continuously operating market (100-plus years!)
Find signature Italian dishes and other food options from dozens of area merchants and street-side vendors set to fill the eight-block festival. Drinks, music, games and more will also keep this bustling neighborhood more alive than ever.
The festival welcomes 70,000-plus visitors each year and remains an annual Philly favorite.
As one of the city’s most popular events, the festival becomes quite the neighborhood affair over the weekend. Tons of local businesses set up booths along 9th Street, which will be closed to traffic from Fitzwater to Wharton streets.
The eateries and businesses that line the Italian Market will also open their doors, and plenty of crafters and artisan vendors will flock to the area.
Plus, find a beer garden and entertainment stage at 9th and Christian streets and a wine garden and entertainment stage at 9th and Washington streets.
Also along 9th street, a fine arts and crafts show will take place between Washington Avenue and Ellsworth Street, an interactive family zone will be set up from Federal to Wharton streets and a local music stage will invite bands to play at Connie’s Ric Rac at Ellsworth Street.
Food and Drink
On any given day, the Italian Market transforms into a melting pot of cultures and a paradise of every food imaginable including fresh produce, meats and seafood. (Check out the full list of market vendors here.)
At the festival, prepared foods take precedence with a variety of vendors dishing out various signature street-side eats. The incredible diversity of both the Bella Vista and East Passyunk Avenue neighborhoods will be on display as merchants showcase everything from roast pork sandwiches to Italian pastries to authentic Mexican tacos to fresh seafood on-the-go.
Look forward to local and longtime popular spots such as Isgro’s, Lorenzo’s, Termini Brothers and DiBruno’s to serve up eats outside of their storefronts.
Festival-goers can also enjoy brews at a designated beer garden and vino from an al fresco wine garden. Tons of fun, non-alcoholic options will be available, too, like juice served in a fresh pineapple and topped with whipped cream.
Other Festival Highlights
Beyond food, the 9th Street Italian Market Festival is also an amazing place for shopping, live entertainment and annual, ritualistic shows.
Shopping and Music
Throughout the festival, music fans can look forward to performances from an array of bands and DJs at multiple stages. Find City Rhythm Orchestra kicking things off on Saturday at the main stage on Washington Avenue with a bunch of danceable grooves.
A “Spread the Whiz” zone between Federal and Wharton streets invites families to come out and enjoy everything from face painting and magician performances to balloon artistry and a bouncy and interactive dance exhibition.
And on the shopping side of things, you can find a range of handmade crafts, including ceramic mugs, metal-made jewelry and plant-filled terrariums from an array of artists stationed throughout the festival.
The roster of participating artisan vendors can be found here.
The Procession of Saints
A Roman-Catholic tradition, the annual Procession of Saints is held every year on the third Sunday of May. St. Paul Parish in the Italian Market holds a procession where parishioners carry statues of saints throughout the neighborhood. Children who have recently made their first holy communion attend, too, donning their white first communion attire.
The procession starts at 11 a.m. at the historic Saint Mary Magdalen Church at 7th and Montrose streets, and pauses for the Blessing of the Market at 9th and Washington streets. The procession ends at Saint Paul Catholic Church at Christian Street.
Grease Pole, Handball and Fitness Competitions
One of the more distinctive (and amusing) signature events of the festival is undoubtedly the grease pole competition, which takes place at 9th and Montrose streets multiple times throughout both days of the festival. Here, a bunch of competitors try to scramble to the top of a 30-foot-tall pole covered in lard to reach prizes of meats, cheese, gifts, money and, most importantly, bragging rights.
Meanwhile, the annual John Marzano Halfball Tournament returns to Christian Street with a lineup of top players competing in one of the city’s favorite street games.
Getting There and Staying Over
Public transportation is generally your best bet for getting to the Italian Market.
Festival-goers can take the Broad Street line and get off at either Lombard or Ellsworth and walk a few blocks to the Italian Market.
Should you drive, parking lots include those at Christian and 8th streets and Kimball and 8th streets.
Those who want to turn the festival into a getaway (or a staycation!) should book the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package featuring more than $200 in free perks, including free hotel parking, free Indego bike share passes, a free Uber ride and more.
Check out the complete festival map below and get ready for this eating extravaganza!