S. 9th Street Italian Market Festival returns May 20-21

“Bigger, better, bolder than ever before!”  That’s the promise of the 2023 S. 9th Street Italian Market Festival which takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p;m. on Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21, 2023. The celebration of culture, gastronomy, art, and music runs along South 9th Street from Wharton to Fitzwater Streets. The nation’s oldest outdoor market hosts this annual family-friendly event which is billed as Philadelphia’s largest block party.

First, the food…

The Festival will feature over 100 area vendors showcasing a range of cuisine and beverages. Visitors will have the opportunity to sample and purchase these culinary delights.  Beyond the food, the Festival features seven city blocks filled with a wide range of music, artists, crafters, services, and souvenirs.

“We are thrilled to host the S. 9th Street Festival again this year” said Michele Gambino, Festival Producer.  “We look forward to welcoming visitors back to this iconic Philadelphia landmark, and sharing the rich culture, food and entertainment, that make this event so special.”

Check out more of what’s in store, below.

Desserts at the Festival. Credit: Katkuo.

Festival Highlights

Live Entertainment

9th & Washington Stage

Saturday May 20

    • DeerPark’s Cheesesteak Competition
    • Tribute to Jerry Blavat hosted by Eric Bartello and Jukebox Dayz

Sunday, May 21

    • The Company
    • The Juliano Brothers

9th & Christian Street corner welcomes back DJ Timmy DeSimone.

The John Marzano Half Ball Tournament takes place in the Christopher Columbus Charter Schoolyard at 916 Christian Street on Saturday May 20 starting at 10am.  Proceeds benefit the John Marzano Wood Bat Scout League.  Teams can register online, at the Italian Market Visitor Center at 919 S. 9th Street, or on-site the morning of the event.

DeerPark’s CheeseSteak Competition takes place on Saturday May 20 at 11am at the Washington Avenue Stage. The top cheesesteak-makers will be invited to participate in the inaugural Deer Park Philly Cheesesteak of the Year contest. Philadelphia area residents can nominate their favorite cheesesteak place. The winner will not only earn all-important bragging rights but will also receive a significant trophy to display in their shop. In addition, Deer Park will donate $5,000 to a charity of the winner’s choice.

Tribute to Jerry Blavat takes place on Saturday May 20 starting at 12:30 pm at the Washington Avenue Stage. Starring Billy Carlucci (Billy and the Essentials), ChiChi (Memory Lane), and Remember Then and a “Geator Gold” Dance Party with DJ Eric Bartello.

Procession of Saints held Sunday, May 21 at 11 am, is an annual tradition.  The St. Paul Parish Procession of Saints starts at Saint Mary Magdalen Church (712 Montrose Street) and pauses for the Blessing of the Market at 9th and Washington Avenue, ending at Saint Paul Catholic Church (corner of S. Hutchinson and Christian Streets).

Cornhole at the Festival will be on Sunday May 21 at 2pm on Christian Street between 9th & 10th Streets.  All skill levels and ages are welcome.  This is a double elimination tournament.  Teams can register on site day of the event.

The Grease Pole or Albero Della Cuccagna in Italian, climb takes place on both Festival days. The pole, located at the 9th & Montrose Piazza, stands 30-feet high and is greased with lard. Teams compete for prizes of meats, cheeses, gift cards and money, hanging from the top of the pole—and bragging rights for the entire year.  Teams can register on-site day of the event.

View more details on the Festival’s website.

Greased pole climb – 2022. Credit: Katkuo.