After a pandemic hiatus, the Italian Market Festival is back.
The festival began in the ‘70s when vendors from the Italian Market came together to hold a “Mediterranean stroll” — a type of event where, back in Italy, different villages would walk to honor their church or patron saint as an opportunity for the community to come together.
Over the years, the stroll turned into a full-on festival with food, drinks, shops, and activities for all Philadelphians.
Here is what you need to know about the 2022 Italian Market Festival:
When is the Italian Market Festival?
The Italian Market Festival will be held rain or shine on Ninth Street — from Wharton to Fitzwater Streets — on May 21 and 22 between 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Food and drinks
There will be more than 40 spots to grab food, as well as alcoholic (Peroni, anyone?) and nonalcoholic drinks. It’s a great time to try Italian favorites from market mainstays: Expect Cappucio’s to be grilling sausages outside, Isgros to have cannoli, and Talluto’s to serve up macaroni and meatballs.
The festival will also have food from the Mexican American and Asian American communities that have been incorporated into the fabric of the market in recent decades.
Those over 21 can head to 12 Steps Down beer garden.
The Italian Market Festival is family-friendly, and most activities are free.
Procession of Saints: The traditional procession stems from the area’s Italian and Mexican Catholic roots. This year is important because the Italian Market has not officially been blessed in more than two years. If you wish to participate, the procession will take place on May 22, starting at 11 a.m. at the historic St. Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi Church. It will pause for the Blessing of the Market at Ninth Street and Washington Avenue, then continue along Ninth to Christian Street, ending at St. Paul Catholic Church around noon. Free.
Live Entertainment: There will be live music playing while you eat and walk around. Look for entertainers like DJs Jerry Blavat, Eric Bartello, and Timmy DeSimone as well as bands such as Nothing But A Nightmare Band, Still River Band, The Chatterband, and Brother Joscephus Band. Free.
John Marzano Half Ball Tournament: Created in 2009, the tournament brings teams of five from all over the city for a Half Ball street game. This year, the tournament will take place on May 21 at 9 a.m. in the schoolyard of Christopher Columbus Charter School, on Christian Street between Ninth and 10th Streets. You can register your team on-site. There is a $125 fee, and all profits go to the support the John Marzano Wood Bat Scout League.
Greased Pole Climbing Competition: The traditional Albero Della Cuccagna competition is back, where teams race each other to the top of a greased 30-foot-high pole at Ninth Street and Montrose Plaza. The goal? Be the first to get the meats, cheeses, gifts, and money at the top. You can watch the competition — or try the climb yourself — on both days (or until someone gets to the prizes first) from 1 to 5 p.m.
Vendors: More than 100 artisans and vendors will take part in this year’s festival, selling oil paintings, word art, handmade bow ties, stationery gifts, upcycled vinyl records, wire sculptures, wood cutting boards, soaps, and jewelry.
Ninth Street from Wharton to Fitzwater will be closed for the festival. This includes sections of adjacent streets such as Wharton, Federal, Ellsworth, Washington, Carpenter, Christian, and Catharine.
You can take bus routes 47 or 47M, which run along the Market’s blocks, or you can take the Broad Street line, get off at Ellsworth-Federal, and walk about 14 minutes until you reach Ninth Street.
The Italian Market has two main parking lots. For a $20 daily fee, you can leave your car parked during festival hours at:
Carpenter Street, between Ninth and 10th Streets
Washington Avenue, between Ninth and 10th Streets