Holy cannoli: Italian Market Festival promises food, entertainment, shopping

The annual Procession of Saints makes its' way through the 9th Street Market during the Italian Market Festival in Philadelphia, Pa. on May 15, 2011. ( David Maialetti / staff photographer )

The country’s oldest outdoor market is gearing up for their annual weekend celebration. This year’s Italian Market Festival, taking place from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 17 and Sunday, May 18, promises many festival traditions along with a few additions.

Extending along 9th Street from Fitzwater to Federal Streets, the rain-or-shine party features a fine arts and crafts show (with vendors selling everything from photography to candles to jewelry), WMGK street party and accordion corner. Four stages will be set up on Christian Street, Washington Avenue, Ellsworth Street and Federal Street providing the weekend’s sounds.

New highlights this year include a photo book of the historic market throughout the seasons, photographed by Dave Lakotas, who will be at the Visitor Center signing copies. Another new activity is tours of Saint Mary Magdalen dePazzi Church—the first Italian Catholic church in the United States—located at 712 Montrose Street.

DiBruno Brothers are paying homage to their 75-year history by offering $2 bites of freshly-shaved prosciutto, handmade burrata, pepper shooters and cheese spreads at their throwback interactive stand on 9th and Montrose Streets—photo booth and swag included at this one-time only affair.

Aside from the numerous eateries from years’ past offering Italian favorites like grilled sausage, fresh seafood and cannolis, this year’s food lineup includes two new businesses: Cardenas Oil and Vinegar Tap Room and Torero Tapas Bar. For your international oil and vinegar fix, take advantage of Cardenas Oil and Vinegar Tap Room (942 S. 9th Street) and then pop next door (940 S. 9th Street) to Torero Tapas Bar for Spanish tapas and paella.

While you’re not sampling the food, teams of five can take part in the John Marzano Halfball Tournament, starting Saturday at 9 a.m. at Christopher Columbus Charter School Yard.

Another traditional festival happening is Sunday’s Saint Paul Parish Procession of Saints, where, at 11 a.m., parishioners carry statues of saints from Saint Mary Magdalen Church to Saint Paul Catholic Church.

Check out the event map below for details on where to find your favorite festival goings-on.