If “everybody’s Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day,” then we’re going to go out on a limb and say everyone’s Italian at the St. Nicholas of Tolentine Italian Festival. This annual block party that’s held on the first Sunday of every October is a celebration of all things Italian. It’s also held in the heart of South Philly, where Italian roots go deep. How deep? One of the major organizers of the event is the Roman Catholic Church of St. Nicholas of Tolentine, which is located on 9th Street and was officially dedicated on April 14, 1912. (Here’s a bit of trivia: That’s the same day the ill-fated passenger liner Titanic struck an iceberg, so were clearly dealing with a long-standing community cornerstone here.) For those planning to attend the 2018 event, which is rain-or-shine and scheduled for Oct. 7, 2018, we’ll highlight some of the slotted entertainment below. If you find yourself looking for a cheesesteak near you on that day, then you’re in luck: Geno’s is literally right down the street and welcomes St. Nick’s revelers to swing on by.
Some of this year’s entertainment at the festival between Moore and Morris streets includes Jerry Blavat, the City Rhythm Orchestra, Steve Ritrovato, the Quaker City String Band (which is a Mummers mainstay, by the way), and many more vocal performers. In fact, the line-up will allow for live music throughout the entirety of the event. Other can’t-miss aspects of the festival are the procession parade, child-friendly attractions and a 6 p.m. mass inside the St. Nicholas of Tolentine church at the Watkins Street intersection with 9th Street. Did we mention admission to the festival is free? That’s besides the fabulous food being prepared by local businesses, of course. Italian cakes, cannolis, fried dough, Italian wines and a beer garden will also be on the menu, so those looking for traditional flavors are luck. If you’re saving the main course for a cheesesteak near you, Geno’s is a 10-minute walk straight up 9th Street to the Passyunk Avenue intersection. By car or ride-sharing service, it’s a two-minute drive so there’s no reason not to grab a cheesesteak near you if you’re already in the neighborhood!
South Philly will always have Italian roots running through it and there’s no other day of the year that puts it on display quite like the St. Nick’s festival. If you really want to round out your experience in South Philly right, be sure to cap the day off with a cheesesteak near you from Geno’s!