Field Guide: Spring’s Best Food and Drink Festivals in Philadelphia

Beer festivals, block parties, goat races and so much more.

The Rittenhouse Row Festival |Photo via Rittenhouse Row

The Rittenhouse Row Festival |Photo via Rittenhouse Row

It’s officially May in Philadelphia, and that means we’re about to embark on a month with a summer’s worth of festivals crammed into the three weekends before Memorial Day weekend. For the eaters and drinkers among us, there’s no shortage of beer festivals, cider fests, Kentucky derby block parties and — wait for it — even a goat race. Happy spring, Philly.

Sunday, May 1st

Real Ale Festival at Yards Brewing
Northern Liberties

It’s the ninth year that Yards Brewing has celebrated cask ale, the unfiltered, unpasteurized beer that carbonates naturally inside a cask instead of being pumped full of nitrogen or carbon dioxide. During the festival, 50 firkins of cask-conditioned beer from around the world will be offered. Tickets are $55 in advance and $65 at the door.

Victory Lap Beer Garden at Lo Spiedo
South Philly

Celebrate completing the Broad Street Run — or waking up early to cheer on your runner friends — with Lo Spiedo’s cookout. The pay-as-you-go event features eats from Marc Vetri’s Lo Spiedo and Pizzeria Vetri plus beers from Victory Brewing Company.

Sly Fox Goat Race & Bok Fest

Every year, crowds descend on the Sly Fox Brewery to watch goats race and drink spring beers on the first Sunday of May. Yes, there really is a goat race and the winner is immortalized by having a beer named after it. Entry is free, but food and drink are a la carte.

Saturday, May 7th

South Street Spring Festival
Queen Village

The all-ages celebration takes over South Street between Front and 8th streets, plus along 2nd Street from South to Pine streets. Among the highlights: 40 bands, 30 restaurants and bars serving outside; 125 boutiques; and dozens of artists selling their wares. It’s pay-as-you-go for food and drink.

Brauhaus Schmitz Maifest
Bella Vista

In conjunction with the South Street Spring Festival, Brauhaus Schmitz takes to the street for its annual Maifest. Dance around the maipole, and enjoy German music, food and beer. You can either pay as you go, or get VIP tickets ($100) and enjoy complimentary appetizers, a beer stein, private bathrooms and exclusive beers in the Brauerbund.

Frecon’s Cidery’s Wassail

Enjoy live bluegrass, rock, jazz and blues as you celebrate the release of the cidery’s hard ciders and the growing season to come. A bus will be available to bring guests from Philadelphia. The bus is $20 per person, and admission is $10.

Kentucky Derby Party at Cooper River Distillers

Celebrate the Kentucky Derby with one of the area’s best craft distillers. Cooper River will be offering mint juleps, food from Black Eyed Susan’s Food Truck and live music from Anderson’s Six Mile Cross. This event is pay-as-you-go.

Thursday, May 12th

Night Market on Ridge Avenue

The Food Trust’s Night Market kicks off the 2016 season with a market centered at Ridge and Green Lane in Roxborough. Dozens of food trucks and local vendors will descend on the Avenue for a night of food, music and fun. Keep an eye out for several new food trucks, including Bombay Local PizzaMy Four Suns Korean Fusion and Viva Empanada.

Saturday, May 14th

IPA Beer Festival at Hawthornes
Bella Vista

It’s the hop-bomb-iest beer fest around. Hawthornes closes down 11th Street and loads up the street with more than 40 hoppy beers. All beers are $5 and there will also be live music and a kid zone. The festival is free, but you’ll pay for drinks as you go.

Plaza Palooza
Grad Hospital

For the seventh year, Plaza Palooza comes to the Grays Ferry Triangle at 23rd and Grays Ferry. The community party features food, fun and of course beer.

Sunday, May 15th

Chestnut Hill Home & Garden Festival
Chestnut Hill

Rescheduled from May 1st, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Germantown Avenue turns into an outdoor marketplace with more than 150 home and garden vendors, artists and craftspeople displaying their wares. The avenue’s pubs and restaurants serve al fresco and informal parties continue well into the night.

Saturday, May 21st

Italian Market Festival
Bella Vista and East Passyunk

The nation’s oldest curbside market celebrates for two days with live entertainment, family-friendly activities, and food, food and more food. Don’t miss all the pork, from Italian-style sandwiches to tacos al pastor.

Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival

Walnut Street closes from Broad Street to Rittenhouse Square as local businesses pour onto the streets. The event features street cafes, art, beauty, fashion, family fun, culinary demonstrations, beer and cocktail samplings, live music and entertainment, plus 50,000 of your closest friends.

Wheat Beer Festival – Postponed to Saturday, June 4
Point Breeze

The South Philadelphia Taproom crowd have been hosting its Wheat Beer Fest for 11 years now. This will be the second year on Point Breeze Avenue and there will be $3 wheat beers, live music and some of Philadelphia’s best food trucks.

Yelp’s Urban Picnic at Red Brick Craft Distillery

Check out one of Philadelphia’s newest distilleries as Yelp hosts a party at Red Brick Craft Distillery. There will be free tours and tastings, complimentary Lagunitas beer, plus live music, food trucks and craft cocktails for sale. RSVP on Yelp’s site for admittance.

Trenton Avenue Arts Festival and Kinetic Sculpture Derby

The Kinetic Sculpture Derby is an event not to be missed, as pedaled bathtubs and even crazier contraptions race around the neighborhood. Then, stroll along cobblestone Trenton Avenue and enjoy 200 local arts and food vendors.

Sunday, May 22nd

Italian Market Festival
Bella Vista, East Passyunk

More of the same food and fun at day two of the Italian Market Festival.

Victory Brewing Company Food Truck Festival
Kennett Square

Eleven food trucks will be serving everything from cheese curds to barbecue at Victory Brewing’s Kennett Square brewpub.

Sausage Fest (Cancelled)
Center City

At the annual Philadelphia Sausage Fest at the Armory, there will be full-sized beers and full-sized sausage dishes available for all. Tickets ($10) get you a Sausage Fest pint glass and first beer token without waiting in another line. Proceeds benefit Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus.

For more May fun:

• Beer Gardens in Philadelphia
• Spring Festivals and Events at Philly-Area Farms
• For more food and drink events in Philadelphia, check out the Foobooz Events page.