South Street Spring Fest set for this Saturday

From Maifest to Cinco de Mayo, enjoy everything this signature street festival has to offer.

Beneath a canopy of kaleidoscopic ribbons, sounds ranging from folk dancing to funk fusions — and a myriad of other entertainment — will soon take over South Street.

For the sixth annual year, the South Street Headhouse District is hosting its nationally acclaimed South Street Spring Festival on Saturday, May 5, starting at 11 a.m. Spreading from Front to 8th streets, more than 30 local vendors, musicians and more will populate the signature Philly thoroughfare.

Considered the kickoff to the city’s series of summer festivals, the pay-as-you-go event was brainstormed more than a half-a-decade ago by the South Street Headhouse District, as the organization recognized the need for a celebration on one of the most historic and distinguished stretches of street.

“There had not been a major street festival on South Street for many years,” said Mike Harris, executive director of the South Street Headhouse District. “And Brauhaus Schmitz wanted to do a Maifest that kind of mirrored their highly popular Oktoberfest.”

The event’s hub and hook is its “festival within a festival,” as renowned restaurant and South Street occupant Brauhaus Schmitz peppers the afternoon with tons of German flare, encompassing bratwurst sausage, flower headband crafts, a schnapski tent, German-Hungarian dancers, the Heimatklänge Band, and, of course, the iconic 30-foot Maypole, marking the staple sight of Maifest.

While most elements, like Maifest, return to the festival each year, the South Street Headhouse District highlights new businesses, restaurants, bars, entertainment and activities every year.

Harris says in the weeks and months leading up to each annual event, the South Street Headhouse District receives floods of vendor and entertainment applications.

“Somethings come and somethings go, but we try to mix it up,” Harris said.

Some new aspects this time around include a virtual reality booth, pony rides and a mariachi band, as this year’s festival will coincide with Cinco de Mayo.

Harris noted that along with the Mexican holiday, the festival always falls at the same time as the Kentucky Derby, stirring more enthusiasm in the crowd. May 5 is also Free Comic Book Day, and Atomic City Comics, coincidentally another South Street occupant and festival participant, will feature free giveaways and character appearances in honor of the national event.

“It’s kind of this trifecta of other things happening,” he said. “It adds to the overall spirit and fun of the day.”

Gracing three stages, a spectrum of the region’s most popular local artists — from trumpet players to high-energy rockers — will groove throughout the afternoon and into the evening.

Performances will be stitched together by tons of other activities, like a taco eating contest and family fun pastimes, like balloon art and face painting.

“We always try to have an area where kids can have a concentration of fun things they might want do,” Harris said.

Although the festival started relatively small six years ago, the day now sees close to 40,000 people every year, drawing attendees from even outside the state, according to Harris.

In March 2016, USA Today named the South Street Spring Festival one of the top things to do that season in Philly. Just this year, the Philadelphia Inquirer gave the event similar accolades.

“From a brainchild five years ago to being in USA Today — it’s kind of a cool mark of success,” Harris said.

Being a blend of local neighbors and outside tourists, as well as synthesis of culture, the festival embodies the very nature of the locale it occupies.

“We try to keep it much like South Street,” Harris said. “We try to keep it independent, bringing in as much we could as best we could to reflect South Street, reflecting our area through art, through music and a variety of interesting things.”


The South Street Spring Festival is scheduled for Saturday, May 5, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. between Front and 8th streets.

This is a pay-as-you-go-event.

Rain or shine.

To see a list of performers, visit or

For more information, visit or contact Mike Harris at