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Mar 19 2014

Festivals Keep Philly Neighborhoods Hopping All Year Long

Books, Beer, Arts, America, Music, Movies & More Inspire Festivities

Philadelphians can always find a reason to get festive. It could be a gathering of artists and artisans in Manayunk, a traditional Yoruba-style street fair or zombies taking over South Street, a craft beer party on East Passyunk Avenue or a weekend celebrating all things Harry Potter in Chestnut Hill. Throughout the year, Philly’s neighborhoods make merry with special events and activities that reflect their distinctive personalities. Here’s a look at some of the mark-the-calendar happenings for 2014:


Benjamin Franklin Parkway:

  • For the fourth year running, the Philadelphia Science Festival unleashes nine days of exploratory exhibitions, lectures, debates and hands-on activities on campuses, museums and other venues around the city, culminating with a family-friendly science carnival on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. April 25-May 3.
  • A signature event for The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Bug Fest brings a weekend-long celebration of all things creepy, crawly and fluttery to its home. Visitors can check out bug specimens both live and preserved, meet insect researchers and even sample some bug cuisine. August 9-10. (215) 299-1000,

Rittenhouse Square:

  • Along with the blooming rhododendrons of spring comes the Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival, Walnut Street’s annual fete with food, fashion, music and art, plus a slew of activities for kids. May 3.
  • James Joyce’s masterwork Ulysses serves as the focal point of Bloomsday, and The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia hosts the Philadelphia outpost of a worldwide all-day festival for literary enthusiasts. June 16. (215) 732-1600,

Washington Square West:

  • With a mission to introduce a new crop of Philadelphia’s best up-and-coming artists, the Center City Jazz Festival brings a variety of jazz musicians to bars and lounges around the Washington Square West neighborhood of Philadelphia. This year's lineup this year includes Tim Warfield Jr., Thumbscrew and Justin Faulkner. April 19.
  • Putting the spotlight on LGBT history and culture, Equality Forum brings together people from around the world for panel discussions, parties and a lively community fair. May 1-4. (215) 732-3378,
  • The already vibrant 13th Street takes on an autumnal glow at the annual Midtown Village Fall Festival, with a pop-up beer garden, live music, food from area restaurants, dunk tanks, more than 50 artists and crafters, DJs and even sumo wrestling. October 4.
  • Philly’s OutFest is the biggest National Coming Out Day event in the world, and with good reason—the street carnival features a sports area, family zone, craft market, live music, dance parties and much more. October 12.

Old City/Penn’s Landing:

  • Lovers of one-of-a-kind finds descend on the annual Spring Art Star Craft Bazaar, where the handmade goods include housewares, ceramics, clothing, art, paper goods and much more. The weekend-long sale at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing is punctuated with live music, food and art demonstrations. May 10-11.
  • Most weekends of the summer, the PECO Multicultural Series brings the cultures of the world—from Ireland and Portugal to Israel and the Caribbean—to Penn’s Landing for family-friendly celebrations. June-September. (215) 922-2FUN,
  • Tall ships from around the U.S. line Philly’s waterfront during the Old City Seaport Festival every fall. Guests can climb aboard to tour the Delaware River, and on land, they enjoy live music, crafts, vendors and family-friendly activities that engage visitors in Philly’s maritime history. October 10-12. (215) 413-8655,


Fishtown & Northern Liberties:

  • The Trenton Avenue Arts Festival lines the cobblestone streets with artists of all stripes and genres, while next door, a quirky competition for the most creative human-powered vehicles takes place at the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby. May 17.,
  • A block party sponsored by the businesses of Northern Liberties, the 2nd Street Festival showcases live music programmed by the Philadelphia Folksong Society, workshops, art, shopping and the very best local eats and drinks. August 3.
  • The Fishtown Neighbors Association presents the Rivercity Festival, a waterfront party with live music, a 5k run, hospitality and wellness tents and food and drink aplenty. October 11.

South Street: Society Hill To Graduate Hospital:

  • The undead come out for the Philly Zombie Crawl on Easter Sunday night. The first order of business is the Zombie Pre-Game for face painting and the debut of the Philly Zombie Emporium inside the TLA, followed by a nightlong crawl of South Street from 3rd to 6th Streets for drink specials and ghoulish fun. April 20.
  • When the weather warms, the crowds gather at the South Street Spring Festival, an open-air party with local eats, drinks and goods from the street’s wide-ranging vendors, along with live entertainment on three stages and seven performance areas. May 3.
  • Based on Yoruba traditions, the Odunde Festival celebrates the coming of another year for African-Americans and African people around the world with a procession, ceremonial offering and African marketplace, along with live music and dance. June 8. (215) 732-8510,
  • Craft breweries, neighborhood vendors, live music and food trucks come together on South Street for Bloktoberfest, an all-ages block party. Proceeds benefit local charities and programs. October 11.
  • South Street Headhouse Square District gets into the October spirit with the Pumpkin Fall Festival, a family day of activities including arts and crafts, hayrides, vendors and live circus performances, plus a free pumpkin giveaway. It all takes place in the Headhouse Square Shambles. October 25.

South Philly: Bella Vista & East Passyunk:

  • It’s one of the hottest restaurant rows in the region, and East Passyunk toots its own gastronomic horn during Flavors of the Avenue. For a reasonable admission fee, visitors can sample food and drink from its myriad restaurants, bakeries and pubs. April 26.
  • The nation’s oldest outdoor market and the already-bustling heart of South Philadelphia welcomes the city for the Italian Market Festival, a foodie’s dream with flavors from its myriad restaurants and shops, along with the Annual Procession of Saints and plenty of activities for kids. May 17-18.
  • During Philly Beer Week, East Passyunk plays up its roots with a daylong Italian Festival and Craft Beer Day, a pub crawl with a distinctly red sauce flavor, offering samples, brewer meet-and-greets and plenty of special deals. June 1.
  • Muscle car enthusiasts show off their Turtle Waxed best at the Car Show and Street Festival, where vehicles in multiple categories are on display for the judging. Street eats and live entertainers round out the offerings. July 27.


  • A literary arts festival that goes beyond the book, the 215 Festival highlights authors and their words through live performance, music, film, book fairs, panel discussions and dance parties. October; exact dates TBD.

Fairmount/Spring Garden:

  • Collectors, enthusiasts and artists alike gather for the Fairmount Arts Crawl when Fairmount Avenue businesses become temporary galleries with more than 70 installations. Live arts and kids activities entertain along the way. April 6.
  • Wigs are welcome at the Bastille Day celebration at Eastern State Penitentiary, where a reenactment of the French Revolution includes a Marie Antoinette re-enactor yelling “Let them eat Tastykakes,” followed by more festivities and French dinner specials at local restaurants. July 12. (215) 236-3300,

West Philadelphia/University City:

  • The Philadelphia International Children’s Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts with even more family-friendly music and theater performances from around the globe, along with face-painters, jugglers and other entertainers in the Fun Zone. April 30-May 4. 3680 Walnut Street, (215) 898-3900,
  • In addition to selling locally made crafts and goods, the Go West! Craft Fest, sponsored by local shop VIX Emporium and As the Crow Flies & Co. and held outdoors at the Woodlands, hosts performances by local bands and Tangle Movement Arts’ tiny circus performance series. May 3.
  • Held on Saturdays closest to the summer solstice and fall equinox, the Clark Park Music and Arts Festival brings together music of all genres, arts and crafts, vendors and family activities in one of the city’s most vibrant neighborhood gathering spaces. June 21 and September 20.

Chestnut Hill:

  • Anything that goes into making a cozy home or spectacular garden is on display at Chestnut Hill’s annual Home and Garden Festival. Hundreds of craftspeople, merchants, food purveyors and entertainers set up along several blocks on Germantown Avenue. May 4.
  • Autumn gets off to a glorious start at the Fall for the Arts Festival as more than 150 artists and artisans from around the country display their talents during this daylong festival. On the docket: entertainment, a farmers’ market, crafts and more. October 5. Germantown Avenue between Willow Grove & Rex Avenues,
  • Quidditch tournaments, horcrux hunts, sorting-hat demos and other magical Hogwarts activities delight fans of the boy wizard during the 4th annual Harry Potter Festival. Muggles beware as costumed wizards roam Chestnut Hill for a weekend packed with potions, spells, scavenger hunts, falconry, wizard chess, parades and more. October 17-18. Locations throughout Chestnut Hill, (215) 247-6696


  • If it is June, it must be the Manayunk Arts Festival, marking its 25th anniversary in 2014. The festival continues to attract huge crowds to Main Street to check out a variety of artwork from 300 artists and crafters from around the country. Up-and-coming local talent get in on the action in the Emerging Artist Tent. June 21-22. Main Street between Carson Street & Shurs Lane, (215) 482-9565,

Neighborhoods All Over Town:

  • The local obsession with all-things fizzy and fermented comes to a foamy head during Philly Beer Week, a regional bacchanal with special dinners, tastings, pub crawls and brewery tours. May 30-June 8.
  • Awesome Fest returns with a 10-week film and music festival. The outdoor movie screenings are all free and located in parks across the city. June 19-August 17.
  • Philly’s premier Fourth of July bash, Wawa Welcome America! offers up a spectacular series of family events, including fireworks, parades, movies, ice cream, Philly hoagies and star-studded live concerts headlined by national acts. June 28-July 4.
  • Music fans mark the dates for the XPoNential Music Festival every year. The three-day event draws an incredible lineup of established legends and up-and-coming artists. July 25-27. Wiggins Park and the Susquehanna Bank Center, Camden Waterfront,
  • Dubbed “the black Sundance” by Ebony, the BlackStar Film Festival gathers filmmakers and cinema lovers for screenings and workshops that illuminate the global black experience. July 31-August 3.
  • With an eye on the world’s most cutting-edge art, the Philadelphia Fringe Festival curates 17 days of theater, dance, music and interdisciplinary performances. September 5-21. 140 N. Columbus Boulevard at Race Street, (215) 413-1318,
  • The entire city celebrates DesignPhiladelphia, the largest festival of its kind in the U.S. with more than 120 events showcasing the work of 500 designers, architects and creatives. Each fall, venues across the city host exhibits, lectures, workshops, demonstrations and tours that highlight product, interior, architecture, multimedia, urban-planning, graphic and fashion design. October 9-17.
  • The Philadelphia Film Festival, an 11-day citywide event, showcases a range of short and feature-length, domestic and international films enhanced by special events and filmmaker Q&As. October 16-26.
  • StorySlams, workshops, standup comedy and theater are just a few of the ways the First Person Arts Festival brings the real life narratives of everyday people and established artists to a wide audience in venues across the city every year. November 2014.

VISIT PHILADELPHIA, formerly known as Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases the number of visitors, the number of nights they stay and the number of things they do in the five-county area.

Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, and make up the most-visited website network out of the 10 biggest U.S. cities. Visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.

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