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Nov 2 2011

Philly's More Fun When You...Race A Goat? Indeed.

Gay Bingo, Granny Races, Graveside Runs & More Make Philly Quirky All Year Long

As if making an international name for itself in the 19th and 20th centuries with an underdog championship boxer movie character, dueling cheesesteak purveyors, the Mummers and, well, a cracked bell didn’t make Philadelphia quirky enough, it seems the 21st century will continue to propagate that fun-loving mystique with strange and wonderful annual events held every month of the year. Here’s a look at the city’s quirky side:

January:

  • Setting the standard for quirky events, the Mummers Parade kicks off every New Year with more than 15,000 men, women and children spending thousands of dollars on elaborate costumes and makeup to strut up Broad Street in a way that creates a fantastic spectacle. January 1, 2012. Broad Street from Washington Avenue to City Hall, phillymummers.com
  • Rollerblading Bingo Verifying Divas (BVDs) costumed as dead soap opera characters and stars preside over January’s Gay Bingo, where drag queens and their friends—also dressed according to theme—do up the five-letter game for charity. As if a room full of rollerblading men playing Bingo in campy drag isn’t entertaining enough, the BVDs lead game-show contests, lip-synching and dancing for the merry crowd that shows up each month for laughs and possible winnings. January 14, February 11, March 24, April 21, May 19 and June 9, 2012. Gershman Y, 401 S. Broad Street, (215) 731-9255, aidsfundphilly.org

February:

  • Every holiday is cause for celebration at Grey Lodge Pub, but it’s the more obscure ones that get the most attention at this nationally ranked beer bar. During the annual Ground Hog Day Hawaiian Shirt Beer Breakfast, the bar opens at 7:00 a.m. to cheer on Punxsutawney Phil as he makes his weather prognostication. Later that morning, Grey Lodge’s lucky cat, Wissinoming Winnie, will make her own prognostication on whether there will be six more weeks of winter beers or if spring seasonal beers will come early. February 2, 2012. 6235 Frankford Avenue, (215) 856-3591, greylodge.com
  • The perpetually sold-out Wing Bowl pits amateur speed eaters against one another in a race to see who can gobble the most chicken wings in a set period of time. Every year, the competitors feast in front of a rowdy crowd of 25,000 spectators (many of whom arrive up to 12 hours in advance), judges, radio DJs and “Wingettes” the Friday morning before the Super Bowl. February 3, 2012. Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad Street, (215) 592-0610, 610wip.com
  • During Love Hurts! The Abrasive Side of Romance in the Ancient World, scholars from The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology explore the harsher side of love and relationships with salacious tales of romance in the ancient world. To sweeten the night, the Young Friends of the Penn Museum host a cocktail reception after the program. February 9, 2012. 3260 South Street, (215) 898-4045, penn.museum/youngfriends

March:

  • Some of Philadelphia’s most prominent radio DJs preside over the annual Running of the Micks, a pub crawl that transports several thousand green-beer drinkers around town on a bus to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. There’s green as far as the eye can see as participants dress as leprechauns to make merry at various Irish pubs and create a spectacle by running up and down the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. March 17, 2012. Finnigan’s Wake, 3rd & Spring Garden Streets, (215) 574-9317, runningofthemicks.com

April:

  • Superstitious types can drink their trepidation away at Friday the Firkenteenth, an all-day cask ale event held at Grey Lodge Pub every Friday the you-know-what. This year, 30 firkins will be tapped beginning at 12:00 noon because, as any amateur exorcist knows, it’s never too early to ward off the demons. April 13, 2012. 6235 Frankford Avenue, (215) 825-5357, greylodge.com

May:

  • On the first Sunday in May, owners of real-live goats bring their cloven-hoofed friends to race other goats in the parking lot at Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery in Phoenixville. The winner gets a maibock named in his/her honor and the losers get to partake in the concurrent German Bock Festival, which is believed to be the most extensive lineup of Bock beers poured at any American brewpub in one day. Peggy, a three-legged goat, has won the race for the past two years. May 6, 2012. 519 Kimberton Road, Pikeland Village Square, Phoenixville, (610) 935-4540, slyfoxbeer.com
  • Alien spaceships mounted on welded bikes, giant pink poodles hurdling through the air and Mummers riding hand-cranked pirate ships. It can only be the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby, a competition that challenges crack physicists to invent the most outrageous and artistic yet functional human-powered vehicles they can dream up. Date TBA. Norris Street between Trenton Avenue & York Street, (215) 427-0350, kinetickensington.org

June:

  • At one point in the not-too-distant past, it may have been considered strange for a city to devote an entire 10 days to the celebration of craft beer. But now that Philly Beer Week has spawned countless imitators around the country, it takes a beer-rep charity dunk tank, an outdoor sumo wrestling tournament between male and female brewers and a Hammer of Glory carried through the streets in intentionally silly vehicles to the site of the ceremonial first keg tapping to elicit a bemused giggle from the mainstream population. June 1-10, 2012. phillybeerweek.org
  • What do you get when you cross tattooed temptresses with skates? The Philly Roller Girls, of course. Each June, the three female roller derby teams that comprise the city’s league—the Broad Street Butchers, Heavy Metal Hookers and Philthy Britches—host the East Coast Derby Extravaganza, a roller derby competition to determine who can claim to be the “baddest broads” on wheels. June 22-24, 2012. The Sportsplex, 1331 Oreilly Drive, Feasterville, (215) 355-2582, phillyrollerderby.com

July:

  • In July, cult film geeks flock to the historic Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, where many scenes in the movie The Blob were filmed. During Blobfest, there’s a weekend-long street party with a costume contest, live reenactments from the movie and an amateur filmmaking contest. July 13-15, 2012. 227 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, (610) 917-1228, thecolonialtheatre.com
  • Have fun stormin’ the castle at Eastern State Penitentiary on Bastille Day, when re-enactors and audience members playfully recreate the storming of the Bastille at the nation’s first “modern” prison. Philly’s re-enactment of this historic event includes Marie Antoinette throwing more than 2,000 cakes out to the assembled crowd. A French-themed street party beforehand lets revelers fortify themselves for the attack, and because this Bastille Day falls on a Saturday, fireworks may make this party for freedom the most festive yet. July 14, 2012. 22nd Street & Fairmont Avenue, (215) 236-5111, easternstate.org
  • Approximately 13 local breweries compete to see who can rid themselves most quickly of their entire supply of suds at Nodding Head Brewery and Restaurant’s annual Royal Stumble, celebrating its 13th anniversary in 2012. Brewers costume themselves according to theme, which in past years has consisted of sumo wrestlers and superheroes. July 14, 2012. 1516 Sansom Street, 2nd floor, (215) 569-9525, noddinghead.com

August:

  • Creepy crawlers of all shapes, sizes, colors and attitudes invade The Academy of Natural Sciences for Bug Fest. Insect lovers can touch a furry tarantula or cheer for their favorite cockroaches during a roach race. Scientists are on hand to convince even the most disbelieving visitor that insects are important creatures for the planet. August 11-12, 2012. 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 299-1000, ansp.org
  • Thousands of artists converge on Philly at the end of the summer for the wild and wacky art party known as Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe. For two weeks, dancers, actors, playwrights, musicians, visual artists, video-makers and puppeteers roam the city’s streets and fill its performance halls. At night, festival-goers head to the “Festival Bar” for dancing, drink specials and visual media installations. Location of the bar is to be determined. August 31-September 15, 2012. (215) 413-9006, livearts-fringe.org
  • WMMR radio station listeners grab their feisty grandmas and steer them to the fifth annual Granny Grand Prix, a go-cart rally that pits almost a dozen grandmothers against one another in a race to the finish. The popular hosts of the Preston & Steve morning show broadcast live during each of the three heats and final round, as women as old as 92 zoom through five to eight laps full of blue-hair-raising turns and denture-dropping speeds. Date TBA. (610) 771-0933, wmmr.com

September:

  • Each year, hundreds of cyclists shed their clothes—or at least most of them—for the Naked Bike Ride, a clothing-optional ride through city streets designed to call attention to the triple issues of conscious fuel consumption, positive body image and cycling advocacy. September 2, 2012. phillynakedbikeride.org
  • Celebrate all-things mushroom with more than 100,000 fans of the fungus at the Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square, the mushroom-growing capital of the nation. A weekend of dinners, tastings, symposia and crafts all revolve around mushrooms. September 8-9, 2012. (610) 925-3373, mushroomfestival.org
  • On Talk Like a Pirate and Pirate Battle Day, otherwise respectable citizens and their offspring can get away with repeatedly saying “Aargh” and calling annoying drivers “blitherin’ bilge rats,” as long as they earn their pirate stripes at Independence Seaport Museum’s “Pirate U,” where failure to be amused at the fun and games might send students on a journey off the edge of a plank. This year, pirate battles add more treasure to the experience by pitting would-be pirates on two tall ships in a fierce battle against those who would commit piracy on the high seas. Date TBA. 211 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 413-8655, phillyseaport.org

October:

  • A month-long Dracula Festival brings fans of the vampire novel into the light for theatrical readings, cupcake-decorating workshops and photo booths equipped with costumes at the Rosenbach Museum & Library, which holds Bram Stoker’s original Dracula outlines and research notes. October 1-31, 2012. 2008-2010 Delancey Place, (215) 732-1600, rosenbach.org
  • The majestic and historic Laurel Hill Cemetery truly comes to life in October, when a series of fundraising events draw the morbid and the curious. Those who are laid to rest beneath Laurel Hill’s grounds get very little peace throughout the month, thanks to the costumes-encouraged Rest in Peace 5K Run through the tombs; the black-tie Gravedigger’s Ball; the Dining with the Dead bring-your-own-bottle candlelight dinner; and The Ghosts Among Our Graves paranormal investigation. 3822 Ridge Avenue, (215) 228-8200, thelaurelhillcemetery.org

November:

  • It’s all about me at the First Person Festival of Memoir and Documentary Art, the only event in the world of its kind. The multidisciplinary festival features performance art, experiential tours, visual art exhibitions, concerts, film screenings and more. Tentatively November 8-18, 2012. (267) 402-2055, firstpersonarts.org

December:

  • Some 6,000 tipsy Santas sprinting through a pre-determined city neighborhood? No, it’s not the sequel to Bad Santa—it’s The Running of the Santas, the annual bar romp (which began in Philadelphia) that sends Santa-suit-clad 20-somethings bumbling down the street in an attempt to reach the next pub before the other 5,999 Santas do. Date TBA. runningofthesantas.com

The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases business and promotes the region’s vitality.

For more information about travel to Philadelphia, visit visitphilly.com or uwishunu.com, where you can build itineraries; search event calendars; see photos and videos; view interactive maps; sign up for newsletters; listen to HearPhilly, an online radio station about what to see and do in the region; book hotel reservations and more. Or, call the Independence Visitor Center, located in Historic Philadelphia, at (800) 537-7676.

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