Philadelphia and the Countryside - Press Room

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Jan 16 2014

Quirky Events In Philadelphia

Gay Bingo, Bad Movies, Racing Grandpas & Other Zany Events Make Philly Fun All Year Long

In the 19th and 20th centuries, Philadelphia gained an international reputation for being a pretty quirky place, thanks to an underdog championship boxer movie character, dueling cheesesteak purveyors, the Mummers and, well, a cracked Bell. 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-February:

  • The perpetually sold-out SportsRadio 94 WIP’s Wing Bowl 21 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, WIP radio hosts and “Wingettes” the Friday morning before the Super Bowl. January 31, 2014. Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad Street, (215) 592-0610, 610wip.com
  • During the Young Friends of the Penn Museum Valentine Event, curators guide visitors through lively discussions (and galleries and exhibits) that romp through explorations of ancient love and sex, followed by a cocktail reception. This year’s topic is “Blurred Lines – The Secret Side of the Collections.” February 8, 2014. 3260 South Street, (215) 898-4045, penn.museum
  • Rollerblading Bingo Verifying Divas (BVDs)—dressed according to themes, such as rom-com, carnival, spring break and zombie wedding—hosts and audience members preside over Gay Bingo. Drag queens and their friends, also donning costumes, do up the five-letter game for charity. If a room full of rollerblading men dressed as Barbies (June’s theme) and Bingo aren’t entertaining enough, the BVDs lead game-show contests, lip synching and dancing. February 8, March 8, April 26, May 17 and June 14, 2014. Gershman Y, 401 S. Broad Street, (215) 731-9255, aidsfundphilly.org
  • Mile of Meet calls on brave single men to line up outside Manayunk Brewing Company and hold up numbers while women stream by them and note the prospective beaus who catch their eye. After the cattle call, the men and their suitors mingle over beers while moderators (and Ben FM radio DJ and perennial host Marilyn Russell) match them up. February 14, 2014. 4120 Main Street, (215) 482-8220, ilikebenfm.com
  • Through the entirety of Valentine’s Day weekend, humans get in touch with their primitive side as they learn about mating rituals of the animal kingdom and meet cute animal couples during the self-guided Wild at Heart tour at the Philadelphia Zoo. February 14-16, 2014. 3400 W. Girard Avenue, (215) 243-1100, philadelphiazoo.org
  • It’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 without the robots: Mega-Bad Movie Night brings together film geeks—and geeks in general—to laugh at some of the world’s worst movies. Held several times a year at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the adults-only event invites audience members to talk, drink beer, throw popcorn and hang out with live animals. Jurassic Park III will be the year’s first mega-bad (or mega-awesome, depending on perspective) feature. February 20, 2014. 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 299-1000, ansp.org

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 dressed as merry leprechauns visit various Irish pubs. A highlight/spectacle: the Micks running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rocky-style. March 8, 2014. Starts at Finnigan’s Wake, 3rd & Spring Garden Streets, (215) 574-9317, runningofthemicks.com

April:

  • Considering the fact that most men dress up in extravagant gowns and bouffant wigs to attend Black-Tie Gay Bingo, “black-tie” may not be the best descriptor for the gala. However, women do tend to opt for tuxes. No matter the gender or dress code, the whole crowd dines, dances, places bids in a silent auction and plays Gay Bingo at the annual AIDS fundraiser, held at The Crystal Tea Room. April 5, 2014. 100 E. Penn Square, (215) 627-5100, aidsfundphilly.org
  • Eating bugs, extracting DNA from a strawberry and sampling liquid nitrogen ice cream. It’s not a futuristic restaurant, it’s the Philadelphia Science Festival. The celebration consists of a week of cool (and relevant) science events held at venues ranging from The Franklin Institute and Chemical Heritage Foundation to Yards Brewing Company. The fest culminates in an outdoor carnival on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. April 25-May 3, 2014. philasciencefestival.org

May:

  • Owners of real, live goats bring their cloven-hoofed friends to race each other—and try to beat repeat winner Peggy, the three-hoofed goat—at Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery in Phoenixville. The winning goat gets a maibock named in his/her honor. It’s just one part of the Sly Fox Bock Festival & Goat Race. Those who aren’t lucky enough to own a goat enjoy what is believed to be the most extensive lineup of bock beers poured at any American brewpub in one day. May 4, 2014. Pikeland Village Square, 519 Kimberton Road, Phoenixville, (610) 935-4540, slyfoxbeer.com
  • 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, a mainstream crowd joins the brew-obsessed at 100+ events. Festivities include a beer-rep charity dunk tank party, an outdoor sumo wrestling tournament between brewers and the spectacle of the Hammer of Glory riding in silly vehicles to the ceremonial tapping of the first keg. May 30-June 8, 2014. phillybeerweek.org
  • 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. May 17, 2014. Norris Street between Trenton Avenue & York Street, (215) 427-0350, trentonaveartsfest.org

June:

  • 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, bartenders will tap 30 firkins beginning at noon because, as any amateur exorcist knows, it’s never too early to ward off the demons. June 13, 2014. 6235 Frankford Avenue, (215) 825-5357, greylodge.com
  • What do you get when you cross tattooed temptresses with skates? The Philly Roller Girls, of course. Each June, Philly’s premier all-female league hosts the East Coast Derby Extravaganza, a roller derby competition to crown the “baddest broads” on wheels. June 20-22, 2014. The Sportsplex, 1331 Oreilly Drive, Feasterville, (215) 355-2582, phillyrollergirls.com

July:

  • In July, cult film geeks flock to the historic Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, where many scenes of The Blob were filmed. Blobfest includes a weekend-long street party with a costume contest, live reenactments from the movie and an amateur filmmaking contest. July 11-13, 2014. 227 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, (610) 917-1228, thecolonialtheatre.com
  • Approximately 15 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. Brewers dress themselves according to theme, which in past years has consisted of sumo wrestlers and superheroes. July 12, 2014. 1516 Sansom Street, 2nd floor, (215) 569-9525, noddinghead.com
  • Americans relish storming the castle at Eastern State Penitentiary on Bastille Day, when re-enactors and attendees playfully recreate the storming of the Bastille at Philadelphia’s massive abandoned prison. The star of the Monty Python-esque street party is Marie Antoinette, who throws more than 2,000 Tastykakes to the crowd. July 14, 2014. 22nd Street & Fairmont Avenue, (215) 236-5111, easternstate.org

August:

  • Creepy crawlers of all shapes, sizes, colors and attitudes invade The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University for Bug Fest. Insect lovers can touch a furry tarantula or cheer for their favorite cockroaches during the roach race. This year’s “Beauty and the Beast” theme asks the question: What makes an insect beautiful or grotesque? August 9-10, 2014. 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 299-1000, ansp.org
  • Grandpas might want to train for Preston & Steve’s Grampy Grand Prix, a series of Go-Kart track races featuring the grandfathers of the WMMR’s loyal listeners. What’s at stake? The gramps are racing to win their grandchild (the one that nominated them to race) a prize, including possible trips to the Caribbean. Date and location TBD. wmmr.com
  • The annual Philly Geek Awards, presented by local blog Geekadelphia, celebrates geek culture by awarding individuals, groups, companies and organizations for innovation in endeavors like hacking and comic book design. The most coveted award at the black-tie and semi-tongue-in-cheek affair, held at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, is the “Geek of the Year.” Date TBD. 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 299-1000, geekadelphia.com

September:

  • Fungus fans can celebrate all things mushroom with 100,000 likeminded people at the Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square, the mushroom-growing capital of the nation. A weekend of chef events, culinary demos, tastings, symposia, crafts and an eating contest all revolve around, what else, mushrooms. September 6-7, 2014. (610) 925-3373, mushroomfestival.org
  • On Talk Like a Pirate Day, which spans an entire weekend this year, otherwise respectable citizens and their offspring can get away growling “aargh” and calling people “blitherin’ bilge rats.” Blackbeard types earn their pirate stripes at the Independence Seaport Museum’s Pirate’s Lair, where trainees draw treasure maps, play pirate games and attempt to outsmart a parrot. September 19, 2014. 211 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 413-8655, phillyseaport.org
  • Thousands of artists converge on Philly in the fall for the wild and innovative art party known as the Fringe Festival (formerly Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe). For two weeks, dancers, actors, playwrights, musicians, visual artists, videographers and puppeteers roam the city’s streets and fill its performance halls, including the new FringeArts home on Columbus Boulevard. Dates TBD. (215) 413-9006, fringearts.com
  • Each year, hundreds of cyclists shed their clothes—or at least most of them—for the Naked Bike Ride, a clothing-optional jaunt through city streets. It’s designed to call attention to the issues of conscious fuel consumption, positive body image and cycling advocacy. Date TBD. phillynakedbikeride.org

October:

  • In October, there’s no better place on the planet for a Harry Potter fan than Chestnut Hill, where Harry Potter Weekend goes down. It’s a spectacle, to say the least. Costumed characters, movie screenings, classes, ceremonies and equestrian events take over the usually quaint and quiet neighborhood. Restaurants and shops along Germantown Avenue transform themselves into recreations from the books, and a Knight Bus trolley provides transport for mortals participating in the butter beer pub crawl, The Hunt for the Horcrux scavenger hunt and the quidditch tournament. Dates TBD. chc.edu

November:

  • Day of the Dead celebrations may take place all over the world, but how many of them happen at a museum full of medical oddities? The Mütter Museum’s Annual Day of the Dead Festival beckons strong-stomached participants to decorate sugar skulls and enjoy traditional Mexican food and drink while surrounded by real skeletons and preserved body parts. November 2, 2014. 19 S. 22nd Street, (215) 563-3737, muttermuseum.org
  • It’s all about me at the First Person Festival of Memoir and Documentary Art, the only event of its kind in the world. The multidisciplinary festival features performance art, experiential tours, visual art exhibitions, concerts, film screenings and more—all devoted to the art of self-discovery and memoir. Past festival artists include comedienne Janeane Garofalo, celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson and poet Sonia Sanchez. Tentatively scheduled for November 5-15, 2014. (267) 402-2055, firstpersonarts.org

December:

  • In honor of the holidays, some 7,000 tipsy Santas sprint 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 6,999 Santas do. December 6, 2014, runningofthesantas.com/

January:

  • Setting the standard for quirky events, the Mummers Parade kicks off every New Year with 10,000 men, women and children spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on showy costumes and makeup to strut up Broad Street in a way that creates a fantastic spectacle. January 1, 2015. Broad Street from Washington Avenue to City Hall, phillymummers.com

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, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com 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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