Philadelphia and the Countryside - Press Room

Releases: Expanded View

Apr 1 2015

Summer 2015: A Blockbuster Season Of Fun In Philly

In Store: Tall Ships, Bike Share, Beer Gardens, Impressionists, Pop-up Parks & Festivals Galore

What are some other words for summer fun? Tall Ships. Fireworks. Festivals. Beer gardens. Pop-up parks. Philadelphia. This summer will go down as a season of non-stop, pull-out-all-the-stops fun in the city that scored a #3 placement on The New York Times’ influential “52 Places to Go in 2015” list.

Some of the summer highlights include the Tall Ships Philadelphia Camden festival; the launch of Indego, Philadelphia’s bike-sharing program; the eagerly awaited return of the acclaimed Spruce Street Harbor Park; and the season-long showing of Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Add in plenty of pop-up beer gardens and public art displays for an unforgettable Philly summer.

Here’s a look at what’s happening:

New Amenity: Bike Share:

  • What has 1,200 wheels and runs on pedal power? Indego, Philadelphia’s bike-share program, which launched this spring. The long-awaited human-powered public transportation system boasts 600 bikes available at more than 65 kiosks in Center City and parts of North, South and West Philadelphia. The easy-to-use system allows riders to rent a bike at one location and drop it off at another. May. Various locations.

Special Events:

  • 2015 marks 100 years for the S. 9th Street Italian Market Charter, but the monthly celebratory events prove that the market itself still boasts a youthful energy. Food is always at the forefront of events here, and hungry visitors can chow down at the annual S. 9th Street Italian Market Festival (May 16-17) and the Vendy Foods Awards Winners Circle Food Truck Event (June 19). Also on the docket are Multicultural Music Month activities (July) and the bocce and scopa tournaments (August). 9th Street between Wharton & Fitzwater Streets, (215) 278-2903,
  • The 50th Anniversary of the Gay Rights Movement kicks off in June with three exhibitions, including the opening of Speaking Out for Equality: The Constitution, Gay Rights, and the Supreme Court at the National Constitution Center. Other exhibitions and activities celebrating LGBT culture and heritage are planned for the William Way LGBT Community Center, the Free Library of Philadelphia, The African American Museum in Philadelphia, the Opera Company of Philadelphia and Taller Puertorriqueño, among others. The celebration’s signature events take place over Fourth of July weekend, with a reenactment of the Reminder Day demonstrations in front of Independence Hall hosted by comedienne Wanda Sykes, a wreath-laying ceremony at the historic marker that acknowledges the site of the demonstrations, panel discussions, a festival, concerts and more. June-December. Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street, (215) 409-6700,; various locations for other happenings,,
  • The billowing sails of 15 majestic vessels mark the arrival of the Tall Ships Philadelphia Camden festival. Docked along both sides of the Delaware River waterfront will be elegant tall ships from France, Brazil, Canada and all around the globe. Visitors can tour the ships, including the L’Hermione, a replica of the French naval ship that brought General Lafayette to America to help fight the British. Also on tap: live entertainment, hands-on activities, games and a spectacular fireworks display to close out the largest sailing event in the United States in 2015. June 25-28. Penn’s Landing, Columbus Boulevard at Walnut Street; Camden Waterfront,

Pop-Up Parks & Gardens:

  • Following a smashingly successful first season that earned “Best Urban Beach in the World” status from The Huffington Post, Spruce Street Harbor Park (SSHP) returns to Penn’s Landing to brighten up the summer. The hammocks, lounge chairs, oversized games, floating beer garden and twinkling lights all return in greater numbers. New this year is the Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest, featuring an outdoor roller rink (in place of the ice-skating rink that’s there during the winter), a boathouse-styled lodge, a play area for kids, tons of food and drink options from the Garces Group and summer events throughout the season. Opens May 22. SSHP, 401 S. Columbus Boulevard; Summerfest, 101 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 629-3200,
  • Philadelphia is one of four cities from around the world and the only U.S. city to host Saint-Gobain’s never-before-seen traveling exhibit Future Sensations, a high-concept, immersive experience featuring five distinct ephemeral pavilions. Science, storytelling and art highlight the innovations, wonders and advancements that have changed the face of the world over the past few centuries and show off future innovations. Founded in 1665, Saint-Gobain celebrates 350 years as a world leader in high performance materials and solutions for sustainable building with this epic traveling exhibit, making stops in China, Brazil and France. May 30-June 6. The Oval, 24th Street & Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 422-4169,,

Arts Inside & Out:

  • Horace Pippin: The Way I See It is the nation’s first major exhibition of the artist’s works in more than two decades. The show at the Brandywine River Museum of Art features more than 60 works that capture Pippin’s bold, colorful and candid paintings reflecting life in the African-American community and commenting on race, religion, war and history. April 25-July 19. U.S. Route 1 by Creek Road, (610) 388-2700,
  • Mark Dion, Judy Pfaff, Fred Wilson: The Order of Things features three new large-scale installations by these internationally renowned artists. Commissioned for the show, each work is a response to the unconventional way that Dr. Albert C. Barnes chose to display his collection. The exhibition also features an installation designed by Barnes—a small room in the Merion gallery building that was replaced by an elevator shaft in the 1990s. May 16-August 3. 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 278-7000,
  • There’s big, bigger and then there’s Mural Arts’ new project: Open Source: Engaging Audiences in Public Space, the city’s biggest site-specific public art project to date. Fourteen artists from around the world work in various communities around the city to create a major piece of public art resulting from their interactions. Among the artists, whose works range from sculpture to murals to street art, are JR, Shepard Fairey, Sam Durant, Odili Donald Odita, Sterling Ruby, SWOON and Michelle Angela Ortiz. June launch, with most events taking place in October. Various locations. (215) 685-0750,
  • Bravo to Opera Philadelphia, celebrating its 40th anniversary with a season of premieres and casts that possess an unprecedented roster of operatic firepower. The acclaimed Lawrence Brownlee will star in the world premiere of Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD, a dramatic imagining of the tortured jazz soloist’s personal purgatory, revisiting the inspirations, demons and women who fueled his creative genius. June 5-14. Kimmel Center, Broad & Spruce Streets, (215) 893-1018,
  • Main Street transforms into a giant outdoor art gallery for the Manayunk Arts Festival. The juried show represents works by more than 300 artisans from around the country. June 20-21. Main Street, (215) 482-9565,
  • Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting celebrates the ambitious and visionary Parisian art dealer who supported and helped elevate a new style of painting. On view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, its only U.S. stop, the exhibition showcases approximately 95 impressionist works, making it bigger and more comprehensive than its showings at the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris and the National Gallery in London. Art lovers enjoy works by Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley, Degas, Manet and others. June 24-September 13. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100,
  • Come for the flowers, stay for Nightscape: A Light & Sound Experience at Longwood Gardens. As visitors wander through the evening gardens, they encounter moving images that originated in the studios of the Klip Collective, but use the plants, trees and landscape as the canvas. Enhancing the visual images are choreographed lights, specially commissioned soundscapes and scores by John Barthmus, Julian Grefe and Justin Geller. July 1-October 31. 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, (610) 388-1000,

A Historical Perspective:

  • Creating Camelot: The Kennedy Photography Of Jacques Lowe offers a peek into the private and public lives of President Kennedy and his family in the years leading up to his election. The 70 photographs in the exhibition at the National Constitution Center, many of which have never been seen before, were among the few that could be restored after more than 40,000 of Lowe’s original negatives, which had been stored in a vault in the World Trade Center, were destroyed. Through September 7. 525 Arch Street, (215) 409-6700,
  • The National Museum of American Jewish History is the exclusive U.S. venue for Richard Avedon: Family Affairs, featuring striking photographs that helped define America’s perceptions of beauty, politics and power. The exhibit showcases more than 70 works by the renowned photographer, including a massive mural of beat poet Allen Ginsberg and his family, a group portrait of Andy Warhol and the Factory and a series of portraits published by Rolling Stone on the eve of the 1976 presidential election. April 1-August 2. 5th & Market Streets, (215) 923-3811,
  • From an illiterate, unsophisticated warrior to a world conqueror, Genghis Khan evolved into one of the most powerful leaders in history. In The Franklin Institute’s blockbuster interactive exhibition Genghis Khan: Bring the Legend to Life, visitors can time travel to 13th-century Mongolia. Vibrant marketplaces and battlegrounds, hundreds of weapons, jewels, saddles and armor recreate a vanished world. They can even launch catapults and fire arrows and play a general, princess or spy. May 9-January 3. 222 N. 20th Street, (215) 448-1200,

A Family Affair:

  • It took a staggering one million-plus LEGO bricks to create The Art of the Brick, on view at The Franklin Institute and comprised of more than 100 works of art made using the popular toy. All ages will appreciate the LEGO recreations of acclaimed artworks such as van Gogh’s Starry Night and Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, a 20-foot-long T. rex, a Liberty Bell created especially for the Philadelphia iteration of this exhibit and much more. Through October 4. 222 N. 20th Street, (215) 448-1200,
  • Recycling is second nature at the Philadelphia Zoo, so, of course, their new art installation Second Nature is fashioned from recycled materials. A dozen artists have reused and repurposed unexpected materials to draw attention to the plight of endangered animals. The exhibit includes a 13-foot-tall blue gorilla sculpted entirely of recycled car parts, two giant nine-foot-tall pink rabbits fashioned from recycled plastic and a menacing five-foot-long alligator molded from chewing gum. April 11-October 31. One month later on May 16, the zoo opens its Gorilla Treeway, the newest addition to its first-in-the-world animal travel and exploration trail system called Zoo360. The treeway gives the zoo’s Western lowland gorillas the ability to enjoy long-distance travel in a mesh passageway positioned overhead. 3400 W. Girard Avenue, (215) 243-1100,
  • Sesame Place turns the big 3-5 this year and celebrates with a birthday-themed parade, birthday décor throughout the park and three new seasonal rides. Even Elmo’s Eatery gets a makeover for the occasion. As always, everyone’s favorite, furry monsters pop up to greet their adoring fans. May 2-December 31. 100 Sesame Road, Langhorne, (866) GO-4-ELMO (464-3566),
  • It’s slimy, stinky and downright yucky, which means kids will love Animal Grossology, an exhibition about the ickiest creatures on earth. Based on the best-selling children’s book series Grossology, the interactive exhibit at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University oozes with disgusting science and entertaining learning games that explain why the dung beetle is called nature’s pooper scooper, why cows chew cud and how snail and slug slime could potentially become medical treatments. May 16-August 30. 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 299-1000,
  • Fans of Lyle, the city-dwelling crocodile that lives in a Victorian brownstone with the Primm family, will be delighted with the exhibition Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile And Friends: The Art Of Bernard Waber at the National Museum of American Jewish History. Original illustrations and writings reveal how Waber created the lovable hero of the classic children’s picture books and also highlight his work as a designer. Special activities and programs are also in the works. August 27-November 1. 101 S. Independence Mall West, (215) 923-3811,

Annual Favorites:

  • It’s the largest beer celebration in the United States. Lasting 10 days and nights, Philly Beer Week attracts people from all over who come together for beer-pairing dinners, beer gardens, spirited homebrew competitions, citywide pub crawls and meet-and-greets. New this year: a one-day stop in Philly for Street Pub, the world’s biggest transportable bar; special activities for Yards Brewing Company’s 20th anniversary; and Beer Oyster Cult, a special night of oyster and beer pairings at various bars and restaurants. May 29-June 7. Various locations,
  • For music lovers, the unofficial start of summer begins with the Roots Picnic, a daylong festival featuring Philly’s hometown heroes and house band for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Once again, the guys have locked down some of the hottest names in the music business, including The Weeknd, Erykah Badu, A$AP Rocky, Phantogram, DJ Mustard and Rae Sremmurd. May 30. Festival Pier, Columbus Boulevard & Spring Garden Street,
  • Cheering crowds pack the streets for the giant neighborhood party that accompanies the annual Philadelphia International Cycling Classic. This race brings some of the world’s best riders to take on “The Wall,” Manayunk’s steepest topographic challenge. New this year, recreational cyclists can ride the closed course before the pros. June 7.
  • Based on Yoruba traditions, ODUNDE, the largest African-American street festival in the country, celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2015. The festival marks the New Year for Africans and African-Americans around the world with a procession, ceremonial offering, live entertainment and an African marketplace with crafts from more than 100 vendors stretching over 12 city blocks. June 14. (215) 732-8510,
  • Philadelphia celebrates America’s birthday like no place else. In the week leading up to Independence Day, Wawa Welcome America! lights up the city with concerts, fireworks, historic re-enactments, Wawa Hoagie Day and other family-friendly activities. Then on July 4, the granddaddy of all concerts takes over the Benjamin Franklin Parkway with Miguel and Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland performing with the backing of The Roots and a grand-finale fireworks display. June 27-July 4. Various locations.

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® 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.

On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, and, 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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Philadelphians love their festivals. Whether it’s local artisans and craftspeople sharing their wares on Penn’s Landing, a celebration of the fall season in Midtown Village, a traditional Yoruba-style street fair on South Street or a craft beer party on East Passyunk Avenue, there’s always a reason to celebrate in neighborhoods in and around Center City. The following are some mark-the-calendar happenings for 2013:


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