The Philadelphia events scene is really revving up again as we inch closer to fall. Is it the cooler weather? Are our vaccines giving us more freedom to venture out into the world again? Whatever the reason, there’s an exciting energy in the air, and lots of fun, creative things to do around town to go along with it.
For starters, there’s a cool new Night Market series debuting in Northern Liberties on Thursday night, with food trucks, street games, live music and more happening along 2nd Street. Philly Fashion Week also kicks off, giving the local sartorial set a chance to schmooze with local and international designers at parties and runway shows Tuesday through Saturday.
Looking ahead, the weekend includes the start of Eastern State Penitentiary’s massive haunted attraction for 2021, the Rittenhouse Row Festival and Morgan’s Pier launches its weeks-long fall festival to the Delaware River Waterfront.
This list gets two major updates each week—usually on Mondays and Thursdays—so stop by regularly for an ever-growing list of the best things to do in Philadelphia throughout the week and weekend. Have event ideas or suggestions about how I could make this list better? Email me at [email protected].
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN PHILLY THIS WEEK
- ENDLESS SUMMER COCKTAIL SOIREE: Fishtown cocktail bar R&D—a recent Best of Philly winner—welcomes California aperitif-maker Lo-Fi for a swanky Endless Summer-themed party that features delicious drinks made by Lo-Fi and live music from DJ Corey Duncan. It’s all going down on Hump Day, Wednesday, September 22, from 5 to 8pm.
- NORTHERN LIBERTIES NIGHT MARKET: The revelers behind 2nd St Festival debut its first-ever Northern Liberties Night Market on Thursday, September 23, from 5 to 10pm. Taking place on 2nd Street between Fairmount and Poplar streets, the gathering will include an energetic hub of food trucks, live music, circus performances, lawn games and more. Going forward, the series will continue on a biannual basis, with gatherings happening each spring and fall.
- PHILLY FASHION WEEK: Now that our sartorial appetites have been whetted by the Met Gala, Philly Fashion Week, happening now through September 25, is welcoming models and designers from around the world to showcase their latest fashions during five days of events throughout the city. Look out for a kickoff party in the Fashion District on September 22, and two runways shows on the 24th and 25th at 2300 Arena.
- CHECK OUT THE NEW HALLOWEEN BAR: The owners behind last winter’s holiday-themed cocktail bar Tinsel just opened a new pop-up Halloween bar known as Nightmare Before Tinsel. The concept is more of a bar-haunted house hybrid, with spooky rooms and hallways to explore, encounters with grim reapers and gory art displays. The menu features 10 beers on draft and in cans, and eight themed cocktails, including the glowing Ecto Cooler Shot, with Crystal Head vodka, Midori, pineapple juice and gummy-fied brains.
- CENTER CITY RESTAURANT WEEK: Dozens of restaurants are taking part in Center City Restaurant Week, happening September 18 to September 30. Here’s the deal: three-course dinners are $40 per person, and lunches, where applicable, are $25. At some spots, deals extend to takeout orders, too. And if you’re curious, here’s a list of participating restaurants with outdoor seating.
- PHILLY FRINGE FESTIVAL 2021: The 25th annual festival of outside-the-box theater is running now through October 3 in venues across Philadelphia. The itinerary includes a whopping 179 productions and experiences by some of the city and world’s most inventive artists and groups, such as The Bearded Ladies Cabaret, Nichole Canuso Dance Company, Pig Iron Theatre Company, New Paradise Laboratories and Elevator Repair Service.
- FALL FUN OUTSIDE THE CITY: For peak fall-in-Pennsylvania feels, head outside the city beginning this week to visit some farms and villages throughout the region that are kicking off their seasonal activities.
- First off, you’ve got the 42nd annual Scarecrows in the Village festival at Peddler’s Village, running from now through October 30, where you can rub shoulders with hundreds of local-made scarecrows and enjoy seasonal drinks and food.
- You can do some pumpkin- and apple-picking, hay-riding and more at Fall Fest at Shady Brook Farm (through Oct. 31) and Pumpkinland at Linvilla Orchards (through Nov. 7).
WHAT TO DO THIS WEEKEND IN PHILLY
- HALLOWEEN NIGHTS @ ESP: The imposing prison fortress is Fairmoung gears up for Halloween wit a festival-style event called Halloween Nights, happening September 24 to November 13. Fifteen different attractions—including two haunted houses—are spread throughout 10 acres of prison yards and spooky hallways. The experience is enhanced with state-of-the-art sound and light shows, live performances, and no less than four themed bars and lounges.
- FALL FEST @ MORGAN’S PIER: Waterfront beer garden Morgan’s Pier rounds out its open season with a five-week-long fall festival, happening September 24 to October 30. The fest finds the breezy oasis decked out in haystacks, seasonal flowers and foliage, and autumn-perfect brews galore. For $5 to $10, you can even head into the Pier’s Pumpkin Patch to grab a gourd that you can carve while you sip your adult beverages.
- RITTENHOUSE ROW FESTIVAL: The popular street fest in one of Philly’s toniest ’hoods returns for a post-Covid romp on Saturday, September 25. More details are forthcoming.
- HANG WITH GOATS: The Philly Goat Project is bringing out its herd of bearded ones for two fun events this week: First up, on Saturday, September 25, from 11 to noon, do a 45-minute yoga flow with a small herd of Nigerian dwarf goats in the sunny atrium at West Laurel Hill Cemetery‘s conservatory. Later that night, from 5 to 7pm, it’s a happy hour with goats at The Farm at Awbury, where you can participate in a raffle to win some goat-made art.
- FEMINIST FLEA MARKET: The roving market specializing in a variety of awesome, creative goods made by local female and female-identifying artists and curators hits the parking lot at Love City Brewing on Saturday, September 25, from noon to 7pm. Shoppers can browse through all kinds of goods—from homewares and greeting cards to artwork and reconstructed clothing. The best part? Every market that pops up benefits an worthy local nonprofit (here’s the impact shoppers made during the last market). This time around, more than half of your $5 entry fee will go straight to the Coalition for Black Trans Economic Liberation (CBTEL), an organization working to lift Black, transgender people in Philadelphia out of poverty.
- FALL FOR THE ARTS FESTIVAL: On September 26, from 11am to 5pm, Chestnut Hill welcomes more than 150 artists from around the country to sell their goods along Germantown Avenue during the Fall for the Arts Festival. Besides the chance to shop and browse all the art you can imagine, the day features live music on two stages, makers villages where you can make your own masterpieces, and of course seasonal food and drinks galore.
- CONCERT IN WASHINGTON SQUARE: Head to Washington Square on Sunday, September 26, starting at 3pm, to see live classical, jazz and choral performances that speak to the park’s history as a gathering place for African-Americans. Ned Scharff of The Athenaeum of Philadelphia, a co-presenter of the free concert, says he hopes to make it a regular occurrence.
- NEW ART EXHIBITIONS: Art lovers can find two brand new exhibitions opening this week and weekend in Philly: “Blood Moon,” at the Fabric Workshop and Museum (Sept. 24 to Feb 20) showcases the darkly humorous video works of artists Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley. And over on the Parkway, the Barnes Foundation rolls out an exciting collection of paintings by groundbreaking French artist Suzanne Valadon in “Suzanne Valadon: Model, Painter, Rebel (Sept. 26 to Jan. 9).
- TRAVELING ARTS MOBILE: Local performance-art troupe the Bearded Ladies are revving up the engine on their Beardmobile once again. The 1500-foot box truck transforms into a main stage, where the Beards and other local queer and queer-friendly creatives will perform in different locations throughout fall—through October 16. Go here to see the full itinerary, which this weekend includes a stop at William Way LGBT Community Center (Sept. 26, 6:30pm) with local band Ill Doots.
THINGS TO DO AT PHILADELPHIA ATTRACTIONS
Some of Philly’s most iconic attractions are booming this summer with fun, socially distant activities. Here’s some stuff worth checking out:
- Spruce Street Harbor Park is open on the Delaware river with its covetable hammocks, arcade games, floating bar and Philly food staples galore—from pretzels to water ice to crab fries and tacos.
- Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest keeps visitors entertained for hours with roller skating, ferris wheel rides, boardwalk games, mini-golf, an arcade and all kinds of summertime grub, such as funnel cakes, cotton candy, chicken wings, crab fries and beer, beer, beer.
- Parks On Tap, Philly’s beloved pop-up beer garden, is open at Water Works behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Besides idyllic views of the museum and water, the setup offers a menu full of snacks, sandwiches and sweets, plus beers, wines and specialty cocktails. For more, including safety protocols and hours of operation, go here.
- You could stop by Dilworth Park any day of the week for lunch or dinner at the Air Grille, watch kids playing in the fountains, try an outdoor fitness class (Mondays and Tuesdays, 6pm), hear live music at lunchtime (Wednesdays and Thursdays, noon–1pm), and catch an outdoor movie (Thursdays, 8:15pm).
- There are all kinds of fun things to do at Franklin Square this summer, including mini golf, riding the carousel and ogling musical fountain shows. See a full itinerary of events here.
- Bok Bar, the South Philly rooftop bar with gobsmacking views of the Philadelphia skyline (and then some), is open with a fun slate of weekly activities, such as restaurant pop-ups, drag brunches, rooftop yoga sessions, maker workshops and tons more. You can find the full schedule here. Plan ahead; reservations are required in lieu of Covid safety protocols.
- Cherry Street Pier is always bustling with some kind of activity—whether it’s art shows or food markets or visitors just sitting back, beer in hand, and gazing at the beautiful Delaware River views.
- Fairmount Park, Philadelphia’s largest park is a perfect place to spend a sunny Saturday or Sunday afternoon hiking trails, touring historic mansions or taking a kayak tour along the Schuylkill. Don’t know where to start? Consult the Fairmount Park Conservancy’s digital guide to the park to discover four different trails to explore. You could also check out the organization’s events calendar for upcoming to-dos, such as birdwatching tours, outdoor exercise classes and romantic moonlit strolls.
- Eastern State Penitentiary is offering after-dark tours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights through September 4. Guests will have a chance to explore everything the daytime tours offer (like Al Capone’s cell), but under the eery light of the moon—plus grab a beer from Triple Bottom Brewing Company in the prison’s Fair Chance Beer Garden.
- The Philadelphia Zoo, the nation’s oldest zoo, is always a fun place to spend a weekend or chill weekday afternoon. For now, guests can walk among massive animatronic dinosaurs in a prehistoric setting at special exhibition “Big Time: Life in an Endangerous Age.”
- Shofuso Japanese house and gardens in Fairmount Park is now open for spring tours.