Have Fun, Do Good: Festival City

Major neighborhood festivals, a quirky Poe-themed relay race in Northern Liberties and more fun things to do in Philadelphia this weekend for a great cause

Have Fun, Do Good: Festival City

Major neighborhood festivals, a quirky Poe-themed relay race in Northern Liberties and more fun things to do in Philadelphia this weekend for a great cause

We hope you’re ready for an activity-filled fall weekend in Philly.

There’s so much happening around the city this weekend that you might feel overwhelmed, but at least you’ll know that—at least in the case of the events we outline below—that you’ve exhausted yourself for a slew of excellent causes.

For starters, there are blockbuster annual neighborhood festivals like Old City Fest and OutFest—two excellent ways to support local businesses and celebrate diversity in this City of Brotherly Love.

A quirky tour series at the Barnes Foundation gives you the chance to explore the museum’s world-class collection of art with community activists serving as docents, and Halloween comes early at a new relay race in Northern Liberties, where runners hit an obstacle course dressed like Edgar Allan Poe and then finish the day at a community fete in Liberty Lands Park.

Find details on all that and more in our guide to the week’s best do-gooder events below.

Things to Do in Philly This Weekend for a Good Cause

1. Barnes Jawn(t)s at the Barnes Foundation

Artist Starfire wears large glasses and glows glitter into the camera.
Photo courtesy Starfire / Barnes Foundation

The Barnes Foundation reprises its quirky Barnes Jawn(ts) event that gives locals a chance to explore the museum’s renowned art collection with a whole new set of eyes. Here’s the deal: The Barnes invites six captivating local personalities—all from different backgrounds—to act as docents, leading guests on specialized, not-your-average-museum-tour tours. Attendees can choose which guide they want to follow from a list that includes burlesque performer HoneyTree EvilEye, visual artist Wit López, “MC extraordinaire” Starfire (pictured) and Esteban Kelly, executive director of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives. Admission is pay-what-you-wish—with a $15 suggested donation—and you can bet that no two tours will be the same. Friday, October 11, various times beginning at 6 p.m., $15 suggested donation, Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. 

2. Poe Relay Raid in Northern Liberties

A fake raven looks on as an image of Edgar Allen Poe hovers in the background.
Photo courtesy Kory Aversa

Pull out your faux ‘stache and slick back your hair for Northern Liberties Business Improvement District (NLBID)’s first annual relay race that requires participants to run through the streets dressed like Philly son Edgar Allan Poe. Using ravens in place of batons, teams of four zoom along an obstacle course filled with “unique challenges that will test their sanity, wit and perseverance.” Whomever prevails gets the day’s prize: the Tell Tale Heart trophy. In the end, everybody wins, though. The relay concludes with a neighborhood festival at Liberty Lands Park featuring food and booze, Poe-themed games and a costume contest. Money earned from food and drink sales go straight back to NLBID for community programming and upkeep. Saturday, October 12, noon–4 p.m., free, race starts at Fairmount and N. American streets.

3. Vive Philly! at Maronite Hall

A young Latina woman dances at El Carnaval de Puebla in Philadelphia.
Photo courtesy R. Kennedy / Visit Philadelphia

A lively cultural festival in South Philly this weekend welcomes the Mexican community and allies for a day of eating, live entertainment and tons of activities for kids. The event has a dual purpose: fun and fellowship, of course, but also to provide attendees with the resources they need to combat what organizers are calling a mental health crisis within the Mexican community that includes depression, alcoholism, and feelings of isolation and dislocation. High attendance and support from locals would send a resounding message that the Mexican population is a vital part of this city that contributes to Philadelphia in more ways than they imagine. Saturday, October 12, noon–6 p.m., Maronite Hall, 1013 Ellsworth Street. 

4. Old City Fest in Old City

Hundreds of attendees fill the street for Old City Fest
Photo courtesy CJ Dawson Photography

One of the fall season’s blowout street festivals returns to Old City with blocks upon blocks of fun things to do with family and friends. More than two dozen neighborhood restaurants and bars like Franklin Fountain, Royal Boucherie and Rebel Taco sell food and drink on the street; local boutiques put on fashion shows to show off their wares; and Mural Arts Philadelphia hosts a paint by number-style mural painting project. The festival is totally free, so swing over and get your fall fest on with your fellow Philadelphians. Sunday, October 13, 11 a.m.–6 p.m., free to attend, N. 3rd and Arch streets. 

5. OutFest in the Gayborhood

Two ladies dressed in head-to-toe rainbow gear smile for the camera at OutFest in Philadelphia
Photo courtesy Jeff Fusco / Visit Philadelphia

Friday, October 11, is National Coming Out Day, a global initiative to celebrate all of us who’ve come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer. Philadelphia marks the occasion with a somber rainbow flag-raising ceremony on October 10, but things get rowdy when OutFest—the world’s largest NCOD festival—hits the Gayborhood on Sunday. Thousands of people, more than 170 vendor booths, outdoor food and drink stations and a massive entertainment stage take over more than 10 blocks in the neighborhood for the celebration. Slip on your favorite pair of rainbow booty shorts and join the fun! Sunday, October 11, noon–7 p.m., free to attend, 13th and Locust streets. 

6. Site/Sound Festival at the Rail Park Week 2

A large outdoor projection on the side of a building shows a woman with a laser coming out of her mouth. The project is part of the Mural Arts Philadelphia Site Sound Festival
Photo courtesy Steve Weinik

The Site/Sound Festival at the Rail Park rolls into its second weekend. Spearheaded by Mural Arts Philadelphia, the free multimedia arts festival is inspired by Philadelphia’s Rail Park, and features all kinds of innovative large-scale art installations, musical and dance performances, and sound and light displays that highlight the ways in which art can bring people together and enhance public spaces. There’s something new to see each week. Here’s what’s happening the first weekend, including a performance by BEEP (the Boyer College Electroacoustic Ensemble Project). Check out the full Site/Sound schedule hereSaturdays through October 19, 5:30–9pm, The Rail Park, Broad and Noble streets. 

More things to do in Philly this week for a great cause


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  • Raise your voice for the trans community at the 9th annual Philly Trans March in West Philly.
  • The Buns Out underwear bash at Gayborhood leather bar The Bike Stop benefits the Black Sex Workers Collective.
  • Philly Vegan Restaurant Week begins October 13, so get out and try some of the city’s best meat-free eateries, like Bar Bombon and Charlie was a sinner.
  • Mark Indigenous People’s Day at a Saturday fest at Penn Treaty Park.
Photo Courtesy Old City District

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