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Halloween 🎃

Celebrating the spooky season in Philly

Celebrate the Halloween during Fall Fest & Spooky Saturday on East Passyunk Avenue in South Philly on October 30, when streets and sidewalks will play home to costume contests—for dogs and for humans—live music, vendors of all varieties, and food and drink galore from the neighborhood’s amazing restaurants.

Waterside beer garden Morgan’s Pier closes out its season with a Halloween bash for the 21-and-up crowd. Local drag legend Brittany Lynn plays host for the night, which features an open bar, live DJs, Halloween games and contests and more.

Center City’s Concourse Dance Bar (the joint with an ice bar and a ball pit) is hosting an adults-only Halloween bash on October 30, featuring circus performers, drag queen hosts, costume contests and DJs spinning throughout the evening. Ticket information is expected soon.

The Pennsylvania SPCA hosts a drive-in movie screening of Hocus Pocus on October 30 at the IKEA parking lot in South Philly. Tickets are $45 per car load, with proceeds benefitting the PSPCA.

The Museum of the American Revolution celebrates Halloween weekend, from October 30 to 31 with turnip-carving demos. and more. Heads up: Kids who show up in costume get $2 off admission.

Put Fido in a costume and take him to the Hound-O-Ween Fall Festival in Northern Liberties on October 31, where he can strut on stage with 40 other pups to win prizes (up to $500!) and all the oohs and aahs his heart desires. The day also includes fun for owners: food trucks, live music, shopping vendors and more.

In lieu of its annual haunted attraction Terror Behind the Walls, Eastern State Penitentiary is hosting a festival-style event called Halloween Nights (Sept. 24–Nov. 13), where 15 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.

During the entire month of October, Franklin Square in Old City is spooking-up its mini golf course with spider webs, fog, and eerie tunes and lights. Then, on October 30, the festivities peak with Trick-or-Treat Street, which gives little ones a chance to visit and pick up treats from houses set up around the park.

Kids are welcome to visit the Philadelphia Zoo in costume during Boo at the Zoo, happening select weekend days from through October 31. The Zoo will be decorated for fall, and kids will love all the moving beasts on display in the massive dinosaur exhibit Big Time, which has been extended through November 1.

Fall in Philly 🍁

Make plans for leaf and pumpkin season

Despite the ups and downs of Covid-19, Philadelphia is planning for a somewhat normal autumn, with music festivals, neighborhood block parties, arts fairs and tons of outdoor opportunities for when you want to get out of the city to do all the quintessential fall things, such apple-picking, hay-riding, cider-chugging and hiking.

Make plans with our guide to fall in Philly, which lays out all the best to-dos happening now through Thanksgiving. Here are a few things you can do almost every day this season:

🍁 Go pumpkin- and apple-picking, climb on haystacks and more at Fall Fest at Shady Brook Farm (now through Oct. 31) and Pumpkinland at Linvilla Orchards (now through Nov. 7).

🍁 Ogle hundreds of locally made scarecrows (while trying yummy seasonal drinks and grub) at Peddler’s Village’s Scarecrows in the Village festival (now through–Oct. 30).

🍁 From November 6 to 7, you can reap all the benefits of the fruit-picking season at Peddler’s Village’s Apple Weekend, where you can try all the apple-based things you can imagine: pies, fritters, cider, and the list goes on and on …

🍁 Plan a day (or several of them!) to explore Fairmount Park, which is a gem of a spot to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon this fall—especially after the leaves change. You could just show up and set out on one of its many hiking trails, or plan your day around some events. Veteran hike leader Brad Maule leads a once-monthly Morning on the Meadows hike to view the sunrise over Philly from the Belmont Plateau. This digital guide will tell you all you need to know to get the most out of the park.

🍁 There’s so much to do in Wissahickon Park—whether it’s hiking one of its 50 miles of rugged, breathtaking trails, biking along Forbidden Drive, horseback riding, spin and fly fishing in Wissahickon Creek, or trying to spot some of the 200 species of birds that live in the park. Sunday brunch at Valley Green Inn is always a win.

🍁 We’re so lucky to live in Philadelphia, where there are so many nearby opportunities to be around trees, open land, rivers and streams. Check out this guide for ideas on where to go hiking near Philadelphia—including Tohickon Valley Park, Hickory Run State Park and that place where the rocks actually sing.

What to Do in Philly This Week

Take down zombies at a brand new archery range in Callowhill, get blasted with Halloween candy at Candytopia and more happening in your city this week

What to Do in Philly This Week

Take down zombies at a brand new archery range in Callowhill, get blasted with Halloween candy at Candytopia and more happening in your city this week

Looking to do a little event pre-gaming before Halloween? Philadelphia is full of spooky things to do all week long.

There’s the actual creepy stuff, like the gory Halloween pop-up bar in Midtown Village, and 10 acres of haunted attractions at Eastern State Penitentiary, which is spooky even without the haunted houses.

You could also go the cutesy route, with a trip to Candytopia, which is Halloween-themed starting Thursday, or Franklin Square, where you can drink beers while playing mini golf on a course that’s decorated with skeletons and spider webs.

If you want to check out something brand new, Callowhill Archery is opening its doors for the first time on Wednesday with a chance to shoot zombies with bows and arrows.

Find details on all these things and more—including a drag comedy show in a cemetery and a Garces Peruvian pop-up in University City—in the chronological list of to-dos below. And stay tuned for our guide to things to do in Philly this weekend for even more Halloween ideas.

This list gets updated almost daily, so be sure to stop by regularly for more ideas about what to do this week. Is there anything I can do to make the list better? Email me at [email protected].

WHAT TO DO IN PHILLY THIS WEEK


Callowhill Archery opens Wednesday with a zombie survival challege package. | Photo by Ken Huang

SHOOT ZOMBIES WITH ARROWS: Brand new Philadelphia indoor archery range Callowhill Archery marks its grand opening on Wednesday, October 27, with a “How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse” package, which includes safety training, bow form and basic shooting techniques. From there, you’ll have time to practice before going head to head with other players to see how many zombies you can take down with your newfound skills. The zombie challenge goes till November 4, at which point they’ll debut a whole new themed event. 🧟‍♂️

Savor the flavors of Peru during a one-night-only Jose Garces pop-up dinner on Wednesday.

GARCES PERUVIAN POP-UP: On Wednesday, October 27, at 7pm, Philly restauranteur Jose Garces is hosting a pop-up at Distrito in University City that pays homage to his South American heritage and explorations of Peru. He’s teaming up with his Peruvian rotisserie chicken restaurant Rustika Pollo a la Brasa for a menu that includes avocado salad, yucca cheese bread with guava butter, rotisserie chicken and potatoes, and asparagus a la plancha. All orders come with a complimentary Pisco Sour.

You can order candy-laden treats at Insomnia Cookies’ CookieLab through Halloween.

GET A HALLOWEEN COOKIE: Insomnia Cookies’ quirky (and kind of secret) CookieLab in East Passyunk is decked out for Halloween now through October 31, and serving up milkshakes and cookies loaded with Halloween candies.

Take a tour of the hallowed Penn Museum with this kooky cast of characters every Thursday evening in October. | Photo by Joe Mac

DRAG TOURS @ PENN MUSEUM: Lili St. Queer and Eric Jaffe (pictured above in the red and blue wigs) are leading the final installment of their wacky tours around the Penn Museum on Thursday, October 28, at 6pm. Try to get in if you can. The romp has been a big, sold-out success. If you can’t, follow these two queens on Instagram to find out what they’ll be up to next. Whatever it is, you can be sure it’ll be a rollicking good time.

Throw on a costume and polish your sweet tooth for a visit to Candytopia’s Halloween-themed exhibit happening Thursday through Sunday.

PLAY IN A HALLOWEEN CANDY WONDERLAND: Candytopia, the sweets-centric interactive pop-up museum in the Philadelphia Fashion District is switching into Halloween mode for the weekend with black and orange candy shooting out of those pig butt cannons, candy scarecrows, smoking cauldrons and more. Guests are encouraged to come in costume—and to bring their sweet tooth. You can catch it all going down from Thursday, October 28, to Sunday, October 31.

Philly’s favorite aunt, Mary Pat, will have you in stitches at a comedy show Thursday night at West Laurel Hill Cemetery.

AUNT MARY PAT’S BOO BASH: Oh-so-Philly drag queen and comedian Aunt Mary Pat is performing two shows in West Laurel Hill Cemetery on Thursday, October 28, at 7 and 9:30pm. Proceeds from the $20 ticket sales benefit First Person Arts.

Joan Semmel, Centered, 2002. Oil on canvas, 48 x 53 in. Courtesy of the Green Family Art Foundation and Adam Green Art Advisory, ©Joan Semmel/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Dan Bradica.

NEW ART EXHIBIT: The wonderful Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts debuts a new in-person exhibition this week: “Joan Semmel: Skin in the Game,” the very first career retrospective of the iconic American feminist painter. More than 50 works in the installation follow Semmel throughout her career—from her early days as an abstract-impressionist painter to her groundbreaking feminist art to the work she is still creating today. The exhibition is on view from October 28 to April 3, 2022.

Dancers in the Pennsylvania Ballet
The Philadelphia Ballet launches into its new season with The Spark—a program of three ballets, two of which are world premieres.

LAST CHANCE BALLET: The Philadelphia Ballet’S The Spark is a program of “bold, contemporary ballets,” at the Performance Garage in the Spring Arts District. The limited-run program is inspired by the notion that art can lift us up—be a spark, if you will—even in troubled times. The program includes three works, including two world premieres, that I’m told “are deeply reflective of our contemporary moment.” Catch it running on select days through October 30.

Choreographer and dancer Gunner Montana in a scene from Hotel Montana, running in Philly through November 14. | Photo by Garrett Matthew

HAVE A THEATER NIGHT: A sexy, neon-hued celebration of queerness set to a “pop-infused rollercoaster soundtrack”; a dark musical comedy about a ferryman charged with carrying departed souls to the great beyond—these are a just few of the live performances happening on stages across Philly right now. Support the arts. Go see something that sounds intriguing. Check out Theatre Philadelphia for ideas. It’s the most reliable source for finding out what’s on stages in the city right now.

WEEKEND: Looking for things to do in Philly this weekend? Check out our top picks for events happening this Friday through Sunday. 

The outdoor seating area at Dahlak in West Philly
Dahlak on Baltimore Avenue is one of the 20-plus restaurants participating in University City Dining Days, running October 20 to 31. | Photo by Katherine Rapin

UNIVERSITY CITY DINING DAYS: It’s the season of Restaurant Weeks in Philadelphia. The latest is happening west of the Schuylkill in University City, where more than 20 West Philly establishments will be offering special prices on three-course meals and takeout dinners through October 31. The list of participating eateries includes some our faves, such as Dahlak and Jezabel’s.

RELATED: Find more great places to eat this weekend in our guide to the best outdoor dining in Philadelphia this fall

Philadelphia prison museum Eastern State Penitentiary at night, with cars going by. It looks spooky!
Ten spooky acres within Eastern State Penitentiary will be transformed into a major Halloween destination beginning September 24 | Photo by Sean Kelley

HALLOWEEN NIGHTS @ ESP: The imposing prison fortress is Fairmoung gears up for Halloween wit a festival-style event called Halloween Nights, happening now through 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.

Philly gets ready for the spooky season with a new pop-up Halloween Bar in Midtown Village

VISIT A HALLOWEEN BAR: Midtown Village pop-up Halloween bar Nightmare Before Tinsel is sort 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.

Catch some of the most-buzzed-about new movies during the Philadelphia Film Festival, which launches this week.

PHILADELPHIA FILM FESTIVAL: The 30th annual Philadelphia Film Festival is running now, with a stellar lineup of the best and most-buzzed-about cinema that turned heads at all the top film festivals across the globe. This year, you can catch over 100 films of all varieties—from full-lengths to shorts to animated flicks—in venues across the city. The festival runs from through October 31.

FRIENDLY HEADS UP: Get your Nutcracker tickets! Tickets to The Philadelphia Ballet’s December 2021 production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker are on sale now. The show, running on select days from December 10 to 31, will be in-person for the first time since the pandemic, and organizers are celebrating by dropping admission prices: Opening night tickets are only $10, and admission for all other performances start at $25. Start making plans now for this charming local tradition.

This photo accompanies a writeup about fall events in and around Philadelphia
City dwellers can tap into their inner farmer on a fall hayride at Linvilla Orchards | Photo courtesy Linvilla Orchards / Visit Philadelphia

FALL FUN OUTSIDE THE CITY: For ultimate fall feels, head outside the city to explore some farms and villages that are hosting seasonal activities You’ve got the 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).

 

ONGOING ACTIVITIES AT PHILADELPHIA ATTRACTIONS


Some of Philly’s most iconic attractions are open for fall with fun, socially distant activities during Covid-19. Here’s some stuff worth checking out:

Get in a round of Spooky Mini Golf, happening at Franklin Square throughout October. | Photo By J. Fusco

BARNES FOUNDATION: Besides its astounding permanent collection of world-famous impressionist and post-impressionist artworks, the Barnes is hosting a special exhibition that includes paintings by groundbreaking French artist Suzanne Valadon in “Suzanne Valadon: Model, Painter, Rebel (through Jan. 9).

BOK BAR: South Philly rooftop destination Bok Bar, with gobsmacking views of the Philadelphia skyline (and then some), is operating with a diverse new slate of weekly activities, such as restaurant pop-upsdrag brunchesrooftop yoga sessionsmaker 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: There’s always something fun going on at Cherry Street Pier—from art shows to food markets to just sitting back, beer in hand, and gazing at the monstrous Benjamin Franklin Bridge looming above you.

FRANKLIN SQUARE: The popular park in Old City is extending its hours throughout the month of October for Spooky Mini Golf, which transforms the park’s putt-putt area into a haunted attraction, filled with fog, spider webs, eerie music and lights. Guests can also take a ride on the historic carousel and ogle a music fountain show that happens every 30 minutes from noon to close.

PARKS ON TAP: You can find Philly’s roving pop-up beer garden Parks On Tap operating at Water Works behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art through October 30 (weather permitting). Besides idyllic views of the water, the breezy setup offers a menu of snacks, sandwiches and sweets, plus beers, wines and specialty cocktails. For more, including safety protocols and hours of operation, go here.

PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART: PMA teamed up with the Whitney in NYC for its current special exhibition, “Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror,” running now through February 13. The massive retrospective of the American painter is spread across nearly 30,000 square feet of gallery space between the two museums, and features more than 500 works of painting, sculpture, drawings and prints.

Header photo courtesy Ken Huang

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