Street festivals are back, and, while they’re not uniformly or intentionally bigger than ever, they sure feel better, just because they’re there. Crowd cravers can head to the South 9th Street Italian Market this weekend. There’s a cocktail party fundraiser at Smith Memorial, a party for toddlers at the Barnes Foundation, and a scaled-down version of Rittenhouse’s spring fest.
Outside of these events, you could also spend some time at one of these awesome Philadelphia breweries and / or distilleries. Find somewhere cool to eat outdoors, or kick back at home with some of what we think is the best takeout in Philly.
Find details on these things and more below. This list gets updated regularly — especially during the beginning of the week — so be sure to check back often for more ideas about fun things to do in Philly this weekend.
THINGS TO DO IN PHILLY THIS WEEKEND
HAIRSPRAY @ MILLER THEATER: The Tony Award-winning Broadway musical comedy comes to the Miller Theater Tuesday, May 17 through Sunday, May 22. The kitschy tale of teen dreamer and race relations in 1960s Baltimore was adapted from John Waters’ 1988 cult classic film, and went on to inspire a 2007 movie and a 2016 live TV event. American Sign Language (ASL) and Audio Description (AD) Performance takes place Friday May 20, 8pm. Recommended for audiences 10 years and older. Buy tickets here.
TODDLERPALOOZA @ THE BARNES FOUNDATION: Reservations are required. Manners: not so much, on Saturday, May 21, 9:30am to noon, when the esteemed Barnes welcomes the under-age-five set (with free reservations and adult chaperones) for a morning of art-making, science observing, live music, and, if those chaperones are reasonably confident in their children’s impulse control, a stroll through the gallery. 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
RITTENHOUSE SPRING STROLL: Note the name change. This slightly fancy block party is not intended to be the come-one, come-all festival that happened pre-Covid. Instead, Rittenhouse’s annual fair is purposefully pared down to reduce potential viral spread, and, perhaps, in the bargain, the lines for food and drink. It takes place Saturday, May 21, 11am to 5pm, in the general vicinity of 18th and Walnut streets.
SOUTH 9TH STREET ITALIAN MARKET FESTIVAL: For the first time in its history, this annual South Philly festival will not be presided over by a giant mural of former Mayor Frank Rizzo. Staying this year, however, from May 21 to 22 (11am to 6pm), are greased pole climbing, Sunday morning’s Procession of Saints from Saint Mary Magdalen de’Pazzi (712 Montrose Street) to St. Paul (808 S. Hutchinson Street), stick ball, and so … much … cannoli, cheese, sausage, pineapple drinks … S. 9th Street between Christian and Wharton streets
PARTY IN THE PLAYGROUND @ SMITH MEMORIAL PLAYGROUND: On Saturday, May 21, Smith Memorial’s family-friendly fundraising soiree returns after a two-year Covid hiatus. Festivities begin at 5:30pm, with cocktails and will include games, music, dancing, food and prizes. You can purchase tickets ($75 per person) for the event, sign up as a sponsor, or if you cannot attend, simply donate here. 3500 Reservoir Drive
KAYAK THE DELAWARE: The Independence Seaport Museum launched its summer 2022 kayak excursions on the Delaware River, happening on select weekends through October 22. There are several different tours you can sign up for — including one for beginners, and ones that explore different sections of the river, such as Graffiti Pier and Petty’s Island. Paddle Penn’s Landing, which lets you paddle around the river in swan- and other animal-shaped watercraft, begins May 28.
BEHIND THE STAGE DOOR: Running now through May 24, experience Behind the Stage Door, an interactive multimedia collaboration from The Philadelphia Ballet and Mural Arts Philadelphia. Soundscapes, original music, dance, film, sculpture, and an “interactive multimedia stage design” explore the transcendent art of ballet. See the installation and exhibition at Cherry Street Pier, and attend pop-up live performances by Philadelphia Ballet II at Teatro Esperanza, FDR Park, Bartram’s Gardens, and Dilworth Plaza. Performances are free and open to the public. Visit the website for the dates and times.
GARDEN DAYS IN SOUTH PHILLY: This vibrant Philadelphia Flower Show run-up, themed “In Full Bloom,” brings floral installations and bloom-centric to-dos to East Passyunk Avenue from May 7 to 30. The lineup of activities includes scavenger hunts, story hours around the Singing Fountain, garden tours, live music and more. Go here for the full lineup, and take note of events that require preregistration. East Passyunk Avenue
SCHOOL GIRLS; OR THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY @ the ARDEN THEATRE: Now through June 12, the Arden mounts Jocelyn Bioh’s one-room, circa-1980s play about teenage girls in Ghana who are — and can seem — miles away from Tina Fey’s Regina George et al in the Chicago burbs. Still, the themes of beauty, bullying and belonging have universal resonance. Lesson: Being extra is not at all exclusive to American teens. Ages 12 and up. $18-$53. 40 N. 2nd Street
Ongoing Philly attractions to visit this spring
DELAWARE WATERFRONT ATTRACTIONS: Spruce Street Harbor Park and its neighboring Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest are open for the season with ferris wheels, floating beer barges, carnival games, roller skating, hammocks in neon-lit trees, cute little lodges you can rent with friends. It’s just too much excitement for one person to handle. Good thing it’ll be around for our enjoyment all summer long. S. Columbus Boulevard
MORGAN’S PIER: The vibrant beer and cocktail garden on the Delaware River is newly open for the season with a lineup of live music on weekends and select weeknights, and a food menu that includes a variety of snacks, flatbreads, sandwiches and seafood. Drinking options are just as plentiful — ranging from frothy draft beers to a colorful selection of refreshing speciality and frozen cocktails and wine. 221 N. Columbus Boulevard
CITY HALL ROLLER RINK : The neon-hued outdoor Rothman Orthopaedics Roller Rink at Dilworth Park is now open through July 17. The rink is retro-inspired, with a checkerboard floor and colorful beach balls floating overhead. Guests are welcome to visit for hour time slots. Admission is $8 for children 10 and younger, and $10 for adults. Skate rental is $5. 1 S. 15th Street
PHILADELPHIA MARKETPLACE: Happening every Friday and Saturday through October 1, this hyperlocal bazaar gives you the chance to browse and shop a rotating variety of goods from local artists, crafters and retailers in the shadow of City Hall. 1 S. 15th Street
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South 9th Street Italian Market Festival, courtesy of Visit Philadelphia