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10 of the best Philadelphia summer festivals

By: Claire Bullen

May 21, 2015

Philadelphia knows how to throw a party”¦especially once the sun comes out. From folk music to craft beer, Benjamin Franklin to Bastille Day, many of the city’s most popular celebrations just so happen to take place during the summer months. Plan your next trip to coincide with these Philadelphia summer festivals, then: you’ll be in for a good time – and plenty of that ineffable Philly culture.

 

Philly Beer Week (29th May – 7th June)

Philadelphia Summer Festivals | Philly Beer Week
Philly Beer Week is the biggest festival of its kind in the US © Stephen Lynford

Philly Beer Week has been a top annual event for local and visiting beer lovers since its founding in 2008. The scale of the festival is testament to just how much this city cares about its brews: the largest event of its kind in the country, it consists of hundreds of tap takeovers, meet-the-brewer occasions, beer dinners, and more – and is even big enough to have its own app. The region’s plenitude of breweries and beer bars are well represented, as are breweries hailing from further afield. Start prepping those hangover cures now.

 

Philly Pride (12th – 14th June, 5th July) 

Philadelphia Summer Festivals | Philly Pride
Few Philadelphia festivals are as celebratory as Philly Pride © R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphiaâ„¢

One of the country’s must-attend Prides, few Philadelphia summer festivals are better at stoking a celebratory atmosphere than Philly Pride – and, given that this year marks the 50th anniversary of local LGBT activism, this is the time to attend. Held traditionally in Center City’s Gayborhood, the weekend festivities will begin with a Pride kick-off street party. The main event, the Philly Pride Parade, will take place on Sunday the 14th, and will wend its way from the Gayborhood through historic Old City before finishing at the Penn’s Landing Festival Area. It’s the perfect opportunity to do some celebrating – and to see some of the city’s sights while you’re at it. Keep July 5th in your diary as well: the Annual Reminders Block Party is planned.

 

Night Market Philadelphia (18th June, 6th August)

Philadelphia Summer Festivals | Night Market
Night Market Philadelphia celebrates street food across the city © Albert Yee

Inspired by East Asian night markets but with a distinctly Philadelphian twist, Night Market Philadelphia is a standout event in the city’s street food scene. The roving market treks across town, so Philadelphians of all stripes can get their hungry paws on some sidewalk grub – for its June date, the festival will touch down in the city’s Callowhill neighbourhood, while August brings it to Lancaster Ave. Participating venues vary with each instalment, as the festival seeks to celebrate each neighbourhood’s individual dining scene.

 

Manayunk Arts Festival (20th – 21st June)

Philadelphia Summer Festivals | Manayunk Arts Festival
The Manayunk Arts Festival welcomes hundreds of local and visiting artists to display their work © J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphiaâ„¢

Just up the Schuylkill River from Center City, Manayunk is one of the city’s most charming stretches. Explore its riverside scenery, excellent bars and restaurants, and cute boutiques while also taking in culture at the Manayunk Arts Festival. Every year, the event sees hundreds of visiting artists showcase and sell their works along the neighbourhood’s historic Main Street. Stop by the Emerging Artist Tent for a glimpse at up-and-coming talents, and treat yourself to a pint at nearby Manayunk Brewing Company when you need a refresher.

 

Tall Ships (25th – 28th June)

Philadelphia Summer Festivals | Tall Ships
Relive the Delaware River’s past at the impressive Tall Ships festival © Tall Ships America

Ever since Washington crossed the Delaware, Philadelphia’s largest waterway has held an important place in local lore. Here to honour its past and celebrate its present is the annual Tall Ships festival. For four days this summer, the Delaware River will host replica 18th century French frigates, 16th century Spanish galleons, and many other truly impressive old-school vessels – as well as plenty of waterfront entertainment.

 

Wawa Welcome America Festival (27th June – 4th July)

Philadelphia Summer Festivals | Welcome America
It doesn’t get more Philadelphian than 4th of July fireworks over the Art Museum © Mitch Leff

The nation’s first capital, where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were drafted, and home to many a founding father: Philadelphia is pretty festive when the 4th of July rolls around each year. While the city’s historic milieu provides the perfect context for Independence Day, those looking to really welcome the holiday should be sure to attend the Wawa Welcome America Festival. Under its banner are the Liberty Block Party, the Philly 4th of July Jam, and a number of other patriotic events – not to mention a fireworks show over the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

 

Bastille Day at Eastern State Penitentiary (11th July)

Philadelphia Summer Festivals | Bastille Day
Celebrating Bastille Day at Eastern State Penitentiary is a summer must © Darryl Moran

Philadelphia loves a good national holiday. How else to explain the fact that here, Bastille Day – i.e., French independence day – is almost as big a deal as the 4th of July? Francophiles in the mood to celebrate should make way to Eastern State Penitentiary which, given its status as a notorious former prison, makes it an ideal stand-in for the original Bastille. Here, the local Bearded Ladies cabaret group acts out the history, including a guest appearance by Marie Antoinette. Once the guillotine is put to good use, attendees flock to local restaurants and bars for Gallic-themed specials. Let them eat cake indeed.

 

Center City Restaurant Week (2nd – 7th, 9th – 14th August)

Philadelphia Summer Festivals | Centre City Restaurant Week
Top local restaurants like Zahav welcome diners to dig in during Center City Restaurant Week © Mike Regan

Make no mistake: there’s more to Philadelphia’s food scene than the humble cheesesteak. In fact, the city is host to some of the country’s best and most decorated chefs and restaurants, and for the visiting food lover, there are few better ways to dabble in the local dining scene than Center City Restaurant Week. The event sees more than 100 eateries in the centre of town offer accessibly priced prix fixe lunch and dinner menus for the occasion. We predict that favourites like Zahav, Supper, and Audrey Claire will book up quickly, so nab those reservations while you can.

 

Philadelphia Folk Festival (13th – 17th August)

Philadelphia Summer Festivals | Philadelphia Folk Festival
The Philadelphia Folk Festival has been a local tradition since the 1960s © G. Widman for Visit Philadelphiaâ„¢

All right, so it’s technically located in nearby Schwenksville, Pennsylvania – but for music lovers, the Philadelphia Folk Festival is a highlight among Philadelphia summer festivals. Returning for its 54th edition this year, the event goes all the way back to the folk movements of the early 1960s. These days, the festival covers a range of genres and sub-genres, from klezmer to country, and dozens of bands are showcased across multiple stages.

 

Made in America (5th – 6th September)

Philadelphia Summer Festivals | Made in America
The perfect way to wrap up the summer? The two-day Made in America festival © M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphiaâ„¢

How better to bid summer adieu than with a proper music festival? Held on Labor Day weekend, the Made in America festival returns to the City of Brotherly Love, bringing with it some seriously high-calibre acts – last year, the likes of Kanye West, Steve Aoki and Kings of Leon featured among the headliners, and this year’s event is sure to offer a similar level of star-wattage.

 

Partnering with Delta means we can connect you to numerous destinations across the United States and Canada. Getting into the festive spirit in Philadelphia couldn’t be easier.

 

Which of these Philadelphia summer festivals will you be attending? What’s your favourite part of spending the summer in Philly? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

 

Written by Claire Bullen

Claire Bullen

Claire is a born globetrotter: before relocating to London, she spent time in New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco. When she's not in pursuit of the next exciting meal, she can be found haunting indie bookstores and sketching outdoors. Follow Claire @ClaireMBullen

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