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19 awesome things to do in Philly this weekend

By
Josh Middleton
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It looks like the gorgeous early-fall, summer-like weather is going to stick around for a while. Lucky for us, there are a ton of ways to get out and enjoy it in Philadelphia this weekend—from a block party hosted by Federal Donuts on Sunday to CiderFest in Fairmount Park. If the sun becomes too much for you, head indoors to check out the massive new exhibition at the Franklin Institute, “Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor.” Find that and more in our list of the best things to do in Philly this weekend below.

Friday, September 29

national coffee day

Photograph: Courtesy Wawa

National Coffee Day all over Philadelphia; all day; pay as you go
Friday marks National Coffee Day, and a couple of Philly’s most-frequented spots for java are giving away the good stuff for free in honor of the occasion. Good ol’ Wawa is coming through with the best deal: Any size coffee is free all day. Period. Over at Dunkin’ Donuts, you can score a free cup with your purchase of a medium, large or extra-large Dunkin’ Donuts signature hot coffee. And if you schedule a Lyft ride that day, your driver will show up with a free can of High Brew cold brew coffee for you to enjoy as you ride to your destination. For more National Coffee Day deals, go here.

Cabaret at Arden Theatre Company; 7pm; $15–$52
The show that brought us Broadway classics like “Don’t Tell Mama” and “Cabaret” comes to Old City to kick off Arden Theatre Company’s 2017–18 season. The story takes you into a Berlin nightclub in the late 1920s where a peppy showgirl named Sally Bowles falls for American writer Cliff Bradshaw. It stars Bearded Ladies artistis director John Jarboe as the emcee.

Fright Factory at 220 S Swanson St; 7:30pm; $15–$20
Enter an eerie world of terror at this year’s Fright Factory, a 25,000-square-foot haunted attraction situated inside a creepy old building in South Philadelphia. New for 2017 are three separate haunted experiences—Industrial Nightmare, Silent Scream Asylum and Fright Factory Unearthed—that put you face-to-face with ghouls like meat-cleaver–wielding butchers, drill-happy dentists, and giant spiders and bugs.

Bryan Callen at Helium Comedy Club; 7:30 and 10pm; $20–$28
The popular comedian, actor and podcaster entertains Philly audiences at Helium Comedy Club in September. An original cast member on MADtv, Callen has appeared in several movies and TV shows, including Old School, The Hangover, Entourage, The Goldbergs, Frasier, Sex and the City and In Plain Sight.

Son Little at Boot & Saddle; 8:30pm; $15
Smooth-crooning Philadelphia singer-songwriter Son Little dropped his second album, New Magic, on September 15. Exactly two weeks later, he celebrates the release in his hometown with a two-night performance at Boot & Saddle in South Philadelphia. Get ready to groove when he breaks out the lead single from the album, the infectious “Blue Magic (Waikiki).” It's new-school Philly soul at its finest.

Saturday, September 30

terra cotta warriors
Photograph: Courtesy Franklin Institute

“Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor” at Franklin Institute; 9:30am; $35
Head to the Franklin Institute to check out the only East Coast showing of this exhibition that features a small army of 2,000-year-old clay statues that once stood outside the tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuangdi. The 10 sculptures are shown here alongside other ancient Chinese artifacts like weapons, jade pieces and golden trinkets.

“A Grand Vision: Violet Oakley and the American Renaissance” at Woodmere Art Museum; 10am; $10
The first exhibition of Oakley’s work in more than three years comes to the Woodmere Art Museum. The renowned muralist and stained-glass artist rose to fame during the post–Civil War American Renaissance, when her work appeared all over Philadelphia as well as the Pennsylvania State Capitol building.

CiderFest at Woodford and Strawberry Mansions; noon–4pm; pay as you go
Journey to Fairmount Park for this daylong festival that includes live music, a lineup of food trucks and, as the name suggests, samplings of drinks from a host of cider brewers and purveyors such as Stone and Key Cellars, Hardball Cider and Frecon’s Cidery.

Hop Angel Brauhaus Oktoberfest; 3pm; pay as you go
Beers and Bavarian fare are only the beginning of the festivities at this Northeast brauhaus. Things get crazy with Gunther, a dancing bear, a raffle reserved for those outfitted in lederhosen and dirndls, and a strong man contest.

GayBINGO!: Will and Grace Returns at the Gershman Y; 6pm; $25–$35
This BINGO bash, led by a campy gaggle of drag queens who call themselves the Bingo Verifying Divas (BVDs), happens every month from September to April. The games are always a blast, cash prizes are up for grabs and—whether you win or lose—you’ll always walk out knowing you backed a good cause: Proceeds benefit local HIV/AIDS-fighting nonprofit AIDS Fund. This go-round is Will and Grace-themed, so show up wearing your best Karen garb.

Sunday, October 1

parks on tap
Photograph: Courtesy Parks on Tap

Ardmore Antique & Vintage Market at Downtown Ardmore; 8am–4pm; pay as you go
Phila Flea Markets and the Ardmore Initiative team up for this bi-annual open-air market that features booths manned by antique dealers from the tri-state area. It’s a great option if you’re looking for some cool vintage pieces to spruce up your apartment—or your wardrobe. You’ll find everything from furniture, glassware and pottery to jewelry, clothing and footwear.

Spruce Street Harbor Park closing weekend; 11am–11pm; pay as you go
Philly’s beloved pop-up park along the Delaware closes for the season this weekend. Grab some grub or drinks on the floating food court and lounge in one of the 50 swinging hammocks as this summertime staple peaces out till next year. Tear.

Parks on Tap at Powers Park; noon–10pm; pay as you go
This is the final weekend of Parks on Tap, Philly’s on-the-go beer garden that made its way to parks all around the city this summer. This weekend, catch it Friday through Sunday in Port Richmond at the corner of Almond and E Ann streets. There, you’ll find ample seating and a food booth doling out beer, wine and grub. There’s also a mini Parks on Tap set up over at Shakespeare Park during the run of Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies. That’s open Thursdays through Sundays till October 8.

Federal Donuts Block Party at 1632 Sansom St; 1–4pm; pay as you go
Federal Donuts’ Center City location closes down Sansom Street between 16th and 17th for their first-ever block party. Check it out for live music, $5 Yards beers, chicken sandwiches and donuts, donuts, donuts.

Spooky Mini-Golf at Franklin Square; 6–9pm; $9
Franklin Square’s annual haunted attraction turns its cutesy Philly-inspired mini-golf course into a spook zone, with fog, lights, Halloween-themed music and other surprises.

Merging Identities at Gershman Y; 7pm; $20
Intercultural Journeys presents this forward-thinking musical/cultural experience dreamed up by cellist Uid Bar-David. The evening is a marriage of sound, dance and design that speaks to the concept of unity across multiple backgrounds.

Ongoing must-dos

Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary; 7pm; $19–$89
Haunted attraction Terror Behind the Walls involves six segments that add up to about an hour’s worth of character interaction, bone-chilling scares, prison exploration and elaborate costuming and makeup. This year’s brand-new attraction, “Blood Yard,” posits what it might be like to prepare human flesh for the tasting. Guests walk through a prison yard into a lair where a butcher and an empress await, flanked by a horde of cannibals wearing muzzles. Those who choose to interact could be asked to salt and prepare prosthetic limbs alongside the impatient flesh-hungry characters.

Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies at Benjamin Franklin Parkway; 6pm; free
For three weeks this fall, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will light up with glowing pedicabs that locals can ride along a route between Sister Cities Park and Iroquois Park. The interactive exhibition, which comprises 27 moving sculptures bedecked with glowing lanterns, is one of several events happening this fall in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Parkway.

Monument Lab at various locations
A new Mural Arts Philadelphia project called Monument Lab tasks 20 local and national artists with creating monuments to the city. They will be displayed in 10 public parks around town between September 16 and November 19. The works in Monument Lab come in all shapes, sizes and formats—from a giant Afro pick at Thomas Paine Plaza to a collection of stoops in Washington Square—and are meant to give voice to overlooked communities and address current social issues facing this city. Here are five projects we’re excited about and where to find them.

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