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21 awesome things to do in Philly this weekend

Josh Middleton

Your options for what to do in Philly this weekend include a slew of art and theater festivals, what could be the city’s quirkiest block party and a couple Oktoberfest Philadelphia celebrations.

Friday 15

Spruce Street Harbor Park Fall Fest at Spruce Street Harbor Park; 11am; pay as you go
Riverside beers, live music and family-friendly, autumn-centric activities are on the roster for Fall Fest. Highlights include a partnership with Greensgrow Farms for onsite farmers’ markets, apple cider-pressing and performances by local artists Killiam Shakespeare, Stella Ruze and Louie Louie with The Whips.

Philalalia at Tyler School of Art; noon; free
This fourth annual festival celebrates Philadelphia local small presses, zine makers, comics artists and poets. Taking place over the course of three days at Temple’s Tyler School of Art, the event comprises a schedule complete with art-book fairs, booths for shopping, live poetry readings, musical performances and much more.

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.

"2B: A Hermit's Dream of the Landscape" at bahdeebahdu; 6pm; free
Philadelphia painter Bryan DeProspero—a graduate of PAFA—debuts his latest collection of works, which utilize chaotic brush strokes and paint splatters over serene forest scenes to create what he calls “imagined and invented abstractions of the landscape.” The exhibition unfolds in the gorgeous and eclectic bahdeebahdu in Fishtown, which is worth a trip on its own.

John Caparulo at Punch Line Philly; 8 and 10:15pm; $22.50–$25
Better known as Cap, Caparulo is most recognized for his work on Chelsea Handler’s former E! talk show Chelsea Lately, but his comedy canon runs much deeper than that. The entertainer hosts multiple podcasts and has been featured on popular programs like Comedy Central Presents and Jimmy Kimmel Live!.

Bye Bye Liver: The Philadelphia Drinking Play at Front Street Cafe; 8pm; $20
This boozy comedy experience taps into Philadelphia’s long-standing—and celebrated—drinking culture. The show is two parts fast-paced sketch comedy performance and one part drinking game. If you’re the strong, sober type or the designated driver, don’t worry—you can play along with a nonalcoholic beverage, too.

Get Pegged at FringeArts; 10:30pm; free
Bearded Ladies Cabaret Artistic Director John Jarboe debuts the fall 2017 version of his monthly, late-night cabaret series during the Fringe Festival. His special guest for the kickoff is the legendary German cabaret singer Dieter Rita Scholl. The gender-bending diva specializes in classic French cabaret songs, with a particular focus on lady singers. We’ll wait with bated breath for a Piaf duet between him and Jarboe.

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.

Saturday 16

Fall Fest at Shady Brook Farm; 9am; $16
Over in Yardley, Shady Brook Farm throws a seasonal shindig when the leaves start to turn. Called Fall Fest, the event welcomes families to its pumpkin patch for jack-o’-lantern picking and other activities that seem to nod to Charlotte’s Web. (Spiderweb climbing and pig races, anyone?) Starting September 30, the farm throws open the doors to its haunted attraction just for tykes: Barn of Horror Jr.

Scarecrow Festival at Peddler’s Village; free; 10am
At this weekend-long festival, families participate in scarecrow-making workshops and ogle more than 100 other crow-shooing creations that decorate the grounds through October 29. Of course, no trip to Peddler’s Village would be complete without a romp through Giggleberry Fair, which features a three-story obstacle course, grand carousel and a snack shop called Painted Pony Café. If all of that won’t have the little ones screaming “yee-haw,” nothing will.

South Street Oktoberfest at Brauhaus Schmitz; noon; pay as you go
Every fall the 700 block of South Street gets tented up and ready to party, Bavarian style. Choose to pay as you go or, even better, grab a VIP ticket for beer, food and schnapps tokens, and commemorative swag. Most importantly, VIPs have access to private bathrooms, a must when celebrating this beery occasion.

Oktoberfest at Frankford Hall; at noon; pay as you go
Fishtown’s premier Oktoberfest returns for an indoor-outdoor afternoon of carnival games, big beers and beer-friendly bites and traditional German dancers.

Philly AIDS Thrift Block Party at Philly AIDS Thrift; noon; free
This has to be one of the quirkiest block parties in town. The Queen Village thrift shop rolls out all the stop: dunk tanks, moon bounces, food trucks and magicians. You never know what kind of costumed characters will show up, either. Grab the nearest weirdo and shake a leg with them on the outdoor dancefloor to the tunes of the West Philadelphia Orchestra.

To My Unborn Child: A Love Letter from Fred Hampton at the Ethical Society; 2 and 5pm; $20
Iron Age Theatre Company’s latest—a world premiere by Rich Bradford—centers around Fred Hampton, a Black Panther and founder of the Rainbow Coalition who was murdered by Chicago police at age 21. A one-man show, the work examines Hampton’s compassionate approach to revolution and how he hoped to tackle issues like racist brutality, childhood hunger and poverty in the African-American community.

Sunday 17

Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show at Rittenhouse Square; 11am; pay as you go
This historic art show in Rittenhouse Square celebrates its 90th birthday this year. As such, you probably know what to expect: hundreds of selected artists from across the country set up tents to sell their creations throughout the weekend. Food and drink is available, too, or you could snag a seat outside Parc to watch it call go down over a cheese plate and carafe of vino.

Brazilian Day Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing; 1pm; pay as you go
PECO’s summerlong Multicultural Series along the Delaware waterfront closes with a lively bash celebrating Brazilian independence. Get swept up in the carnival-like spectacle featuring authentic foods from Brazil, vibrant costumes and energetic dance shows on the main stage throughout the event. Performances pay homage to a variety of traditional Brazilian dance styles, including samba, samba-reggae, forró and pagode.

Arts Against Bullying at International House Philadelphia; 2pm; $100
Come together for an evening of dance featuring local and national acts such as dancer Terk Lewis Waters and youth from the Philadelphia Dance Academy. Proceeds from the afternoon performance benefit FSB Against Bullying, a nonprofit working to end harassment in our schools.

Arcade Fire at Wells Fargo Center; 7:30pm; $31–$545
Canadian indie rockers Arcade Fire come to Philadelphia following their headlining set at Lollapalooza and the release of their fifth studio album, Everything Now. The work, which hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200, finds them in the same territory as their transformational 2013 work, Reflektor, full synth-heavy, new-wave-sounding anthems like lead singles “Creature Comfort” and “Everything Now.” Get ready to dance.

O17 Festival at various locations
If you’re still waiting for the fat lady to sing, your idea of opera is hopelessly outmoded. Opera Philadelphia’s 12-day O17 Festival redefines perceptions of the genre with seven innovative operas—both classics and quirky, site-specific new works—in nontraditional venues across the city. Overwhelmed by the choices? Here, we narrow down three must-see shows to take in. 


Philadelphia Fringe Festival at various locations; various times and prices
The Philadelphia Fringe Festival is a two-plus-week showcase of national and local cutting-edge works of theater, dance, opera and more. Shows take place in venues and neighborhood’s across the city—from South Philly basements and community centers to major theaters like the Wilma or Academy of Arts. There’s even a Digital Fringe, which features shows playing out online. Follow our guide of must-see Philadelphia Fringe Festival shows to help navigate the fest, which features more than 100 shows.

Restaurant Week Philadelphia at various locations
Restaurant Week runs throughout the weekend and on into Tuesday. Take advantage of the event, where more than 120 restaurants offer a three-course lunch for $20 or a three-course dinner for $35. That’s a lot of restaurants to choose from, we know. Follow our guide to Philadelphia Restaurant Week to discover 16 spots we think are most worth a visit. If you happen to be in the northwest of Philadelphia, don’t fear: it’s Restaurant Week in Manayunk, too.

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