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25 excellent things to do in Philadelphia this weekend

Josh Middleton

It’s going to be another busy fall weekend in Philadelphia, starting on Friday night with cocktails on the roof of the Free Library on the Parkway. From there, take your pick of fall festivals—whether it’s the massively popular Harry Potter Festival in Chestnut Hill, or the more downscale and cutesy Reading Terminal Market Harvest Festival. Saint Benjamin Brewing Company is throwing a Halloween block party outside its facilities in Kensington, and you’ll find delicious brunch fare out the wazoo at Sunday’s boozy Bainbridge Green Brunch Fest in Queen Village. Get more info on all that and more below. Happy weekend-ing!

Friday, October 20

star wars philly pops

Photograph: Courtesy Philly POPS

Brews & Views Rooftop Beer Garden at Parkway Central Library; 5–9pm; pay as you go
After work Friday, swing by the Free Library for the final night of its pop-up beer garden on the Skyline Terrace. The location affords excellent views of the Philly skyline and Logan Circle below.

Consumed: Tales from the Candy Crypt at Shane’s Confectionary; 6:30pm; $25
Shane Confectionery, America’s oldest continuously operating confectionery, is hosting a haunted house that aims to give you goosebumps and, in the tradition of Halloween, send you packing with some old-world sweets. The event includes a 45-minute candlelit tour through the Victorian-era candy store’s showroom and kitchens where you’ll encounter a cast of creepy characters who will school you on the history of candy—namely how it was used to disguise the terrible taste of medicine back in the day—before dropping a couple pieces in your hand and sending you on your way. In the end, you’ll leave with a bounty of the sweets that you learned about—like Dark and Stormy Bon-Bons—and a belly full of a curious glowing liquid concoction called Hair of the Dog.

Richard Lewis at Helium Comedy Club; 7:30, 10pm; $25–$30
If you loved him in comedic classics like Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Curb Your Enthusiasm, get ready to laugh when Lewis brings his signature brand of hilariously cynical comedy to Philadelphia this fall.

A Star Wars Celebration at the Kimmel Center; 8pm; $55–$158
George Lucas created a global phenomenon when he gave the world Star Wars. The score, by legendary composer John Williams, elevated the film—and its sequels and prequels—to a new level of cinematic greatness. Join the Philly POPS as they pay tribute to the man behind the music.

Student Recitals at the Curtis Institute of Music; 8pm; free
On Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings from October 20 to May, the Curtis Institute of Music holds free concerts in its 250-seat Field Hall. The Performance Series—which amounts to around 200 performances each year—not only offer its students ample opportunity to perform for the public as part of their education, but also offer the public an opportunity to listen to a vast array of talented, up-and-coming musicians without having to buy expensive concert tickets. Choose from a selection of family shows, opera, orchestra and more.

Philadelphia Film Festival at various locations through Oct 29
Must-see independent and foreign flicks from around the globe get screentime in Philadelphia during this two-week film festival, now in its 26th year. The itinerary comprises a variety of formats—from feature-lengths and short films—shown at some of the best movie theaters Philadelphia has to offer. Overwhelmed by the 110 offerings? We’ve narrowed down the list to 14 of the movies you can’t miss here.

Ben Folds at the Fillmore Philadelphia; 9pm; $37–$289
Singer-songwriter Ben Folds was made for the viral video era. Whether they’re showing him improvising with an orchestra, serenading people on Chatroulette or singing with the Fraggles, his videos give your soul a lift with something clever, unexpected and fun. His new Paper Airplane Request Tour—wherein the audience creates the set list via flying requests—was basically built for YouTube. That said, you’ll have more fun if you just watch the show and let other people hold up their phones all night.

Guns N’ Roses Was Here at the Trocadero; 9pm; $15–$18
Friday night marks the 30th anniversary of an evening Philly hair-metal heads will never forget: when Guns N’ Roses played the Trocadero in Chinatown. To mark the occasion, a slew of local bands—folks like Northern Arms, Thorazine, the Flannel Chucks, Johnny Showcase and members of Lizaveta and Misstallica—gather at the venue for a blistering tribute show featuring songs from GNR’s Appetite for Destruction album and other hits from the rock group’s songbook.

Saturday, October 21

harry potter festival

Photograph: Courtesy Chestnut Hill Business Improvement District

Harry Potter Festival in Chestnut Hill; 10am; pay as you go
To the delight of muggles wannabes everywhere, Chestnut Hill transforms into a mini -Hogsmeade for this annual block party that hat-tips J.K. Rowling’s mega--popular book series. The daylong festival brings out fans of all ages dressed in Harry Potter gear to take part in a host of activities, such as Dumbledore’s Powers Maze, Horcrux stations and even a Quidditch match at nearby Chestnut Hill College. Restaurants and stores all over the neighborhood also participate, transforming into wizardly versions of their everyday incarnations.

Reading Terminal Market Harvest Festival; 10am; pay as you go
Feast on an endless supply of fall goodies at this annual autumn festival, such as turkey legs, candy apples and roasted corn. The fest will be set up like a farm, with a tractor, hay bales and even a pumpkin patch *aka all prime fall Insta material).

Oyster Takeover at Oyster House; 11:30am–11pm; pay as you go
Oyster House in Rittenhouse hosts an all-day takeover featuring a carefully selected six varieties of oysters from growers throughout the region, such as 40 North in Barnegat Bay and Sweet Amalia and Betsy’s Cape Shore Salts from Cape May. Here’s the real kicker: The restaurant also teamed up with Franklin Fountain to create an oyster-flavored ice cream made with 100 local oysters. The curious frozen treat will be served in a half shell and offered free to anyone who orders a dozen of the local oysters. For late-night eaters and bargain hunters, Oyster House’s regular Saturday buck-a-shuck happy hour still applies to the takeover. It goes from 9 to 11pm and features featuring $1 oysters, $3 shooters, $3 drafts and $5 punch.

Halloween Benefit Block Party at Saint Benjamin Brewing Company; noon–6pm; pay as you go
Celebrate Halloween a little early—and benefit a good cause—at Saint Benjamin’s outdoor hootenanny featuring fall beers, street vendors and food trucks set up along North 5th Street. Besides the suds and grub, there will be family-friendly activities like face painting, pumpkin carving and an adult bouncy house. Proceeds from the day benefit victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Woodford Mansion Apple Festival; noon–2pm; pay as you go
Apples and mansions? What’s not to love?! Swing by this fancy Fairmount Park abode on Saturday for all kinds of family-friendly apple- and fall-centric activities, such as cider making (and drinking!), heirloom apple tasting, pumpkin painting and live music if you just want to sit back, watch it all go down while taking in some tunes.

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.

Go apple picking near Philadelphia at various locations
It’s that time of the year again, when locals head out of town to go foraging for apples. There are several farms within an hour’s driving distance of the city that offer all kinds of delicious varietals that you can’t find in the local supermarket—and, in some cases, loads of apple-based treats like donuts and cider. See our full list of the best places to go apple picking near Philly.

Sunday, October 22

bainbridge green brunch fest

Photograph: Courtesy Friends of Bainbridge Green/Asya Photography

Bainbridge Green Brunch Fest; 10am–1pm; 3rd and 5th streets; $25
Try delicious breakfast foods from a variety of local breakfast fare purveyors in and around Queen Village, including Whetstone Tavern, Federal Donuts and Ants Pants Cafe. Booze hounds will find tasty Sunday sips courtesy of Stateside Vodka and 13th Street Cocktail Catering.

New Hope Photo Walk starting at Visit Bucks County; 4–6:30pm; free
Photo enthusiasts can make a quick trip to New Hope for a two-mile photo walk around the charming Bucks County borough. Hosted by Visit Bucks County, the trek is led by author Roy Ziegler, who will regale his followers with fascinating historic tidbits about the town. Be sure to share your snaps with #VBCPhotoWalk2017 and #timeoutphilly (we’d love to see them!).

Last chance: Cabaret at Arden Theater Company; 2pm; $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 artistic director John Jarboe as the emcee.

Last chance: The Swallowing Dark at the Drake; 2pm; $30
A refugee named Canaan faces interrogation and the possible loss of his asylum after having fled to Liverpool with his son to escape Robert Mugabe’s tyrannical regime in Zimbabwe.

Last chance: The Sleeping Beauty at Academy of Music; 2pm; $31–$125
The Pennsylvania Ballet brings a classic fairy tale to life in this captivating performance of Tchaikovsky’s celebrated masterpiece. From once upon a time to happily ever after, audiences will love watching talented dancers glide across the stage, hearing the enchanting musical score and seeing the stunning scenery and costumes.

Visit pumpkin patches near Philadelphia at various locations
Have you found your jack o’lantern yet? City supermarkets are packed to the brim with pumpkins this time of year, but choosing one is so much more fun if you pluck it from the ground yourself. Come fall, farms surrounding the city begin to sprout with gourds and the eventual pumpkin-flavored cakes, ciders and treats that come with them. Take a road trip with pals—or the family—to any one of the rural wonderlands in our guide to the best pumpkin patches near Philadelphia.


The Glow: A Jack O’Lantern Experience; at West Fairmount Park; $16; 7pm
Glow guests can expect to see more than 5,000 hand-carved pumpkins—real ones as well as ones molded from real pumpkins—in West Fairmount Park at Avenue of the Republic and States Drive. Jack’s artists have prepared single jack ‘o lanterns for guests’ viewing pleasure, featuring the likenesses of celebrities, sports icons, flowers and animals, as well as grand-scale jack o’lantern scenes in a variety of themes from prehistoric to oceanic. The carvers will be on hand to demonstrate their handiwork.

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.

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.

Monument Lab at various locations through Nov 19
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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