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Top Things to Do in Philadelphia
in May 2017

Chinese Lantern Festival, Spruce Street Harbor Park, epic street fests and cultural celebrations

May is one of Philadelphia's most exciting months, with a rush of spring festivals and the grand openings of a number of warm-weather attractions.

Philadelphia's most popular waterfront park — Spruce Street Harbor Park — opens for the season with tons of hammocks, games and a bevy of food and drink options. Later in the month, Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest opens a few blocks away with roller skating, summertime fare, cold drinks and more. Cheers to summer on the waterfront!

Major spring festivals also take the spotlight in neighborhoods across town with everything from giant glowing lanterns to snack-sized samples from popular restaurants. Don't miss the Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival in Franklin Square, Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival, Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby and Arts Fest, South Street Spring Fest, the 9th Street Italian Market Festival and more.

Check out our guide to May events in Philly, below.


Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival in Franklin Square

The popular Chinese Lantern Festival returns with new lanterns, a beer garden, performances and more. (Photo by J. Fusco for Historic Philadelphia, Inc.)

May 9 - June 18, 2017

After welcoming more than 90,000 people in 2016, the Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival returns for its second year of illuminating Franklin Square with grand, artistic creations. For five weeks straight, the square at 6th and Race streets will come alive with 15,000 LED lights shining on 29 different lantern displays, including a 200-foot-long Chinese dragon(!). That's not to mention awe-inspiring acrobatics and folk dance performances, the Dragon Beer Garden, classic Asian food and more.

more on the philadelphia chinese lantern festival

Spruce Street Harbor Park

Spruce Street Harbor Park returns this May with games, hammocks, a floating restaurant and more. (Photo by M. Stanley for DRWC)

May 12 - October 1, 2017

One of the coolest warm-weather spots in Philadelphia, Spruce Street Harbor Park returns for its fourth year on May 12. The beloved temporary park invites visitors to lounge on colorful hammocks, enjoy delicious food from its floating restaurant, cool off with drafts from the beer garden and hang out and play games – ping pong, shuffleboard and more – along its waterfront boardwalk.

More about Spruce Street Harbor Park

Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest

Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest is the home of warm-weather fun, with a roller rink, a boathouse-styled lodge and more. (Photo courtesy M. Stanley for DRWC)

May - Fall 2017

The Delaware River Waterfront becomes a seasonal wonderland this month when Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest opens. Guests can play mini-golf and outdoor games, try their luck in the arcade, enjoy waterfront views with drinks and food and take a spin around the city’s only outdoor roller rink.

More about Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest

Memorial Day Weekend in Philadelphia

philadelphia skyline from city hall

Grand openings, beer gardens, concerts and more await over the holiday weekend in Philadelphia. (M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)

May 26-29, 2017

Celebrate the unofficial start of summer during Memorial Day weekend in Philadelphia! The extended holiday celebration includes Memorial Day celebrations from Independence National Historical Park and the National Constitution Center, the return of waterfront roller-skating rink Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest and other amazing ongoing events and activities, including Spruce Street Harbor Park, the Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival, beer gardens, exhibitions and more.

more about memorial day in philadelphia

South Street Spring Festival

South Street Spring Festival

The free, all-ages South Street Spring Festival runs a dozen blocks and includes vendors, food, bands and more. (M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphia)

May 6, 2017

Thousands of revelers take part in al fresco family fun at Headhouse Square and along South Street during the South Street Spring Festival. The annual event includes a few dozen concerts, eating contests, a Kids’ Zone and nearly 200 vendors. It also includes Maifest, Brauhaus Schmitz’s German beer and dancing extravaganza featuring a giant Maypole.

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Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival

May 20, 2017

Shopping and dining venues in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood come together for the Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival, a public street fest and a day of music, outdoor shopping, fashion events, international entertainment and food from some of the city’s most renowned restaurants.

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9th Street Italian Market Festival

Italian Market Festival

The two-day Italian Market Festival brings you the best that the Italian Market has to offer. (M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)

May 20-21, 2017

South Philadelphia’s Italian Market is the nation’s oldest continuously operating outdoor market, with more than 100 years in production. So what better way to celebrate it than with the 9th Street Italian Market Festival? This annual fest features live entertainment, games (including a greased pole-climbing contest) and food, plus the Italian Market’s dazzling array of homemade sausages, delicious cannolis, imported meats and cheeses, luscious cappuccino, butcher-cut beef and poultry, specialty cookware and fresh pastas.

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Penn's Landing Waterfront Day

fireworks on the delaware river waterfront

Memorial Day weekend brings a special celebration — including a free fireworks show — to the Delaware River waterfront. (M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

To kick off the summer season, a number of the attractions along Penn’s Landing have joined together to present the first-ever Penn’s Landing Waterfront Day, an all-day celebration featuring live music, a pop-up beer garden (on a boat!), deals at attractions and (drumroll, please!) a huge fireworks show above the Delaware River. Cheers to summer on the waterfront!

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Broad Street Run

broad street run in philadelphia

The Broad Street Run takes participants by scenic sites — including City Hall — throughout the 10-mile route. (M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphia)

May 7, 2017

Gaining in popularity every year, the Broad Street Run takes participants along a flat 10-mile stretch of one of the city’s main arteries. Spectators line the sidewalks of Broad Street to cheer on the wave of runners from North Philadelphia, around City Hall and to the finish line in South Philadelphia.

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Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby & Arts Festival

Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby & Arts Festival

The Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby and Arts Festival is one of the city’s quirkiest spring events. (J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

May 20, 2017

During the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby & Arts Festival, people stroll the streets of Kensington and Fishtown to find an eclectic mix of local artists, musicians and food. The derby portion of the day celebrates human-powered transit as fanciful mobile sculptures parade along a three-mile urban obstacle course.

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Parks on Tap

Philly's traveling beer garden series returns to parks all over the city this summer. (Photo by A. Yee for Parks on Tap)

May 17 - October 1, 2017

Roving beer garden Parks on Tap returns for a second year of visiting some of Philly's coolest parks this spring. Philly’s wealth of mobile suppliers to bring two trucks at a time (one food, one craft beer and other adult beverages) to rotating locations throughout the area.

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Philly Tech Week

Philly Tech Week

Philly Tech Week brings an annual display of innovation to the area as well as events spread out across the city. (Photo courtesy Philly Tech Week)

April 28 - May 6, 2017

Throughout Philly Tech Week, more than 25,000 business leaders and other self-proclaimed tech geeks as well as the technically challenged can participate in more than 100 events, including a variety of programs, interactive activities and workshops that celebrate and highlight emerging trends, advances and innovating uses of technology.

More about Philly Tech Week

Revolutionary: A Pop-Up Street Art Exhibition

May 25-July 4, 2017

Revolutionary: A Pop-Up Street Art Exhibition will showcase free public artwork at 13 locations throughout Philadelphia's Historic District. Presented by VISIT PHILADELPHIA, the exhibit features a curated selection of street artists chosen by Conrad Benner, the founder and editor of street art photo-blog streetsdept.com. The featured works, created by forward-thinking artists like Kid Hazo, Michelle Angela Ortiz, Shawn Theodore and more, will be found both indoors and outdoors throughout the district and explore revolutionary themes in innovative ways.

More about Revolutionary: A Pop-Up Street Art Exhibition

Broadway Philadelphia Presents Dirty Dancing and Motown: The Musical

Don't miss the Broadway Philadelphia productions of Dirty Dancing and Motown: The Musical at the Academy of Music. (G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia)

Dirty Dancing: May 16-21, 2017

Motown The Musical: May 30 - June 11, 2017

Throughout the year, Broadway Philadelphia brings acclaimed performances to stages along the Avenue of the Arts. This month, two all-time favorite shows fill the stage in Philly: Dirty Dancing from May 16 to 21 and Motown the Musical at the end of the month.

More about Dirty Dancing |More about Motown: The Musical

Philadelphia Black Pride

April 27 - May 1, 2017

Philadelphia Black Pride is five day’s worth of activities aimed at spotlighting and empowering the LGBT African-American community. Happy hour mixers, concerts, art shows and community picnics all go down over the five-day celebration.

More about Philadelphia Black Gay Pride

American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Get a close-up look at Homer and Sargent's most influential works at a new exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. (A Garden in Nassau, 1885. Winslow Homer, American, 1836 1910 | Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection)

Through May 14, 2017

American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent at the Philadelphia Museum of Art charts the rise and evolution of watercolor in America from 1860 (when it was thought of as the domain of "amateurs, women, and commercial artists") to 1925, at which point it had become a truly American art form. The exhibition focuses on the works of Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent, two of the most influential U.S. watercolor artists.

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Person of the Crowd: The Contemporary Art of Flanerie at the Barnes Foundation

Person of the Crowd highlights artists who took to the streets to address issues such as racism and gentrification. (Tania Bruguera - Displacement | The Barnes Foundation)

Through May 22, 2017

A collection from 40 international artists comes together in Person of the Crowd: The Contemporary Art of Flanerie at the Barnes Foundation, examining works from those who take to the street to address contentious issues of all sorts. From guerilla campaigns plastered on every street corner to provocatively dressed artists making public spectacles of themselves, view how art has been used to expose everything from gentrification and gender politics to racism and homelessness.

More on Person of the Crowd

Night Market Philadelphia: Burholme

Night Market Philadelphia

Night Market Philadelphia is a seasonal celebration of food, music and community held in some of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods. (Photo courtesy the Food Trust)

May 11, 2017

Night Market Philadelphia is a highly popular, street-side, seasonal celebration of food, music and community that attracts thousands of visitors from around the region. The food-truck-filled event pops up at four different locations throughout the year, giving market-goers an opportunity to check out the city's distinctive neighborhoods and enjoy an evening al fresco. Night Market's 2017 season kicks off on Thursday, May 11 in Northeast Philadelpha's Burholme neighborhood.

More about Night Market Philadelphia

Cira Green Pop-Up Beer Garden

Cheers to the weekend while enjoying stunning views of Philly's skyline at the new pop-up beer garden at Cira Green. (R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

Every Friday in May

Raise your drinks to the sky — literally. This spring, a sky-high beer garden debuts at Philly’s first elevated park, Cira Green. Presented by World Cafe Live, the beer garden continues on Friday nights through June 23, including every Friday in May. The beer garden kicks off every week with the tapping of a limited-release keg and continues with a variety of drink selections and live music to boot. (Note: This beer garden is 21-plus only.)

More about Cira Green Pop-Up Beer Garden

Longwood Gardens' Main Fountain Garden Grand Opening

Longwood Fountains

This summer, the fountains at Longwood Gardens return after a spectacular renovation. (Photo courtesy Longwood Gardens)

May 27, 2017

After delighting crowds for more than 85 years, Longwood Gardens’ fountains have undergone a $90 million makeover. Enhanced by 21st-century technology, dramatic new lighting and a variety of newly choreographed fountain shows, the new show will feature jets that shoot more than 175 feet in the air. New seating areas, a grotto, trestle bridge and landscaped paths offer guests lots of photo-worthy scenes.

More about Longwood gardens' Fountains

The Philly POPS Memorial Salute Concert

May 27, 2017

The Philly POPS will perform a free Saturday evening concert during Memorial Day weekend in honor of all those who serve. The 90-minute, patriotic show features the 65-piece POPS orchestra along with Broadway stars Christina Saffran and Hugh Panaro, Philly’s own “rising star” jazz-soul vocalist Tiffany Jones, the School District of Philadelphia student choirs and more.

More about The Philly POPS Memorial Salute Concert

Chestnut Hill Home and Garden Festival

Head out to Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill for a day of flower displays, live music and more. (Photo courtesy of Chestnut Hill PA)

May 7, 2017

Chestnut Hill's Germantown Avenue comes alive every year with vendors, entertainment and more for the Chestnut Hill Home and Garden Festival. Chat with gardening experts, check out landscape and flower displays, enjoy live music and more during an al fresco afternoon fit for all ages.

More about Chestnut Hill Home and Garden Festival

Philly PHLASH Daily Service Kick Off

Explore more than 20 of Philly's great attractions for just $5 on the PHLASH. (J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

May 1, 2017

Philly PHLASH Downtown Loop, our convenient seasonal bus service that brings guests to top attractions in the city, kicks off its daily service for the year on May 1. All spring and summer long, residents and visitors can embark on daily rides on the low-cost bus service (one ride costs $2 and an all-day pass is $5 per person) to places like the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Penn's Landing, the Barnes Foundation and more.

More about Philly PHLASH Daily Service

The Dad Vail Regatta

dad vail regatta

The Dad Vail Regatta is the largest collegiate regatta in the nation and a Philadelphia tradition. (Photo courtesy Dad Vail Regatta)

May 12-13, 2017

The Dad Vail Regatta is the largest collegiate regatta in the United States, featuring participants from more than 100 colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada. The Olympic-length racecourse spans 2,000 meters on the beautiful Schuylkill River. Rowing fans fill the grandstand and line the east side of the river to cheer on their favorite crew teams from the banks.

More about Dad Vail Regatta

New Hope and Lambertville Celebrate Pride

New Hope Pride Week

Each May, the New Hope and Lambertville Celebrate Pride festival includes the Pride Parade, athletic events, musical performances, a dance and more. (A. Sinagoga for Visit Philadelphia)

May 14-21, 2017

Now in its 14th year, the week-long New Hope and Lambertville Celebrate Pride culminates in a Pride Parade that starts on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River in Lambertville before crossing the New Hope & Lambertville Bridge to New Hope for a fair featuring international entertainers and family fun.

More about New Hope and Lambertville Celebrate Pride

Celebration of Black Arts

The Art Sanctuary hosts the annual Celebration of Black Arts in the month of May. (Photo courtesy Art Sanctuary)

May 1-31, 2017

Heading into its 33rd season, the Celebration of Black Arts (formerly the Celebration of Black Writing) is a month-long soiree of African-American literature and art that features an array of events. Throughout May, author readings, interactive workshops, live performances, an awards show and an outdoor festival take place to spark discussion and spawn recognition of talented artists within the African-American community.

More about Celebration of Black Arts Festival

Devon Horse Show and Country Fair

This month, Devon hosts the 11-day Horse Show and Country Fair for horse lovers from around the world. (B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia)

May 25 -June 4, 2017

The Horse Show and Country Fair, an 11-day event, attracts horse lovers from around the world. Look for big crowds at the annual Grand Prix, which is so competitive that horses must complete a year-long qualifying process in order to compete.

more about Downingtown Fine Arts Festival

Philadelphia Children’s Festival

May 18-20, 2017

Musicians, dancers, actors, jugglers, puppeteers and acrobats delight young audiences at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts during the 32nd annual Philadelphia International Children’s Festival.

More about Philadelphia Children’s Festival

Mother’s Day Weekend Art Star Craft Bazaar

Art Star Craft Bazaar

More than 100 vendors set up shop at the Art Star Craft Bazaar each year, selling ceramics, clothing and other handmade goods. (Photo courtesy Art Star Craft Bazaar)

May 13-14, 2017

Shop for mom or bring her along for a day of craft hunting and live music at the 14th annual Spring Art Star Craft Bazaar. As many as 125 vendors will be in attendance at the two-day pop up, selling everything from handmade pottery to jewelry to pet accessories and so much more.

More about Mother’s Day Weekend Art Star Craft Bazaar

Mexican Week Philadelphia

May 1-6, 2017

Mexican Week features a handful of spirited events, such as a First Friday party at the Barnes Foundation (May 5), a flag-raising ceremony at City Hall with Mayor Kenney (May 1) and more. Coinciding with the week-long array of festivities, various restaurants in the region will offer special promotions, including prix-fixe menus for Mexican Restaurant Week.

More about Mexican Week

Dining Under the Stars in Media

Dine al fresco every Wednesday throughout the summer on State Street in Media. (M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)

May 3 - September 29, 2017

Enjoy an al fresco evening in Media every Wednesday throughout the spring and summer with Dining Under the Stars. Each week, State Street will close out traffic and allow the surrounding restaurants and shops to set up an outdoor escape for local dining and shopping opportunities.

More about Dining Under the Stars in Media

Strawberry Festival at Peddler’s Village

May 20-21, 2017

Celebrate spring at the annual Strawberry Festival at Peddler’s Village, where festive foods, children’s activities, pie-eating contests and a lively lineup of family entertainment are just some of the weekend’s exciting attractions. Culinary highlights include strawberries served fresh and unadorned, dipped in chocolate and deep-fried in fritters, sliced atop shortcake, baked into assorted pastries and blended up into fruit smoothies.

More about Strawberry Festival at Peddler’s Village

Annual Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Celebration

May 20, 2017

The Pan Asian Society of Greater Philadelphia hosts the annual Asian Pacific American Heritage celebration this month, featuring an array of food, live performances, a children's fair and other cultural entertainment. The May 20 festival takes place outdoor at Franklin Square and features live performances, a variety of Asian-inspired eats and more.

More about Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Celebration

Rittenhouse Fine Craft Fair

May 12-14, 2017

Spend the afternoon perusing over 150 white tent canopies filled with art in Rittenhouse Square at the three-day Rittenhouse Fine Craft Fair. The seventh annual juried market will feature works of all kinds including pottery, glass, jewelry and more.

More about Rittenhouse Fine Craft Fair




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