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The Biggest LGBT Events Coming to Philadelphia in 2018

Parties, performances, parades, and more

Since holding the nation’s first major LGBT rights protest some 50 years ago, Philadelphia has continued to prove that it’s still one of the best destinations for LGBT travelers to get their history straight and their nightlife gay.

The city offers a full calendar of events in 2018, including an expanded fifth-annual qFLIX Philadelphia film festival and a Fringe Festival rounded out by a special Bearded Ladies Cabaret performance as well as a concert featuring both Rufus Wainwright and the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus. These are the icing atop the city and region’s annual pride celebrations, weekly bashes in bars across the Gayborhood and cutting-edge performing arts with LGBT twists.

Here’s a look at the best events of 2018 — including a rundown by night, week and month — in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.

Annual Events | Performing Arts | Monthly Events |
Weekly Events | National Gathering



LGBT Annual Events

qFLIX Philadelphia

The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia

LGBT filmmakers from all over the world descend on Philadelphia venues — including the Kimmel Center (shown) — to attend screenings during qFlix. (Photo by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

March 19-25, 2018

qFLIX Philadelphia welcomes independent LGBT filmmakers from around the globe to screen more than 70 films and attend celebrity-studded events. New in 2018: Plays & Players Theatre as headquarters and seven days of screenings.

More about qFLIX Philadelphia

Dining Out for Life

April 14 & 19, 2018

Diners nosh for a great cause on April 19 during Dining Out for Life. Close to 200 restaurants around the city donate 33 percent of every breakfast, lunch and dinner bill to Action Wellness, a nonprofit organization that helps people living with chronic illnesses — including HIV/AIDS — in Greater Philadelphia. The day also includes a food truck pop-up on April 14 in the heart of the Gayborhood at lunchtime and, new this year, a beer garden in partnership with Yards Brewing Company.

More about dining out for life

Philadelphia Black Pride Celebration

Philly Black Gay Pride crowd partying.

Happy hour mixers and discussion panels are just some of the events designed to celebrate the LGBT African-American community during Philly Black Pride. (Photo by A. Ricketts for Visit Philadelphia)

April 24-29, 2018

Philadelphia Black Pride encompasses five days of activities aimed at spotlighting and empowering the LGBT African-American community. Taking place across the city and timed to coincide with the Penn Relays, events run the gamut from discussion panels and happy hour mixers to concerts, art shows and community picnics.

More about philadelphia black gay pride

New Hope Celebrates’ Pride Festival

Kids march with large rainbow flag during the New Hope Celebrates Pride parade.

Participants unfurl the world's largest rainbow flag and march during New Hope Celebrates’ Pride Festival. (Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

Festival: May 18-20, Parade: May 19, 2018

Now in its 15th year, the three-day New Hope Celebrates’ Pride Festival is known for a Pride Parade that brings the world’s largest rainbow flag from the New Jersey side of the Delaware River in Lambertville to the New Hope & Lambertville Bridge to New Hope, Bucks County, for a fair featuring international entertainers and family fun.

More about New Hope Celebrates’ Pride Festival

Philadelphia Dyke March

June 10, 2018

The Philadelphia Dyke March draws hundreds for a proud march through Center City that spotlights Philly’s lesbian community and their allies. The rally traditionally starts the day before Pride in Kahn Park, where a stage is set for speeches and a variety of performances and where the procession steps off.

More about philadelphia dyke march

PrideDay LGBT Parade and Festival

Drag performers march at the PrideDay LGBT Parade and Festival.

Celebrate gay pride with live music, libations, and more on PrideDay. (Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

June 11, 2018

The 30th annual PrideDay LGBT Parade and Festival begins with a colorful procession from the Gayborhood to Penn’s Landing, where a celebration ensues. Revelers can look forward to live music, DJs, food, drink and other ways to fete International Gay and Lesbian Pride Month along the Delaware River Waterfront.

More about prideday lgbt parade and festival

The Boys of Summer

July, date TBA

Some of the hottest guys in the region descend upon Philadelphia for The Boys of Summer, Philly Gay Calendar’s weekend-long bash that leads up to a steamy swimsuit party at Voyeur nightclub. Other weekend highlights include a pool party, a Sunday barbecue and scantily clad lifeguards galore.

More about the boys of summer

Pride Night at Citizens Bank Park

A Phillies game at Citizen's Bank Park.

Head to Citizens Bank Park for a night of LGBT appreciation hosted by the Philadelphia Phillies. (Photo courtesy Philadelphia Phillies)

Summer 2018 (TBA)

The Philadelphia Phillies invite all members of the LGBT community — as well as family, friends and groups — to celebrate the region’s LGBT culture at the MLB club’s annual Pride Night at Citizens Bank Park.

OutFest

Drag performer on stage at OutFest.

OutFest is the largest Coming Out Day street festival in the world. (Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

October 14, 2018

Philadelphia celebrates National Coming Out Day with OutFest, a block party in the heart of the Gayborhood that’s made up of drag shows, games, bar crawls and shopping. Philadelphia’s celebration is the largest Coming Out Day street festival in the world.

More about Outfest



Performing Arts

The Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret

Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret perfomance.

It's always high-energy fun at the monthly Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret. (Photo courtesy FringeArts)

Monthly

Every second Thursday of the month, Philly’s self-proclaimed tallest, hairiest drag queen puts on a rowdy cabaret above Crêperie Beau Monde in the lovely French-inspired watering hole, L’Etage. The Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret finds the golden-voiced diva belting covers of everyone from Whitney to Bowie; local LGBT artists often open the show.

More about Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret

Get Pegged Cabaret at La Peg

Performer on stage at Get Pegged Cabaret at La Peg.

See bright, up-and-coming LGBT performers at Get Pegged Cabaret, taking place monthly at La Peg. (Photo courtesy FringeArts)

Monthly

Openly gay performance artist John Jarboe hosts the monthly Get Pegged Cabaret at La Peg. The late-night, uncensored affair always features a new lineup of mostly LGBT performers, including Bearded Ladies Cabaret founder Jarboe, and takes a nod from original French and German cabarets from the turn of the century.

More about Get Pegged Cabaret at La Peg

Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus

The Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus performing on stage at Prince Theater.

The Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus has a busy 2018, including performing with Rufus Wainwright. (Photo courtesy Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus)

January 19, March 24 & May 23, 2018

Winter and spring find Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus especially busy. They first join Rufus Wainwright for a special finale performance at Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts (January 19). Next, they head to Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion for a musical performance of the novel Two Boys Kissing (March 24). A Pride Tour has the chorus hitting the road to Jenkintown, Devon and University City. To cap the season, the chorus takes part in the Choirs ROCK! Concert at the Wells Fargo Center (May 23) in what aims to be the largest choral concert ever held.

More about Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus

Lana Del Rey at the Wells Fargo Center

January 21, 2018

Soft and sultry songbird — truly, a modern diva for LGBT fans — Lana Del Rey takes her Lust For Life tour to South Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center, accompanied by Kali Uchis. The tour’s namesake album earned the songstress her second Grammy nomination, for Best Pop Vocal Album.

more about lana del rey at the wells fargo center

Brian Sanders’ JUNK

Performer on stage at Brian Sanders' JUNK dance show.

Don't miss the dazzling performances at the Brian Sanders’ JUNK's annual soiree. (Photo courtesy Brian Sanders' JUNK)

February 18, 2018

Always provocative dance troupe Brian Sanders’ JUNK throws their annual Snowball soiree. The fundraising extravaganza features performances by the troupe, dancing and decadent beverages and desserts.

More about Brian Sanders’ JUNK Snowball

BalletX’s Spring and Summer Series 2018

Two dancers performing routine for BalletX show.

BalletX takes the stage at the Wilma Theater to debut new work during its spring and summer series. (Photo courtesy BalletX)

Spring: March 7-18, 2018
Summer: July 11-22, 2018

Darrell Grand Moultrie, a choreographer for Beyoncé, world-premieres a new work as part of the contemporary dance troupe BalletX's Spring Series 2018, now back at the newly renovated Wilma Theater. BalletX’s Summer Series 2018 promises another world premiere by celebrated out choreographer Matthew Neenan.

More about BalletX

Fun Home

May 17-June 17, 2018

Old City’s Arden Theatre mounts the stunningly scored Broadway smash Fun Home, a musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s 2006 graphic memoir of the same name — and the first Broadway musical with a lesbian protagonist. A coming-out story in reverse, the story looks back at its main character’s life in Central Pennsylvania and perspective on her father through adult eyes.

More about Fun Home

Hump! Film Festival

May 18-19, 2018

Popular gay sex columnist Dan Savage brings the 13th annual Hump! Film Festival to FringeArts, celebrating sex-positivity with 20 adult indie-film shorts. The two-day event is part of a 35-city tour.

More about Hump! Film Festival

Shania Twain at the Wells Fargo Center

July 12, 2018

After more than 15 years, country-gay icon Shania Twain released her brand-new studio album, Shania Now, in 2017 — and now takes the album on tour, her first since 2015. Expect a performance of new singles Life’s About to Get Good and We Got Something They Don’t, but also obvious crowd-pleasing anthems Man! I Feel Like a Woman! and That Don’t Impress Me Much.

more about Shania Twain at the Wells Fargo Center

Fringe Festival

Fringe Festival performance space.

Original, avant-garde entertainment abounds at the annual Fringe Festival. (Photo by Sarah Bishop Stone for FringeArts)

September 6-23, 2018

Philadelphia experiences two weeks of artistic pleasure during the annual Fringe Festival. Avant-garde performance meets street theater at venues throughout the city. The schedule is always jam-packed with LGBT-centric events, including a popular festival-closing performance by Martha Graham Cracker and provocative works from out choreographers Brian Sanders JUNK and Gunnar Montana. This year will feature The Poison Cookie Jar, a full-scale history of cabaret performed by the Bearded Ladies.

More about Fringe Festival

Opera Philadelphia's Festival O

Performance at Opera Philadelphia's Festival O.

LGBT opera enthusiasts, mark your calendars for this year's Festival O. (Photo courtesy Opera Philadelphia)

September TBA

Last year, Opera Philadelphia kicked off its season by debuting Festival O, also known as O17, with 12 days of more than 25 star-studded performances. Among the packed houses for world premieres and site-specific works were hundreds of LGBT opera fans. The success of O17 promises even more drama by design for O18.

more about Opera Philadelphia's Festival O



LGBT Monthly Must-Dos

Back 2 Basics

Various dates and times

Every month at Tabu, local lesbian-focused party producer Stimulus presents Back 2 Basics. The popular party packs the bar with ladies of all persuasions for drink specials, live DJs spinning and an excellent night of dancing. The event spawns special one-off parties throughout the year during events and holidays like Pride, New Year’s Eve and OutFest.

more about Back 2 Basics

Bearlesque

First Friday of every month

Each month, grizzly and nimble-footed men load a suitcase with pasties and props for an over-the-top burlesque performance as part of Tabu’s Bearlesque series, held upstairs every first Friday. Though it’s become a multi-city phenomenon, Philly lays claim to the original.

more about Bearlesque

Drag Your A** To Brunch

Various dates and times

Northern Liberties’ whiskey-centric, Southern-infused Bourbon & Branch dedicates one Sunday a month to Drag Your A** To Brunch, an upstairs event featuring Brittany Lynn and the Philly Drag Mafia, plus twerk-off competitions, mad-libs and lip-sync battles. Talk about Sunday funday.

more about bourbon & Branch

Gay Bingo

Various dates and times

Gamers grab their daubers and head straight to Gay Bingo, a 20-years-running monthly fundraiser hosted by hilarious drag queens known as the BVDs (Bingo Verifying Divas) at The Gershman Y. Themes on the agenda for 2018: Mardi Gras and Studio 54. All proceeds benefit the AIDS Fund.

more about Gay Bingo

Holy Trinity Party

Various dates and times

South Philly’s Dolphin Tavern hosts Philly’s first and only all Beyoncé, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj dance party. Holy Trinity DJs Dame Luz and Wassup Gina spin tunes from the divas’ catalogues once a month on the dive bar’s neon-lit dance floor.

more about Holy Trinity Party

NSFW Dance Party

Dates TBA

One of Philly’s sexiest LGBT-themed ragers, NSFW Dance Party continues in 2018, starting with the return of the popular Thermal Party in February.

more about NSFW Dance Party

Our Night Out

Various dates and times

Our Night Out gives LGBT professionals the chance to network with colleagues and friends at monthly happy hours all over the city.

more about Our Night Out

Out in Fishtown

Aerial view of Fishtown neighborhood in Philadelphia.

Check out Fishtown's thriving LGBT scene during Out in Fishtown's monthly happy hours and fundraisers. (Photo by D. Tavani for Visit Philadelphia)

Dates TBA

Similar to Queers on the Avenue (see below), Out in Fishtown is a monthly LGBT-centric happy hour taking place in bars around the trendy northern neighborhood. The group also teams up with event organizers around the city to spotlight their neighborhood’s understated LGBT community or fundraise for local nonprofits like The Attic Youth Center.

more about Out in Fishtown

OUT in Point Breeze

Diners outside on the patio at American Sardine Bar in Point Breeze.

The American Sardine Bar is one of a handful of trendy venues that host casual meetups for LGBT groups. (Photo courtesy American Sardine Bar)

Dates TBA

Organized by neighborhood resident and Boys of Summer planner Steve McCann, OUT in Point Breeze unites the southwest Philadelphia neighborhood’s queer community for casual monthly meetups at venues such as American Sardine Bar and South Philadelphia Taproom.

more about OUT in Point Breeze

Queers on the Avenue

East Passyunk Avenue Singing Fountain.

Socialize with the LGBT community out and about in East Passyunk during Queers on the Avenue. (Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

Dates TBA

QOTA (Queers on the Avenue) lures LGBT social butterflies to South Philly for a popular monthly mixer along East Passyunk Avenue. The event takes place at a different venue each month, but always features light bites and alcohol. Summertime gatherings are especially vibrant, when crowds spill onto the street, and the holiday party is exceptionally festive.

more about Queers on the Avenue



Weekly Events

Thursday Night Drag Show at Bob & Barbara’s

South Street dive bar Bob & Barbara’s draws a diverse crowd for its legendary Thursday Night Drag Show, the city’s longest-running drag show, starring the entertaining Miss Lisa. Adding to the fun: the famous “Citywide Special,” a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a shot of Jim Beam for just $3.50. Show starts at 10 p.m.

more about Thursday Night Drag Show at Bob & Barbara’s

Boxers Philadelphia

Boxers Philadelphia interior bar patrons watch pool game.

From billiards to underwear parties, there's always fun to be had at Boxers Philadelphia. (Photo by Visit Philadelphia)

Boxers Philadelphia hosts events throughout the week, like an upstairs underwear party on Thursdays, free pool and $6 mimosas and bloody Marys on Sundays, a free-to-play Texas hold ’em night on Tuesdays and a nightly happy hour that runs from 6 to 8 p.m.

more about Boxers Philadelphia

Stir Lounge

Those looking for a low-key night of drinking outside the Gayborhood head to Stir Lounge in Rittenhouse Square Monday through Friday, with daily happy hour specials. On Thursday evenings, the vibe picks up for Stirsday, when attendees slurp down $1 drinks and dance to live DJs until 2 a.m.

more about Stir Lounge

Quizzo Nights at Tabu

Philly’s original gay sports bar Tabu inspires friendly competition among patrons at popular Quizzo nights on Mondays and Wednesdays. Those events offer food and drink specials and catty banter by hosts drag queen Aurora Whorealis and comedian Connor Michalchuk. Upstairs offers a different vibe most any night of the week with a creative lineup of events — from singing and drag competitions to burlesque shows.

more about Tabu

Showtune Sundays at Tavern on Camac

Men singing around a piano player at Tavern on Carmac.

Sing along to your favorite showtunes at Tavern on Camac. (Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

Songbirds flock to piano bar Tavern On Camac for Showtune Sundays, which broadcasts clips from popular stage and movie musicals and gives patrons a chance to perform for the crowd. The piano bar stays buzzing all week, but with lighter crowds — an excellent option for those looking to try out a song in a more intimate setting. Although dancers tend to bop upstairs to a jam-packed floor on Friday and Saturday nights; early Friday evenings mean an altogether folksy atmosphere for country line dancing.

more about Tavern on Camac

Toasted Walnut

Lesbian owned-and-loved Toasted Walnut hosts happy hour Tuesday through Sunday, a “Live on Walnut” music series showcases live performers three times per month and DJs every Friday and Saturday night. When there’s a big game on, guests stop by to check it out on the venue’s 70-inch TVs.

more about Toasted Walnut

Woody's

Every day, Woody’s hosts a happy hour in its gorgeous Globar. On weekends, the bar’s upstairs dance floor packs in the boys for DJs and primo cruising. Those looking for a more intimate dancing experience can try Latin and salsa lessons every Thursday night at 10 p.m.

more about Woody's



National Gathering

Mazzoni Center’s Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference

August 2-4

Mazzoni Center’s Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference, previously the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference, is packed with four days of activities and informational booths aimed at educating transgender individuals and their allies on issues of health and wellbeing. The event brings in 7,000 attendees and includes high-profile speakers and more than 250 workshops around the city.

more about Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference



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