The Biggest Gay and Lesbian Events Coming to Philadelphia in 2016
Parties, art exhibitions, film festivals and more
For the past four years, Philadelphia has held a steady perfect score on the Human Right Campaign’s Municipality Index. Since carrying out the first major U.S. protest for LGBT rights some 50 years ago, Philadelphia continues to prove that it’s still one of the best destinations for LGBT travelers to get their history straight and their nightlife gay.
This year is no different, with a full calendar of events — annual gay pride celebrations, weekly parties and eye-popping performing arts — that keep our city alive with pride. Here’s a look at the best events by night, week, month and year in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.
LGBT Annual Events
17th Annual Black-Tie GayBINGO
March 9, 2016
A little bit of glam and a lot of fabulous fun transform the age-old game of Bingo into a must-have experience at the annual Black-Tie GayBINGO, where all the funds raised go to HIV/AIDS services in the Greater Philadelphia region. Enjoy cocktails and a silent auction, six bingo games, dinner and entertainment from the Bingo Verifying Divas (BVDs), noted for dressing in drag to entertain the crowd and ensure everyone shares in a few laughs. At this year’s event, AIDS Fund will also award the “Favorite Straight Person of the Year” to Judith Porter who has engaged in the field of HIV/AIDS-related work since the 1980s.
Dining Out For Life
April 14, 2016
Diners nosh for a great cause during Dining Out for Life, an annual event in which participating restaurants around the city donate 33-percent of every breakfast, lunch and dinner bill to Action AIDS.
Philadelphia Black Gay Pride
April 28 - May 1, 2016
Over five days, Philadelphia Black Gay Pride entertains and inspires with open-mic spoken word, awards, parties and more unfolding at venues all over the city.
New Hope and Lambertville Celebrate Pride
May 15-22, 2016
Bucks County’s annual New Hope and Lambertville Celebrate Pride includes the Pride Parade, athletic events, family activities, performances and dance parties. Proceeds benefit national and local charities.
Each May, the New Hope Celebrates Pride festival includes the Pride Parade, athletic events, musical performances, a dance and more, and proceeds benefit national and local LGBT charities. (A. Sinagoga for Visit Philadelphia)
Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference
June 9-11, 2016
The 15th annual Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference, held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, focuses on educating and empowering Trans, GV (gender variant) and GNC (gender non-conforming) individuals and promoting wellness in mind, body, spirit and community.
PrideDay LGBT Parade and Festival
June 12, 2016
The 27th annual PrideDay LGBT Parade and Festival takes place during International Gay and Lesbian Pride Month and features live music, DJs, food and drinks. A festive parade, the signature event, runs from the Gayborhood to Penn’s Landing.
More than 10,000 people and 150 vendors come out for Pride Day LGBT Parade and Festival in June. (R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)
July 5 - 10, 2016
A picture-perfect event for movie buffs, qFLIX Philadelphia welcomes independent LGBT filmmakers to town to screen dozens of movie premieres and attend other celebrity-studded events.
The Boys of Summer
August 5-7, 2016
The hottest guys in the region descend upon Philadelphia for The Boys of Summer, Philly Gay Calendar’s annual swimsuit party and fundraiser at Voyeur. Highlights: hot body contest, live performances and lifeguards galore.
August 2016; Exact dates TBA
The sixth annual GayFest! takes the stage as Philadelphia’s only LGBT theater festival. People enjoy plays, music, dance, performance art and spoken word at Plays & Players and Theatre Exile.
Philadelphia Phillies Gay Day
Summer 2016; Exact dates TBA
Summer, sports and LGBT celebration come together for the Philadelphia Phillies Gay Day. The beloved home team welcomes thousands of gay and lesbian fans to Citizens Bank Park each season.
October 9, 2016
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.
Don’t miss Philadelphia’s Outfest, a National Coming Out Day (NCOD) Festival that attracts over 30,000 people to the region. (G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia)
Pink Pub Crawl
Twice a year, the Pink Pub Crawl guides participants to some of the Gayborhood’s favorite watering holes. Those wearing pink can join the sipping for $25 ($30 for non-pink wearers), which includes free admission to Voyeur Nightclub and a few drinks along the way.
Oscar Wilde: From the Depths
Through February 14, 2016
The Lantern Theater Company presents the world premiere of Oscar Wilde: From the Depths, a play by Charles McMahon. The audience watches as the literary icon’s imagination brings forth people from his past while he’s alone in his jail cell.
Merriam Theater Interview-Concert Series
January 29, March 3 and May 5, 2016
Tony Award-winner Kelli O’Hara is the first of several Broadway divas to join the Merriam Theater’s interview-concert series with pianist and host Seth Rudetsky. Following her are Sutton Foster and Megan Hilty.
Janet Jackson’s Unbreakable World Tour
February 24, 2016
Entertaining, innovative, strong, provocative. Janet Jackson’s Unbreakable World Tour reminds everyone at the Wells Fargo Center why this icon has been at the top her game for more than 30 years running.
A Tribute to Joan Rivers
February 29 - March 1, 2016
Philadelphia’s all comedy theatre company, 1812 Productions stages A Tribute to Joan Rivers at Plays & Players. What better way to honor the famous boundary pusher than by featuring Philadelphia’s funny female comedians?
Lights! Camera! Sing by Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus
March 17-19, 2016
Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus performs music made famous on the big screen in Lights! Camera! Sing! at the Prince Theater.
Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts
April 8-23, 2016
A large-scale fire-and-sand performance, a circus built on a foundation of yarn, a traveling symphony performed in water fountains and a sprawling street fair on Broad Street can only mean one thing: the return of PIFA (Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts). With 60 performances, PIFA weaves together a variety of art forms and genres by local and international artists in an arts extravaganza.
Pennsylvania Ballet's Shut Up and Dance
April 9-14, 2016
The dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet produce original pieces for Shut Up and Dance. The annual one-night performance takes place at the Forrest Theatre and benefits local HIV/AIDS non-profit MANNA.
Annual fundraising performance Shut Up & Dance returns to the Forrest Theatre stage in support of MANNA. (Photo courtesy of Patrick Hagerty)
Taps, Tunes And Tall Talesat the Prince Theater
May 6-7, 2016
Tony Award Lifetime Achievement Recipient Tommy Tune brings his one-man show, Taps, Tunes And Tall Tales, to The Rrazz Room at the Prince Theater.
LGBT Monthly Must-Dos
Sex Dwarf at Voyeur Night Club
DJ Robert Drake gets the new wave party started on varying Fridays each month in Voyeur’s Ruby Lounge during Sex Dwarf. This “new wave clubhouse,” which starts at 10 p.m., features different themes and a playlist of underground music from the 1970s and 80s.
Our Night Out at The Gershman Y
Our Night Out gives LGBT professionals the chance to network with colleagues and friends at monthly happy hours all over the city. Gamers grab their daubers and head straight to Gay Bingo, a monthly fundraiser hosted by hilarious drag queens known as the BVDs (Bingo Verifying Divas) at The Gershman Y. All proceeds benefit the AIDS Fund.
Sinful Sundays at Tabu
Every week at Tabu, The Goddess Isis invites special guests for Sinful Sundays, an evening of female illusion and gender-bending hilarity that gets started at 9 p.m.
Sing Your Life Karaoke at Bob and Barbara's
Wannabe stars belt it out during Sing Your Life Karaoke. Well-known karaoke host Sara Sherr runs the Sunday event at Bob and Barbara’s, starting at 9 p.m.
Showtune Sundays at Tavern on Camac
It’s all about Broadway during Showtune Sundays at Tavern on Camac, which broadcasts clips from popular stage and movie musicals.
Tuesdays and Saturdays at ICandy
Thirsty partiers head to ICandy for Turn Up Your Tuesdays or Seductive Saturdays. The slew of drink specials starts at 10 p.m.
Poker Night at Stir
Players try their best poker face at Stir’s Texas Hold’em each Wednesday starting at 8 p.m. The drink specials and prizes are worth betting on.
Thursday Night Drag Show at Bob and Barbara’s
Bob and 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 is 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.
A Sexy Hoedown at Woody's
Cowgirls and cowmen boot scoot over to Woody’s for two-stepping, country and line dancing during A Sexy Hoedown, taking place at 7 p.m. every Friday.
Seven Nights a Week
The Bike Stop
Philly’s longtime leather outpost, The Bike Stop is the perfect place for a pick-up pool game or grabbing an extra-large beer. The friendly bar hosts the famous Underwear Night on Wednesdays, as well as a variety of happy hour specials on its three floors (The Pit Stop, The Bike Stop and The Short Stop).
A bi-level gay sports bar, Boxers Philadelphia draws crowds with brick-oven pizza, a full bar, a pool table, flat-screen TVs, weekly events and a seven-days-a-week happy hour.
A lunch, dinner and late-night favorite for the mature crowd, Knock dishes out creative entrees and a lively bar scene. Regulars love the see-and-be-seen outdoor dining area during the warm-weather months.
Located in the heart of the “Gayborhood,” the chic Knock Restaurant and Bar features an ambitious New American menu with global touches and a lively bar scene. (G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia)
Both guys and gals flock to lesbian-owned Stir Lounge for happy hour, dance parties and special events featuring DJs and creative drink specials served up by some of the friendliest bartenders in Rittenhouse Square.
More about Stir Lounge
Tavern on Camac
Tavern on Camac houses three settings under one roof: an intimate fine-dining restaurant called The Tavern downstairs, an energetic piano bar on the main floor and a top-floor dance club and cocktail lounge featuring DJ nights, karaoke and community events.
Tavern on Camac is nestled on a charming street in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood. (N. Santos for Visit Philadelphia)
U Bar boasts a wall of windows for prime Gayborhood people-watching beginning at 11 a.m. The no-frills spot has built its reputation on stiff drinks and friendly bartenders.
ICandy’s three levels of fun starts with the first-floor bar and restaurant. Going up: a dance floor and a lounge that opens up to a roof deck in the summer.
U Bar boasts a sleek look, great lighting and floor-to-ceiling windows. (M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)
Voyeur Night Club
A gay after-hours favorite, Voyeur really heats up in the early-morning hours when popular DJs spin club hits. Three floors of dancing, a VIP mezzanine level and weekly drag shows and dance parties keep the place hopping.
As one of the longest-standing bar/nightclubs in Philadelphia, Woody’s draws a gay crowd for happy hours and a variety of themed dance parties throughout the week. The upstairs late-night lounge hosts DJs spinning must-dance playlists until last call.