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Complete Guide to Columbus Day Weekend in Philadelphia 2016

Make the most of a long full weekend in Philly, October 7-10, 2016

Columbus Day became a federal holiday back in 1937, and for many, it means a welcome three-day weekend each October.

This Columbus Day in Philadelphia, visitors and residents can take advantage of a ton of awesome events going down throughout the city from Friday, October 7 to Monday, October 10, 2016.

From celebrations of art, like the Pennsylvania Guild Fine Craft Fair and DesignPhiladelphia, to epic street parties, like Midtown Village's Outfest and Chinatown's Pearl Street Block Party, to beer- and food-filled Oktoberfests at an array of festive venues, the events in store for Columbus Day weekend promise to keep you thoroughly entertained.

Check out our full list of happenings below to pack your holiday weekend with tons of fun.


Old City Fest

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Artists, crafters, designers, techies, entertainers and restaurateurs all come out to celebrate the neighborhood’s creative spirit during the Old City Festival. Activities, exhibitions and programs throughout several blocks along North 3rd Street and Arch Street cater to both families and the over-21 crowd.

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From the artists to the chefs to the entrepreneurs, celebrate the folks that make Old City thrive during the Old City Fest. (M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)

Terror Behind The Walls

Through November 5, 2016 on select dates

Celebrate the upcoming Halloween season by testing your nerves at Eastern State Penitentiary’s Terror Behind the Walls, a spooky haunted house inside a history-rich, abandoned prison. Designed to be high-startle, Terror Behind the Walls includes Hollywood-quality special effects and lighting, digital sound, animatronic creatures and custom props. Over 200 performers participate in six separate attractions on the 11-acre complex, creating one scary experience.

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Terror Behind The Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary

This Columbus Day, see why Terror behind the Walls is one of the best haunted houses in America. (M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphia)

Fishtown RiverCity Festival

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Celebrate Columbus Day weekend in the great outdoors during the annual Fishtown RiverCity Festival at scenic Penn Treaty Park on the Delaware River Waterfront. The annual neighborhood festival, presented by the Fishtown Neighbors Association, is a free, alfresco celebration of local music, food and businesses in Fishtown.

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The Fishtown RiverCity Festival brings a free celebration of local music, food and businesses to Penn Treaty Park. (M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

Outfest

Sunday, October 9, 2016

OutFest, part of the National Coming Out Day Festival, is the largest event of its kind in the world. The 10-block party packs in the fun with drag shows, games, bar crawls, music and shopping. However, it’s the main stage at 13th and Locust streets in the Gayborhood that serves as the centerpiece of the festival, featuring lively entertainment such as the high-heel race.

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The 10-block Outfest brings an epic party to the Gayborhood as part of the National Coming Out Day Festival. (G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia)

Philadelphia's First Annual Oktoberfest at 23rd Street Armory

October 7-9, 2016

The castle-esque 23rd Street Armory will get a makeover for Columbus Day weekend, transforming into an authentic Munich festival tent for Philadelphia's First Annual Oktoberfest at 23rd Street Armory. Bavarian blues and whites will paint the ceilings, while authentic festival tables and benches imported from Germany will furnish the floor along with a lofted stage area for live bands. Hofbräuhaus will supply the beer and German fare will flow from the kitchens.

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Design Philadelphia

October 6-16, 2016

The entire city celebrates DesignPhiladelphia, one of the largest design festivals in the nation with 85 events representing 400 nationally recognized designers. Each fall, including during Columbus Day weekend, the Philadelphia Center for Architecture hosts exhibits, lectures, workshops and demonstrations that highlight architecture, fashion, furniture, multimedia and urban-planning design at venues all around town.

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A slew of events unfold throughout the city during DesignPhiladelphia, a celebration of designers from across the nation. (M. Edlow for Visit Philadephia)

Stellafest at Pizzeria Stella

Monday, October 10, 2016

Stephen Starr’s Pizzeria Stella is turning the Headhouse Shambles into an all-out block party in celebration of Columbus Day. Throughout the afternoon, guests can look forward to a beer and sangria garden, a food tent and the Stella Artois airstream. A live DJ, games, pony rides and face painting will round out the festival.

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headhouse shambles in society hill

The Headhouse Shambles in Society Hill plays host to the seventh annual Stellafest this Columbus Day. (R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

Philadelphia Open Studio Tours

October 8, 9, 22 and 23, 2016

Ever wonder what an artist’s studio really looks like? Philadelphia Open Studio Tours allows everyone a chance to take a sneak peek inside the city’s most creative spaces. For two weekends in October, the first falling on Columbus Day weekend, artists around the city open their studios to curious visitors, inviting them to talk, check out how they work and purchase artwork.

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Philadelphia Open Studio Tours gives you a chance to take a sneak peek inside artists' studios across the city. (R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

Nightscape: A Light And Sound Experience at Longwood Gardens

Through October 29, 2016

The chance to see stunning sights well after dark at Kennett Square's Longwood Gardens returns with the second year of Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience, an after-dark-only installation. Created by local pros Klip Collective (responsible for installations seen everywhere from the Philadelphia Flower Show to the Sundance Film Festival), the immersive experience full of choreographed moving images, music and lights is one not to be missed.

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Nightscape

Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience brings an immersive, multi-sensory experience to Longwood Gardens once the sun goes down. (Photo courtesy D. Traub for Longwood Gardens)

Must-See Fall Exhibitions

Fall 2016

As the trees begin to burst with vibrant colors this fall, so do the museums throughout Philadelphia. At venues citywide, there are tons of blockbuster exhibitions to fill your Columbus Day weekend with art and culture. Highlights include The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now (a sweeping black arts exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art), Headed to the White House at National Constitution Center (inviting you to see if you have what it takes to become president with role-playing opportunities and interactive exhibits) and more. Click the button below to view the full list of exhibitions to check out over Columbus Day weekend.

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National Constitution Center

Visitors to Headed to the White House have plenty of opportunities to participate in interactive activities designed to explore all aspects of a U.S. presidential election. (M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

Pennsylvania Guild Fine Craft Fair

October 7-9, 2016

The Pennsylvania Guild Fine Craft Fair brings 100-plus artists to Rittenhouse Square for a three-day celebration of art. Browse and buy handcrafted works ranging from contemporary furniture to pottery pieces to designer clothing, jewelry, blown glass and more.

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Pennsylvania Guild Fine Craft Fair

Browse art displayed alfresco at the Pennsylvania Guild Fine Craft Fair in Rittenhouse Square. (Photo courtesy of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen)

Oktoberfest Live! at Xfinity Live!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Xfinity Live! Philadelphia invites you to grab your friends and come out for a day of unlimited samplings of more than 200 varieties of beer. Live music, contests, games and food trucks will accompany this event, which offers both early-bird pricing and VIP ticket deals.

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PHeaSt

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) presents its popular culinary event PHeaSt for the fifth year, bringing another huge garden-to-table dining experience to the Navy Yard. Sample dishes sourced from local ingredients courtesy of some of the region's top restaurants, sip on cocktails and craft beers and speak with growers firsthand to get your own gardening tips.

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Enjoy an epic garden-to-table dining experience at PHS's annual PHeaSt event. (Photo courtesy PHS)

Pearl Street Block Party

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Pearl Street Block Party is an annual neighborhood arts festival that celebrates the rich diversity and artistic community of Callowhill. Come out for a day of music, art and a lion dance performance by the Philadelphia Suns, all taking place on the 1200 block of Pearl Street.

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Explore Callowhill's diverse art scene at the Pearl Street Block Party. (Photo courtesy Asian Arts Initiative)

East Passyunk 2nd Saturday Antique and Sidewalk Market

Saturday, October 8, 2016

More than 60 vendors head to East Passyunk to set up a massive offering of vintage housewares, collectibles, furniture, jewelry, clothing and artwork during the East Passyunk 2nd Saturday Antique and Sidewalk Market. Neighborhood boutiques and shops will also offer special deals and events for a Saturday that shopping enthusiasts will want to attend.

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Ciao Philadelphia: Italian Cultural Month

October 2016

Greater Philadelphia holds one of the largest Italian-American communities in the country. Returning for its third year, Ciao Philadelphia brings a month-long series of more than 70 events that highlight the contributions of this community to the city and beyond. Events are set to unfold daily, ranging from concerts to film screenings to food celebrations and much more. Click the button below to check out the full roster of happenings.

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Mural Arts Month

Through October 31, 2016

Each October, Mural Arts Month honors the Mural Arts Program’s more than 3,800 works of public art in different ways. Look forward to walking and trolley tours of the Ninth Street Stock Exchange project, neighborhood gardens, mosaics and more as well as a roster of free and pay-what-you-wish events. Highlights include a one-night-only sound and light installation in the tunnels under the in-development Rail Park with composer Nadia Botello and visual artists Matthew Suib and Nadia Hironaka and the unveiling of Mural Arts’ first rotating outdoor gallery, plus festivals in South Philly, Bartram’s Garden and along the Spring Garden Street Bridge.

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Pumpkinland Festival at Linvilla Orchards

Through November 6, 2016

Favorite fall traditions come together at Linvilla Orchards’ annual Pumpkinland Festival in Media. Beginning in September, Pumpkinland opens for a three-month season that includes straw bale and cornfield mazes, live music and entertainment, hayrides, train rides, pony rides, face painting, apple picking and jack-o-lantern displays.

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Linvilla Orchards

Enjoy a fall-filled weekend at Linvilla Orchards with a slew of festive activities taking place at the Pumpkinland Festival. (R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

The Count's Halloween Spooktacular at Sesame Place

Through October 30, 2016

Through the end of October, Sesame Place hosts The Count’s Halloween Spooktacular, a not-too-scary celebration complete with everyone's favorite Sesame Street characters, parades, contests and more. Guests of all ages are invited to come dressed in costume and enjoy special attractions like Abby Cadabby’s Magical Halloween Maze, trick-or-treating activities and themed hayrides.

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The Count's Halloween Spooktacular at Sesame Place

Enjoy fun-filled events for the whole family at Sesame Place this fall. (Photo courtesy Sesame Place)

Harvest Fest at Elmwood Park Zoo

Sunday in October 2016

Norristown's Elmwood Park Zoo plays host to its annual Harvest Fest, featuring games, activities, live performances and much more. The fest is free with zoo admission and falls on Sundays throughout October, beginning Columbus Day weekend.

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Celebrate fall at the Elmwood Park Zoo during its annual Harvest Fest filled with entertainment and live performances. (Photo courtesy Elmwood Park Zoo)

Winetober Fest in Skippack

October 7-8, 2016

If the idea of Oktoberfest sounds fun but you'd prefer to celebrate with a glass of red or white instead of beer, the Winetober Fest in Skippack is for you. Now in its seventh year, the annual event features a ton of different vendors as well as food to nosh on as you drink down a variety of vino. Live music rounds out the fun-filled, two-day ticketed event.

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Enjoy food, live music and plenty of wine at Skippack's annual Winetober Fest. (Photo Courtesy Winetober Fest)

King of Prussia Beerfest Royale

October 6 & 8, 2016

The parking lot at the King of Prussia Mall transforms into a German beer oasis at the annual Beerfest Royale, a two-day event consisting of more than 100 types of beer from 50-plus national and international brewers, food from area restaurants, live music and a cigar lounge. Tickets are limited, so reserve your spot in advance by clicking the button below.

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Sample more than 100 beers and enjoy great food in the King of Prussia Mall parking lot during Beerfest Royale. (Photo courtesy Beerfest Royale)

Bucks County Wine Trail Harvest Celebration

October 8-9, 2016

Spend Columbus Day weekend enjoying the beauty of autumn out in the vineyards during the Bucks County Wine Trail Harvest Celebration. In addition to trying a variety of local wines, visitors can sample fresh-pressed grape juices that have not yet fermented into wine.

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