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Complete Guide to Labor Day Weekend in Philadelphia 2016

A vibrant weekend packed with music, art and outdoor happenings

Philadelphia’s hosting a set of awesome happenings over Labor Day weekend.

The extended weekend, which starts on Friday, September 2 and runs through Monday, September 5, will buzz with live music from the mega Made in America, light up with the breathtaking Nightscape installation at Longwood Gardens and offer plenty of opportunities to enjoy the warm weather at an array of awesome outdoor spaces.

Plus, since Labor Day takes place during the first weekend of the month, there are plenty of free “First Friday” and “First Sunday” art-viewing opportunities at galleries and museums across the city (and nearby beer gardens that invite you to quench your thirst afterward).

Read on for our complete guide to Labor Day weekend in Philadelphia for 2016.


Made in America Music Festival on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway

September 3-4, 2016

The Benjamin Franklin Parkway thumps with live music during the annual Made in America Festival, now in its fifth year. With dozens of performers, the two-day music festival, curated by Jay Z, is one of the year’s can’t-miss events, bringing artists including Rihanna, Coldplay, Grimes, Jamie xx and more to its multiple stages.

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Made in America Festival

The Made in America Music Festival draws thousands to downtown Philadelphia for an epic two-day music fest. (Photo courtesy Made in America)

First Friday

Friday, September 2, 2016

Kick off your Labor Day weekend with a Friday evening full of art exploration and art-inspired events at galleries and businesses across Philadelphia. First Friday takes place every month, filling the streets of Old City and Fishtown with people checking out the neighborhoods’ plethora of galleries. Shops and local businesses also host special events and a number of museums get in on the fun, too.

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First Friday

Explore a ton of area galleries and special pop-up events during September’s First Friday festivities. (A. Ricketts for Visit Philadelphia)

Spruce Street Harbor Park

Through September 25, 2016

Lauded as one of the best urban beaches in America, Spruce Street Harbor Park on the Delaware River Waterfront creates a lounge-ready oasis full of hammocks, beer gardens and more. If you’re up for a little action, head to the ping pong table, shuffleboard station or jumbo-sized chess board, and be sure to grab a bite to eat from the food huts that line the boardwalk.

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Last chance: Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest

Through September 5, 2016

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the awesome Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest, be sure to swing by on or before Labor Day, the closing day of its season. In addition to housing a huge outdoor roller rink, Summerfest includes a boathouse-styled lodge, a mini-golf course, a play area for kids and tasty food and drink options (including Chickie’s & Pete’s Waterfront Crabshack). Lace up your skates and head out for some fun before it’s too late!

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Parks on Tap at FDR Park

September 1-5, 2016

Launched this summer, Parks on Tap brings a traveling beer garden to different parks across the city for a total of 14 weeks. Over Labor Day weekend, it heads to FDR Park, where it will host extended hours and a free yoga class on Saturday that will take place at noon. Swing by Friday to Sunday from 1-11 p.m. or Monday from noon-10 p.m. to relax and try an array of draft beers and food options, like BBQ corn on the cob and pulled pork sliders.

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Other awesome outdoor beer gardens

Through Fall 2016; Closing dates vary

When the weather’s nice, it’s hard to beat being outside with a beer in hand. Philly is packed with open-air hangouts perfect for a night out with friends, a happy hour with co-workers, dinner and drinks with the family or even a daytime hang with kids. From established favorites like Frankford Hall and Morgan’s Pier to newer additions and pop-ups like the PHS Pop-Up Garden at the Viaduct Rail Park and Skygarten, there are plenty of beer gardens to check out that’ll make September feel like an extension of summer. Find them all by clicking the button below.

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Viaduct Beer Garden

The PHS Pop Up Garden at the Reading Viaduct is one of the many awesome alfresco spots to enjoy a beverage over Labor Day weekend. (Photo courtesy R. Cardillo for PHS Pop-Up Garden)

Rooftop bars in Philadelphia

Seeking a skyline view while you enjoy a beer alfresco? Grab a drink at one of the many Philadelphia bars and restaurants featuring a roofdeck or elevated seating. We’ve gathered 21 top-notch places where you can do just that – check them out by clicking the button below!

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Assembly Lounge

Nine stories above street level, the Assembly Rooftop Lounge at the Logan Hotel is one of several awesome elevated bar scenes to check out in Philadelphia over Labor Day weekend. (M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)

Outdoor movie screenings at Clark Park and the Betsy Ross House

Friday, September 2, 2016

Spread out your blanket or grab a bench outdoors and spend Friday night under the stars enjoying a movie. Two options are on the table: “Alligator People,” which is airing at The Betsy Ross House, and “Creed,” which will play at Clark Park.

guide to outdoor movie screenings

Last chance: The Science Behind Pixar at The Franklin Institute

Through September 5, 2016

The Monday of Labor Day marks your last opportunity to check out The Science Behind Pixar at the Franklin Institute. Learn about the creation of Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Nemo and other favorite animated characters in an exhibition that takes a first-time look at the Pixar process and the science and technology behind it. From the detailed engineering to the mathematical concepts, multiple hands-on displays dive deep into some of the top-selling animated movies of all time.

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Science Behind Pixar

Learn about the creation of all your favorite Pixar characters at The Franklin Institute’s latest exhibition, which closes after Labor Day weekend. (C. Smyth for Visit Philadelphia)

Final month: Creative Africa at the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building

Through September 25, 2016

September is the final month for Creative Africa, a group of five special exhibitions at the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building that invites you to explore an expansive display of works from visionary artists all throughout Africa. From contemporary photography and fashion to architecture and centuries-old sculpture, Creative Africa explores a wide range of mediums from a variety of time periods. At the heart of the collection is a special exhibition entitled Look Again: Contemporary Perspectives on African Art, a major display drawn from the Penn Museum’s distinguished African collection.

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Creative Africa

Five special exhibits exploring an array of visionary artists from all across Africa form Creative Africa, the newest display at the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building. (M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)

Newly opened: Nightscape at Longwood Gardens

Through October 29, 2016

Brighten up the nights of your Labor Day weekend with stunning sights at Kennett Square‘s Longwood Gardens during the second edition 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, limited-time experience full of musically choreographed moving images 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 of D. Traub for Longwood Gardens)

Other must-see summer exhibitions

Dates vary

From the political learning adventure at Headed to the White House to the animatronic prehistoric Dinosaurs Unearthed to the 75th anniversary celebration exhibition of Curious George at the Please Touch Museum, there are a ton of varying and noteworthy exhibitions to explore over Labor Day weekend. Check out our full roundup by clicking the button below.

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Broad Street Installation

South Broad Street recently received a mile-long makeover, one of many art installations to see over Labor Day weekend. (M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)

Free First Sunday at The Barnes Foundation

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Barnes Foundation celebrates the first Sunday of the month with free admission to the museum and a number of special programs, often including hands-on activities and performances. Tickets are limited and cannot be reserved in advance, so show up early to guarantee your entrance. Tickets are available on-site starting at 9 a.m.

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Barnes Foundation

Enjoy free admission and an impressive collection of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings on the first Sunday of the month at The Barnes Foundation. (Photo courtesy The Barnes Foundation)

Pay-What-You-Wish Sunday At The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Sunday, September 4, 2016

On the first Sunday of every month, the Philadelphia Museum of Art invites you to explore all that it has to offer for a pay-what-you-wish admission price. As the third largest art museum in the country, you could spend all Sunday here, viewing works from artists like Cézanne, Picasso and many, many more.

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Philadelphia Museum of Art

Take advantage of pay-what-you-wish Sundays at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, including September 4 over Labor Day weekend. (Photo courtesy the Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Running and biking trails near Center City

Year-round

Philadelphia is a city destined to be explored by foot – or bike. Run like Rocky, take in some river breezes along Philadelphia’s great waterfronts, cycle atop the river on the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk and explore the city’s trails and streetscapes, foot-by-foot, with our guide to biking and running trails within access of Center City. Click the button below to learn more.

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Frozen treats in Philly

There is no better way to cool down during a hot summer weekend than with a delicious frozen treat. Whether you’re craving decadent popsicles from Lil’ Pop Shop, ice cream from Franklin Fountain or water ice from John’s, the city is full of options for any and all frozen treat cravings.

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Labor Day on Independence Mall

September 1-5, 2016

Much of Historic Philadelphia’s summer programming draws to a close this Labor Day weekend as do the Once Upon a Nation storytelling sessions. Reap one last dose of history-based entertainment while you can and consider taking advantage of the Historic Philadelphia Pass while you’re in the area. Click the button below to see all that’s going on in the final days.

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storyteller benches

Throughout Philadelphia’s Historic District, you’ll find 13 storyteller benches featuring free, five-minute tales and secret stories told by uniformed, professional storytellers, taking place through Labor Day. (G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia)

Outdoor yoga classes on the waterfront

September 3-5, 2016

Both Race Street Pier and the Schuylkill Banks host outdoor yoga classes every weekend in the summer. Race Street Pier is home to free yoga classes on Saturday and Sunday at 9:30 a.m., and the Schuylkill Banks hosts pay-what-you-can classes on Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. Click the button below to learn more and stay updated on each location’s Labor Day weekend schedule.

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College football: Temple vs. Army at Lincoln Financial Field

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Temple Owls had a historic 2015, finishing the season as champions of the East division and playing in both the American Athletic Championship Game and the Boca Raton Bowl. This year, the Owls look for another successful season, and you can catch them in action at any of the seven games they’re playing at Lincoln Financial Field in South Philadelphia, starting with a face-off against Army West Point. Click the button below for the full schedule.

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Labor Day BBQ at Sesame Place

September 3-4, 2016

Bring the whole family to celebrate Labor Day weekend with Big Bird, Elmo and more at the annual barbecue at Sesame Place. Everyone’s favorite Sesame Street friends can be joined for a cookout at Big Bird’s Riverside Pavilion starting at 5 p.m., followed by a spectacular fireworks show once the sun sets.

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sesame place

Sesame Place hosts an annual BBQ every Labor Day weekend, inviting the whole family out for a cookout with Big Bird, Elmo and more. (Photo courtesy Sesame Place)

144th Labor Day Volkfest at the Cannstatter Club

September 3-5, 2016

Held every year since 1873, the Cannstatter Volksfest is the nation’s oldest German festival and a Labor Day Weekend tradition here in Philadelphia. Come for an experience filled with German music and dancing, delicious eats including Bratwurst, Leberkaese and Schnitzel and a family-friendly environment, filled with rides and more. The three-day fest takes place at the Cannstatter Club, the largest beer garden in northeast Philadelphia, so of course, tons of brews will be flowing, too.

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Volkfest

Celebrate Labor Day at Volkfest at the Cannstatter Club, the nation’s oldest German festival. (Photo courtesy of the Cannstatter Club)

Hennypalooza

September 2, 2016

On Friday, the Trocadero Theatre welcomes HennyPalooza, a ticketed concert that features a range of talented musicians and plenty of Hennessy.

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Trocadero Theater

The Trocadero Theatre hosts HennyPalooza, a ticketed concert full of live music and plenty of Hennessy for all. (G. Miller for Visit Philadelphia)

Top Ways to Beat the Heat

Dates vary

While Labor Day may mark the unofficial end of summer, hot summer temperatures continue well into September. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to beat the heat in Philadelphia including drinks in a breezy beer garden, kayking on the river, visits to air conditioned museums and cold cups of iced coffee. Click the button below to find all of our top picks!

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