Memorial Day Weekend in Philadelphia 2016
Our guide to pop-up parks, special events and exhibitions during the holiday weekend
The unofficial start of summer begins as Philadelphia celebrates Memorial Day weekend starting Friday, May 27.
To help you pack the long weekend with fun activities for all ages, we’ve put together a guide to all the special exhibitions, events and celebrations honoring the men and women of the military, both past and present, during Memorial Day in Philadelphia.
The extended holiday celebration marks the return of the super-popular waterfront pop-up Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest, which is back with roller skating, a nine-hole mini-golf course and urban beach lounge.
The holiday not only welcomes well-loved summer traditions — picnics, outdoor festivals, alfresco concerts, pop-up parks — but also marks a day of remembrance. To honor the men and women of military, both past and present, many of Philadelphia’s museums and attractions host Memorial Day events made for commemoration of the day.
Browse more of our top picks for Memorial Day weekend in Philadelphia, below.
Memorial Day Weekend Events & Activities
Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest
Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest returns this year with more features than ever before. (Photo by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)
Opens Friday, May 27, 2016
Just in time for Memorial Day weekend, a new-and-improved Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest opens for its summer 2016 season. For a second year, the area will transform into a warm-weather haunt with an outdoor roller rink and — new this year — a nine-hole mini-golf course and urban beach lounge.
Spruce Street Harbor Park
Spruce Street Harbor Park is back for the season with tons of food, drinks, games, hammocks and more. (Photo courtesy Matt Stanley for DRWC)
Open through September 25, 2016
Spruce Street Harbor Park was named one of the best urban beaches in America last summer, and the popular summertime spot is back for 2016 with even more dining options, hammocks, games, drinks and more.
Memorial Day Weekend at the National Constitution Center
Celebrate Memorial Day at the National Constitution Center with special events and activities throughout the holiday weekend. (Photo by D. Cruz for Visit Philadelphia)
May 28-30, 2016
In addition to fantastic permanent displays and temporary exhibitions, the National Constitution Center will be presenting a variety of special programming in celebration of Memorial Day. Throughout the weekend visitors can participate in flag ceremonies when the museum opens and closes each day, enjoy a family-friendly concert, themed crafts, a thank-a-vet letter station, giant flag folding lessons and much more. Plus, the museum will be offering free admission on Monday, May 30.
Philly POPS Memorial Day Salute
The Philly POPS perform an open-air Memorial Day concert at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts over the holiday weekend. (Photo courtesy The Philly POPS)
Saturday, May 28, 2016
Exciting news! The Philly POPS will perform Philly’s first major Memorial Day concert this year at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets range from $15 to $25 for most, but free tickets are available for military members and first-responders.
Memorial Day Weekend on Independence National Historical Park
Visit historic attractions including the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall and take part in special celebrations during Memorial Day weekend. (Photo by D. Cruz for Visit Philadelphia)
May 28-30, 2016
In addition to famous historic attractions including the Liberty Bell , Independence Hall and the President’s House, Independence National Historical Park will be honoring the nation’s veterans throughout Memorial Day weekend. Enjoy special tours, history lessons and more.
Memorial Day Service at Laurel Hill Cemetery
The scenic and peaceful Laurel Hill Cemetery will honor fallen heroes during a special ceremony over Memorial Day weekend. (Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)
Date: Sunday, May 29, 2016
In 1868, Laurel Hill Cemetery was the site of the first Memorial Day Observance in Philadelphia. This year, the cemetery is honoring its past with a Decoration Day Service with the General Meade Society. Guests are invited to gather around the General George Gordon Meade’s burial site for a service that honors all fallen veterans with wreath-laying, speeches and more.
Franklin Flea at Reading Terminal Market
The popular vintage and craft market Franklin Flea will be held at Reading Terminal Market over Memorial Day weekend. (Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)
Saturday, May 28, 2016
Browse handmade and vintage items from dozens of vendors at Franklin Flea, a popular, curated market that will be putting up shop at Reading Terminal Market this summer. The expansive outdoor market is known for a wide array of vintage goods, handcrafted items, jewelry, artisanal food, furniture and much more.
NCAA Lacrosse Championship at Lincoln Financial Field
May 28-30, 2016
College lacrosse’s most talented stars will take up their game at Lincoln Financial Field this Memorial Day Weekend for the 2016 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championships. From Saturday, May 28 through Monday, May 30, semifinals and championships take over the NFL Eagles’ home turf for a fun-filled time for all.
Chinese Lantern Festival at Franklin Square
All weekend long, the Chinese Lantern Festival at Franklin Square fills the park with more than 25 illuminated lanterns, performances, food and more. (J. Fusco for Tianyu)
Open Through June 12, 2016
As part of the celebration of Franklin Square’s 10th birthday, Historic Philadelphia is lighting up the landmark park with the first-ever Chinese Lantern Festival to occur in the Northeast United States. The square at 6th & Race streets is glowing with 25 illuminated lanterns, handcrafted giant flowers, a three-story pagoda and a 200-foot-long Chinese dragon. Nightly performances will also take place.
Yoga on Race Street Pier
Praise the sun with a morning of free yoga on the scenic Race Street Pier over Memorial Day weekend. (Photo by M. Stanley for DRWC)
May 28-29, 2016
For some morning relaxation this Memorial Day weekend, Race Street Pier continues to host its super popular free yoga sessions at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Classes are an hour long and completely free. Just bring your own yoga mat and say “Namaste.”
Historic Philadelphia, Inc. Season Launch
Tour the hallowed rooms of Independence Hall after the sun sets and enjoy a delicious meal at City Tavern with the Independence After Hours tour. (Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia)
Dates: May 27-30, 2016
This Memorial Day Weekend, Historic Philadelphia, Inc. launches its summer 2016 programming, which runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Guests of the historic area can enjoy after-hours walking tours, a colonial pub crawl, storytelling, a historic puppet show and more.
Garden Railway Opening at Morris Arboretum
Take your imagination for a ride with Morris Arboretum’s Garden Railway.
Opens Saturday, May 28, 2016
A family favorite, Morris Arboretum’s garden railway returns on Saturday, May 28. Included with your admission to the arboretum, this year’s railway theme is “Awaken the Senses” and includes a quarter-mile train track, miniature shops and more.
45th annual Antiques Show at the Brandywine River Museum of Art
Shop for fine antiques and browse the galleries at the Brandywine River Museum of Art during the 45th annual Antiques Show. (Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia)
May 28-30, 2016
More than 30 antique dealers set up shop at the Brandywine River Museum of Art for its Antiques Show over Memorial Day weekend. Fine antiques including furniture, rugs, porcelain, needlework and more will be available for perusing and purchasing.
Downingtown Fine Arts Festival
The Downingtown Fine Arts Festival draws local artists to one area for a festival full of creativity, Victory beer, food, live music and more. (Photo courtesy of Downingtown Fine Arts Festival)
May 28-29, 2016
Head to Downingtown this Memorial Day for the Downingtown Fine Arts Festival, where you can catch a bunch of the area’s artists and view their work on display. Victory Brewing Company will serve food and beer from its Brewpub on Wheels and live music will fill the air.
Devon Horse Show & Country Fair
The oldest and largest event of its kind, the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair features top competitors from around the world. (Photo courtesy Devon Horse Show)
May 26-June 5, 2016
The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, the country’s oldest and largest event of its kind, features hunters, jumpers, Saddlebreds, four-in-hand coaching and more, plus exhibitions and an old-fashioned Country Fair at the Devon Show Grounds. Tickets are required for entry and are available online.
Open-Air Theater Fountain Shows at Longwood Gardens
Memorial Day weekend means the seasonal return of open-air fountain shows at Longwood Gardens. (Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)
May 27-30, 2016
When summer hits Longwood Gardens, its beautiful fountain shows return, too. Starting Friday, May 27, the five-minute, open-air theater fountain shows return with music and more after a hiatus last summer. Shows run on the hour, every hour from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and one final show occurs nightly at 5:55 p.m.
Ongoing Events & Exhibitions
Lounge in the shadow of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge at Morgan’s Pier, a scenic summer beer garden and outdoor eatery on the Delaware River Waterfront. (Photo by M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphia)
One of Philadelphia’s most popular summer hotspots, Morgan’s Pier is an oasis of craft beer, delicious food and incredible live music on the Delaware River Waterfront. This year, Jim Burke, the former owner of a three-bell restaurant, will be serving up inspired plates like whole-roasted lamb, burrata toast, lobster rolls, veggie burgers, tuna poke and more.
Independence Beer Garden
Just steps from famed historic attractions including Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, the Independence Beer Garden (IBG) is in its second year of providing an outdoor respite for visitors and Philly residents. With more than 40 beers on tap, oversized games and an extensive menu of summertime favorites, IBG is a comforting and convenient stop during your Memorial Day weekend adventuring in the city.
One of the city’s most popular outdoor spaces, the reimagined Dilworth Park is a community gathering place with special events, outdoor activities and a cafe. (Photo by M. Fischetti for Visti Philadelphia)
Opened in the fall of 2014, the reimagined Dilworth Park at City Hall is a gorgeous multi-use space with a lush outdoor lawn for special events, dancing fountains for cooling off and a cafe operated by Garces Catering group.
Creative Africa at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Discover African design, sculpture, photography, architecture and more this summer at the Philadelphia Museum of Art with Creative Africa. (Photo by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)
Open through September 25, 2016
This spring, the Philadelphia Museum of Art opened a monumental exhibition of African art. Made up of five different exhibitions, Creative Africa puts the spotlight on African art and culture with artifacts ranging from sculptures and photography to fashion and architecture.
The Science Behind Pixar at the Franklin Institute
The Science Behind Pixar teaches guests of all ages about the creation of favorite Pixar characters and films. (Photo by C. Smyth for Visit Philadelphia)
Open through September 5, 2016
Anyone who has ever dreamed about the worlds of Nemo, The Incredibles or the characters from Toy Story should make plans to visit The Science Behind Pixar, which is made up of eight sections that bring guests from the birth of the story, when the plot is simply drawings on paper, to the final step of the pipeline when all aspects of the film are ready for the silver screen.
Headed to the White House at the National Constitution Center
Visitors to Headed to the White House at the National Constitution Center have plenty of opportunities to participate in interactive activities designed to explore all aspects of a U.S. presidential election. (J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)
Open through November 13, 2016
The National Constitution Center welcomes a new interactive exhibit that’ll help you gear up for the upcoming 2016 presidential election. Through multimedia, artifact exploration and more, learn about what’s involved in a U.S. election – from the campaign trail to Inauguration Day. Think you have what it takes to land a seat in the Oval Office? Several role-playing opportunities will test your skills to see if you are “presidential material.”
The Golden Age of King Midas at the Penn Museum
The Penn Museum hosts a premiere, nine-month exhibition featuring the well-known Greek mythological figure King Midas. (Photo courtesy of Penn Museum)
Open through November 25, 2016
As a man who wished that everything he touched would transform into gold, King Midas is now turning his powers to the Penn Museum in a premiere, nine-month exhibition featuring the well-known Greek mythological figure. The real King Midas resided in Gordion, where Penn’s archaeological team discovered his father’s tomb in 1957. Over 120 objects were gathered for this exhibition to help craft a comprehensive story of King Midas and life in Gordion over 3,000 years ago.
Arresting Patterns at the African American Museum
Arresting Patterns at the African American Museum explores the often-overlooked patterns of racial disparity that exists within the U.S. criminal justice system. (Photo courtesy of the African American Museum)
Open through September 11, 2016
Inspired by recent events stirring racial tension and discussion in America, Arresting Patterns at the African American Museum seeks to uncover the often-overlooked patterns of racial disparity in the U.S. criminal justice system. The exhibition pulls together work from a group of artists whose pieces are tied together through themes of repetition and replication, used to recognize how one action, repeated over time, may accumulate, spread or evolve into another version of its original self.
Tarantulas: Alive and Up Close at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Learn everything there is to know about tarantulas and get up close and personal with the arachnids at a ANSP interactive exhibition. (Photo courtesy of The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University)
Open through May 30, 2016
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University hosts Tarantulas: Alive and Up Close, an interactive exhibit that puts visitors head-to-head with nearly 20 species of live tarantulas. The exhibition sheds new light on these fascinating eight-legged creatures through engaging videos, bright graphics and entertaining activities for visitors of all ages. Kids can participate in fun games like a themed scavenger hunt or play dress up, all while learning about science.
Plan a Long Weekend
Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package
Spend the holiday weekend in the city with the new and improved Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package™. The two-night package includes FREE hotel parking so you can drive into town and not have to worry about finding and paying for parking, plus free passes for both Indego bike share the PHLASH bus.
You can enjoy the spring weather and travel around the city by renting a bike via Ride Indego (Photo by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)
Philly’s bike sharing program, Indego, has taken off since launching in April 2015. Starting at just $4 per ride, Indego is an easy and fun way to get around to the city’s popular attractions and activities. With stations near popular attractions like Spruce Street Harbor Park, Independence Hall and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you shouldn’t have a problem riding your way around the city this Memorial Day weekend.
The PHLASH bus is the most convenient and affordable way to get around to 22 of the city’s most popular attractions (Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)
The PHLASH is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get around to 22 of the city’s most popular attractions including Penn’s Landing, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Reading Terminal Market and the Philadelphia Zoo. The unmistakeable purple bus makes stops every 15 minutes with rides starting at $2 per person or $5 for an all-day pass.