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Memorial Day Weekend in Philadelphia 2015

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 22.

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, Spruce Street Harbor Park featuring exciting new food, more hammocks and outdoor roller skating at neighboring Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest.

The holiday not only marks the return of 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

Spruce Street Harbor Park and Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest

Spruce Street Harbor Park returns for its second summer and is joined by the first-ever Summerfest featuring roller skating at Penn’s Landing. (Photo by M. Stanley for DRWC)

Open for the season Friday, May 22
Last summer visitors were blown away by the debut of Spruce Street Harbor Park, a seasonal pop-up park on the Delaware River Waterfront. By popular demand, the riverside oasis will return in 2015 with beer gardens, pop-up restaurants and, of course, hammocks. For the first time this year, the area that housed this past winter’s Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest will transform into a warm-weather edition with a roller rink, a boathouse-styled Lodge, a play area for kids, food and drink options and summer events throughout the season. Opening Memorial Day weekend, Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest will be free and open to the public daily through the end of September.

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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)

Dates: Saturday-Monday, May 23-25
In addition to fantastic permanent displays and temporary exhibitions including Creating Camelot – The Kennedy Photography of Jacques Lowe, 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 patriotic karaoke, themed crafts, a thank-a-vet letter station, giant flag folding lessons and much more.

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Memorial Day Weekend on Independence National Historical Park

Independence Mall

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)

Dates: Saturday-Monday, May 23-25
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. Meet soldiers from the American revolution and enjoy musical events all leading up to a Memorial Day ceremony and flag raising in front of Independence Hall.

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Memorial Day Parade and Service at Laurel Hill Cemetery

Laurel Hill

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 24
Laurel Hill Cemetery honors the fallen heroes with a re-dedication ceremony for the Silent Sentry, a bronze statue of a Civil War soldier. The event kicks off with a parade through the cemetery to the burial plot of General George Gordon Meade, a war hero from the Battle of Gettysburg.

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Franklin Flea at Headhouse Plaza


The popular vintage and craft market Franklin Flea will be held at Headhouse Square over Memorial Day weekend. (Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

Date: Saturday, May 23
Browse handmade and vintage items from dozens of vendors at Franklin Flea, a popular, curated market that will be putting up shop at Headhouse Square this summer. The expansive outdoor market is known for a wide array of vintage goods, handcrafted items, jewelry, artisanal food, furniture and much more. Be sure to look out for delicious dishes from Luke’s Lobster, Poi Dog Snack Shop, Lil’ Pop Shop and handmade sausages from Hocks N Coqs.

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NCAA Lacrosse Championship at Lincoln Financial Field

NCAA Lacrosse

Dates: Saturday-Monday, May 23-25
College lacrosse’s most talented stars will take up their game at Lincoln Financial Field this Memorial Day Weekend for the 2015 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championships. From Saturday, May 23 through Monday, May 25, semifinals and championships take over the NFL Eagles’ home turf for a fun-filled time for all.

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Celebrate at Franklin Square

Franklin Square

Enjoy a family-friendly summer at Franklin Square, featuring Philly-themed mini-golf, burgers and shakes and the return of the Lightning Bolt Express train. (R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

Dates: Saturday-Monday May 23-25
Welcome summer at Franklin Square attractions with a round of Philly-themed mini golf, a burger and cake shake from SquareBurger and the return of the Lightning Bolt Express Train.

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Superhero Weekend at the Please Touch Museum

Please Touch Museum

Families assemble at the Please Touch Museum for a superhero-themed weekend celebration. (Photo courtesy M. Branscom for the Please Touch Museum)

Dates: Friday-Monday, May 22-25
Meet your favorite superhero or come dressed as one as the Please Touch Museum honors all heroes throughouth Memorial Day weekend. Meet Captain America and Spiderman (Saturday, May 23), write a letter to a real-life hero or design your own superhero or enjoy the museum’s hands-on activities throughout the family-friendly weekend celebration.

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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)

Dates: Saturday-Sunday, May 23-24
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 and 7 a.m. on Memorial Day. Classes are an hour long and completely free. Just bring your own yoga mat and say “Namaste.”

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Independence After Hours

Independence Hall

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: Friday-Saturday, May 22-23
Explore history after the sun sets with the return of Independence After Hours tours. Travel back to 1776 with your tour guide and enjoy a delicious three-course meal at the historic City Tavern. After dinner, visit Independence Hall for an after-hours tour of the national landmark.

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Macy’s Family Fun Day at AAMP


The African American Museum in Philadelphia is celebrating cultural connections and crossovers with a day of family-friendly fun. (Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia)

Date: Saturday, May 23
The African American Museum in Philadelphia honors Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month with a family-friendly day of music, dance, arts, crafts and more in celebration of the cultural connections and crossovers between African peoples and those of the Asian Diaspora.

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10th Anniversary of Once Upon a Nation

Once Upon a Nation

Hear historic tales in the locations they actually happened from entertaining storytellers with Once Upon a Nation. (Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia)

Dates: Saturday-Monday, May 23-25
For ten years, visitors have been able to discover the true stories in the places the actually happened with Once Upon A Nation™. Look for the storytelling benches to hear entertaining tales told by professional storytellers for FREE. Each story lasts approximately five minutes, but the memories of your adventure will last forever.

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Garden Railway Opening at Morris Arboretum

Morris Arboretum

Take your imagination for a ride with Morris Arboretum’s Garden Railway.

Opens Saturday, May 23
A family favorite, Morris Arboretum’s garden railway returns on Saturday, May 23. Included with your admission to the arboretum, this year’s railway theme is “Art & Architecture” and includes miniature versions of iconic Philadelphia sculptures, famous lighthouses and recognizable buildings.

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44th 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 44th annual Antiques Show. (Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia)

Dates: Saturday-Monday, May 23-25
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.

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The Philly Pops at Longwood Gardens

Spring Blooms at Longwood Gardens

Breathe in the fresh air and relish the beauty of Longwood Gardens, where every day something new bursts into bloom. (Photo courtesy Longwood Gardens)

Date: Saturday, May 23
The Philly POPS — the largest stand-alone POPS orchestra in America — head out to Kennett Square’s Longwood Gardens for a Memorial Day Salute to Broadway. Attendees can look forward to both Broadway classics and patriotic tunes at one of the world’s premier horticultural display gardens.

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Devon Horse Show & Country Fair

Devon Horse Show

The oldest and largest event of its kind, the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair features top competitors from around the world. (Photo courtesy Brenda Carpenter for Devon Horse Show)

Dates: May 21-31, 2015
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.

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Ongoing Events & Exhibitions

Morgan’s Pier

Morgan's Pier

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 J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

Now Open
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, none other than Top Chef victor Nicolas Elmi of the highly lauded Laurel on East Passyunk Avenue will be in charge. The spacious footprint at Morgan’s Pier will allow tons of diners to taste Elmi’s take on backyard barbecue, which will be inspired by his New England roots and his affinity for French and Japanese techniques. Highlights include peel-and-eat shrimp with togarashi butter, a kombu-cured rib-eye and pork belly tacos.

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Independence Beer Garden

Independence Beer Garden

Now Open
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 and extensive menu of summertime favorites, IBG is a comforting and convenient stop during your Memorial Day weekend adventuring in the city.

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Dilworth Park


One of the city’s newest 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.

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Philadelphia Museum of Art Inside Out


The Philadelphia Museum of Art is bringing its collection outside this summer. (Photo courtesy the Philadelphia Museum of Art)

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is taking some of its priceless art outside this summer. Beginning in May 2015, the museum will be displaying dozens of high-quality replicas of its most recognizable artworks to unexpected places throughout the region during Inside Out. Wander past a Monet in East Passyunk or gaze at a Van Gogh on Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill during the special exhibition. For a complete list of works on display and location maps, click the button below.

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LEGO: Art of the Brick at the Franklin Institute


Explore 3D renditions of famous artworks and incredible original pieces made entirely of LEGO during The Art of the Brick at the Franklin Institute (Photo by Erica Ann)

Since opening in February 2015, tens of thousands have experienced an art exhibition unlike any ever seen at the Franklin Institute. Don’t miss your chance to see the world’s largest exhibition of LEGO® art during The Art of the Brick, a limited-time exhibition from artist Nathan Sawya who recreates famous masterpieces and original artworks using only LEGO bricks. Now extended through October 4, 2015

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Genghis Khan at the Franklin Institute

Franklin Institute

Discover the life of the infamous Mongolian conquerer Genghis Khan at the Franklin Institute. (Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

Discover the treasures and stories of Genghis Khan’s 13th-century Mongol Empire at The Franklin Institute. Visitors enter into the greatest empire the world has ever known to discover the amazing genius of the Mongolian conqueror, learn how this unsophisticated warrior nomad had such a profound impact on world politics and on creating an empire that led the world into the modern age.

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The Order of Things at the Barnes


Opens Saturday, May 16
Embracing the unconventional methods Dr. Albert C. Barnes used to display his priceless art collection, the Order of Things at the Barnes Foundation presents three large-scale installations by internationally renowned artists Mark Dion, Judy Pfaff, and Fred Wilson. Each piece invites discussion about museum displays in addition to the importance of Dr. Barnes’ philosophy behind his ensembles.

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Richard Avedon: Family Affairs at the National Museum of American Jewish History


The National Museum of American Jewish History is the only place in the country you can see the exhibition of works by Richard Avedon. (Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia).

The National Museum of American Jewish History is the only location in the United States to host the remarkable work of photographer Richard Avedon. The exhibition Family Affairs features more than 70 of the late artist’s portraits and iconic fashion photography on loan from the collection of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Please note: the museum will not be open Monday, May 25.

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The Artist’s Garden at PAFA


View the impact of American Impressionist artworks on the world of gardening at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (Childe Hassam, The Goldfish Window, 1916, Oil on canvas,)

Open through Saturday, May 24
Memorial Day weekend is your last chance to view The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, currently on display at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The exhibition examines the impact of the American Impressionists on the growing popularity of gardening at the turn of the 20th century. Please note: the museum will not be open Monday, May 25.

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Animal Grossology at ANSP


Discover the grosser side of nature at the Academy of Natural Sciences over Memorial Day weekend. (Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

Get grossed out at the latest exhibition at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. Discover the slimy, stinky and yucky side of nature during Animal Grossology, an interactive exhibit based on the best-selling children’s book series Grossology by Sylvia Branzei.

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Dinosaurs of the Deep at Adventure Aquarium


Discover ancient ocean dwellers and living sea creatures at Adventure Aquarium on the Camden Waterfront. (Photo courtesy Adventure Aquarium)

Learn about the powerful marine animals that ruled the water during the time of Tyrannosaurs Rex in Dinosaurs of the Deep, a new temporary exhibit at the Adventure Aquarium. The fascinating exhibition will allow visitors to come face-to-fossil with ancient sea creatures, including the 34-foot-long Liopleurodon, a feared predator with four-inch-long teeth.

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Museums That Are Open On Memorial Day

  • Independence Hall
  • The Liberty Bell
  • National Constitution Center
  • The Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • The Barnes Foundation
  • The Franklin Institute
  • The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
  • The Independence Seaport Museum
  • Mutter Museum
  • Eastern State Penitentiary
  • The Mint
  • National Liberty Museum
  • The Philadelphia Zoo
  • Please Touch Museum
  • Brandywine River Museum of Art
  • Adventure Aquarium

Blue Star Museums: Active military personnel and their families can get FREE admission to participating museums from Memorial Day, May 25, 2015 through Labor Day, September 7, 2015. To learn more and view participating museums, click here.

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.

book the visit philly overnight hotel package

Getting Around

Ride Indego


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.

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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.

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