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Top Things to Do in Philadelphia in October 2017

Giant fall festivals, Oktoberfest celebrations, spooky Halloween activities and more

Get ready, Philadelphia: October is packed with incredible, can't-miss events.

Stroll the (car-free!) streets of the city during the second annual Philly Free Streets event, enjoy one last ride in a colorful pedicab around the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies or take part in magical adventure as Chestnut Hill transforms during the annual Harry Potter Festival.

Looking for more? Terror Behind The Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary returns for another year of spooktastic fun along with the mega Midtown Village Fall Festival, Oktoberfest celebrations and so much more.

Read on for all of the top things to do in Philadelphia this October.

Philly Free Streets Day

The second annual Philly Free Streets Day shuts down seven miles of Philly streets to vehicular traffic, opening them for runners, cyclists and pedestrians. (Photo courtesy Open Streets PHL)

October 28, 2017

Get excited, Philadelphia: The second-ever Philly Free Streets Day hits the city this month. During the event, major thoroughfares throughout the city completely close to vehicular traffic and open up to pedestrians, runners and cyclists. This year, Philly Free Streets covers seven miles of the city’s roads — from parts of Philadelphia’s Historic District up into El Centro de Oro (The Golden Block) in North Philadelphia. Pull out those sneakers and get ready to explore — traffic-free!

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Midtown Village Fall Festival

Enjoy live music, great food, shopping and more during the annual Midtown Village Fall Festival. (J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

October 7, 2017

With music, food, sidewalk sales and other festivities, the Midtown Village Fall Festival takes the concept of block party to an ultra-fun level. Spend the afternoon strolling through the neighborhood while enjoying eats from the many surrounding restaurants, shopping from the numerous boutiques that line 13th Street and browsing the festival vendors set up on the street.

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Harry Potter Festival

Chestnut Hill transforms into Hogsmeade during the super-popular Harry Potter Festival. (A. Ricketts for Visit Philadelphia)

October 20-21, 2017

Wands at the ready! Chestnut Hill’s massive (and massively popular!) Harry Potter Festival is set to return to 12 full blocks in the charming neighborhood in Northwest Philadelphia. The biggest Harry Potter Festival in Chestnut Hill to date will feature Wands and Wizards Night on the Avenue, Magical Make and Take Zones, the Eighth Annual Philadelphia Brotherly Love Cup Quidditch Tournament at Chestnut Hill College, Harry Potter quizzo, a Deatheater’s dance party, potion making, wizarding demonstrations, a muggles read-a-thon, the popular straw maze at Woodmere Art Museum and so much more.

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Old City Fest

Bring the whole family to the Old City Fest to celebrate the neighborhood's shops, galleries and more. (M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)

October 8, 2017

Artists, makers, designers, entertainers and restaurateurs all come out to celebrate the neighborhood’s creative spirit during the Old City Festival. Throughout several blocks along North 3rd and Arch streets, find activities, exhibitions and programs that appeal to families as well as the over-21 crowd.

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Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway

September 15 - October 8, 2017

October brings the last chance to catch Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies, an interactive artwork consisting of 27 luminous, kinetic sculptures in the form of free pedicabs. The Association for Public Art (aPA), working with guest curator Lance Fung of Fung Collaboratives, lights up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway with the public exhibition, which invites participants to take a ride between Sister Cities Park and Iroquois Park, passing by the many iconic institutions along the Parkway.

More about Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies

Parkway 100

The Benjamin Franklin Parkway celebrates its centennial with a full year of special programming. (B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia)

Through November 16, 2018

The Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia’s impressive cultural boulevard, celebrates its centennial this year with a slew of special events, exhibitions, community discussions and more. Throughout the duration of the celebration, visitors can interact with installations set up along the Parkway and also enjoy themed exhibitions at cultural institutions like Eastern State Penitentiary and the Philadelphia Mormon Temple. In October, pop-up events include everything from a fashion show to a mural trolley tour to the building of a gigantic cardboard city on the Parkway. Click the button below to learn more about all of the Parkway 100 festivities.

More about Parkway 100

Outfest

Outfest

Don’t miss Philadelphia’s Outfest, a National Coming Out Day Festival that attracts over 30,000 people to the region. (J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

October 8, 2017

October brings National Coming Out Day and Philadelphia celebrates every year with the grand 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.

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Bloktoberfest

Bloktoberfest takes over South Street West with eight full hours of all-ages fun this October. (R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

October 14, 2017

Several neighborhood organizations partner with local businesses to produce Bloktoberfest, an all-ages celebration of beer, food and music that stretches across the afternoon and along four blocks of South Street. For a full eight-hours, find a thriving block party filling South Street West with entertainment and plenty of opportunities to let loose.

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Museum of the American Revolution

museum of the american revolution

The Museum of the American Revolution exhibits art, manuscripts and printed works as well as a range of objects gathered from and pertaining to the Revolutionary War . (J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

Ongoing

The drama unfolds exhibit by exhibit at the brand-new Museum of the American Revolution. Just two blocks from Independence Hall — the command center for the Revolution — the newest addition to America’s most historic square mile documents the strategic wins, crushing losses and world-altering consequences of the war for We the People. Visitors learn stories of well-known and everyday people who experienced the tumult through galleries, engaging films and a collection of Revolutionary-era weapons, personal items, diaries and works of art.

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Philadelphia Open Studio Tours

Get an inside look at of some of Philly's coolest studios during the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours. (R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

October 7-8 and 14-15, 2017

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, 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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Terror Behind the Walls

Terror Behind The Walls returns as the country's largest haunted attraction this fall. (M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphia)

September 22 - November 11, 2017

Thrill-seekers test their nerves at Eastern State Penitentiary, an abandoned prison that turns into the country’s largest Halloween haunted attraction. Prepare for a historic spook inside a real former jail.

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Night Market: Italian Market

Popular food truck festival Night Market returns to the Italian Market this October. (L. Bercky for Visit Philadelphia)

October 5, 2017

Night Market Philadelphia continues in its seventh year as one of the best celebrations in Philly of street food and city neighborhoods. This month, the food truck frenzy heads to the Italian Market, a South Philly area already known as one of the best places to score delicious eats. Adding to the area’s existing taco spots, Italian family-owned restaurants and pasta shops and other food boutiques, the Night Market will bring a wealth of vendors and entertainment for the perfect foodie fall night.


More about Night Market: Italian Market

Design Philadelphia

Design Philadelphia features more than 100 events across the city focusing on different aspects of design. (Photo courtesy Design Philadelphia)

October 4-14, 2017

Taking place each fall, Design Philadelphia is the largest and oldest festival of its kind in the nation, with 120 events representing 400 nationally recognized designers. For 10 days this month, venues all over town will host exhibits, lectures, workshops and demonstrations to highlight architecture, fashion, furniture, multimedia and urban planning.

More about Design Philadelphia

The Glow in West Fairmount Park

This October, head to Fairmount Park to see thousands of hand-carved pumpkins on display. (Photo courtesy The Glow Philadelphia)

October 6-29, 2017

Over 5,000 hand-carved pumpkins are set to fill West Fairmount Park this month as part of The Glow: A Jack O'Lantern Experience. Each weekend through the end of the month, lanterns — ranging from famous Philly icons and sports figures to superheroes and princesses — will illuminate a trail for visitors to stroll along throughout the park adjacent to the Mann Center for Performing Arts. Advanced tickets are required and start at $16.

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Philadelphia Film Festival

October 19-29, 2017

The annual Philadelphia Film Festival showcases the best in independent and foreign cinema in theaters and venues around the city. Leading up to the event, a team sets out to scour the world’s most prestigious film festivals – from Sundance to Berlin, Cannes to Toronto – to pull together a Philly festival filled with critically acclaimed and thought-provoking short films, feature-length films, animated movies and special guest appearances.

More about Philadelphia Film Festival

Halloween in Philadelphia

Halloween in the city includes parties, haunted attractions (including Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary, above) and more throughout the month. (Photo courtesy Eastern State Penitentiary)

All Month Long

Halloween is just one day of the year, but Philly has events, parties, celebrations and frights all month long. Whether you’re looking for activities for pint-sized trick-or-treaters or terrifying attractions for brave grown ups, festivities are in high supply in neighborhoods across the city.

More about Halloween in Philadelphia

Fall Foliage

This fall, take advantage of the Philadelphia region's beautiful foliage at museums, wineries, parks and more. (R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

Ongoing

All across the Philadelphia region, the leaves turn to a vibrant palate of reds, oranges and yellows each fall. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite parks, trails, off-the-beaten-path roads, wineries and museums where you can take advantage of the picturesque fall foliage in the Philadelphia region to its absolute fullest. Click the button below for more.

More about Fall Foliage in Philadelphia

Head of the Schuylkill Regatta

Cheer on over 7,000 rowers during the two-day Head of the Schuylkill Regatta. (Photo courtesy of the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta)

October 28-29, 2017

Bringing together more than 7,000 athletes and upwards of 25,000 spectators, the festive two-day Head of the Schuylkill Regatta features a 2.5-mile rowing race along the scenic Kelly Drive section of the Schuylkill River, starting above the Strawberry Mansion Bridge and finishing just above the historic Boathouse Row. Cheer on college crews, high school crews, master rowers, elite rowers and previous world champions who come for the inclusive event that allows both highly experienced and brand-new rowers to hit the water together.

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Chinatown Night Market Yè Shì

The annual Night Market Yè Shì takes over Chinatown this month with plenty of food, entertainment and more. (J. Kaczmarek for Visit Philadelphia)

October 12, 2017

Head to Chinatown for a festive, four-hour food truck affair during the Chinatown Night Market Yè Shì on October 12. Many of the area's top food trucks will gather together, while an array of live bands, artists and performers fill the area with entertainment for a fun and lively night.

More about Chinatown Night Market Ye Shi

Philadelphia International Dragon Boat Festival

October 7, 2017

Stroll up Kelly Drive along the Schuylkill River on October 7 for the Philadelphia Dragon Boat Festival, a colorful and dramatic regatta that serves as Philadelphia’s annual celebration of an ancient Chinese tradition. The boats, festooned in brilliantly colored dragon heads and tails, are manned by teams of up to 20 paddlers that compete against each other in several heats throughout the day.

More about Philadelphia International Dragon Boat Festival

LGBT History Month

All Month Long

October marks LGBT History Month, bringing a ton of events to partake in throughout. In addition to Outfest, find other major events like the Annual AIDS Walk/Run Philly, a 2017 Out & Equal Workplace Summit and the Fall Ball at the Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus.

Revolutionary Germantown Festival & Grumblefest

During the Revolutionary Germantown Festival, enjoy a reenactment of the Battle of Germantown, live music and more. (Photo courtesy Revolutionary Germantown Festival)

October 7, 2017

History goes on full display during the Revolutionary Germantown Festival, a day-long festival featuring costumed characters, live music, food and drink, culminating in a reenactment of the Battle of Germantown, the only military battle ever fought within the borders of Philadelphia. Head down Germantown Avenue after the "battle" for Grumblefest, an Oktoberfest celebration at the garden of the historic Grumblethorpe house featuring Oktoberfest food, beer, live music, and more.

Revolutionary Germantown Festival & Grumblefest

Monument Lab Installations

Mural Arts Philadelphia presents Monument Lab this October, featuring an eight-week, city-wide art exhibition. (Photo courtesy Mural Arts Philadelphia)

September 16 - November 19, 2017

What makes a monument in the 21st century? Monument Lab will attempt to answer this question for Philadelphia with an eight-week city-wide public art and history exhibition co-produced by Mural Arts Philadelphia. Monument Lab presents a series of temporary installations by local and international artists accompanied by interactive pop-up laboratories for creative conversations.

More about Monument Lab Installations

AIDS Walk/Run Philly

October 15, 2017

"Getting to Zero" – zero new HIV/AIDS infections, zero deaths and zero stigma – is the awareness-oriented goal that the 31st annual AIDS Walk Philly and AIDS Run Philly seeks to achieve. Join thousands of participants in the 5K walk or 5K run, kicking off at the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

More about AIDS Walk/Run Philly

Rittenhouse Fine Craft Show

October 13-15, 2017

Held biannually, the fall edition of the Rittenhouse Fine Craft Show brings 140 craft artists — curated by one of the nation’s largest and most recognized craft guilds — to Rittenhouse Square for a three-day bazaar. Look forward to a juried showcase of pieces ranging from ceramics to furniture to jewelry and beyond.

More about Rittenhouse Fine Craft Show

Pearl Street Block Party

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

October 7, 2017

The Asian Arts Initiative's 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 interactive entertainment, all taking place on the 1200 block of Pearl Street.

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Broadway Philadelphia Presents Kinky Boots

October 3-8, 2017

Winner of six Tony Awards, Broadway’s Kinky Boots heads to the Academy of Music this month for live performances full of high-heeled, song and dance. Featuring songs by Grammy and Tony award-winning icon Cyndi Lauper, the joyous musical takes its viewers from a gentlemen's shoe factory in Northampton to the glamorous catwalks of Milan.

More about Broadway Philadelphia's Kinky Boots

Fishtown RiverCity Festival

The Fishtown RiverCity Festival brings a 5K run, shopping, music and more to Penn Treaty Park this month. (M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

October 14, 2017

Fall festivities come to Fishtown’s gorgeous Penn Treaty Park for the 10th annual RiverCity Festival. With a lineup full of local brews and food, live music, kid-centric activities, a 5K run and plenty of shopping from vendors, the free, annual afternoon-long festival brings together the entire neighborhood and attracts more than 10,000 visitors to join in the fun.

More about Fishtown RiverCity Festival

South Street Pumpkin Fest

South Street hosts the annual Pumpkin Festival including performances, costume contests and more. (Photo courtesy South Street Headhouse District)

October 28, 2017

South Street’s Pumpkin Fest takes over Headhouse Plaza on October 28 for an afternoon of music, shopping and plenty of other entertainment and hands-on activities for the whole family. Click the button below to stay tuned for more details as they’re released, and get ready for a fun-filled festival sure to put you in the fall spirit.

More about South Street Pumpkin Fest

Must-See Exhibitions This Fall

big bling on kelly drive

Artist Martin Puryear’s 40-foot-high work Big Bling is just one of more than 30 exhibitions or pieces of art on view this fall in the region. (Photo by J. Ewing for Association for Public Art)

Ongoing

As the leaves begin to turn and fill the city with color, so do museums all around the region, displaying new exhibitions exploring a wide range of topics. October also brings the last call to check out 50 kinetic sculptures at Morris Arboretum in Motion and the Independence Seaport Museum’s history-rich exhibition on Philadelphia rowing. Click the button below to view all of the must-see exhibitions for you to check out.

More Must-See Fall Exhibitions

Oktoberfests

Ongoing

Get ready for beer steins and bratwursts as Oktoberfest hits Philadelphia. The city's celebrations of the traditional German festival are bigger than ever with massive block parties, flourishing beer gardens and lively neighborhood celebrations. Click the button below to view all of the Oktoberfest parties in the area this year.

Guide to Oktoberfests and Fall Beer Festivals in Philadelphia

Liberty Medal Gala at National Constitution Center

This year, the Liberty Medal will be awarded to U.S. Senator John McCain at a ceremony and gala. (M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

October 16, 2017

Established in 1998 to commemorate the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, the Liberty Medal is awarded by the National Constitution Center to individuals who strive to secure liberty for people all over the world. Recipients include men, women and organizations responsible for shaping and guiding the world, with this year’s recipient named as U.S. Senator John McCain, who will be celebrated at a ceremony and gala.

More about Liberty Medal Ceremony and Gala

Chrysanthemum Festival at Longwood Gardens

The annual Chrysanthemum Festival fills Longwood Gardens with thousands of colorful flowers. (Photo courtesy Longwood Gardens)

October 7-November 19, 2017

The ultimate color crescendo hits Longwood Gardens this fall with the annual Chrysanthemum Festival, sweeping Longwood Gardens’ indoor grounds with a rainbow of floral shades. The centerpiece of the show is a Thousand Bloom Mum, made up of more than 1,500 meticulously arranged yellow flowers on one plant. Tickets are free with garden admission.

More about Chrysanthemum Festival at Longwood Gardens

Mural Arts Month

Mural Arts Month honors the thousands of murals around the city via tours and other events all across the city. (Photo courtesy of Mural Arts)

All Month Long

Each October, Mural Arts Month honors the Mural Arts Program’s 3,800 works of public art in different ways. Look forward to walking and trolley tours of neighborhood gardens, mosaics and more as well as a roster of free and pay-what-you-wish events. Click the button below more info about event details as they’re released.

More about Mural Arts Month




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