May is one of the busiest (and most exciting!) months in Philadelphia. As warm weather and sunshine arrive, outdoor festivals hit, alfresco events fill neighborhoods and seasonal attractions open for the summer.
This month, some of the biggest street festivals of the year hit major thoroughfares with neighborhood celebrations featuring everything from food to a human-powered vehicle race. What’s on the schedule?
The South Street Spring Festival, Italian Market Festival, Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival, Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby and Arts Festival and the Chestnut Hill Home and Garden Fest.
As far as sporting events, there is no shortage of those in May, either.
The Broad Street Run draws thousands and thousands of people on the first Sunday in May and the Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta hits the Schuylkill later in the month.
Also in May, Spruce Street Harbor Park opens for the season (on May 11!) with more of the fun that you’ve known and loved for the past few summers — great food, craft beer, cocktails, dozens of hammocks, games, special evenings of live entertainment and more.
Read on for our guide to the biggest events hitting Philly this May.
Parks on Tap, the city’s super-popular traveling beer garden series, is in the midst of its third and longest-ever season of bringing alfresco food and drinks to a different Philadelphia park every week. In May, the ongoing event brings barbecue and beer to five different Philadelphia parks, including Lovett Park (in Mt. Airy), Campbell Square (in Port Richmond), Fernhill Park (in Germantown), FDR Park (in South Philly, featuring an extended schedule over Memorial Day weekend) and Gorgas Park (in Manayunk).
Where: Various locations including FDR Park, 1500 Pattison Avenue & South Broad Street
More than 25,000 business leaders and other self-proclaimed tech geeks — and the technically challenged — participate in more than 100 events during Philly Tech Week, which celebrates and highlights emerging trends, advances and innovative uses of technology. This year’s festivities include a startup showcase, technology-themed quizzo, a tech summit for women of color and a signature event at Reading Terminal Market.
Where: Various locations including Reading Terminal Market, 51 N. 12th Street
April 27-May 6 (select dates)
This April and May, Opera Philadelphia brings one of the most beloved operas — Carmen — to the stage at the Academy of Music. Through impressive vocals and theatrics, a story of seduction, jealousy and deceit is brought to life.
Where: Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad Street
The Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival returns for its third year of illuminating Franklin Square with grand, artistic creations. For two months, the square at 6th and Race streets will come alive with 15,000 LED lights strewn across 28 different displays featuring 1,500 works of art. The dazzling 200-foot-long Chinese dragon and whimsical panda constructions from previous years are back, but all other original creations are brand new.
Where: Franklin Square, 200 N. 6th Street
May 1 – September 3, 2018
On May 1, Philly PHLASH Downtown Loop, a convenient and affordable bus that takes riders to popular destinations in the city, starts its daily service. The purple bus offers rides every 15 minutes to attractions like the National Museum of American Jewish History, Reading Terminal Market, the Barnes Foundation, the Philadelphia Zoo, Penn’s Landing and more. Single rides are $2 per person and day passes are $5. New this year: a $7 two-day pass, available for purchase online only.
Where: Various stops including the Independence Visitor Center, 599 Market Street
May 2 – September 26, 2018 (Wednesdays only)
The first Wednesday in May kicks off Media’s alfresco dining extravaganza, Dining Under the Stars. Restaurants in the town bring their food and drinks to State Street (which is completely closed to vehicular traffic) for a full night of outdoor dining and drinking. In addition to food and drinks, guest can pop into Media shops throughout the evening, too.
Where: State Street, Media
Saturday, May 5, 2018
Multiple blocks of South Street close down to traffic and open to festival goers for the huge South Street Spring Festival and Maifest. More than 30 food and drink vendors, dozens of local shops, music stages and hands-on entertainment line Front to 8th streets on South Street. Plus, in front of Brauhaus Schmitz, the German-inspired Maifest adds a maypole, steins of beer, German dance performances and authentic German fare to the fun.
Where: South Street from Front Street to 8th Street and along Headhouse Plaza
Sunday, May 6, 2018
Thousands of Philadelphians take to the streets for the 10-mile Broad Street Run, a popular race for runners of all levels. The run makes its way down Broad Street from North Philadelphia to the Navy Yard. Along the course, spectators line the street to cheer on participants.
Where: Broad Street from W. Fisher Avenue to the Navy Yard
Goats (and their owners) take on each other during the annual Sly Fox Bock Fest and Goat Race, a beer-fueled fest that takes place at Sly Fox’s Pottstown brewery. The brewery serves up dozens of bock-style beers, in addition to German-inspired food, and also hosts live oompah music throughout the day.
Where: Sly Fox Brewing Company, 331 Circle of Progress Drive, Pottstown
Longwood Gardens’ new fountain turns on for a second season starting on May 7 and brings with it an impressive showcase of 1,700 jets that create beautiful fountain shows. Each show is set to music and choreographed color displays. Timed tickets are required for entry.
Where: Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square
From May 10 through 13, the Pennsylvania Ballet performs George Balanchine’s Jewels, a three-act ballet that was inspired by a visit to Van Cleef and Arpels, a luxury jewelry company. The show tells the story of three major moments in Balanchine’s life while also relating to three different and fanciful jewels.
Opens Friday, May 11, 2018
Get excited: Spruce Street Harbor Park, one of the Delaware River waterfront’s most popular attractions, opens for the season on Friday, May 11. Yes! The warm-weather-only urban beach — which welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year — returns with eats and drinks from local chefs, dozens of colorful hammocks, oversized games and plenty of space for lounging along the waterfront.
Where: Spruce Street Harbor Park, 301 S. Columbus Boulevard
A five-minute walk from Spruce Street Harbor Park, Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest offers a roller rink, a boathouse-styled lodge, a play area for kids, carnival-style fun, food and drink options and events throughout the season. Returning this year is The Midway, which brings rides (including a Ferris wheel!) and carnival games to the waterfront destination.
Where: Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest, 101 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard
Athletes from more than 100 universities flock to the Schuylkill River and Kelly Drive for the Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta, the largest collegiate regatta in the United States. The race begins just north of Kelly Drive and Hunting Park Avenue and continues for 2,000 meters (an Olympic-length race) to the Columbia Avenue Bridge. The best place to spot the action is along the Schuylkill at the John B. Kelly statue, which is also near the grandstands.
Where: Schuylkill River along Kelly Drive from Huntington Park Avenue to the Columbia Bridge
Members of the Rittenhouse Square Fine Craft Guild line Rittenhouse Square for the square’s recurring Fine Craft Fair. Throughout Rittenhouse Square, guests will find artist booths set up by more than 100 vendors from Pennsylvania and the surrounding states. Photographs, paintings, sculptures, handmade furniture, jewelry and more are all available for purchase throughout the weekend-long event.
Where: Rittenhouse Square, 18th and Walnut Streets
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) is known for admitting the best of the best in the student art world, and this spring, the public has the opportunity to view and purchase works by talented students at the school. The annual PAFA Student Exhibition kicks off on Thursday, May 10, with a preview party and continues from May 11 to June 3 with opportunities to view and purchase sculptures, paintings, installations and more.
Where: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 142 N. Broad Street
Heads up, shoppers! Art Star Craft Bazaar’s spring market brings handmade goods by more than 100 local artists to Penn’s Landing for local shopping over Mother’s Day weekend. In addition to craft shopping, guests can also find food options, drinks and crafts at the waterfront market.
Where: Penn's Landing, 101 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard
This May, the Philadelphia Taco Festival returns for year two with delicious tacos from more than 15 restaurants — and tequila tastings to boot. And since nothing pairs better with tacos than margaritas, the festival also promises a beach-themed margarita bar where bartenders will be slinging frozen and classic margs.
Where: Sugarhouse Casino, 1001 N. Delaware Avenue
A giant parade, a cocktail contest, fun performances and parties are just a smattering of the great events that go on during New Hope Celebrates’ Annual Pride Fest. The main event is the ever-popular Pride Parade (May 19), a parade from Lambertville, NJ to New Hope that draws thousands of spectators and participants and the largest rainbow flag in the world.
Where: Various locations including E. Bridge Street and N. Main Street, New Hope
May 12-29, 2018 (select dates)
Puccini’s Tosca, one of Italy’s most famous operas, is the Philadelphia Orchestra’s featured work this May as the talented group not only performs the piece, but also welcomes renowned international singers to take part in the performance.
Where: Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center, 1500 Spruce Street
May 12-November 25, 2018 (select dates)
Climb, crawl and zip around Fairmount Park this spring when Treetop Quest makes its debut in Philly. The aerial adventure park for thrill-seeking kids and adults features six courses, 40 sky-high obstacles and 18 zip lines ranging from 30 to 200 feet in length.
Where: Treetop Quest Philly, 51 Chamounix Drive
Thursday, May 17, 2018
Start working on your appetite, Philly! Night Market, The Food Trust’s popular street food festival, heads to Cottman and Rising Sun avenues in Burholme in Northeast Philadelphia. Expect a ton of food truck fare, live music and more.
Where: Cottman and Rising Sun avenues
Performances made for children are the focal point of the Philadelphia International Children’s Festival, which celebrates its 33rd year in May. Performances range from circus arts to an imaginative show featuring a giant, costumed dragon. Outside of the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (the festival venue), kids can take part in hands-on activities and enjoy eats from a roster of food trucks.
Where: Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 3680 Walnut Street
Comics, cosplay and pop culture fanatics of all ages invade the Pennsylvania Convention Center for four days of non-stop, action-packed entertainment at Wizard World Comic Con Philadelphia. Sebastian Stan (Captain America franchise), Jason Momoa (Aquaman, Game of Thrones), Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones), Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings, Stranger Things 2) and more big-name celebrities, comics artists, writers and directors will be present to participate in exclusive Q&A sessions, sign autographs, pose for solo and group photos and host movie screenings.
Where: Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch Street
Saturday, May 19, 2018
Residents of the Kensington/Fishtown area and visitors to the area hit the neighborhood’s most bustling streets for the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby and Arts Festival. At the sculpture derby, human-powered vehicles make their way down Trenton Avenue in hopes of crossing the finish line first. At the festival, local vendors peddle crafts, artwork, food, drinks and more.
Where: Trenton Avenue from Norris to E. Hagert streets
The Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival, one of the biggest fests of the spring, returns to the bustling Rittenhouse Square neighborhood on Saturday, May 19. During the afternoon-long event, area businesses set up shop alfresco to serve festival-ready eats and drinks — sliders, tacos, ice cream, frozen cocktails, beer and more. Beyond food and drinks, live music and a fashion show, featuring designs from local shops, round out the fun.
Where: Walnut Street from Rittenhouse Square to Broad Street
This year, the All-Star Craft Beer, Wine and Cocktail Festival returns to Citizens Bank Park with more drinks, more activities and more space for partying at the ballpark. Guests can sample more than 200 beers and wines in the Craft Beer, Wine, and Cocktail Garden, walk around the stadium, groove to live music and more.
Where: Citizens Bank Park, 1 Citizens Bank Way
For two days this May, 9th Street celebrates its roots with the huge South 9th Street Italian Market Festival. Foods from around the world — with a focus on Italian fare — fill South 9th Street during the two-day event. Enjoy pizza, house-made sausages, delicious cheese, cannolis and more. Plus, with events like the Procession of Saints and the greased pole-climbing contest, it’s truly a can’t-miss fest.
Where: South 9th Street from Fitzwater to Wharton streets
For two days this May, Peddler’s Village dedicates an entire festival to strawberries with the annual Peddler’s Village Strawberry Festival. Throughout the fest, guests can sample strawberry treats, purchase strawberry-centric goods, enjoy live music and more.
Where: Peddler's Village, 2419 Street Road, New Hope
Sunday, May 20, 2018
Germantown Avenue welcomes gardening and festival enthusiasts to the Chestnut Hill Home and Garden Festival. Returning on Sunday, May 20, festival guests can learn about landscaping, gardening, home design and tree care while browsing goods from more than 150 vendors along the avenue. In addition to home- and garden-centric shopping and activities, guests can also enjoy food from Chestnut Hill restaurants, live music, hands-on activities and more.
Where: Germantown Avenue from 8000 Germantown Avenue to 8600 Germantown Avenue
This Memorial Day weekend, take to the Delaware River waterfront to check out Sail Philadelphia, a festival celebrating impressive ships and Philly’s nautical past, present and future. From May 24 to 28, 11 Tall Ships will dock at Penn’s Landing where guests can embark on tours of the impressive ships, day sails and on-the-ground fun.
The country’s oldest and largest event of its kind, the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair features hunters, jumpers, Saddlebreds, four-in-hand coaching, exhibitions and an old-fashioned fair at the Devon Show Grounds. Also on tap: stable tours, shopping and more.
Where: 23 Dorset Road, Devon
Memorial Day weekend unofficially kicks off summer in the city with special concerts, openings of warm-weather attractions, a giant festival on the waterfront, fun museum events and so much more. Click here for our complete guide.
Where: Various locations including Penn's Landing, 121 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard
Morris Arboretum’s beautiful Garden Railway opens for the spring on May 26. The model train display runs for a quarter-mile throughout the arboretum and features bridges, recreations of buildings and structures, tunnels and more.
Where: Morris Arboretum, 100 E. Northwestern Avenue
Memorial Day weekend arrives at Festival Pier with an awesome concert featuring (and presented by) Philly’s own Hall and Oates. In addition to the musical duo, the concert also features performances by Train, Fitz and the Tantrums and more.
Where: Festival Pier at Penn's Landing, 427-433 N. Columbus Boulevard
Saturday, May 26, 2018
The Philly POPS join in Memorial Day celebrations with the annual Philly POPS Memorial Day Salute, a concert that honors first responders and those who serve. The musical group will perform patriotic songs and classic American music with the help of Nikki Renée Daniels from Broadway’s Book of Mormon. The concert is free to attend, but tickets are required.
Where: The Mann Center, 5201 Parkside Avenue
Opens Wednesday, May 30, 2018
When the weather warms up, the city will fete the square’s new look, complete with modern fountains and lighting, a refurbished midcentury modern Welcome Center and newly planted lawns and gardens to go alongside the newly restored LOVE sculpture.
Where: Love Park, 1500 Arch Street
This spring, the Philadelphia region’s museums and attractions host art exhibitions, science wonders, history showcases and more. Highlights include Renoir: Father and Son / Painting and Cinema at the Barnes Foundation and X-treme Bugs at the Academy of Natural Sciences. Check out our full guide to spring exhibitions in Philly.
Where: Various locations including the Barnes Foundation 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
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.
Where: Museum of the American Revolution, 316-320 Chestnut Street
Throughout the month of May, Parkway 100 continues to bring special events to attractions along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and beyond to celebrate the Parkway’s centennial. In May, look forward to special events like collection tours at the Rodin Museum, a community conversation at Eastern State Penitentiary, a fashion show at the Barnes Foundation and more.
Where: Various locations including The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Book the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package for stays through November 30, 2018 and get FREE hotel parking as well as free tickets to the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art, a $25 gift card to the must-visit Reading Terminal Market, free Philly-themed mini-golf at Franklin Square and a $10 Lyft credit.
Celebrate the season with arts, sports, beer, music and more