Article

The Biggest LGBT Events Coming to Philadelphia in 2018

Parties, performances, parades, and more

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Philadelphia Outfest Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia
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Since holding the nation’s first major LGBT rights protest some 50 years ago, Philadelphia has continued to prove that it’s still one of the best destinations for LGBT travelers to get their history straight and their nightlife gay.

The city offers a full calendar of events in 2018, including an expanded fifth-annual qFLIX Philadelphia film festival and a Fringe Festival rounded out by a special Bearded Ladies Cabaret performance as well as a concert featuring both Rufus Wainwright and the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus. These are the icing atop the city and region’s annual pride celebrations, weekly bashes in bars across the Gayborhood and cutting-edge performing arts with LGBT twists.

Here’s a look at the best events of 2018 — including a rundown by night, week and month — in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.

Annual Events

01

qFLIX Philadelphia

Exterior of the Kimmel Center Exterior of the Kimmel Center
— Photo by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

qFLIX Philadelphia welcomes independent LGBT filmmakers from around the globe to screen more than 70 films and attend celebrity-studded events. New in 2018: Plays & Players Theatre as headquarters and seven days of screenings.

Where: Plays & Players Theatre (festival headquarters), 1714 Delancey Place

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02

Dining Out for Life

April 14 & 19, 2018

Diners nosh for a great cause on April 19 during Dining Out for Life. Close to 200 restaurants around the city donate 33 percent of every breakfast, lunch and dinner bill to Action Wellness, a nonprofit organization that helps people living with chronic illnesses — including HIV/AIDS — in Greater Philadelphia. The day also includes a food truck pop-up on April 14 in the heart of the Gayborhood at lunchtime and, new this year, a beer garden in partnership with Yards Brewing Company.

Where: Various locations including Yards Brewing Company, 500 Spring Garden Street

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03

Philadelphia Black Pride Celebration

Crowd partying at bar during Philly Black Pride Crowd partying at bar during Philly Black Pride
— Photo by A. Ricketts for Visit Philadelphia

Philadelphia Black Pride encompasses five days of activities aimed at spotlighting and empowering the LGBT African-American community. Taking place across the city and timed to coincide with the Penn Relays, events run the gamut from discussion panels and happy hour mixers to concerts, art shows and community picnics.

Where: Various locations including Aloft Philadelphia Downtown, 101 N. Broad Street

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04

New Hope Celebrates’ Pride Festival

— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Now in its 15th year, the three-day New Hope Celebrates’ Pride Festival is known for a Pride Parade (May 19) that brings the world’s largest rainbow flag from the New Jersey side of the Delaware River in Lambertville to the New Hope & Lambertville Bridge to New Hope, Bucks County, for a fair featuring international entertainers and family fun.

Where: New Hope, PA

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05

Philadelphia Dyke March

The Philadelphia Dyke March draws hundreds for a proud march through Center City that spotlights Philly’s lesbian community and their allies. The rally traditionally starts the day before Pride in Kahn Park, where a stage is set for speeches and a variety of performances and where the procession steps off.

Where: Louis I. Kahn Park, 328 S. 11th Street

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06

PrideDay LGBT Parade and Festival

Drag queens in Old City Drag queens in Old City
— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

The 30th annual PrideDay LGBT Parade and Festival begins with a colorful procession from the Gayborhood to Penn’s Landing, where a celebration ensues. Revelers can look forward to live music, DJs, food, drink and other ways to fete International Gay and Lesbian Pride Month along the Delaware River Waterfront.

Where: Parade starts at 13th and Locust

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07

The Boys of Summer

July, date TBA

Some of the hottest guys in the region descend upon Philadelphia for The Boys of Summer, Philly Gay Calendar’s weekend-long bash that leads up to a steamy swimsuit party at Voyeur nightclub. Other weekend highlights include a pool party, a Sunday barbecue and scantily clad lifeguards galore.

Where: Various locations including Voyeur, 1221 St. James Street

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08

Pride Night at Citizens Bank Park

— Photo courtesy Philadelphia Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies invite all members of the LGBT community — as well as family, friends and groups — to celebrate the region’s LGBT culture at the MLB club’s annual Pride Night at Citizens Bank Park.

Where: Citizens Bank Park, 1 Citizens Bank Way

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09

OutFest

— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Philadelphia celebrates National Coming Out Day with 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.

Where: Gayborhood, 12th and Locust streets

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Performing Arts

10

The Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret

— Photo courtesy FringeArts

Monthly

Every second Thursday of the month, Philly’s self-proclaimed tallest, hairiest drag queen puts on a rowdy cabaret above Crêperie Beau Monde in the lovely French-inspired watering hole, L’Etage. The Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret finds the golden-voiced diva belting covers of everyone from Whitney to Bowie; local LGBT artists often open the show.

Where: Creperie Beau Monde & L'Etage, 624 S. 6th Street

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11

Get Pegged Cabaret at La Peg

Performer on stage at Get Pegged Cabaret Performer on stage at Get Pegged Cabaret
— Photo courtesy FringeArts

Monthly

Performance artist John Jarboe hosts the monthly Get Pegged Cabaret at La Peg. The late-night, uncensored affair always features a new lineup of mostly LGBT performers, including Bearded Ladies Cabaret founder Jarboe, and takes a nod from original French and German cabarets from the turn of the century.

Where: La Peg, 140 N. Christopher Columbus Boulevard

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12

Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus

— Photo courtesy Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus

January 19, March 24 & May 23, 2018

Winter and spring find Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus especially busy. They first join Rufus Wainwright for a special finale performance at Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts (January 19). Next, they head to Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion for a musical performance of the novel Two Boys Kissing (March 24). A Pride Tour has the chorus hitting the road to Jenkintown, Devon and University City. To cap the season, the chorus takes part in the Choirs ROCK! Concert at the Wells Fargo Center (May 23) in what aims to be the largest choral concert ever held.

Where: Various locations including the Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad Street

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13

Lana Del Rey at the Wells Fargo Center

Soft and sultry songbird — truly, a modern diva for LGBT fans — Lana Del Rey takes her Lust For Life tour to South Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center, accompanied by Kali Uchis. The tour’s namesake album earned the songstress her second Grammy nomination, for Best Pop Vocal Album.

Where: Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad Street

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14

Brian Sanders’ JUNK

— Photo courtesy Brian Sanders' JUNK

Always provocative dance troupe Brian Sanders’ JUNK throws their annual Snowball soiree. The fundraising extravaganza features performances by the troupe, dancing and decadent beverages and desserts.

Where: Zee Bar, 100 Spring Garden Street

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15

BalletX’s Spring and Summer Series 2018

— Photo courtesy BalletX

Spring: March 7-18, 2018
Summer: July 11-22, 2018

Darrell Grand Moultrie, a choreographer for Beyoncé, world-premieres a new work as part of the contemporary dance troupe BalletX’s Spring Series 2018, now back at the newly renovated Wilma Theater. BalletX’s Summer Series 2018 promises another world premiere by celebrated out choreographer Matthew Neenan.

Where: The Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad Street

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16

Fun Home

Old City’s Arden Theatre mounts the stunningly scored Broadway smash Fun Home, a musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s 2006 graphic memoir of the same name — and the first Broadway musical with a lesbian protagonist. A coming-out story in reverse, the story looks back at its main character’s life in Central Pennsylvania and perspective on her father through adult eyes.

Where: Arden Theatre Company, 40 N. 2nd Street

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17

Hump! Film Festival

Popular gay sex columnist Dan Savage brings the 13th annual Hump! Film Festival to FringeArts, celebrating sex-positivity with 20 adult indie-film shorts. The two-day event is part of a 35-city tour.

Where: FringeArts, 140 N. Christopher Columbus Boulevard

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18

Shania Twain at the Wells Fargo Center

After more than 15 years, country-gay icon Shania Twain released her brand-new studio album, Shania Now, in 2017 — and now takes the album on tour, her first since 2015. Expect a performance of new singles Life’s About to Get Good and We Got Something They Don’t, but also obvious crowd-pleasing anthems Man! I Feel Like a Woman! and That Don’t Impress Me Much.

Where: Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad Street

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19

Fringe Festival

— Photo by Sarah Bishop Stone for FringeArts

Philadelphia experiences two weeks of artistic pleasure during the annual Fringe Festival. Avant-garde performance meets street theater at venues throughout the city. The schedule is always jam-packed with LGBT-centric events, including a popular festival-closing performance by Martha Graham Cracker and provocative works from out choreographers Brian Sanders JUNK and Gunnar Montana. This year will feature The Poison Cookie Jar, a full-scale history of cabaret performed by the Bearded Ladies.

Where: Various locations including FringeArts, 140 N. Christopher Columbus Boulevard

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20

Opera Philadelphia's Festival O

— Photo courtesy Opera Philadelphia

Last year, Opera Philadelphia kicked off its season by debuting Festival O, also known as O17, with 12 days of more than 25 star-studded performances. Among the packed houses for world premieres and site-specific works were hundreds of LGBT opera fans. The success of O17 promises even more drama by design for O18.

Where: Various locations including the Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad Street

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Monthly Events

21

Back 2 Basics

Various dates and times

Every month at Tabu, local lesbian-focused party producer Stimulus presents Back 2 Basics. The popular party packs the bar with ladies of all persuasions for drink specials, live DJs spinning and an excellent night of dancing. The event spawns special one-off parties throughout the year during events and holidays like Pride, New Year’s Eve and OutFest.

Where: Tabu, 200 S. 12th Street

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22

Bearlesque

First Friday of every month

Each month, grizzly and nimble-footed men load a suitcase with pasties and props for an over-the-top burlesque performance as part of Tabu’s Bearlesque series, held upstairs every first Friday. Though it’s become a multi-city phenomenon, Philly lays claim to the original.

Where: Tabu, 200 S. 12th Street

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23

Drag Your A** To Brunch

Various dates and times

Northern Liberties’ whiskey-centric, Southern-infused Bourbon & Branch dedicates one Sunday a month to Drag Your A** To Brunch, an upstairs event featuring Brittany Lynn and the Philly Drag Mafia, plus twerk-off competitions, mad-libs and lip-sync battles. Talk about Sunday funday.

Where: Bourbon & Branch, 705 N. 2nd Street

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24

Gay Bingo

Various dates and times

Gamers grab their daubers and head straight to Gay Bingo, a 20-years-running monthly fundraiser hosted by hilarious drag queens known as the BVDs (Bingo Verifying Divas) at The Gershman Y. Themes on the agenda for 2018: Mardi Gras and Studio 54. All proceeds benefit the AIDS Fund.

Where: Gershman Y, 401 S. Broad Street

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25

Holy Trinity Party

A post shared by The Dolphin (@dolphinphilly) on

Various dates and times

South Philly’s Dolphin Tavern hosts Philly’s first and only all Beyoncé, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj dance party. Holy Trinity DJs Dame Luz and Wassup Gina spin tunes from the divas’ catalogues once a month on the dive bar’s neon-lit dance floor.

Where: Dolphin Tavern, 1539 S. Broad Street

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26

NSFW Dance Party

Dates and Venues TBA

One of Philly’s sexiest LGBT-themed ragers, NSFW Dance Party continues in 2018, starting with the return of the popular Thermal Party in February. Sign up to find out about the next event and secret location.

Where: Various locations in Philadelphia

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27

Our Night Out

Various dates and times

Our Night Out gives LGBT professionals the chance to network with colleagues and friends at monthly happy hours all over the city.

Where: Various locations including Cinder, 1500 Locust Street

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28

Out in Fishtown

— Photo by D. Tavani for Visit Philadelphia

Dates TBA

Similar to Queers on the Avenue (see below), Out in Fishtown is a monthly LGBT-centric happy hour taking place in bars around the trendy northern neighborhood. The group also teams up with event organizers around the city to spotlight their neighborhood’s understated LGBT community or fundraise for local nonprofits like The Attic Youth Center.

Where: Various locations including Fishtown Brewpub, 1101 Frankford Avenue

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29

OUT in Point Breeze

— Photo courtesy American Sardine Bar

Dates TBA

Organized by neighborhood resident and Boys of Summer planner Steve McCann, OUT in Point Breeze unites the southwest Philadelphia neighborhood’s queer community for casual monthly meetups at venues such as American Sardine Bar and South Philadelphia Taproom.

Where: Various locations including American Sardine Bar, 1800 Federal Street

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30

Queers on the Avenue

— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Dates TBA

QOTA (Queers on the Avenue) lures LGBT social butterflies to South Philly for a popular monthly mixer along East Passyunk Avenue. The event takes place at a different venue each month, but always features light bites and alcohol. Summertime gatherings are especially vibrant, when crowds spill onto the street, and the holiday party is exceptionally festive.

Where: Various locations including Barcelona, 1709 E. Passyunk Avenue

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Weekly Events

31

Thursday Night Drag Show at Bob & Barbara’s

South Street dive bar Bob & Barbara’s draws a diverse crowd for its legendary Thursday Night Drag Show, the city’s longest-running drag show, starring the entertaining Miss Lisa. Adding to the fun: the famous “Citywide Special,” a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a shot of Jim Beam for just $3.50. Show starts at 10 p.m.

Where: Bob & Barbara's, 1509 South Street

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32

Boxers Philadelphia

— Photo by VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

Boxers Philadelphia hosts events throughout the week, like an upstairs underwear party on Thursdays, free pool and $6 mimosas and bloody Marys on Sundays, a free-to-play Texas hold ’em night on Tuesdays and a nightly happy hour that runs from 6 to 8 p.m.

Where: Boxers PHL, 1330 Walnut Street

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33

Stir Lounge

Those looking for a low-key night of drinking outside the Gayborhood head to Stir Lounge in Rittenhouse Square Monday through Friday, with daily happy hour specials. On Thursday evenings, the vibe picks up for Stirsday, when attendees slurp down $1 drinks and dance to live DJs until 2 a.m.

Where: Stir Lounge, 1705 Chancellor Street

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34

Quizzo Nights at Tabu

Philly’s original gay sports bar Tabu inspires friendly competition among patrons at popular Quizzo nights on Mondays and Wednesdays. Those events offer food and drink specials and catty banter by hosts drag queen Aurora Whorealis and comedian Connor Michalchuk. Upstairs offers a different vibe most any night of the week with a creative lineup of events — from singing and drag competitions to burlesque shows.

Where: Tabu, 200 S. 12th Street

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35

Showtune Sundays at Tavern on Camac

— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Songbirds flock to piano bar Tavern On Camac for Showtune Sundays, which broadcasts clips from popular stage and movie musicals and gives patrons a chance to perform for the crowd. The piano bar stays buzzing all week, but with lighter crowds — an excellent option for those looking to try out a song in a more intimate setting. Although dancers tend to bop upstairs to a jam-packed floor on Friday and Saturday nights; early Friday evenings mean an altogether folksy atmosphere for country line dancing.

Where: Tavern on Camac, 243 S. Camac Street

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36

Toasted Walnut

Lesbian owned-and-loved Toasted Walnut hosts happy hour Tuesday through Sunday, a “Live on Walnut” music series showcases live performers three times per month and DJs every Friday and Saturday night. When there’s a big game on, guests stop by to check it out on the venue’s 70-inch TVs.

Where: Toasted Walnut Bar & Kitchen, 1316 Walnut Street

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37

Woody's

A post shared by Woody's Bar (@woodysphilly) on

Every day, Woody’s hosts a happy hour in its gorgeous Globar. On weekends, the bar’s upstairs dance floor packs in the boys for DJs and primo cruising. Those looking for a more intimate dancing experience can try Latin and salsa lessons every Thursday night at 10 p.m.

Where: Woody's, 202 S. 13th Street

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National Gathering

38

Mazzoni Center’s Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference

Mazzoni Center’s Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference, previously the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference, is packed with four days of activities and informational booths aimed at educating transgender individuals and their allies on issues of health and wellbeing. The event brings in 7,000 attendees and includes high-profile speakers and more than 250 workshops around the city.

Where: Various locations including the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 129 N. Broad Street

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Annual Events

qFLIX Philadelphia
Dining Out for Life
Philadelphia Black Pride Celebration
New Hope Celebrates’ Pride Festival
Philadelphia Dyke March
PrideDay LGBT Parade and Festival
The Boys of Summer
Pride Night at Citizens Bank Park
OutFest

Performing Arts

The Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret
Get Pegged Cabaret at La Peg
Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus
Lana Del Rey at the Wells Fargo Center
Brian Sanders’ JUNK
BalletX’s Spring and Summer Series 2018
Fun Home
Hump! Film Festival
Shania Twain at the Wells Fargo Center
Fringe Festival
Opera Philadelphia's Festival O

Monthly Events

Back 2 Basics
Bearlesque
Drag Your A** To Brunch
Gay Bingo
Holy Trinity Party
NSFW Dance Party
Our Night Out
Out in Fishtown
OUT in Point Breeze
Queers on the Avenue

Weekly Events

Thursday Night Drag Show at Bob & Barbara’s
Boxers Philadelphia
Stir Lounge
Quizzo Nights at Tabu
Showtune Sundays at Tavern on Camac
Toasted Walnut
Woody's

National Gathering

Mazzoni Center’s Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference
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