Columbus Day became a federal holiday back in 1937, and for many, it means a welcome three-day weekend each October.
In Philadelphia, visitors and residents can take advantage of a ton of awesome events going down throughout the city from Friday, October 6 to Monday, October 9, 2017.
From celebrations of art (Monument Lab, DesignPhiladelphia) to epic street parties (Midtown Village Fall Festival, Outfest) to beer- and food-filled Oktoberfests at an array of festive venues, the events in store promise to keep you entertained all weekend long.
Check out our full list of happenings below to pack your holiday weekend with tons of fun.
Saturday, October 7, 2017
With music, food, sidewalk sales and other festivities, the Midtown Village Fall Festival takes the concept of block party to a blockbuster 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. Falling over Columbus Day weekend, the event is one of the city’s not-to-miss fall fests.
Sunday, October 8, 2017
Artists, crafters, designers, entertainers and restaurateurs come out to celebrate the Historic District neighborhood’s creative spirit along several blocks. On Sunday, October 8 during Old City Fest. Entertainment includes pop-up performances by acrobats and stilt-walkers, two fashion shows, artists demonstrations from The Clay Studio and The Center for Art and Wood, a family fun zone and more.
Through October 8, 2017
Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies, part of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway’s 100th birthday celebration, comes to a close on Sunday, October 8. Be sure to take a ride on one of its 27 playfully designed pedicabs traveling up and down the Parkway before it’s too late. Click the button below for walk-up details or for how to reserve tickets online.
The world’s largest coming-out day — now in year 26 — unfolds Sunday, October 8, featuring 12 blocks of drag shows, vendors, games, bar crawls, music and shopping. The heart of the festival is at 13th and Locust streets, site of a main stage — and the start of the high-heel race.
Through November 11, 2017 (select dates)
Add a dose of frightful fun to your holiday weekend at the Eastern State Penitentiary, also home to the country’s biggest haunted house. The famous, shuttered, Gothic former fortress offers six attractions where guests can get a spook from costumed characters of all kinds. Purchasing tickets in advance online is suggested.
Through November 19, 2017
What makes a monument in the 21st century? Monument Lab attempts to answer this question for Philadelphia with an eight-week city-wide public art and history exhibition co-produced by Mural Arts Philadelphia and curators Paul M. Farber, Ken Lum and A. Will Brown. Use the extended weekend to explore the 20 different temporary installations that make up Monument Lab, created by artists from all over the world.
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 Battle Bash, the official after-party at the historic Grumblethorpe house featuring reeanctors from the battle, food, beer from Evil Genius Brewing Company, live music and more.
October 6-8, 2017
The castle-esque 23rd Street Armory gets a makeover this Columbus Day weekend, transforming into an authentic Munich festival tent for one serious (and fun) Oktoberfest celebration. Bavarian blues and whites will paint the ceilings, while authentic festival tables and benches imported from Germany will furnish the floor along with a lofted stage area for live bands to play. Hofbräuhaus will supply the beer and authentic German fare will be flow from the kitchens. Buy tickets for one, two or all three festival days!
Friday, October 6, 2017
The Friday of Columbus Day weekend brings plenty of opportunities to check out art galore – for free. Enjoy First Friday, which fills the streets of Old City and Fishtown with art excursions of every kind.
October 7-9, 2017
The Museum of the American Revolution explores the history of indigenous people and other cultural legacies over Columbus Day weekend. From Saturday to Monday, the museum will host special programming ranging from film screenings to dance performances by the Oneida Indian Nation to colorful presentations on Native American history.
October 4-14, 2017
Taking place each fall, DesignPhiladelphia is the largest and oldest festival of its kind in the nation, with 120 events representing 400 nationally recognized designers. Venues all over town will host exhibits, lectures, workshops and demonstrations to highlight architecture, fashion, furniture, multimedia and urban planning, leaving plenty to fill your calendar over the holiday weekend.
October 6, 2017 – April 8, 2018
Opening on Friday of Columbus Day weekend, Chuck Close Photographs at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts features 90 images from this eminent American artist’s career, the first-such comprehensive survey of Close’s barrier-breaking photography. The exhibition spans from 1964 through today and includes the artist’s iconic black-and-white maquettes, massive composite Polaroids, small daguerreotypes and recent nudes.
Philadelphia’s art scene is booming this fall, offering plenty to check out over the holiday weekend. Check out the stunning new Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor, featuring 10 of the famed sculptures and more than 170 related artifacts at The Franklin Institute. And a number of exhibitions tackle political and social issues, including a retrospective on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” speech. Click the button below for our full guide to must-see exhibitions this fall.
Fall Fest: Through October 28, 2017
Oktoberfest: Saturday, October 7, 2017
Morgan’s Pier brings the spirit of autumn to the waterfront with its month-long Fall Fest, featuring an array of programming on select days of the week, including pumpkin carving every Saturday and Sunday through October 28. And on October 7, Oktoberfest at Morgan’s Pier features a four-hour open bar, unlimited soft pretzels and live music from Gypsy Wisdom for $35 per person. Plus, the first 200 attendees will receive a glass stein. Prost!
October 3-8, 2017
Winner of six Tony Awards, Broadway’s Kinky Boots closes out a six-day-run at the Academy of Music this Columbus Day weekend. Live performances full of high-heeled song and dance will unfold featuring songs by Grammy Award- and Tony Award-winning icon Cyndi Lauper.
October 7, 8, 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. Kicking off on Columbus Day weekend, artists in South Philadelphia (October 7) and Northeast Philly (October 8) open their studios, inviting curious visitors inside to chat, check out how they work and purchase artwork.
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.
A post shared by Seth Pearsoll (@seth_pearsoll) on Oct 18, 2015 at 10:56am PDT
A post shared by Seth Pearsoll (@seth_pearsoll) on Oct 18, 2015 at 10:56am PDT
The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) presents its popular culinary event PHeaSt for the sixth year, bringing another huge garden-to-table dining experience to the PHS Pop Up Garden on South Street. Enjoy a tasting menu from some of the city’s top chefs and mixologists in the area along with live music as you relax in the alfresco garden setting.
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.
The annual Pearl Street Block Party is transforming into one big community potluck this year. The Asian Arts Initiative, the host of the food gathering, will present the projected plan for People: Power: Place, a project that centers on how arts and culture will shape the future of Philly’s Callowhill neighborhood.
October 7 – November 19, 2017
The ultimate color crescendo hits Longwood Gardens during the annual Chrysanthemum Festival, sweeping the 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. The festival is free with garden admission.
Through November 5, 2017
Favorite fall traditions come together at Linvilla Orchards‘ annual Pumpkinland in Media. Enjoy straw bale and cornfield mazes, live music and entertainment, hayrides, train rides, pony rides, face painting, apple picking, jack-o’-lantern displays and more.
Greensgrow Farms will host a fall festival full of local food, music and crafts on the Saturday of Columbus Day weekend. Festival-goers will sample harvest dishes, learn about the Kensington-area urban farm and be invited to partake in an array of activities fit for the whole family.
Use the holiday weekend to gear up for the next holiday – Halloween – with a free screening of Ghostbusters at Franklin Square. Before the alfresco movie, consider playing a round of Philly Mini Golf, taking a ride on the Parx Liberty Carousel or simply picnicking on the square’s surrounding lawn.
Through October 29, 2017
Through the end of October, Sesame Place hosts The Count’s Halloween Spooktacular, a not-too-scary celebration complete with everyone’s favorite Sesame Street characters, parades, contests and more. Guests of all ages are invited to come dressed in costume and enjoy special attractions like trick-or-treating activities and rides on “The Count’s Guess Who Express.”
Over Columbus Day weekend, the FirstGlance Film Festival celebrates its 20th year of creating independent film showcases here in Philadelphia. Catch 20 different flicks, ranging from short documentaries to music videos to feature films, that are screening at either the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts or the Painted Bride Art Center.
Norristown’s Elmwood Park Zoo hosts its annual Harvest Fest on October 8, featuring carnival games, bonfires with s’mores, activities, live performances, bison feedings and much more. The fest is free with zoo admission and unfolds from 12-3 p.m. each Sunday through the first weekend of November.
The parking lot at the King of Prussia Mall transforms into a German beer oasis at the annual Beerfest Royale, featuring more than 100 types of beer from 50-plus national and international brewers, food from area restaurants, live music and a cigar lounge.
Head out to The Schmidt’s Commons on Saturday, October 7 to catch a Halloween classic with the whole family. The open-air space will screen The Addams Family on its 400-square-foot LED screen.
Book the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package for stays through September 3, 2018 and get FREE hotel parking as well as free tickets to the Museum of the American Revolution, free tickets for a ride on the Ferris wheel and roller skating at Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest, a $25 CHeU Noodle restaurants gift card, free mini-golf and a carousel ride at Franklin Square, free passes to ride the PHLASH Downtown Loop and a $10 Lyft credit.