July is one of the biggest months for fun in Philadelphia.
The month starts off with major Fourth of July celebrations during the epic Wawa Welcome America festival, which promises fireworks shows, free concerts, free museum admission, block parties and more.
Beyond Independence Day events, summer fun continues all month long with the seasonal opening of The Oval on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, University City Dining Days (a deal-fueled food promotion), free movie nights at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, Bastille Day at Eastern State Penitentiary and more.
Read on for our guide to the biggest events hitting Philly this July.
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 15 – July 22, 2018 (select dates)
ABBA’s biggest hits (Dancing Queen!, Super Trouper!) fill the Walnut Street Theatre for most of the month of July as the musical Mamma Mia unfolds on the stage. The show runs through July 22 at the historic theater.
Where: Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut Street
June 6 – August 29, 2018 (Wednesdays Only)
Center City’s favorite neighborhood-wide happy hour hits more than 90 bars and restaurants every Wednesday night through the end of August. Spots like Harp and Crown, Maison 208, Independence Beer Garden, Bru Craft and Wurst, Dilworth Park Cafe and more serve up $6 cocktails, $5 wine, $4 beer and half-priced appetizers from 5 to 7 p.m. Some participants even offer a 15-percent discount on post-Sips dinner, too.
Where: Various locations including Independence Beer Garden, 100 S. Independence Mall W.
June 21 – August 30, 2018 (Thursdays Only)
Every Thursday night in July and August, dozens of bars and restaurants in Old City offer up food and drink deals from 5 to 8 p.m. during Old City Eats. Participants like High Street on Market, Capofitto, National Mechanics, Khyber Pass Pub, Red Owl Tavern and more serve half-priced appetizers and drink specials to Old City Eats guests.
Where: Various locations including Silence Dogood's Tavern, 216 Market Street
Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest draws crowds eager to experience Philadelphia’s only outdoor roller skating rink and The Midway, featuring a light-up 60-foot-tall Ferris wheel, an enchanting carousel, fun boardwalk games and a nine-hole mini-golf course. Between all the fun and games, guests can chow down on fare from Chickie’s and Pete’s Waterfront Crab Shack, Franklin Fountain Clubhouse Cabin and other food vendors. Bars set up around Summerfest pour local beers and cocktails as well.
Where: Blue Cross RiverRink, 101 S. Columbus Boulevard
Check out Photo Pop Philly — a new, interactive pop-up exhibit that showcases the creative work of local artists — in a once-vacant Center City space. The exhibit, which is presented by VISIT PHILADELPHIA and curated by Philly PR Girl, features red-white-and-blue themed rooms filled with original, Instagram-worthy art, murals and installations.
Where: The Philadelphia Building, 1315 Walnut Street
All summer long, guests of Philadelphia’s Historic District can groove along to more than 50 live musical performances curated by Visit Philadelphia. Performances include jazz shows in Spruce Street Harbor Park, concerts by the Philly POPS in Franklin Square, Latin music night at Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest and DJ nights across the neighborhood.
Where: Various locations including Spruce Street Harbor Park, 301 S. Columbus Boulevard
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Parks on Tap (@parksontap) on Apr 26, 2018 at 8:30am PDT
A post shared by Parks on Tap (@parksontap) on Apr 26, 2018 at 8:30am PDT
April 26 – September 30, 2018 (select dates)
The roving beer garden Parks on Tap makes stops at five different public spaces in the city this July. Enjoy cold beer and barbecue-inspired fare at parks like Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, Columbus Square and Pastorius Park throughout the mid-summer month. The full month’s schedule includes:
Where: Various locations including Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, Lansdowne & Horticultural drives
This beloved beer garden and relaxing waterfront hangout gives visitors a chance to sit back on colorful hammocks or Adirondack chairs while sipping on a refreshing beverage during the day or at twilight under tons of twinkling light fixtures. Vendors serving pizza, burgers, tacos, ice cream and more of the fare they’re best known for include Harborside Pizza, Froman’s, Village Burger, Distrito, Chickie’s and Pete’s and Franklin Fountain. Three bars around the park offer a variety of local craft beers, cocktails and wine for the 21-and-over crowd.
Where: Spruce Street Harbor Park, 301 S. Columbus Boulevard
This urban agriculture project, created by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, brings a 2,000-square-foot working farm to the Thomas Paine Plaza of the Municipal Services Building across from City Hall throughout the summer months. The farm — a site for public forums, gardening workshops and artistic performances — will produce 1,000 pounds of produce to be donated to Broad Street Ministry.
Where: Thomas Paine Plaza, 1401 John F. Kennedy Boulevard
Philadelphia’s popular celebration of America’s birthday, Wawa Welcome America, kicks off this year’s festivities on Thursday, June 28. The multi-day party consists of free events for all ages throughout the city, including outdoor concerts (like a free show from Pitbull on the Fourth of July!), museum days, a patriotic parade, block parties and two fantastic fireworks shows.
Where: Various locations including Independence Mall, Chesntut & S. 5th streets
As part of Wawa Welcome America, the city welcomes outdoor movie fans for free screenings of blockbuster films from late June into early July. The most popular (and iconic) of these screenings is, of course, the free screening of Rocky at the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on July 2. Upcoming films include:
Where: Various locations including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Art Sanctuary’s Celebration of Black Arts returns with a full month of programs that honor black writing, black art and black music in Philadelphia. Panel discussions, writing, dance, wellness workshops, film screenings and more events take place throughout the celebratory month that ends with a big festival on Saturday, July 28 featuring local performers, food, vendors, art and dancing.
Where: Various locations including Art Sanctuary, 628 S. 16th Street
This year, Wawa Welcome America presents three (!) free concerts on Independence Mall in front of Independence Hall. A soulful gospel concert kicks off the series on Sunday, July 1, followed by a preview of music from the Kimmel Center’s 2018-2019 Broadway series on Monday, July 2 and a patriotic performance by the Philly POPS with special guests Broadway star Heather Headley and local opera singer Justin Hopkins on Tuesday, July 3.
Where: Independence Hall, 520 Chestnut Street
In advance of July Fourth, revelers can party the day (and night) away at the Philadelphia’s Historic District Block Party. Special events and performances fill the space around Independence Hall for a full afternoon of food, drinks, games, live music and patriotic fun.
Where: Various locations including Independence Mall, Chestnut & S. 5th streets
July Fourth in Philadelphia kicks off with the Celebration of Freedom at Independence Hall, a patriotic presentation with this year’s honorees: Frank Giordano and the Philly POPS. As always, the morning includes a reading of the Declaration of Independence, followed by music and remarks. The event is followed by the United States of America’s Independence Day Parade, a big-city event with a small-town feel that features dozens of colorful floats, marching bands, military groups and more than 6,000 participants from across the nation in a musical, colorful cavalcade winding through the streets of the Historic District.
The Benjamin Franklin Parkway hosts Party on the Parkway — one of the largest free celebrations in the country — on the afternoon and evening of July Fourth. It all leads up to the incredible Wawa Welcome America July 4th Concert (7 p.m.) — featuring free performances from Pitbull, Grammy Award-winning R&B, gospel and Broadway star Heather Headley, the Philly POPS BIG Band and more — and the July 4th Fireworks (9:30 p.m.) above the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Where: Benjamin Franklin Parkway
After the free concert on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, fireworks will fill the sky above the Philadelphia Museum of Art for Wawa Welcome America’s biggest fireworks show in a decade. The fireworks are completely free to watch and can be seen from many vantage points throughout the city.
Where: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
July 5 – August 30, 2018 (Thursdays Only)
Penn’s Landing kicks off its free weekly outdoor movie nights this month on the Delaware River waterfront. Movies in July start at nightfall — 8:30 p.m. — and include:
Where: Great Plaza at Penn's Landing, 101 S. Columbus Boulevard
Part of the annual PECO Multicultural Series of festivals, the two-day Hispanic Fiesta hits Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing for a full weekend of events, food and performances that celebrate Latino culture in Philadelphia and beyond. The festival runs from 2 to 8 p.m. on both July 7 and 8 with authentic dance performances, spirited musical performances, eats from local Latino food vendors and a beer garden from the team at Goose Island Philadelphia.
July 11-22, 2018 (select dates)
BalletX, the city’s contemporary ballet troupe, presents a show made up of three world-premiere performances. Running at the Wilma Theater, the Summer Series performance promises live music, fast-paced movements and more.
Where: The Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad Street
On select Saturday nights throughout the warm-weather months — including Saturday, July 14 — University City District welcomes talented musicians for a free performance in the green behind the Walnut Street Library at 40th and Walnut streets. The July event features Las Cafeteras, a Los Angeles-based group that specializes in Afro-Mexican music.
Where: Free Library of Philadelphia, 201 S. 40th Street
University City’s popular restaurant week returns this July with meal deals at some of the neighborhood’s hot spots. From July 12 to 22, University City residents and visitors can enjoy multi-course meals for $15 to $35 (depending on the restaurant) at spots like Dock Street Brewery, Dim Sum House, Han Dynasty, CoZara, Pod, Walnut Street Cafe and more. More than 30 restaurants are participating in the deal-fueled promotion.
Where: Various locations including Distrito, 3945 Chestnut Street
For two days this July, Taylor Swift, one of the world’s biggest pop musicians, brings her Reputation Tour to Lincoln Financial Field. T. Swift fans can sing and dance along to some of her most popular hits at the South Philly mega-venue.
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, 1 Lincoln Financial Field Way
Every July, cult film fans flock to the historic Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville for Blobfest, a three-day horror-movie extravaganza. Many scenes from the 1958 horror/science-fiction movie The Blob were filmed at the Colonial Theatre and in Phoenixville, and every year, locals celebrate their place in movie history with a weekend-long street party and several screenings of the film.
Where: The Colonial Theatre, 227 Bridge Street, Phoenixville
The dancers from Bring It!, Lifetime’s popular reality dance show, take the stage at the Merriam Theater for a high-energy dance performance featuring never-been-seen numbers and special programming. Audience members should bring their dancing shoes — audience participation is encouraged.
Where: Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad Street
After a 20-plus year run, Eastern State Penitentiary hosts its final Bastille Day celebration on Saturday, July 14. The attraction marks the final celebration with all of the fun events that you know and love — a drag show by the Bearded Ladies Cabaret, the throwing of 2,000 butterscotch krimpets off of the top of Eastern State Penitentiary by Marie Antoinette, street party revelry and a few final-year surprises.
Where: Eastern State Penitentiary, 2027 Fairmount Avenue
Peddler’s Village celebrates National Blueberry Month with a full weekend of music, food and family fun. The two-day fest celebrates the seasonal fruit with tons of tasty blueberry-based treats, including pies, muffins, preserves and blueberry beverages.
Where: Peddler's Village, 2400 Street Road, New Hope
Seven talented Latin-American musicians make their way to World Cafe Live for the annual Nuevofest, a celebration of Latin music. Performing musicians will showcase everything from Cuban tunes and Afro-Caribbean beats to Colombian music and salsa. Best of all? Admission to this exciting concert is free (though guests are asked to RSVP).
Where: World Cafe Live Philadelphia, 3025 Walnut Street
Summertime at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts means tons of great alfresco performances by visiting and local musicians. On Tuesday, July 17, the Philadelphia Orchestra performs an impressive score of some of Tchaikovsky’s most impressive works. The show ends with a rousing performance of the 1812 Overture and a spectacular fireworks show.
Where: The Mann Center, 5201 Parkside Avenue
The Oval+, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway’s resident pop-up park, opens for the summer this month as an urban oasis for visitors and locals alike across the street from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Guests can enjoy cold drinks in its tree-shaded beer garden, eats from a rotating roster of food trucks, games and special programming like free movie nights, concerts and more.
Where: The Oval, 2451 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Live jazz, an art fair, food trucks and children’s activities all come together to make up the annual Lancaster Avenue Jazz and Arts Festival at Saunder Parks Greene in West Philadelphia. The festival celebrates local musicians and artists in an afternoon-long annual event.
Where: Saunders Park Green, 3827 Powelton Avenue
Beer is the theme of the day at XFINITY Live!’s Summer Fest Live! festival. More than 175 varieties of craft beer will be available for sipping while live music and eats from food trucks round out the fun.
Where: XFINITY Live! Philadelphia, 1100 Pattison Avenue
A summer staple returns to Clark Park this July as Shakespeare in Clark Park fills the giant West Philly park with an alfresco (and free!) performance of Twelfth Night. The performance features not only talented local actors, but also student musicians who will provide a rock-inspired soundtrack to Shakespeare’s storied tale.
Where: Clark Park, 4300-4398 Baltimore Avenue
WXPN, the public radio station of the University of Pennsylvania, brings together musical legends and new performers for the three-day XPoNential Music Festival at multiple venues along the Camden River Waterfront. Featured performers include David Byrne, The War on Drugs, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Sylvan Esso and Margo Price.
Where: BB&T Pavilion, 1 Harbour Boulevard, Camden
The Pennsylvania Care Health Fest draws an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people to Penn’s Landing for the nation’s largest urban health festival. The event includes a free concert with performances from T.I., SWV, Sister Nancy, Dru Hill, Estelle, Lenny Williams and more in addition to medical health screenings, eye examinations and access to dental resources. Register for free tickets for the concert here.
Where: Great Plaza at Penn's Landing, 101 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard
More than 150 classic, antique and custom cars line East Passyunk Avenue for the neighborhood’s annual Car Show and Street Festival. Guests can marvel over the impressive cars along the avenue while enjoying a giant shopping market at the Singing Fountain, alfresco eats and drinks from neighborhood businesses, live music and more.
Where: 1904 East Passyunk Avenue
Two of the music industry’s biggest names — Beyonce and Jay-Z — take the stage at Lincoln Financial Field for the Philly stop of their On The Run II Tour. Sing and dance along to their greatest hits while witnessing what is sure to be an impressive show.
All summer long
Summer in Philly isn’t complete without a visit to one of the great pop-up outdoor movie screenings during the warm-weather months. Attractions and public spaces like the Schuylkill Banks, Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, FringeArts and more all host a slew of screenings throughout the summer. Check out our complete guide to outdoor movie screenings in Philadelphia.
Where: Various locations including Schuylkill Banks, 2501 Walnut Street
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.