Fall in Philadelphia is always a thrill: Theaters debut productions. Festivals invigorate city streets. Charitable events unite the city. This year, autumn’s arrival offers even more for LGBT visitors. The season begins with the Fringe Festival, a 17-day citywide bonanza of cutting-edge contemporary live arts—many of which spotlight the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender experience. From September to December, Bearded Ladies Cabaret artistic director John Jarboe resurrects his irreverent and bawdy cabaret series Get Pegged. And that’s just on the stages. Come October, Philadelphia will host the nation’s largest coming out party in OutFest and put on the city’s 30th annual AIDS Walk.
To maximize the season’s offerings, visitors can book the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package, featuring free hotel parking, at visitphilly.com. Here’s a look at what to expect from Philadelphia’s LGBT scene this fall:
Festivals & Outdoor Events:
- Haunted attractions are always more fun when experienced with friends—and LGBT Night at Terror Behind the Walls is no exception. Eastern State Penitentiary’s terrifying Halloween-time tradition features six attractions inside the cellblock of a real, abandoned prison, September 16-November 5. For one evening, the crumbling venue hosts brave members of the LGBT community in all six of its scary spaces, followed by cocktails in Al Capone’s cell. October 12. 2027 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 236-3300, easternstate.org
- Philadelphia City Hall will fly the rainbow flag all October to honor LGBT History Month. At 11 a.m. October 9, officials from the city government will hold an official rainbow flag-raising ceremony, open to the public. October 1-31. Broad & Market Streets
- A half dozen beer gardens, three stages, vast sidewalk sales, tons of fantastic food and loads of family fun show off the vibrant neighborhood also known as the Gayborhood during the Midtown Village Fall Festival. The rain-or-shine street party closes off nine blocks to car traffic in order to welcome person traffic, and lots of it. October 1. Between 12th & Broad Streets and Locust & Chestnut Streets, midtownvillagephilly.org
- Held annually around National Coming Out Day, the Gayborhood’s OutFest is the world’s largest coming-out event in the form of an old-fashioned block party. Restaurants and bars throw open their doors to host street-side cookouts and dance parties. There are special areas for children and pets, a mechanical bull, rock-climbing wall, flea market, hula-hoop contest, high-heel race and risqué bagel-eating contest. October 9. (215) 875-9288, phillygaypride.org
- This fall’s AIDS Walk Philly marks the 30th year the event is helping those with HIV disease in the Greater Philadelphia area. The theme for 2016: Getting to zero. Now a walk-run—including the 5K AIDS Run Philly—the event starts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and continues along scenic Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive. October 16. (215) 731-WALK, aidsfundphilly.org
- The Wilma Theater begins its 2016/2017 season with Notes of a Native Song, co-presented by FringeArts and created by the duo behind the Tony Award-winning Passing Strange. The multimedia drama delves into the complicated legacy of mid-century queer writer and activist James Baldwin with music, video and spoken word. September 8-11. 265 S. Broad Street, (215) 546-7824, wilmatheater.org
- LGBT theater takes a prominent role in this year’s Fringe Festival. Forward-thinking, ever-physical dance troupe Brian Sanders’ JUNK uses aerial acrobatics and punk and disco music in Carried Away, a performance that evokes scenes from a gay leather bar in the 1970s. Philadelphia choreographer and performance artist Gunnar Montana offers twisted fairytale Wroughtland, featuring sexy versions of familiar characters and exotic sets. For the festival’s traditional (except not at all traditional) finale, Martha Graham Cracker returns for her annual cabaret of pop tunes and impromptu lap dances. September 9-24. Carried Away, 2040 Christian Street; Wroughtland, The Latvian Society, 531 N. 7th Street; Martha Graham Cracker, FringeArts, 140 N. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 413-1318, fringearts.com
- In In My Body showing at the Prince Theater, real-life couple and Old City gallery owners Michael Biello and Dan Martin use song, spoken word and dance to explore some of the more befuddling aspects of embracing body image. A series of poignant vignettes follow characters grappling with all-too-familiar issues, including sexuality, gender identity, pride and aging. November 9-13. 1412 Chestnut Street, (215) 422-4580, inmybodythemusical.com
- John Jarboe, artistic director of The Bearded Ladies Cabaret, reprises his Get Pegged Cabaret series on Penn’s Landing at FringeArts. From September through December, Jarboe invites LGBT artists from Philly and beyond to the stage for impassioned—and often times irreverent—musical performances invoking early-19th-century French cabarets. September 14, October 21, November 18, December 16. 140 N. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 413-1318, fringearts.com
- As if the gay dating scene weren’t already tough, actor Ryan J. Haddad explores what it’s like to be gay and on the prowl when you have cerebral palsy in Hi, Are You Single? The one-man show, playing this fall during the First Person Arts Festival, tackles the whole gamut—from Grindr to navigating the gay bar scene—on a disabled man’s journey to find Mr. Right. November 12. Christ Church Neighborhood House Theater, 20 N. American Street, (267) 402-2055, firstpersonarts.org
- BalletX kicks off its 2016-2017 season this fall with choreographer and co-founder Matthew Neenan and composer Rosie Langabeer’s Sunset, o639 Hours. Live music from The Sunset Club helps transport this mesmerizing, full-length ballet to 1938, when pilot Edwin Musick made his pivotal flight across the Pacific Ocean. November 16-20. The Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad Street, (215) 546-7824, balletx.org
- Those who miss Martha Graham Cracker at the Fringe have no need to fret. The towering diva croons every second Thursday of each month at L’Etage in Bella Vista. Set in the intimate, second-story confines of a French-inspired bar, the popular show includes special guest performances and a full set of Martha reprising tunes by artists from David Bowie to Whitney Houston. 624 S. 6th Street, (215) 592-0656, creperie-beaumonde.com
VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.
On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.