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June 11, 2018
by Logan Hunt

This is THE 8 Best Way to Enjoy your 2018 Summer in Philadelphia

Without a doubt, summer of 2018 is ringing in some really exciting times...for visitors and locals alike. As the warm summer months greet us, so are the abundance of festivals and events. Almost all, as with other parts of the country, are related to art, culture, food, music, family entertainment, and drinks. And they are happening almost-solely at the heart of Philly. The bevy of events includes the Philly Beer Week, Happy Hour Series like Old City Eats and Center Ship Sips, and a sub-family-friendly event like Philadelphia Zoo Summer Ale Festival. Some events prove themselves to be a moving target, fleeting from park to park and bar to bar, others more staple like the July 4th celebrations, Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest and the Spruce Street Harbor Park’s ever-famous waterfront oasis.

Notable events are having their grand openings this year which include the Cherry Street Pier, Rail Park, and the world-famous just-restored LOVE sculpture park. In the meantime, events are also coming to a close, namely the Bastille Day Farewell Tour at Eastern State Penitentiary. People know summer in Philadelphia for its larger-than-life events and its people for their can-do spirit. Visiting the art shows, outdoor festivals, film screenings, food-focused events bring in a lot of vibrancy and loud enthusiasm to kick the mundane norm to the curb. Most events require a small negligible admission fee, but there are tons of free events to attend to. All you need is a few blankets to place on the grass, an open mind and heart, your family and friends, and some homemade sandwiches and drinks, and you’re good to go! One good example would be the Wawa Welcome America free party - it’s a free concert complete with elaborate fireworks displays along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

During weekends, when the kids are bouncing off the wall, bring them out for a fun alfresco meal where you hang out with your friends over a delicious brunch while the little ones play outdoors. It’s affordable, simple, and irrefutably satisfying.

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1. Bastille Day : The Farewell Tour

July 14, 2018; 5.30pm
Eastern State Penitentiary
2027 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 236-3300
In France, it’s called la Fete Nationale, meaning the French National Celebration, and in most English-speaking nations, it’s Bastille Day. Celebrated on July 14th every year, the Eastern State Penitentiary’s Bastille Day celebration will be the last in its run. For one final time, they are teaming up with the renowned The Bearded Ladies. They are a troupe of performers known for their intellectual, witty, entertaining and meaningful cabaret performances during the Bastille Day event. Without holding back, they tackle everything from politics to gender equality, artistic innovations to the latest happenings like Philly public education systems, racial injustice, Mark Zuckerberg (and Facebook, of course) and the epic topic of the border wall. They offer a spectacular look into the whole French Revolution which involves everything from commentaries to songs, dances to food.
As touchy as some topics can be, they toast them in a delicate yet playful manner. Emceed by Edith Piaf, the event is backed by performances depicting the last Queen of France before the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette, Joan of Arc, Benjamin Franklin, Vladimir Putin, and an impressive 6-foot-tall French Baguette. Terry McNally, the co-owner of London Grill and Paris Wine Bar, has been taking on the task of portraying Marie Antoinette since the event's inception in 1985, throwing ‘TaskyKakes’ out of the prison walls after a mock cry, ‘Let them eat Tastykake!’

As the State Penitentiary embarks on a new journey, the event (which has grown far beyond its original founders' anticipation 24 years ago) will close the curtain with the Farewell Tour. All good things, as they say, have to come to an end, but with bread and beer in hand, a song on your lips and a dance to your steps, you’ll remember this Bastille Day for a long time. So, join them on their sendoff journey and revel in reenactments of French Revolution and enjoy thousands of butterscotch krimpets raining down on event-goers. They will hold the After Party at French-themed restaurants, Urban Saloon and London Grill.

2. Spruce Street Harbor Park

May 11 - Sept 20, 2018
301 S Christopher Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 922-2386
The calming oasis, a seasonal urban park, is situated along the scenic banks Delaware River Waterfront. Pulling in visitors since 2014 and from the looks of it, it will continue to do so in the many years to come! 'Jetsetter', in rounding up the best beaches from all around the world, had Spruce Street Harbor Park’s hammock-filled sandy retreat listed on its coveted 'best beaches' list. A mish-mash of restaurants, lounge areas, floating barges, fire pits, shipping containers-turned-game centers and beachfront cafes, its wooden boardwalk lined with food stalls and trucks is exactly where you need to be when you need to de-stress.

They know the beloved park for its colorful hammocks where visitors would chill out with their favorite craft brews in hand. You’ve, however, got to keep your eyes on the tree-strung hammocks like a hawk because they’re quickly snatched up! You can also play fun games like bocce, shuffleboard, volleyball, and frisbee, join in the fun during their weekly Mini Punk Rock Flea Market, Jazz in the Park and Who Got the Jazz events. ‘A hidden gem’ is an understatement for this colorful, vibrant park.

3. Parks on Tap

April - September, 2018
(215) 568-1616
Because the event is a traveling beer garden, no two visits are the same. The warm-weathered event takes place from the months of April to September, taking advantage of the pleasant outdoor weather to bring in the best of local barbecue and beer to iconic parks all around Philadelphia. They hold the event from Wednesday to Sunday right down to the last day of September, holding a toehold position as a favorite spring and summer affair that also doubles as a charitable event.

Partnering up with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, Fairmount Park Conservancy and FCM Hospitality, its mission is to provide a fun place for the locals to hang out in and also offer delicious food to sample. It’s the communities’ way of giving back to participating parks. Find yourself a spot on either a park bench, comfortable chairs or reserve a hammock and you’re ready to cheer the summer weather on.

This year, the event will be held at Matthias Baldwin Park, Belmont Plateau, Schuylkill Banks, Columbus Square and many more. Lasting 23 weeks long, you’ll have 23 different parks all around Philadelphia to choose from!

4. PECO Multicultural Series

June 8 - Sept 14, 2018
Penn’s Landing
If you love food, exploring different cultures, learning new dance moves, teasing your palates with exquisite spices and enjoying live entertainment, PECO Multicultural Series is right up your alley!

Happening right here in Penn’s Landing, the event will be hitting the city with 10 consecutive occasions. Yes, 10 of them...all with a focus on different parts of the world. It gives you a taste into the local multicultural scene, introduces you to new dance routines, music, and food. PLUS, it's an amazing way to make new friends. Penn’s Landing is a vibrant stretch of waterfront parks along Delaware River that is flanked by a diverse lineup of restaurants, cafes and quaint eateries. It’s been 20 years since the introduction of these events and an honorable decorous fanfare.

Visitors can see the Philadelphia skyline from the waterfront park (which is the main reason the parks are popular in the first place), while its proximity to Delaware River and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge gives the place a unique vibe. It’s unrivaled as a premier location for countless outdoor performances and can accommodate stages, tents, seatings and a nice place for food vendors to offer their food.

They kicked it all off with the Irish American Festival and while it’s too late (at the point of writing this article) to make it for the first event, you can still carve out some time for the others coming up! So, schedule it in and be ready for the time of your lives!

  • Irish American Festival - June 3, 2018; 12pm - 7pm
  • Islamic Heritage Festival - June 16, 2018; 2pm - 8pm
  • Juneteenth Festival - June 23, 2018; TBA
  • Hispanic Fiesta - July 7 - Jul 8, 2018; 2pm - 8pm
  • ACANA African Festival - Aug 5, 2018; 2pm - 8pm
  • Festival of India - Aug 18, 2018; 1pm - 7pm
  • Caribbean Festival - Aug 19, 2018; 12pm - 8pm
  • Blue Corn Green and Organic Festival - Sept 2, 2018; 12pm - 5pm
  • Brazilian Day - Sept 9, 2018; 1pm - 7pm
  • Mexican Independence Day - Sept 16, 2018; 2pm - 8pm

5. Tippler’s Tour

May 31 - Sept 1, 2018
1 N. Independence Mall W., Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 629-4026
If you’re over 21 years of age, you qualify. From May right up to the end of 2018, historic downtown Philadelphia becomes an open book, offering tours and events to people from all walks of life. Tippler's Tour, however, caters to those who like to buoy their drinking sessions with a little bit of history. Belt out songs reminiscent of 18th century days, share stories from your parents or grandparents while delighting in the traditional drinking styles of Colonial times. It’s a party with a historic twist.

The tour takes visitors around to famous local watering holes while reveling in the stories of the old days with other ‘nimptopsical’ (Benjamin Franklin’s pet name for a drunk person). Taking off from the Independence Visitor Center, you’ll also be sampling memorable cuisine from the bars and restaurants along the way. It's no wonder it is touted to be the kind of bar crawl you’ll not soon forget.

6. Night Market Philadelphia

Gayborhood - June 21, 2018
Kensington - Aug 9, 2018
Point Breeze - Oct 4, 2018
The Food Trust
One Penn Center, Suite 900, 1617 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 575-0444
If you’ve never been to a roving, roaming night market or figured out why people are absolutely in love with local buffalo chicken ball or Big Mac ball-wich, mark the above dates down and make time for the night market when you’re in town. In fact, head over with the entire family and you’ll find yourself falling in love with simple, down-to-earth, mouth-watering street food while being entertained by live music blasting through the air.

The event has been steadfastly held by The Food Trust which is an organization that works hard to ensure that everyone has nutritious, healthy, affordable food. Don’t be surprised with the big turnout of tens of thousands of hungry people  because the food trucks are simply irresistible!

Its popularity still stumps its creators, owners of the food truck ‘Have a Ball’, Caitlin Agnew and Daniela Manney, as their effort is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The event not only banks on the support of the locals game for delicious food on the cheap, but also are in support of saving the environment. Moving the needle along towards zero waste for the city of Philadelphia remains high on their list of priorities.

7. Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival in Franklin Square

Every Tuesday until June 30, 2018
Franklin Square
200 6th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 629-4026
Traditional Chinese lanterns have taken on many new shapes, forms and even adopting new technology over the years. They are less likely to cause a fire or burn out in the middle of a run too. The Chinese festival is set at Franklin Square for the third year and fans are ready to see new artistic and grand designs setting the park aglow again. Head over to the square between 6th street and Race streets and you simply can’t miss the 15,000 mind- boggling LED lights strewn across more than 1,500 artworks at the square. Together with the artwork would be a whimsical panda and a magnetic 200-foot long Chinese Dragon!

Said to be a true sight to behold at the historic square, organizers of the event panned out cultural performances, Chinese folk art, handicrafts, impressive Chinese acrobatic performances and a Dragon Beer Garden at the ready too. If you don’t fall in love with Franklin Square (one of the original open parks planned by William Penn in 1682), you’ll be impressed with lanterns in the shape of mythological creatures, lions, pandas and mysterious sea creatures. Admission into the park is free, only to be ticketed at 6pm at the start of the event. The festival welcomed more than 90,000 people from all around the country when it first made its entrance in 2016.

8. Manayunk Arts Festival

June 23 - June 24, 2018; 11am - 7pm
Manayunk Main Street
Manayunk, fondly known as MNYK, a national historic district located a stone’s throw away from Philadelphia downtown, King of Prussia, Chestnut Hill and The Main Line, it is also nestled along the calming respite of Schuylkill River and the Manayunk Canal. The Tow Path has long attracted tens of thousands to its commercial district which is lined by Victorian-style storefronts. Thanks to its preservation efforts and regular stressing on tradition, it offers an urban experience combined with a small town charm. Right next to the quaint Victorian-style Italian restaurant, there’s a modern townhouse and a lofty apartment building.

The annual art festival is an excellent show of how the city is always putting their best talents to the forefront. The tri-state’s largest outdoor juried arts festival, it features approximately 200,000 collectors, buyers and designers from all around the country to its downtown Main Street where the event is held. As you make your way along the street, be awed by the sheer number (and style of) of fiber, jewelry, mixed media, paintings, drawings, photography, glass and ceramics, wood & sculpture, and a special feature on emerging artists from the community. It matters not whether you’re there to ‘window-shop’ and browse for inspiration, or purchase a quaint decor for your new condo, they’re game for anything and everything.

Another important aspect of the art festival is community activities and this often comes in the form of sports and recreation. Right behind Main Street, there’ll be everything from a walking to a running event, biking sessions, boating, kayaking, hot yoga, crossfit, physical therapy, rowing and many more. This year, 2018, the event is backed by JTown Hot Yoga, Philadelphia Runner, RowZone Indoor Rowing Studio, Starfinder Foundation, The Wall Cycling Studio, Cadence Cycling, Crossfit Manayunk, Goals Fit, HotBox Yoga, JL Racing, Never Give Up Training, Wallace & Nilan Physical Therapy and Yoga on Main.

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