As you may have noticed, it’s festival season up in here. And now that the weather finally starts to be looking like it’s going to cooperate, we thought it was time for our annual round-up of festivals that your whole family will enjoy. Here, the best family bets for the next month or so. (Okay, so a bunch of them hit on one weekend. You can festival hop!?!)
What: The Chinese Lantern Festival at Franklin Square Park
When: May 9 to June 11
Details: This month marks the return of the Franklin Square month-long festival, which features acrobatic and dance shows, a whole LED display of Chinese lanterns, a beer garden, a 200-foot Chinese dragon … and a bunch more cool stuff (including discounts at nearby restaurants if you show them tickets from the event). It runs 6 to 10 p.m. every weeknight and until 11 p.m. on weekends.
What: Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival
When: May 20, from noon to 5 p.m.
Details: If you live for the big old classic Philly street fair, May is your month, not least because you’ve got this behemoth, which takes over most of Walnut from Broad to Rittenhouse, and 17th and 18th from Sansom to Locust. There’s music, food, drinks, entertainment, shopping, crafts … the whole deal. One tip: Leave the double-wide stroller at home, if you can. It’s usually quite the crowd.
What: Philadelphia Children’s Festival at the Annenberg Center in University City
When: May 18 to 20
Details: We just told y’all all the reasons to hit up this long-running and popular festival put on by the Annenberg Center, which is the most family-friendly fest you’ll find in the city. There are performers from all over the world and an array of kid-friendly, affordable productions over a handful of days. (This year? There’s a Latin Grammy-award winning singer/guitar player, a Frozen sing-along, a circus-arts performance — a funny one! — and a Peter Rabbit play, to name a few of the spectacles.) Outside of the Center is PlazaMania, a free (!) all-day party, with pop-up performances, art activities, balloon animals, and more. Tickets for each performance range from $5-$14, but the smartest thing to do is to get the Festival Pass for Saturday, May 20th, which gets you into three shows and the buzzing outdoor plaza.
What: Italian Market Festival
When: May 20 and 21, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Details: Like we said, May is the month for the big old classic Philly street fair, and it doesn’t get more classic than this massive block party, with the Procession of Saints, Half Pole tourney, greased pole contest, family events, music, and so, so much food. This is another very crowded festival, but it’s also a Philly rite of passage.
What: Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby and Arts Festival
When: May 20, from noon to 6 p.m.
Details: The very cool, very different KKSD features a parade of human-powered vehicle floats, which ends up being even more intriguing than it sounds. After the parade, you can stroll the streets looking at booths filled with artists and music and vendors, and grab some snacks from food trucks. This one is especially fun for older kids, say 6 or 7 and up, but littles will do just fine, too.
What: Odunde Festival in Graduate Hospital
When: June 11
Details: One of the biggest African-American street festivals in the U.S. happens in the several blocks around 23rd and South Streets – and you can expect great food, live music and dance, vendors and artists and craftspeople, and more. It’s another biggie, attracting some 500,000 people each year, and another grand Philly tradition.
Photo credit: Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia™