Sunny enthusiasm, morbid fascination or retro nostalgia: Whatever mood you feel like cultivating in your culture, you can find it just inside the roundabouts-northerly edges of the Philadelphia city limits. Let’s start with the bright and cheery stuff: outdoor arts festivals! Head up Germantown Avenue to Mt. Airy and you’ll run smack into Artz and Groove (June 15-17), a neighborhood extravaganza featuring a free outdoor art market at the Sedgwick Theater lot; an impressive array of goodies from favorite local restaurants including Earth Bread + Brewery, the Black Pearl, the Wine Thief and the Trolley Car Diner; and a three-day lineup of jazz, R&B and world-music concerts—some free, some ticketed—featuring Clifton Davis, American Idol’s Jermaine Jones, John “Sax” Williams, Abstract Truth with G. Lawrence, Kaligata, Gypsy Heart and lots more. Then, the following weekend, wander westward toward the banks of the Schuylkill for the Manayunk Arts Festival (June 23-24), the largest outdoor juried arts festival in the region. More than 250 talented artists from all over the country will line Main Street, showcasing a huge array of unique, handmade pieces ranging from photography and sculpture to jewelry, ceramics and more.
Prefer something a little darker and gloomier? You’re looking for Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philly’s grand, historical necropolis spanning 78 acres between Kelly Drive and Ridge Avenue. Come out for the Secret Cinema (July 13, 9pm) project, screening lost and forgotten film treasures beneath the stars and betwixt the graves. Or, maybe you’re no dilettante of death but a serious ghost hunter: Join the Free Spirit Paranormal Investigators for Ghosts Among Our Graves (July 21, 8pm), a technological sweep of the cemetery for afterlife activity. Then again, you might just want to enjoy the melancholy vistas; if so, grab a camera for the Lunar Stroll (Aug. 31), an after-hours exploration led by photographer Emma Stern.
All too fancy? Just want to kick it summertime old-school? Head northeast for Grey Lodge Pub’s annual six-months-askew party, X-mas in July (July 6). They’ll be cracking out the barrels of Corsendonk Christmas Ale, Anchor Our Special Ale, Sly Fox Christmas Ale, Troegs Mad Elf—even some Christmas cookies. (Stephen H. Segal)
Journeys Backyard BBQ Tour. Combining live rock music with live skate and BMX tricks, Journey’s presents a free sports and music festival. June 9. Free. Outside King of Prussia Mall, 160 N. Gulph Road. 610.265.5794. journeysbbq.com
Winston’s Dog. From the sleepy suburbs of North Wales, Winston’s Dog is heralded as the saving grace of the Philly suburb punk scene. We can’t quite pinpoint the four guys’ sound, but if you’re into Sonic Youth, Pearl Jam, Of Machines and/or the Smiths, you’re in for a treat. June 22, 8pm. $7 with Kill the Broadcast. The Grape Room, 105 Grape St., Manayunk. 215.930.0321. graperoommusic.com
Victoria Spaeth and the Spaeth Cadets. Come and listen to a band that brings a healthy dose of Americana to some good old blues-soul-alt-rock. Add a dash of Latino jazz to the mix, too. June 23, 8pm. $16-$20. With Angela Sheik. The Psalm Salon, 5841 Overbrook Ave. 215.477.7578. psalmsalon.com
Epiphany Project. They’re a hybrid of world music, classical, art song, folk and Americana, so forget the genre-izing and just enjoy a sound that really can’t be categorized. June 29, 8pm. $20-$25. The Psalm Salon, 5841 Overbrook Ave. 215.477.7578. psalmsalon.com
The Strange Heat. From Conshohocken, the Strange Heat describes itself as the musical combination of Franz Ferdinand and Otis Redding, equal parts indie rock and electronica. June 30, 8pm. $7. With Meg Wilkinson and Ashley Leone. The Grape Room, 105 Grape St., Manayunk. 215.930.0321. graperoommusic.com
Larry Hanks & Deborah Robins. Hanks’ deep bass vocals and drawling cowboy melodies pairs with his wife for an evening of all-American, traditional-folk tunes. June 30, 8pm. $16-$20. The Psalm Salon, 5841 Overbrook Ave. 215.477.7578. psalmsalon.com
Morris Arboretum’s Circus Week. Learn the history of the circus at this fun-filled event in one of Philly’s loveliest nature spaces. June 30-July 8, various times. $16. Morris Arboretum, 100 E. Northwestern Ave. 215.247.5777. business-services.upenn.edu/arboretum/calendar.shtml
Jim Patton & Sherry Brokus. These two songwriters will bring an acoustic guitar, a mandolin and a fiddle to the stage for a night of folk-rock melancholy. July 7, 8pm. $16-$20. The Psalm Salon, 5841 Overbrook Ave. 215.477.7578. psalmsalon.com
HH Spady. If you’re looking for a homegrown Philly free-styler, look no further than HH Spady. If you’re into that scene, the Grape Room’s not charging patrons. July 8, 7pm. Free. With Stann Smith, BoogieMan Dela, and Doe Boy Philly. The Grape Room, 105 Grape St. 215.930.0321. graperoommusic.com
The Fighting Burrito Comedy Show. This independent comedy showcase features a sampling of Philly’s comedy community; July’s lineup includes the sketch troupe ManiPedi plus stand-up from Pete Kuempel, Jess Carpenter, Paul Spratt and more. July 13 & Aug. 3. 8pm. $5. The Grape Room, 105 Grape St., Manayunk. graperoommusic.com
Hymn for Her. This trailer-parking duo packs a heck of a lot of talent. They’ve got a banjo, dobro, bass drum, hi-hat, harp and two bullet mics, and they know how to use ’em. July 14, 8pm. $16-$20. The Psalm Salon, 5841 Overbrook Ave. 215.477.7578. psalmsalon.com
Died at Sea, Lost at Sea, Buried at Sea: Part II. Walk the grounds of Laurel Hill Cemetery with professor emeritus and resident folklorist at Widener University, Dr. J. Joseph Edgette, as the mysterious stories of those taken by the sea are explored. July 18, 6pm. $20. $10. Laurel Hill Cemetery, 3822 Ridge Ave. 215.228.8200. thelaurelhillcemetery.org
The Beta Phase. If you’ve been mourning the declining talent of formerly punk bands like Say Anything and Taking Back Sunday, this still-unsigned Philly band is nothing but pure, underground punk. July 19, 8pm. $7. With Viv Peyrat + A Cool Stick. The Grape Room, 105 Grape St., Manayunk. 215.930.0321. graperoommusic.com
Brazilian Jazz Party with Arpeggio. Arpeggio, a local jazz band, brings the rhythms of northern Brazil to Philly as part of Penn’s Friday Night Concerts in the Garden series. July 20, 7pm. $40. Morris Arboretum, 100 E. Northwestern Ave. 215.247.5777. business-services.upenn.edu/arboretum/events_SummerConcerts.shtml
Looking for summer excitement in your neighborhood—or an excuse to explore new parts of the city? Either way, you’re golden: Here’s our compass-based manual for locating the hottest fun to be found around Philly, one direction at a time!
OK, so maybe South Philly doesn’t have as many museums and theaters as Center City. It also lacks the bustling college scene of University City and all the super-trendy, “up-and-coming” allure of North Portfishington. Nevertheless, when you take a stadium complex, a beautiful green oasis, a vibrant arts community, and a slew of stellar dining establishments and mix them together into one giant melting pot, inevitably you wind up with a pretty awesome recipe for summertime amusement.
From the convenient entertainment hub that is NoLibs to the booming cultural mecca better known as North Portfishington, there are pretty much an endless supply of things for you to do, see, hear and eat this summer in North Philly.
Who’s ready to have too much fun in West Philly this summer? We are!
Unless you weren’t already convinced, hopefully we’ve proven to you by now that Philly is jam-packed with awesome summer events. But for a little suburban staycation, we threw in our top picks for events happening outside city limits.
An eclectic melting pot of Philly’s smaller neighborhoods, Center City has the most to offer with the greatest variety.
PW's Summer Guide 2014