Memorial Day weekend in Philadelphia means extended museum hours, special tours, themed programming, waterfront dance parties and more. (Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia)
Memorial Day weekend hits this Friday, May 23, and we can’t help but feel pumped for the unofficial start of summer and the arrival of warm-weather good times.
This season has already been filled with awesome events, and the coming Memorial Day weekend continues the springtime trend of fun-filled Saturdays and Sundays in Philadelphia.
The holiday not only marks the return of well-loved summer traditions — picnics, outdoor movie nights, alfresco concerts, outdoor happy hours — but also marks a day of remembrance.
To honor the men and women of military, both past and present, many of Philadelphia’s museums and attractions host Memorial Day events made for commemoration of the day.
From a variety of special programs at the National Constitution Center to an all-night dance party aboard the Moshulu, there is no shortage of events and diversions to celebrate Memorial Day during the long holiday weekend.
Bonus: Make a trip out of it and stay overnight in the midst of the action. Tons of Philadelphia hotels offer awesome deals for overnight guests. Click here for Memorial Day weekend hotel options. Plenty of hotels, including the Hyatt Regency at Penn’s Landing, the Hilton Garden Inn and Sheraton Downtown, all have long weekend deals for less than $200 a night.
Our picks for Memorial Day weekend events, below.
• National Constitution Center: Saturday, May 24-Monday, May 26. In addition to the regular offerings at the National Constitution Center, the Old City museum presents a variety of special programming in celebration of Memorial Day. Look forward to flag ceremonies when the museum opens and closes each day, patriotic karaoke, themed crafts, a thank-a-vet letter station, giant flag folding lessons and much more.
• PHAIR at The Oval: Thursday, May 22-Saturday, May 24. Start your Memorial Day weekend with a healthy dose of shopping as PHAIR, a popular open-air market, sets up shop at The Oval. Browse a wide array of handcrafted items from a number of local vendors including prints, handblown glass, jewelry, clothing, artisanal food and more. Also, enjoy beer from the Victory Brewpub on Wheels and hard cider from Frecon Farms. Access to the market is completely free, just pay for purchases as you go.
• Closing Day of Treasures From Korea at the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Monday, May 26. Treasures from Korea: Arts and Culture of the Joseon Dynasty, 1392-1910, the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s marquee exhibition, closes its doors on Monday, May 26. Don’t miss the last opportunity to check out this once in a lifetime exhibition and the first comprehensive survey dedicated to the subject in the United States. Plus, the museum is open on a Monday (!) in celebration of the exhibition and the Memorial Day holiday.
• Jam on the River at Penn’s Landing: Sunday, May 25. After a six-year hiatus, Jam on the River returns to Penn’s Landing. Over Memorial Day weekend, watch groups such as Lotus and Griz entertain the crowd from River Stage. Ticket prices vary, but start at $47.35 (including processing fees).
• Free Yoga at Race Street Pier: Saturday, May 24-Monday, May 26. For some morning relaxation this Memorial Day weekend, Race Street Pier continues to host its super popular free yoga sessions at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday and 11 a.m. on Memorial Day. Classes are an hour long and completely free. Just bring your own yoga mat and say “Namaste.”
• Free Yoga at the Schuylkill Banks: Saturday, May 24. At 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 24, stretch out with local yogis as the Schuylkill Banks hosts a morning of free yoga at the riverfront park. Bring your own yoga mat, a bottle of water and call it a day.
• Franklin Flea Indoor Market: Saturday, May 24. Franklin Flea returns for a few additional spring dates including this Saturday, May 24. Get your shop on at the expansive indoor market and pick up vintage goods, handcrafted items, jewelry, artisanal food, furniture and much more. Plus, enjoy delicious fare from the nearby Rosa Blanca which is set to serve up a number of Cuban-inspired dishes.
• Franklin Square: Saturday, May 24-Monday, May 26. From Saturday, May 24 to Monday, May 26, Franklin Square hosts a slew of family-friendly festivities. Be sure to grab a bite to eat at the popular SquareBurger restaurant, ride around and around on the Philadelphia Park Liberty Carousel, hop aboard the Lightning Bolt Express for a train ride around the park and challenge friends and family to a game of mini-golf. Festivities run from noon to 3 p.m.
• Picnic at the Pier: Friday, May 23. Start your long weekend with a picnic on Race Street Pier complete with music, lawn games, free food and drinks, picnic blankets and more. From 6 to 10 p.m., head to the popular waterfront oasis to bask in the glory of a springtime evening.
Honor our military men and women at the National Constitution Center as it hosts a variety of themed programming all weekend long. (Photo by J. Smith for Visit Philadelphia)
• Fireworks and Fountains at Longwood Gardens: Saturday, May 24. On Saturday, May 24 at 9:15 p.m. fireworks illuminate the night sky at Longwood Gardens’ first Fireworks and Fountains event of the season. The show is coordinated to music from the Big Band era and well-loved Broadway hits. Tickets to the event are available online and also include all-day access to Longwood Gardens.
More picks, below.
• Betsy Ross House: Saturday, May 24-Monday, May 26. Head to the Betsy Ross House for a flag raising activity at 10 a.m. all weekend long. A costumed Betsy Ross leads the symbolic ceremony while participants follow her lead.
• Independence After Hours: Friday, May 23-Saturday, May 24. Friday, May 23 marks the return of the Independence After Hours tours for the 2014 season. Travel back to 1776 with your tour guide and fill up on a three-course meal from City Tavern. After dinner, visit Independence Hall for an after-hours tour of the national landmark. Tickets are available online.
• Devon Horse Show: Through June 1. Long weekends are meant for picnicking and drinking outside, lucky for us, the Devon Horse Show arrives to the countryside and offers plenty of opportunities to eat, drink and hang outside while enjoying the oldest and largest multi-breed, outdoor equine show in the country. In addition to plenty of equestrian races, competitions and demonstrations, look forward to shopping from a ton of boutiques and a country fair, too.
• Independence National Historical Park: Saturday, May 24-Sunday, May 25. Learn about the heroes of the Revolutionary War as a park ranger takes guests on a 30-minute tour of the portrait gallery inside the second bank of the United States. Tours are from 3 to 3:30 p.m. on both May 24 and 25 and are completely free.
• Delaware River Maritime Day at Penn’s Landing: Saturday, May 24. On Saturday, May 24, the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing plays host to a variety of aquatic-themed programming for Maritime Day, a full day of boat tours, races, demonstrations, vendors and educational events.
• Maritime Day at the Independence Seaport Museum: Saturday, May 24. In conjunction with the Maritime Day festivities happening outside of the museum, the Independence Seaport Museum presents a variety of its own maritime programming. Check out boat replicas made from LEGOs, discussions about ship building and more. All Maritime Day programming is included in the price of museum admission.
• Headhouse Farmers’ Market: Sunday, May 25. One of the city’s largest outdoor farmers’ markets, The Food Trust’s Headhouse Farmers’ Market continues to fill grocery bags all around at its Sunday morning market under the historic headhouse shambles. Purchase house-made sausages and gourmet dips from Talula’s Table, hard cider from Frecon Farms, cakes, pastries and freshly baked bread from Wildflour Bakery, cheese, veal, beef and pork from Birchrun Hills Farm and much more.
• Cochon 555: Sunday, May 25: End your Sunday evening with hefty plates of inspired pork dishes as Cochon 555 returns to Philadelphia. The traveling event brings some of the city’s best chefs to the spotlight to go head to head to create the best pork dishes out there. Participating chefs include Patrick Szoke of Alla Spina, Mike Santoro of The Mildred and Jason Cichonski of Ela. Tickets are $125 for general admission and $200 for VIP and are available online.
• Adventure Aquarium: Friday, May 24-Monday, May 26. Adventure Aquarium salutes our active and retired military and military families with discount admission all weekend long. Receive $10 admission per person for groups of up to four people. Just present your military ID at the box office and take advantage of the awesome savings.
• Opening Weekend of Morris Arboretum’s Garden Railway: Saturday, May 24. Morris Arboretum’s garden railway opens to the public with an afternoon shindig on Saturday, May 24 from 1 to 3 p.m. Every year, the train features a new theme. This year’s theme is Who Lives Here? and brings guests on a journey throughout the homes of various animals. As an added part of the programming, children are encouraged to use clues along the track and guess which animal lives in each house.
• Booka Shade at Morgan’s Pier: Sunday, May 25. Rock into Memorial Day as Booka Shade, a German duo, takes over the DJ booth with an electronic set at Morgan’s Pier. Move to the high-energy beats while sipping cocktails and craft beer from the Delaware River hangout. The party starts at 9 p.m. and is slated to go all the way until 2 a.m. Tickets are $10 a pop.
• DJ Deejay on the Moshulu: Sunday, May 25. Celebrate the start of summer with an all-night party aboard the Moshulu. Put on your dancing shoes as DJ Deejay promises a set complete with ’90s throwbacks, hits from the early 2000s and current chart toppers. The dance party is slated to begin at 10 p.m and run until 2 a.m. Admission is $10.
• Sundrop Festival at The Fire: Friday, May 23-Sunday, May 25. Groove to live music provided by local bands at the three-day Sundrop Festival at The Fire on West Girard Avenue. The shows are free and open to folks of all ages during the day on Saturday and Sunday, nighttime shows are 21-plus and $10. In addition to a lineup of local bands, also enjoy shopping from area artisans and local food, too. The full list of performing musicians is available right here.
• Memorial Day Parade, Service and Reception at Laurel Hill Cemetery: Sunday, May 25. Laurel Hill Cemetery honors the fallen heroes with a re-dedication ceremony for the Silent Sentry, a bronze statue of a Civil War solider. The event kicks off with a parade through the cemetery to the burial plot of General George Gordon Meade, a war hero from the Battle of Gettysburg.
• Woodmere Art Museum: Monday, May 26. In celebration of our military men and women, the Woodmere Art Museum in Chestnut Hill, which is normally closed on Mondays, swings open its doors on Monday, May 26. Stroll the galleries of the museum on your day off.
• Chaddsford Winery: Friday, May 23-Monday, May 26. From Friday, May 23 to Monday, May 26, Chaddsford Winery ushers in live music, food and plenty of wine at its annual Memorial Day celebration. A $10 wine tasting, sangria slushies and live music are on tap for the weekend as well. The merriment lasts from noon to 7 p.m. each day of the festival.
During Memorial Day weekend, the Delaware River Waterfront turns into a hub for events that celebrate the long holiday weekend. (Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)