The Philadelphia Federal Credit Union Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby and Arts Festivak is Philly’s wild child festival.
The quirky, fun, day-long celebration unfolds this Saturday, May 20 from noon to 6 p.m., when a parade of human-powered, handmade floats will speed down Trenton Avenue from Norris Street to Susquehanna Avenue.
FESTIVAL FAST FACTS
- The free Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby and Arts Festival takes place Saturday, May 20, noon-6 p.m.
- The sculpture derby kicks off at noon at Trenton Avenue and Norris Street.
- More than a dozen food trucks will also be onsite.
- Don’t miss the sculpture derby’s conclusion, the Mudpit, at 2:45 p.m.
The Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby and Arts Festival is, as its name implies, really two festivals in one.
The sculpture derby is a parade of wacky, human-powered vehicles winding along a three-mile urban obstacle course. Meanwhile, the arts festival comprises multiple blocks of more than 100 vendors selling everything from food to handmade goods along Trenton Avenue.
All of the fun is presented by title sponsor Philadelphia Federal Credit Union and supported by a ton of Philadelphia organizations that have come together to power this awesome neighborhood festival.
Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby
The lively Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby is a parade, architectural design competition and slapstick comedy routine rolled into one.
It begins around noon at Trenton Avenue and Norris Street and winds its way along a three-mile, figure-eight-shaped route through Kensington and Fishtown.
Derby-goers will find dozens of conductors, often decked out in costume, steering large sculptural floats using a variety of people-powered techniques. In other words, no gas or electric is involved in the powering of this parade, which requires participants to stay moving at a pace of at least three miles per hour, all while tackling a series of obstacle courses situated along the route.
At the finish, scheduled for around 2:45 p.m. at Trenton Avenue and Norris Street, the floats meet the Mudpit, where participants and their floats trudge their way through a giant, messy finishing zone.
An award presentation officially closes out the derby at 4 p.m. near the finish line. Among the dozen categories are the People’s Choice Award, Award for Best/Worst Pun, Award for Best Costuming and Award for Best 10+ Person Team.
Trenton Avenue Arts Festival
The Trenton Avenue Arts Festival begins and ends the day’s festivities, starting at noon and closing out at 6 p.m.
That leaves plenty of time in between the derby action to check out the 100-plus vendors that turn Trenton Avenue from Norris to Dauphin streets into one big local shopping hotspot. From sunglasses to henna tattoos to ceramics, a wide range of goods will be available to peruse.
For the full vendor list, click here.
What To Eat and Drink
As with any awesome festival, plenty of eats will be available to keep you fueled throughout the day.
The festival hosts more than a dozen food trucks serving up a variety of food ranging from popular sweet treats from the likes of Little Baby’s Ice Cream and Mr. Softy Ice Cream Truck to savory delights from Kung Fu Hoagies, The Cow and the Curd, Smokin’ Tacos and more.
Getting There and Staying Over
Organizers recommend guests arrive via bike or public transportation. The festival is five blocks from the Berks stop on the Market-Frankford Line. SEPTA Bus routes 3, 5 and 25 also let you off near the festival.
Heading in from out of a town? If you drive, look for parking on Trenton Avenue north of York Street, and consider making a weekend out of the festival by staying overnight in Philadelphia. Book the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package and get more than $200 in free perks, including free hotel parking, free Indego bike share passes, a free Uber ride and more.
For much more on restaurants, bars and what’s in the area, check out the Philadelphia Neighborhoods: Fishtown section on visitphilly.com.
For the full schedule and lineup of festival and derby events, check right here.