A Guide To Labor Day Weekend In Philadelphia: Special Events, Exhibitions, Festivals, Fireworks, Barbecues, Beer Gardens And More

The hugely popular Made in America festival converts the Benjamin Franklin Parkway into a modern music hub this Labor Day weekend, and bunches of additional events erupt around the city to provide folks with an overflow of Labor Day weekend entertainment. (Photo by B. Krist for GPTMC)

Get ready to retire your white pants and dresses for the season, folks. Labor Day weekend is upon us.

The holiday gives thanks to those who work hard all year, so it’s an opportunity to take full advantage of an extra day off.

Between the Made in America festival (presented by the one-and-only Jay Z), prime outdoor events (to savor the last weeks of summer) and last calls for numerous marquee exhibits, it’s a weekend that you’re not going to want to miss in Philadelphia.

With summer winding to a close, now’s the time to celebrate summer at one of Philly’s always-solid beer gardens, alfresco dining spots or barbecue eateries (which are especially appropriate for Labor Day weekend).

We’ve compiled a list of events perfect for a variety of interests — whether you’re looking for family-friendly fireworks, a Belgian beer fete, a winery celebration or free admission to a museum, there’s something for you.

Read on for our Labor Day weekend roundup.


Made In America: August 31 and September 1. The Benjamin Franklin Parkway comes alive with music during the second annual Made in America festival in support of the United Way. Musician and festival co-presenter Jay Z enlists help from big-name acts, including his wife Beyonce and rockers Nine Inch Nails, to bring two days of celebration and musical surprises to the City of Brotherly Love.

Cannstatter 141 Annual Volksfest: August 31-September 2, Noon-10 p.m. Transport yourself to Germany this Labor Day weekend marks the 141 annual Volksfest (or Oktoberfest) party presented by the Cannstatter Club, a German-American society in Philadelphia. From Saturday, August 31 through Monday, September 2 indulge in German beer and wine and classic German fare like bratwurst and frankfurters. Also enjoy performances, rides, a raffle and crafts for youngsters. Admission is $6 for one-day admission, $9 for two-day admission and $11 for admission all three days.

Smooth Jazz Summer Nights And Friday Night Lights: August 30, 7:30 p.m. Start your Labor Day weekend with a bang at Penn’s Landing. First, at 7:30 p.m., groove to live music by Jonathan Butler, a Grammy-nominated jazz fusion performer. Following the live music, watch a technicolor fireworks show high above the Delaware River waterfront. The fireworks are slated to being at 9:15 p.m.

Philadelphia’s Tri State Labor Parade and AFL-CIO Family Festival: September 2, 9:15 a.m. Leaving from 1301 S. Columbus Boulevard at 9:15 a.m., the Tri State Labor Parade makes its way down Columbus Boulevard to Penn’s Landing where a full on festival takes over the waterfront venue. Visit Penn’s Landing for live music from the Urban Guerilla Orchestra, family-friendly activities, food vendors and more. The festivities run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing.

On Sunday, September 1, the Barnes Foundation offers free admission to museum guests. (Photo by R. Kennedy for GPTMC)

5th Annual BigBite Philly Wing King Competition at Fleisher Art Memorial: August 31, 5-10 p.m. The best wings in Philly come together to battle it out for the number one spot at the 5th annual BigBite Philly Wing King Competition. Located in the yard of Fleisher Art Memorial, judges from the upper crust of Philly’s food scene taste and sample all of the entries and crown one talented participant as the Wing King. Indulge in an assortment of wings of all flavors, beer provided by Narragansett Brewing Company, music from DJ Ultraviolet and more. This feel-good event donates a portion of the proceeds will be donated to children and youth programs at Fleisher Art Memorial. Tickets are $15 apiece and include a few cans of free beer (!).

Brooklyn Flea Philly: September 1, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The Philadelphia outpost of the loved Brooklyn Flea has received monumental traffic all summer long. This Sunday, September 1, visit the open-air market, located at the Piazza at Schmidt’s, for vintage goods, food and handmade items aplenty.

Labor Day Barbecue and Fireworks at Sesame Place: September 1, 5 p.m. Family-friendly events fill the Bucks County amusement park on Sunday, September 1. Start the evening with hot dogs, hamburgers, barbecue pulled pork, chicken fingers and more at the Labor Day barbecue, which is set to begin at 5 p.m. Following the meal at 8 p.m., entertainers make their way down the streets of Sesame Place for the Neighborhood Street Party parade. Following the parade at 8:25 p.m., fireworks light up the sky to the music of Sesame Street.

PHAIR Open-Air Market: August 31, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Browse everything from handmade jewelry to vintage furniture to street food at PHAIR open-air market located at 23rd and Arch Streets. Spend your Saturday shopping local goods from a variety of vendors.

Fireworks and Fountains at Longwood Gardens: August 31, 5 p.m. Few spectacles sum up summertime more than huge fireworks displays. The folks at Longwood Gardens oblige and illuminate the skies one last time this season. The show, Festive Fireworks, lights up the sky to the music of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich on Saturday, August 31. Tickets to the fireworks show also include all day access to the impressive gardens.

Labor Day Cruises on Spirit of Philadelphia: August 30-September 1. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, go offshore with the Spirit of Philadelphia. Indulge in bites from the ship’s buffet and groove to live music provided by an on-board DJ. Pack your camera as the ship opens guests eyes to great views of Philadelphia. A variety of cruises are available all weekend — on Friday night, watch the Friday Night Lights fireworks at Penn’s Landing from the water while enjoying a glass of complimentary champagne.

Bars and Restaurants

Pig Roast at M Restaurant at Morris House Hotel: September 1, 1-7 p.m. As summer draws to a close, treat yourself to one final barbecue, and this time, let someone else do the cooking. The M Restaurant at Morris House Hotel hosts a good ol’ fashioned pig roast complete with classic picnic sides (think corn, pasta salad, baked beans) and live music on September 1. The pork will be served three ways — smoked, traditionally roasted and Asian-style. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. An additional $10 covers libations.

Vanberg and DeWulf at Strangelove’s: September 2, noon. Belgian beer takes the spotlight at Strangelove’s this Labor Day weekend. On Monday, September 2, beginning at noon, Wendy Littlefield of Vanberg & DeWulf brings more than 15 Belgian brews to the Gayborhood beer bar. Pair your beer with Vanberg & DeWulf inspired food created by chef Paul Martin of Strangelove’s.

More happenings, below.

The epic Made in America festival returns to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway this Labor Day weekend, don't miss blockbuster performances by everyone from Macklemore to Beyonce. (Photo by M. Edlow for GPTMC)

Chaddsford Winery: August 30-September 2. Chaddsford Winery welcomes four days of Labor Day celebrations this weekend. Savor the summer weather at Chaddsford Winery where outdoor activities abound from Friday, August 30 through Monday, September 2. Enjoy wine tastings, wine slushies, bites from food trucks and food vendors and live music all weekend long. On Friday, August 30, start the weekend with a packed picnic and cheese and crackers for purchase to pair with the bountiful wine offerings at Chaddsford.

Beer Gardens: It’s the last official weekend of summer which means there’s no better time than now to head out to one of the city’s alfresco beer gardens. Outdoor brews won’t be so pleasant in a few months, so take advantage of the warm temps. It’s a great weekend to visit Frankford Hall, Morgan’s Pier and the PHS Pop-Up garden. Consult our beer garden roundup for out full list of Philadelphia area beer gardens.

Alfresco Dining: Enjoy the late summer weather while indulging in food and drinks at a hip outdoor spot in the city. Between our outdoor sidewalk seating roundup and our alfresco courtyard roundup, waterfront dining roundup and our rooftop bar guide, there are more than 50 restaurants to choose from. Whether you’re looking for an open-air Mexican dinner or a waterfront brunch, our roundups have your answer.

Barbecue: If there’s one meal that’s synonymous with Labor Day weekend, it’s barbecue. With the smells of hamburgers fresh off the grill fading to a memory in the colder months, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy some summer barbecue (preferably outdoors) this weekend. Check out our barbecue roundup for our favorite spots.

Exhibitions and Museums with Specials Hours

The 1968 Exhibit at the National Constitution Center: Last Chance! This Labor Day weekend, the 1968 Exhibit at the National Constitution Center. Experience a state-of-the-art examination of the turbulent 1960s and the year when it all culminated — 1968. During the unprecedented historical moment, a generation came to age and pushed the boundaries of constitutional freedom and civic activism in a time of war. Bonus: The National Constitution Center is opening its doors early, at 9:30 a.m., September 1.

Modern Women at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts: Last Chance! The Modern Women exhibit at PAFA winds to a close on Sunday, September 1. The exhibit presents the work of more than 20 female artists whose works explore the following themes: motherhood and beauty; the natural landscape; self-portraiture; women in their community; women illustrators; and modern women in motion. Visit the museum on Saturday or Sunday as it will be closed on Monday for the Labor Day holiday.

Ellsworth Kelly: Sculpture on the Wall at the Barnes: Last Chance! Coinciding with the first anniversary of the new location’s opening on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Barnes Foundation presents its first contemporary exhibition since 1923. Ellsworth Kelly’s major works will be on display, focusing on Kelly’s Sculpture on the Wall. Composed of 104 panels and spanning 65 feet, this sizable work hangs at eye level — just as Kelly originally intended. The exhibit closes on Monday, September 2. Admission to the legendary Barnes collection is free on Sunday, September 1.

Outdoor drinks is the theme of the weekend, spend some time at the waterfront Morgan's Pier and grab some alfresco brews and bites. (Photo by J. Fusco for GPTMC)

Pay-What-You-Wish at the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Explore the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection all weekend long, and on Sunday, September 1, enter the museum at whatever price you choose as part of its first Sunday promotion.

SPY at the Franklin Institute: The extended summer hours at the Franklin Institute end on Labor Day, so make your way to the Parkway museum this weekend. Their marquee exhibit, SPY, gives people a declassified peek behind the newspaper headlines and Hollywood movies to decode the real history of spies. More than 200 artifacts, including the ice axe that killed Leon Trotsky, a German ENIGMA machine and never-before-seen artifacts from the CIA, make up the exhibit and bring visitors close to the gadgets, techniques and technologies used by spies throughout the ages.

GLOW at the Academy of Natural Sciences: GLOW at the Academy of Natural Sciences takes visitors on a journey through land and sea in pursuit of creatures with the incredible ability to produce their own light, including fireflies, glowworms and rarely seen creatures from the deep ocean. Children and adults alike are enlightened by dramatic videos, live organisms, rare preserved specimens, models and engaging hands-on activities.

Black Bodies in Propoganda — The Art of the War Poster at the Penn Museum: The Penn Museum takes a fascinating look at war propaganda in Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster. Curated by PBS History Detectives host Tukufu Zuberi, the provocative exhibit examines 33 wartime posters, mostly targeting Africans and African-Americans, from the Civil War, World Wars I and II and African independence movements. The Penn Museum will be closed on Monday, September 2.

Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats at the National Museum of American Jewish History: One of the world’s most influential and beloved children’s authors and illustrators, Ezra Jack Keats caused a stir when he released The Snowy Day, the first full-color picture book to feature an African-American protagonist. The National Museum of American Jewish History celebrates this heroic literary act with The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats. The comprehensive exhibit showcases more than 80 original works — from sketches to paintings — as well as rare biographical and historical elements. Take note, the National Museum of American Jewish History will be closed on September 2.

Woodmere Art Museum: The Woodmere Art Museum invites guests in for free on Monday, September 2 and celebrates the end of its In Front of Strangers, I Sing: 72nd Annual Juried Exhibition with a closing reception from 2 to 5 p.m. The exhibit highlights the work of artists living within 50 miles of the museum and features art created from a variety of mediums.

Museums on Labor Day: Many museums host special hours this holiday weekend, for the full list of opening, closing and extended hours click here.

Spend your Sunday at the Philadelphia Museum of Art as it boasts its monthly pay-what-you-wish first Sunday event. (Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art)


Leave a comment directly on the blog


  1. Your have so much great information here, but alas the dates are WRONG. Sunday is August 31st. Monday is September 1st! I suspect that the first Sunday information you posted May be incorrect.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *