A Guide To Parkway 100 Celebrations In Philadelphia

The 14-month fest brings dozens of events, exhibitions and more to the city...

This year, the iconic Benjamin Franklin Parkway turns 100 years old. To celebrate its centennial birthday, the attraction gets a festival of its own starting this fall with Parkway 100.

Parkway 100 is the city’s 14-month soiree taking place both inside the venerable institutions that line the mile-long Parkway and outside among its fountains, gardens and public art.


  • 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the city honors the occasion with Parkway 100.
  • Parkway 100 celebrations start on September 8, 2017 and continue through November 16, 2018.
  • Major festival events include Winter Fountains for the Parkway, Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies and a kickoff festival.


The year 2017 marks the 100th birthday of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia’s own Champs-Élysées. In celebration of the monumental anniversary, the Parkway Council and cultural and residential institutions along the famed Parkway present the Parkway 100 Celebration.

The festivities kick off on September 8 and continue all the way through November 16, 2018. The events throughout the 14-month celebration range from giant public art exhibitions and festivals to grand museum exhibitions and concerts.

For the full rundown of Parkway 100 events, click here. Note that individual tickets are required for different Parkway 100 events and are available on a pay-as-you-go basis from the host organizations themselves.

From Parkway 100's ongoing events to the Puerto Rican Festival Parade, Benjamin Franklin Parkway is the place to be for many great events. (Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia)
Parkway 100 kicks off this September and continues through November 2018 with public art installations, exhibitions, festivals, concerts and more.

We Are Connected Kickoff Festival

Parkway 100 debuts with the We Are Connected Kickoff Festival on Friday, September 8 from 4 to 10 p.m.

Museums, educational centers and public institutions band together for a cultural crawl featuring 100 free activities along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and at the Parkway’s museums.

Throughout the evening, guests can visit museums like the Barnes Foundation, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Franklin Institute and more for extended hours, discounted or free museum admission and special after-hours performances and activities.

Outside along the Parkway, festival attendees can check out a mural unveiling, community art projects, storytelling and performances. As far as food and drinks, guests will find pop-up outdoor beer gardens and mobile food vendors throughout the kickoff festival.

Public Art Installations

Some of the most anticipated Parkway 100 events are pop-up public art installations, including two major spectacles along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway — Winter Fountains for the Parkway and Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies.

Combined, the installations are slated to fill the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for most of the fall and winter months.

Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies

Starting this September, the Association of Public Art, working with guest curator Lance Fung of Fung Collaboratives, will light up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway with Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies, an interactive artwork consisting of 27 luminous, kinetic sculptures in the form of free pedicabs.

Participants will be able to ride inside the moving sculptures, which will travel in a route between Sister Cities Park and Iroquois Park.

This interactive exhibition runs from September 15 to October 8.

(Photo by J. Fusco for aPA)
The exciting Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies installation consists of 27 pedicabs — lit by fun lanterns — that will take people on free rides up and down the Parkway.

Winter Fountains

Winter Fountains is a world premiere nighttime installation made up of five beautiful winter fountains. Created by artist Jennifer Steinkamp, the exhibition is presented by the Parkway Council, the Association for Public Art (aPA) for Parkway 100 and the William Penn Foundation.

When night falls, the fountains will illuminate with animated video projections that relate to the collections at the Parkway museums and educational institutions. Each fountain will be bedecked with glass beading to create a shimmery display during the daytime and to create a vintage animation-viewing experience during the night.

The exhibition opens on December 1 and will remain on view through mid-March 2018.

Winter Fountains
(Image courtesy Association for Public Art)
Guests of the Parkway this winter will find giant winter fountains illuminated with animated video projections in public spaces throughout the thoroughfare.

Themed Exhibitions

To mark the occasion, a number of the Parkway’s museums and attractions will host themed exhibitions to celebrate the centennial.

The Barnes Foundation will open a special exhibition on Paul Philippe Cret, a French architect who designed the original Barnes Foundation and residence (now known as the Arboretum of the Barnes Foundation) and also contributed to design of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Paul Philippe Cret and the Barnes Foundation opens on October 18.

In September, Parkway Central Library will open Corridor of Culture: 100 Years of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, a free-to-visit exhibition on the history of one of the city’s most famous throughways.

Running from October 10, 2017 to October 4, 2018, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University will debut A Peek at the Past, A Look Toward the Future, an exhibition that details the Academy’s place as the Parkway’s first cultural institution (!) and its future.

For more on Parkway 100 exhibitions, click here.

Academy of Natural Sciences
(Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)
Visit places like the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University (shown here) for special exhibitions that celebrate 100 years of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Getting There & Staying Over

The Benjamin Franklin Parkway is easy to get to and hard to miss — it runs for a full mile from City Hall to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Parkway visitors can simply hop off SEPTA’s Regional Rail at Suburban Station or SEPTA’s subway lines at City Hall and head up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to all of the great attractions along the thoroughfare.

A number of SEPTA buses also run up and down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. For more on trip planning via SEPTA, click here.

Parkway 100 is a great excuse to turn your visit into a getaway (or staycation!) by booking the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package. There are plenty of great deals on hotels that are just blocks away from the attractions on the Parkway, plus the two-night deal includes free parking.

Stay tuned for more on Parkway 100!

Parkway 100

When:September 8, 2017-November 16, 2018
Where:Various locations along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway