Arts and music festivals, cultural observations and more weekend picks

The Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble are one of the featured performers of the ACANA Festival. The group was founded in 1984 and is co-directed by Jamal and Ronsha Dickerson. It has grown to be one of the largest professional authentic and traditional African Dance & Drum Ensembles in the United States of America, headquartered in Camden, New Jersey (PHOTO: Jake Krolik)

To put it plainly, you killed it this week. It's time to relax and have a little—nay, a lot—fun. Leave the planning to us.

We’ve got a heck of a lot of festivals kicking off the first weekend in August.

The four-day film festival, BlackStar, offers local and worldwide premieres of films starring A-list actors like Michael K. Williams (The Wire)—he’ll even be in attendance!—and Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) from Thursday, July 31 through Sunday, Aug. 3 at various times and locations throughout University City (but mostly International House Philadelphia). The first event begins at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday.

LGBTQ entertainers, performers and visual artists come together to build community, raise awareness, and show off their work at one of Philly’s only LGBTQ arts and music festivals, the Phreak N Queer Arts Festival, starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 31 and extending until Sunday, Aug. 3. Things are bound to get artistically phreaky—in the best way—at venues like PhilaMOCA in Spring Garden, Space 2033 in Fishtown, and MilkBoy Philly in Center City.

A harder and more pared down, size-wise, version of Warped Tour brings metal and hard rock bands to the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, NJ. The Rockstar Mayhem Festival will see bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Korn, Asking Alexandria, and others bringing mayhem starting at 1 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 1.

Ten days of musical bliss begin on Friday, Aug. 1 in Bethlehem, Pa. Musikfest features both free and ticketed performances from artists like Jason Derulo (you know—the guy who always sings his own name in the beginning of his tunes) and Steely Dan (“Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”). Catch it at Steel Stacks through Saturday, Aug. 10. Doors open at 4 p.m. on Friday and noon the rest of the festival.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane—it’s a dragon racing down the Delaware! On Saturday, Aug. 2 feast your eyes on dragon boat races, cultural dancing and more at the Southeast Asian Dragon Boat Festival taking place at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing. From noon until 8 p.m. enjoy the festival’s spread of authentic food from Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, among other Southeast Asian countries.

DRGN King, New Sound Brass Band, Weird Hot and other music acts take over Northern Liberties during the 2nd Street Festival. On 2nd Street between Germantown and Green, cool local vendors like PAWS, 222 Creations, Wear Liberty and more will be available for your browsing and mingling from noon until 10 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 3.

Dance to the beat of the Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble, indulge in African cuisine and celebrate Nelson Mandela on Sunday, Aug. 3, for the ACANA Festival at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing. From 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. get in the cultural spirit along the waterfront.

If festivals aren’t quite your style, here are a few lower-key options to fill out your weekend.

Just in time for back to school (am I allowed to say that yet?), discounted goods from popular teen outfitter Delia’s will be on sale at the Wildwoods Convention Center on the Wildwood, N.J. boardwalk from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. not only this weekend, but until Thursday, Aug. 7.  

More than just cooing is on tap for the Cape May Baby Parade. Register your tot at 10 a.m. at Congress Street and Beach Avenue in Cape May, N.J. on Friday, Aug. 1, and get ready for the competition, starting at 11 a.m., which features winners in five categories including Pretty Baby and Children Walking in a Fancy Dress.

Craft beer drinkers, this one’s for you. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company embarked on a nationwide tour, inviting every craft brewery in the country to take part. The Philadelphia date of the Beer Camp Across America tour takes place Saturday, Aug. 2 at Fishtown’s Penn Treaty Park. From noon until 5 p.m., taste over 50 beers, hear live music and score a free tasting glass.

A drag show of epic proportions celebrates its 9th anniversary at Johnny Brenda’s on Saturday, Aug. 2. With doors opening at 8 p.m. and show time following an hour later at the Frankford Avenue-located venue, Martha Graham Cracker will perform new musical mashups from artists like Prince and Motley Crue.

Vibe out, rain or shine, at the Mann Center in Fairmount Park on Sunday, Aug. 3. Reggae in the Park returns with Matisyahu, Steel Pulse, Mavado, Konshens, Morgan Heritage, The Expendables and Inner Circle playing the chill-fest, starting at 2 p.m.