It’s been a while since we’ve seen a summer as quiet as this one. The DNC is gone. Pope Francis’ visit is but a distant memory. And yet… Summer in the city ain’t what it used to be. And that’s a very good thing.
Philly has become a city of warm-weather celebrations, and diverse ones, at that. No matter what your background, hobby, fantasy, or flavor, you’ll find a festival to match your mood — or, better yet, you’ll make an altogether new discovery.
Odunde (June 11, 23rd and South Streets). The country’s largest African American street festival begins midday with a procession to the Schuylkill to give blessings to Oshun, Yoruba goddess of fertility and fortune. The ensuing 14-block extravaganza includes acts on two performance stages and 100-plus vendors of original African art, global soul food, handmade jewelry, more. (215-732-8510, odundefestival.org)
Pride Day Parade and Festival (June 18, Gayborhood and Penn’s Landing). The proud, loud parade leads LGBTQ floats and fans to Penn’s Landing for a ticketed performance by Nancy and Beth (the hilarious alt-country alter-egos of Megan Mullally and Stephanie Hunt), Azra, and Jason Maek & Zaena. And you thought the Mummers were colorful. (215-875-9288, phillygaypride.org)
Manayunk Arts Fest (June 24-25, Main Street). Bike race? What bike race? Main Street closes to car traffic and lines itself with 300 jury-selected artists and artisans for a hot summer weekend. Artwork and wares are the advertised draw; showing off summer style comes in a close second. (215-482-9565, manayunk.com)
Wawa Welcome America (June 29-July 4). The home of the Shorti fetes a quarter of a century as the title sponsor of this weeklong series of outdoor movies (Rocky at the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps), citywide happy hours, a historically themed block party in front of Independence Hall, a finale concert starring Mary J. Blige, three fireworks shows, one Hoagie Day, and — oh, yeah — something about our country’s victorious quest for a free and democratic society. And Boyz II Men — twice. (267-546-5424, welcomeamerica.com)
Peco Multicultural Festival Series (July 8-Sept. 17, Penn’s Landing). No passport, no problem. Penn’s Landing’s annual global trek is as near as Columbus Boulevard. These are summer’s forthcoming free international afternoons: Concilio’s Hispanic Fiesta (July 8-9), Islamic Heritage Festival (July 22), ACANA African Festival (Aug. 6), Festival of India (Aug. 12), Caribbean Festival (Aug. 20), Mexican Independence Day (Sept. 10), and Brazilian Day Philadelphia (Sept. 17). (215-922-2386, delawareriverwaterfront.com)
Blobfest (July 14-16, Phoenixville). Before there was Saw or Freddy, there was an amorphous goo that scared the pants off a young Steve McQueen — and scared several dozen extras out of Phoenixville’s Colonial Theatre. Each summer, The Blob and its midcentury horror counterparts — It Came From Outer Space, House of Wax — get screened in that same cinema. Friday means reenactment of the famous run from the theater. Saturday is a street fair and fire extinguisher parade. (610-917-1228, thecolonialtheatre.com)
Bastille Day (July 15, Eastern State Penitentiary). It’s Vive la France — or something like that — when Fairmount’s Gallic-ish family-friendly carnival invites thousands over for a bouncy obstacle course, giant Twister and Jenga, face-painting, water balloon tossing, and a wildly witty performance by the Bearded Ladies Cabaret. A la fin, a fausse Marie Antoinette lets the crowd eat cake — by tossing Tastykakes, naturally. (215-236-3300, easternstate.org)
East Passyunk Car Show and Street Festival (July 30, East Passyunk Avenue). Shiny Corvettes, Mopar machines, Mustangs, Chevelles, El Caminos, Camaros, and the crowds that love ’em take to the avenue to look but not touch. Add crafts for sale near the Singing Fountain, loads of food trucks, and, with any luck, plenty of water ice, and you got yourself a South Philly classic right there, son. (215-336-1455, visiteastpassyunk.com)
2nd Street Festival (Aug. 6, Northern Liberties). Cools from the Standard Tap, Bar Ferdinand, and North Bowl established this all-day block party in 2008. A few years ago, the shindig begin raising money for a business improvement district. The draws: Craft beer, truck food, loads of local music — 16 bands on three stages — more of that beer, and the cool kid crowd itself. (215-627-6562, 2ndstfestival.org)
A.C. Air Show (Aug. 23, Atlantic City beaches and Boardwalk). Off they go, into the wild blue yonder — and back again, over the boards. The free spectacular by U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team, a Navy F18 Super Hornet, and Geico’s race boat turn a typical, quiet day at the beach into anything but. (888-228-4748, airshow.acchamber.com)