Each spring, Philadelphia blooms into full-out festival season. Nearly every weekend brings an opportunity — or five — to get outdoors and enjoy the warmer temps with food, drinks, and/or live entertainment.
With blockbuster festivals that span several city blocks -- including goat racing, and beer bashes in the greater Philadelphia region, and lighted-up-lantern displays featuring 15,000 LEDs and a 200-foot-long dragon -- events of all sorts bring lots to celebrate this spring.
Below, find some of the top festival highlights of the season catering to the beer lover, steadfast foodie, art admirer, and more. Plan ahead now and choose which ones you’ll seek out while the weather’s at its prime.
This fest brings the ultimate outdoor party to South Street, spanning seven blocks, from Front to Eighth Street. More than 100 vendors are scheduled to come out, as are 30 bands across three stages. Special events will include the second-annual taco-eating contest (4 p.m.); the Atomic-Con Comic Book event; and a Rocky Horror Picture Show screening at the TLA preceded by an all-ages dance to "Time Warp," where everyone is welcome (9:15 p.m.). While strolling around, be sure to make it to the 700 block of South Street where Brauhaus Schmitz will host Maifest, an annual celebration of German-inspired food, beer, and dancing. Maifest starts at 11 a.m., but we suggest you get there at 1:30 p.m. for the liter-lift competition.
11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, South Street from Front to Eighth Streets, www.southstreet.com/spring-fest.
There are plenty of beer fests to partake in during the spring and summer months, but few can boast of live animal entertainment. Held at Sly Fox’s brewery in Pottstown, the Sly Fox Bock Fest & Goat Race merges the playful fun of goat racing with the greatness of alfresco drinking (and live German oompah music), all unfolding on a grassy field adjacent to the brewery.
11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Sly Fox, 331 Circle of Progress Dr., Pottstown. Free, www.slyfoxbeer.com/bockfest.
Hear Springsteen, Jimmy Buffett, the Beatles, and R.E.M. — or at least the next best thing — at the Haverford Spring Fest Music and Arts Festival, where cover groups like the B Street Band and Jimmy and the Parrots will provide the soundtrack while you shop at vendors and try food and drinks. Local shops will also open their doors and show off their wares. The little ones have a whole Kids Super Fun Zone to hang out in while you groove.
Noon-7 p.m. Sunday, Brookline Boulevard at Darby Road, www.haverfordspringfest.com.
Back for its second year, the Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival is ready to brighten up Franklin Square with 15,000 LEDs and 29 brand-new lanterns — including a rebuilt version of last year’s favorite, a 200-foot-long Chinese dragon — crafted in China. The five-week fest is to bring the park alive each night beginning at 6 o'clock and is to include two nightly shows of Chinese dance and acrobatic performances.
6-10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; 6-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Starts Tuesday through June 11, Franklin Square, Sixth and Race Streets. $12-$17, phillychineselanternfestival.com.
Beyond cannolis, meatball subs, pizza, roast pork, and a ton of other delicious eats, the Ninth Street Italian Market Festival always brings a taste of unusual fun. The two-day fest celebrates the nation's oldest outdoor market through food, live entertainment, and memory-making spectacles such as the greased-pole contest, a competition in which teams try to climb a 30-foot pole covered in lard.
11 a.m.-6 p.m. May 20-21, Ninth Street between Federal and Wharton Streets, www.italianmarketfestival.com.
Far from your typical outdoor fest, the quirky Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby & Arts Festival features a parade of human-powered sculptural floats along a three-mile course through Kensington and Fishtown. The comical event features elaborately costumed float drivers as well as a stationary section containing more than 200 local art and food vendors.
Noon-6 p.m. May 20, Trenton Avenue between Norris Street and Frankford Avenue, kensingtonkineticarts.org.
Every year, the area around Rittenhouse Square hosts the Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival, bringing together more than 100 vendors, specializing in everything from beauty and fashion to food and art, for a huge outdoor affair. Look forward to culinary demos, cocktail samples, and live music.
Noon-5 p.m. May 20, Walnut Street between Broad and 19th Streets and 17th and 18th from Sansom to Locust Streets, www.rittenhouserow.org.
Graduate Hospital’s annual Plazapalooza brings laid-back festival vibes to the neighborhood’s Grays Ferry Triangle. Beer and food will be available from an array of local eateries to enjoy as you listen to live music from a lineup of local bands.
May 20, 23rd and South Streets; southofsouth.org/Plazapalooza2017.
Each May, New Hope and Lambertville Celebrate Pride with a weeklong array of events in support of diversity and inclusiveness. The festival will culminate this year with a lively parade May 20 from Lambertville to New Hope featuring all sorts of colorful floats and bands.
11:30 a.m. May 20, River Road and North Main Street, Lambertville, www.newhopecelebrates.com.
Kitemakers from around the world are set to descend on the Wildwoods for possibly the largest kite fest in North America. There are vendors selling kites, a night fly May 26, stunt competitions May 27 and 28, and family workshops all weekend long. Best of all? It's free for spectators.
May 26-29, the Wildwoods Boardwalk from Andrews to Leaming Avenues. Free, 732-822-4884, www.SkyFestivals.com.
The Odunde Festival draws as many as 500,000 people from all over the world to South Street for a massive celebration of African culture. Find stages hosting dancing, drumming, and other entertainment interspersed among hundreds of vendors selling food, fabric, jewelry, and more throughout an area covering more than a dozen blocks.
June 11, 23rd and South Streets and the surrounding areas, www.odunde365.org.