The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.


Keith Burkett | CC BY-SA 2.0

This graduation weekend, many families and friends of students in the Class of 2018 will be visiting campus to celebrate the senior's monumental moment. For the remaining time in Philadelphia, however, there are numerous outdoor festivals, shows, and seasonal parks to attend throughout the weekend. 

Beyond the Liberty Bell Center, Independence Hall, and the Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, there are several lesser-known sites in Philadelphia.

During the upcoming Chinese Lantern Festival, Franklin Square will be illuminated by fifteen thousand lights, 28 displays, 1,500 works of art, and a 200-foot-long dragon. The festival, which will be open throughout May and June, will be free during the day, but tickets are required to visit after 6 p.m.

The Philadelphia Ballet will be performing George Balanchine’s Jewels from May 10 to May 13. The Philadelphia Orchestra will be performing Puccini’s Tosca, a famous Italian opera, at Verizon Hall on May 12.

The city will also offer Spruce Street Harbor Park, a popular seasonal urban beach along the Delaware River which is scheduled to open on May 11. There will be no entry fee, and visitors will be able to enjoy the floating restaurant, beer garden, hammocks, boardwalk, arcade, and boat rentals. 

On May 12 and 13, the park will hold an Art Star Craft Bazaar. There will be over 100 vendors selling various handmade goods, including jewelry, pottery, clothing, prints, and more. The bazaar will have food vendors, a cash bar, and live music as well.

Credit: Sam Holland

Reading Terminal Market is located on 12th and Filbert streets.

Similarly, the Rittenhouse Square Fine Craft Fair will be held from May 11 to May 13 and feature more than 100 vendors. Photographs, paintings, sculptures, handmade furniture, jewelry and more will all be available for purchase.

The Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest, a child-friendly option, opens on May 11. This outdoor summer roller rink will also feature a play area for children, mini-golf, rides, and food and drink options. Admission will be free, and concessions will be pay-as-you-go.

At the Please Touch Museum, another family-friendly spot, every gallery is interactive and designed to encourage the use of various critical thinking skills. There is an outdoor garden, and indoor mini Schuylkill River, an interactive playground, a rocket room, and a room specifically for toddlers.

On May 11 and 12, the Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta, an annual rowing event, will be held on the Schuylkill River, boasting free admission and a food court complete with cheesesteaks and hoagies. 

Attendees will be able to watch students from over 100 colleges and universities compete on an Olympic-sized course, have picnics along the river, and explore nearby Boathouse Row, a series of historic boathouses.

The Reading Terminal Market, one of Philadelphia’s most popular attractions, will still be open during graduation weekend. Established in 1893, the huge indoor public market is known for its wide range of culinary options including cheesesteaks, donuts, and soft pretzels. The market becomes very busy during the lunch rush, but is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. 

For easy travel around the city, Philly PHLASH Downtown Loop offers stops to a plethora of popular sites every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Stops include: the Barnes Foundation, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Rodin Museum, The Franklin Institute, National Constitution Center, Reading Terminal Market, the Please Touch Museum, and the Philadelphia Zoo. Single rides are $2 per person, all-day passes at $5, and two-day passes are $7.