Arts and culture events to check out this summer in Philadelphia

events Philadelphia summer
The Kensington Derby and Arts Festival returns this Saturday, May 11.

Looking for something creative and unique to do? Here are some arts and culture events you have to check out this summer in Philly.

Kensington Derby + Arts Festival

2024 marks the 16th year of the highly energetic and uniquely wacky Kensington Derby and Arts Festival, and it all takes place on Saturday, May 11.

This go-around, East Kensington’s long-time parade and arts activation will be moving to a different location on Frankford Avenue. The event features a cavalcade of human-powered sculptures crafted from recycled bicycles and other materials riding through various obstacles, with the grand finale of a large mud pit to finish it all off.

The festival footprint on Frankford Avenue, just North of the roundabout, will be lined with boutiques offering handmade and curated wares, bakeries, cafes, restaurants, and more, the release adds. The derby parade begins at 2 p.m. at Frankford and York, and will parade along Frankford Avenue and back up Front Street to end around 3 p.m. at the Amber Street mud pit.

Theatre Exile‘s 2024 Paper Wings Summer Theatre Camps

Theatre Exile‘s 2024 Paper Wings Summer Theatre Camps opened up for registration last month, and kids looking for a creative way to spend some of their sunny season can apply now.

The program, which runs for week-long sessions, is meant to educate, encourage, and inspire students from the tri-state area to express themselves by using the world of theatre. Students from the sixth grade up to recent high school graduates are welcome to apply. This year, the company is offering two rounds for camps: Session I: Acting in Exile (July 22 to 26); and Session II: Scene Study & Script Sculpting (Aug. 19 to 23.)

The intimately-sized classes will hold sessions at Exile’s venue in South Philadelphia, and while there, campers will receive expert instruction from international author, performance poet, art activist, playwright, and award-winning Theatre Exile Director of Education TS Hawkins (they/them), award-winning director and playwright Cheyenne Barboza (she/her), and actor, writer and producer Monique A. Robinson (she/her), the release notes.

1340-48 S 13th St.,

‘We Here’

This summer marks the start of a new community-engaged art project from Mural Arts Philadelphia and local artist Roberto Lugo.  Titled ‘We Here’, this two-year project was spearheaded by Mural Arts’ Porch Light program in a collaborative effort with the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, and it was all largely inspired by Lugo’s journey as a professional artist growing up in Kensington.

This new immersive art initiative aims to inspire local youth through pottery, and it all begins with pattern-making and pottery workshops designed to actively involve local school groups and members of the community. The outdoor sculptures from the classes will then be unveiled over the summer in different spots around Kensington.

Workshops will be led by Lugo and collaborating artists—including Yinka Orafidiya and Nitza Walesca, and there will also be immersive experiences accompanying the installations, like public programs, tours and a symposium from June to October. A full schedule can be found online.

events Philadelphia summer

Cirque Du Soleil’s ‘Corteo’  

Cirque Du Soleil is headed the Liacouras Center this summer to put on performances of the company’s famous ‘Corteo’ showcase from May 29 to June 2. This unique production, directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca, first premiered in Montreal in April 2005 and has traveled around the globe and country numerous times before returning to Philadelphia this summer.

As a release notes, in a Cirque du Soleil first, the stage will be central in the arena and it will divide the venue with each half of the audience facing the other half, giving a unique perspective not only of the show, but also a performer’s eye view of the escapade. The showcase, which centers on a clown’s imaginative and festive parade will feature acrobats, comedy and other theatrical elements.  Tickets for shows are currently on sale.

events Philadelphia summer

1776 N Broad St., Philadelphia,

‘Hurricane Diane’

A new production from Pulitzer Prize finalist Madeleine George will be hitting the stage at People’s Light Theater, and it is set somewhat locally (in Monmouth, New Jersey). “Hurricane Diane” is set to run at the theater from May 1 to the 19, and the Obie Award-winning show is described as a “comedic romp with a mythological twist and a hilarious parable of climate reckoning and liberation.”

The play centers on Diane (Rami Margron), a permaculture gardener with swaggering charm, according to a news release. She also has supernatural powers thanks to her secret identity: the Greek god Dionysus.  The production runs through Sunday, May 19. For more information on tickets ($42), check out People’s Light website.

events Philadelphia summer
Rami Margron stars in ‘Hurricane Diane.’T Charles Erickson Photography

39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, PA,