Summer arts events that intrigue locals—and get them outside

Summer arts Philly

What’s a better combination than being fully immersed in the arts while also getting to enjoy this sunny season to the fullest? Here are a few ways to spend your summer creatively outdoors in Philadelphia. 

Morris Arboretum

Known as the official arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the public garden and grounds offers its own take on the great outdoors to ultimately, “bridge an understanding of the relationship between plants, people and place through education, research and horticultural display.”

Morris makes this possible through a series of displays, both natural and phenomenal. Everywhere you turn, you’re not quite sure what to expect, with gardens, beautiful buildings on the ground, and unique fixtures (such as their own fernery) it’s definitely a venue like you’ve never seen before. And that idea is made apparent when looking at perhaps the most eye-catching display on the grounds, the Garden Railway—which will become prehistoric this summer. 

According to a release, there will be a brand-new dinosaur exhibition in the Garden Railway, ‘Garden Railway: Dinos!’, and with it, visitors will be able to enjoy a display of Mesozoic Era creatures including a Tyrannosaurus rex, Triceratops and Velociraptor—all made from natural materials such as bark, nuts, leaves, seed pods, and twigs—nestled within one of the largest outdoor model train displays in the United States. 

Morris will also feature a new self-guided tour, ‘Plants in the Age of Dinosaurs’, where visitors will learn about plants with roots that go back to prehistoric times, and there will also be dino-themed events and programs from May through September (like a pop-up paleontologist’s cottage featuring hands-on “dig stations,” dino story times, Fossil Fridays, and more.) A full schedule can be found online. 

Summer arts Philly
MorrisMorris Arboretum

100 E Northwestern Ave.,

Chinese Lantern Festival 

The Chinese Lantern Festival will return to Franklin Square this summer, and it’ll once again be loaded with steel-framed and silk-wrapped giant lit-up artistic sculptures that brighten up the historic area of the city. Back again at Franklin Square, the festivities will officially open to the public on June 20, but for the first time, the Evening in Franklin Square fundraiser has been moved to Tuesday, June 18, allowing attendees a private preview of the Festival two days before opening. 

What Philadelphians can expect in 2024 is the popular 200-foot-long dragon (and this year also happens to be The Year of the Dragon) along with completely new lantern displays and immersive experiences, live cultural stage performances, Asian-themed food, the Dragon Beer Garden, and a front-row seat to the choreographed fountain light show in the historic Rendell Family Fountain. 

A portion of the proceeds from the Festival benefits Historic Philadelphia, Inc. for the programming and care of this public space and its many year-round free events, and the Lanterns will be onsite until Aug. 18. The displays are free to view during the day, but tickets are required for nighttime entrance. 

chinese lantern festival, summer events in Philly
Chinese Lantern FestivalJEFF FUSCO

 200 N. 6th St.,

Manayunk Arts Festival

The largest outdoor, juried arts festival in the tri-state region is returning to Manayunk this summer for its 35th anniversary on Saturday, June 22, and Sunday, June 23. 

Three hundred exhibiting artists and thirty emerging artists will showcase the best in fine arts and crafts from across the country with hundreds of thousands of collectors, buyers, designers and visitors expected to flock to historic Main Street for the event, a release notes. Featured works include pieces from eight different disciplines: ceramics, fiber, glass, jewelry, mixed media, painting and drawing, photography, and wood and sculpture. 

Hours for the 35th Anniversary event will be on June 22, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and June 23, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. While there, visitors can also find food and drink vendors, merchant specials, live art demonstrations and much more.

Summer arts Philly
Manayunk Arts FairAVERSA PR

Philadelphia Folk Festival

The historic festival got its start in 1961 and is the longest continuously running outdoor music festival of its kind in North America. According to the website, over the years, the festival became a platform for musicians to share their talents and connect with like-minded individuals, contributing to the resurgence of folk music in the 1960s. This inaugural event laid the foundation for Philadelphia as a center for folk music culture and has continued on both in-person and virtually (for COVID years.)

In 2024, the Philadelphia Folk Festival will be in full swing from Aug. 16 to 18, with John Oates returning to his hometown of Philadelphia to headline the Martin Stage that Saturday (Aug. 17) at 7:30 p.m. 

As a release notes, Oates will be joining a diverse lineup of performers, featuring acclaimed local, regional and international acts such as: Aaron Nathans & Michael G. Ronstadt, Adam Ezra Band, AJ Lee & Blue Summit, Alice Howe & Freebo, Angelique Francis Band and plenty more (a full line-up is available online.) Daytime festivities will include a variety of workshops featuring a special guitar education workshop presented by Martin Guitar, along with artisanal food and craft vendors, children’s entertainers, the return of the Great Groove Band (where your kid can be a star), and other programming and activities for children. 

Campers who arrive early can also start indulging in live music that Thursday, Aug. 15 with performances by Nashville’s Shanna in a Dress, Ontario’s Miss Emily, and the Adam Ezra Group from Boston. 

Summer arts Philly