The Oval XP is bigger than ever in Philadelphia this summer

The Oval
A past rendering of The Oval in Philadelphia.
Charles Mostoller

The Oval is back for the summer of 2022 in Philadelphia, and there are plenty of reasons to head to the outdoor oasis, which pops up in the city during every sunny season. 

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation in partnership with Welcome America announced the opening of the pop-up recently, which is now dubbed The Oval XP (presented by Our People Entertainment.) Philadelphians can head to the newly re-imagined outdoor space next week on June 16, and then every week after from Wednesday through Sunday. And it will be open until Aug. 21, extending its seasonal run from six to eleven weeks this summer.

The Oval XP will showcase Philadelphia’s award-winning and talented local artists, makers, and entrepreneurs, with highlights including unique art installations, live music performances, wellness programming and more, alongside numerous food and beverage pop-ups throughout the season, according to a release. Most notably, the experience will be home to Philadelphia’s largest beer garden and anchored by the world’s largest mobile observation wheel and signature Carousel.

“Since we first launched The Oval in the summer of 2014, Philadelphians have come to expect dynamic all-ages outdoor programming on the Parkway, and we know the newly imagined Oval XP will deliver,” says Kathryn Ott Lovell, Commissioner of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation in a statement. “Thanks to our incredible partners and sponsors, this summer, The Oval XP will host ten weeks of dynamic, vibrant summer fun celebrating the arts, culture, and communities that make Philadelphia great.”

The Oval
Charles Mostoller

What catches the eye immediately at the venue is the 108-foot tall Ferris Wheel (offering riders never-before-seen views of Philadelphia – including 360-degree aerial views of the Ben Franklin Parkway, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Center City skyline) and the 32’x24’ summer stage. Over the summer season, visitors will be able to check out an assortment of acts on the stage including Queen of James, Chestnut Grove, Zeek Burse, SNACKTIME, CATBITE, June Divided, UGO, The Huntertones, Dry Reef, Remember Jones, York Street Hustle, Arthur Thomas & The Funkitorium, Stella Ruze and more.

And the entertainment aspect hits full force right away with the 2022 Love From Philly music festival this weekend, where Philadelphians can get their first look at the space. The festival first premiered in 2020 under virtual circumstances and was able to raise over $100,000 for out-of-work musicians and gig workers. In 2022, Love From Philly will showcase an assortment of talent, and then will be capped with a free screening of Amir “Questlove” Thompson’s Academy Award-winning documentary ‘Summer of Soul.’

“The opening of The Oval XP presents an incredible way to keep the energy and excitement of our City going all summer long,” says Michael DelBene, President & CEO of Welcome America Inc in a statement. “We are delighted to support this new opportunity for Philadelphians to continue celebrating what makes our city so special – from arts and culture, award-winning food and beverage, live musical entertainment and more.”  

The space is also known for its use of public art, and this year will be no different. This go-around, The Oval will house a 33,000 square foot ground mural titled, ‘Common Ground,’ by artist Calo Rosa. A local artist originally from San Salvador, Rosa notes in the release that the mural comes from the idea to create a playful space where we all can relate and enjoy being together in common ground. 

“Art is a common ground that unites us all,” states Jane Golden, executive director of Mural Arts Philadelphia in a statement. “Mural Arts Philadelphia is thrilled to enhance The Oval XP with public art to amplify this space that will bring communities together this summer. We can’t wait to join in the fun.”

The release also states that the beer garden at The Oval XP houses nearly 60,000 square feet of outdoor space – the largest outdoor beer garden in the city to date. That includes multiple bars and seating options, giant backyard games and a small performance stage with a line-up of free performances by diverse local comedians, spoken word poets, acoustic artists and more. 

The beer garden is operated by Philly’s own Milkboy, and will feature 24 taps from local craft breweries alongside a rotating selection of pop-up menus crafted by local minority and female chefs. The atmosphere also plays a part in the experience by using upcycled materials (think old building materials, park benches, and trash cans.)

“There are so many creatives in this city that deserve an outlet to spotlight their work. The Oval XP gives these individuals and organizations a platform to showcase their talents, amplify their reach and uplift our community while doing so,” says Will Horrocks, Co-Founder & Owner of Our People Entertainment in another statement. “We are honored to bring unique, unexpected, and most importantly accessible programming to the people of Philadelphia throughout the summer.”

Our People Entertainment and its partners have also developed a user-friendly mobile application that allows visitors to control their experience— meaning visitors will be able to check out an interactive map noting events, programming, vendors, plus food and beverage interests across this year. 

The Oval
Charles Mostoller

Finally, for those looking for family-friendly programming, The Imagination Space at The Oval XP offers free immersive installations and amenities designed to engage kids ages 12 and under. As the release states, in The Imagination Space, visitors can enjoy nine-hole miniature golf course, imagination playground blocks and builder kits, and interactive gaming activities – like ping-pong, Connect Four and Legos, plus borrow books and instruments from the outdoor reading and music carts.

The Imagination Space (which happens to be right next to the carousel) will also offer a variety of free events ranging from storybook readings, arts and crafts, music lessons, children-friendly performances and more. 

For those looking to check out a full list of The Oval’s happenings and to find out more information, visit theovalphl.org or follow on social media at @theovalphl.  

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