Philadelphia Memorial Day Events
From history to fireworks, there are so many ways to celebrate Memorial Day weekend in Philly.
Somehow summer has crept up on us, and it’s almost Memorial Day Weekend. While half of Philly begins their exodus down the Shore, we’ve got some plans of our own right here. It is no surprise that the Cradle of Liberty has so many ways to celebrate, and also take a moment to remember those who gave their lives serving our country.
Here’s the best of what’s happening in Philly over the holiday weekend.
Fireworks on the Waterfront
May 25, 9:30 pm (Concert at 8 pm)
U.S. Air Force Band Full Spectrum will perform a fun, high-energy pop and hip-hop concert at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing at 8 pm. Then, at 9:30 pm, the waterfront will light up with a spectacular fireworks display. You can view the fireworks anywhere along the waterfront, but if you want a more exclusive seat, you can buy tickets to watch from the rotunda terrace of Independence Seaport Museum. You can also view from the RiverRink, Spruce Street Harbor Park, and Cherry Street Pier.
Becuna’s 75th Birthday Bash
Independence Seaport Museum, 211 S. Columbus Blvd.
Celebrate Submarine Becuna’s 75th birthday all Memorial Day Weekend long! Sign a birthday card, have some birthday cake (on May 25), take special tours, enjoy discounts on Paddle Penn’s Landing, and more.
Memorial Day Weekend at the Museum of the American Revolution
May 25—27, 10 am—5 pm
101 S. Third St.
Take a highlights tour– or navigate your own course– to explore the lives of soldiers and sailors, why they served, and how they thought about wartime losses. Carnations will be available for visitors to place on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the Revolution at Washington Square, two blocks from the museum. Museum educators will lead timed tours to the tomb. Veterans, active, and retired Military receive free admission throughout the weekend supported by Comcast NBCUniversal.
Memorial Day Weekend at the National Constitution Center
525 Arch St.
The National Constitution Center will honor the men and women who have defended our freedom. Programming, which is presented in conjunction with the Center’s new permanent “Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality” exhibit, will examine what life was like for Civil War soldiers and take a look at some items they would have carried with them during the war. Family-friendly programs and activities will also include flag etiquette and flag folding workshops, arts and craft activities, 18th century games, and interactive shows. Throughout the weekend, visitors can also take a moment to write letters of gratitude to the men and women who have served in the country’s Armed Forces.
‘Once Upon a Nation’ Storytelling Benches Open for the Season
May 25—27, 11 am—4 pm; then various times throughout the summer
Various locations throughout Old City
Learn about our nation’s history from award-winning storytellers, telling of events that happened at the very spots the benches are located. If you visit all 13 benches, you get a free ride on the Parx Liberty Carousel in Franklin Square (where the Chinese Lantern Festival is still going on, so check that out too while you’re enjoying your reward).
Memorial Day Activities at Independence National Park
317 Chestnut St. and 420 Chestnut St.
Play family-friendly Quizzo at the Benjamin Franklin Museum every afternoon to test your knowledge of American history. Plus, visit the Portrait Gallery in the Second Bank throughout the weekend for educational Ranger talks about different topics related to the Revolution. See their schedule online to plan your visit.
Philly POPS present Comcast NBCUniversal Memorial Salute at the Mann Center
May 25, 7 pm (doors at 5)
Mann Center for Performing Arts, 5201 Parkside Drive
The 65-piece Philly POPS orchestra will perform with renowned vocalists, playing patriotic anthems, Great American Songbook classics, and legendary show tunes. In celebration of those who serve, all tickets to the concert will be provided free of charge; just register online and you’ll receive your ticket voucher as confirmation.
Laurel Hill Cemetery Parade and Service
May 26, noon
3822 Ridge Ave.
Laurel Hill Cemetery was the site of the first Memorial Day Observance in Philadelphia in 1868. Their parade and service recreate that traditional Decoration Day service of the Grand Army Meade Post #1. Laurel Hill Cemetery will hold an observance at the resting place of General George Gordon Meade, who courageously fought in the Battle of Gettysburg. A wreath-laying, speeches, and honor guards will enhance the ceremony.
Independence Seaport Museum Memorial Day Ceremony
May 27, noon
211 S. Columbus Blvd.
The Seaport Museum will commemorate Memorial Day with a special ceremony aboard Cruiser Olympia, their historic warship, featuring guest speaker Rep. Dwight Evans and a wreath ceremony. Free and open to the public.
Wyndmoor Memorial Day Parade
May 27, 9:30 am
Parade begins at Willow Grove Avenue near Elm Street, Wyndmoor
This old-timey parade features veterans, fire trucks, and bagpipers, all throwing candy for eager kids! After the parade, there’s a community celebration at Veterans Park, beginning at 11:30 am.
New Openings and More
In addition to all the wonderful Memorial Day events, the weekend is also a great time to catch some special exhibits and sites that open that weekend.
The Bourse, 111 S. Independence Mall East
Photo Pop is back with “Sweet Paradise.” Go selfie-wild with a new location, a new theme, and lots of Insta-worthy art at this temporary Philly art exhibit. Tickets available online.
UNIVESTIVAL at SSHP
Spruce Street Harbor Park, 301 S. Columbus Blvd.
Kick off summer (and all of the Waterfront attractions beginning their all-week-long hours) with three full days of entertainment, activities, and more. SSHP will host live musical performances, make-and-take activities, and even some giveaways.
Garden Railway at Morris Arboretum
Opens for the season May 25
100 E. Northwestern Ave., Philadelphia
A quarter-mile of track weaves its way through an intricate display featuring Philadelphia-area landmarks made of natural materials like bark, pinecones, and stones. Model trains and cable cars navigate the tunnels, bridges, and turns all set against the beautiful garden backdrop. The Garden Railway is one of the true highlights of the incredible Morris Arboretum, and is always a kid favorite. The exhibit opens for the season on May 25, and runs daily through Labor Day.
Photographs courtesy of Visit Philadelphia.