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The Philly Family Fall 2018 Arts Preview

From theater to the visual arts, and so much more, mark your cultural calendars to experience the Philly art scene—kids included!

Living in Philadelphia is a beautiful thing, and the fact that we are the mural capital of the world is only part of what makes life so colorful here. Our vibrant art scene includes top museums and performing arts organizations; and also some amazing people changing the canvas of our city, from street level to fine art.


As the weather starts to cool, there are so many opportunities to experience our cultural resources—the Kimmel Center begins its new season, festivals like Fringe and DesignPhiladelphia plan weeks of artistic experiences, and so much more. So keep this list of family-friendly events handy to plan out an artful fall!

Fringe Festival

September 6—23


This annual festival brings over two weeks of performances ranging from dance, theater, and more. There are plenty of family-friendly choices, like Music For Children and Other Curious People on September 15 and 22; and free options like Same Picture Different Poses at lunchtime in LOVE Park.


September 21, 7:30 pm; and September 22, 2 pm and 7:30 pm

Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St.


This dance group of America’s Got Talent fame wears electrified glow-in-the-dark suits while performing dynamic routines and illusions on a darkened stage! It is truly a unique experience.

PNC Grow Up Great Free Concerts at the Kimmel Center

September 22, October 20, and November 17 at 11 am

Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St.


During this monthly interactive kids’ concert in Commonwealth Plaza, kids learn the basics of jazz, musical theater, and more. Dancing is highly encouraged, and every performance ends with a little parade around the Kimmel Center’s lobby to “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

Aladdin, Jr.

September 22–30

Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St.


Based on the beloved Disney animated film and hit Broadway show, Aladdin, Jr. is filled with magic, thrills, and music the whole family will enjoy.

Mural Arts Month

September 26—November 3


Mural Arts Philadelphia celebrates the impact public art has on our community, discourse, and civic life with a month of programming that includes mural dedications, an street art exhibit encouraging civic engagement, appearances at fall festivals (like Midtown Village and Parkway Soiree), a glowing, floating art installation, and more.


October 4—13


The oldest design festival of its kind in the country, DesignPhiladelphia celebrates the history, artists, and innovation that makes Philadelphia such an attraction for culture and design. The festival is full of open houses, exhibits, and more; but little ones will especially want to check out Smith Memorial Playground’s free #DPKidsFest on Saturday, October 6. From crayons to color paper, blocks and recycled material, Smith invites kids to “re-imagine” the Playhouse through art activities, then go out on the lawn to play “human architecture” and construction games! The Barnes Foundation keeps #DPKidsFest going on October 7 with construction activities on the lawn from 11 am—2 pm (this is the same day as PECO Free First Sunday, below, so it’ll be a great day!).

Philadelphia Museum of Dance

October 6, 3—9 pm

Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway


Visit the Barnes for free daylong exhibition of dance for all ages, with opportunities to watch and participate. The museum will be transformed inside and out with performances in nearly every corner, and will close with an outdoor production of danse de nuit. See the full schedule here.

PECO Free First Sunday Family Day and Barnes on the Block

October 7, 10 am—5 pm (after party outside from 4—8 pm)

Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway


Celebrate fall’s arrival with art and music. Try your hand at family-friendly creative projects with the Center for Architecture and Design, and feel the beat with live percussion performances all day. Get free admission to the museum, and enjoy family tours, storytime, musical workshops, and art making. Then stay after for a Barnes on the Block party in the parking lot featuring more live performances, food trucks, live mural art, and more.

Festival for the People

October 13—28

Cherry Street Pier,121 N. Christopher Columbus Blvd.


The new Delaware River Waterfront attraction Cherry Street Pier opens on October 12, bringing recreation, food, performance space, artist studios, markets, gardens, and more. To celebrate this vibrant new public space, there will be an arts festival featuring participatory programs, musical performances, sculptures, installations (including seesaws!), visual arts, and more.

Fabulous Fashion: From Dior’s New Look to Now

October 16—March 3, 2019

Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway


If you have a fashion lover in your midst (or are one yourself), you’ll definitely want to catch this new exhibit that’s all about couture!

Parkway Soirée

October 26, 5—10 pm

Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia


To close out the yearlong Parkway 100 celebration, honoring the Benjamin Franklin Parkway’s centennial, a block party will take over that iconic place, featuring a giant birthday cake, food and drink from Night Market Philadelphia, and family-friendly activities and experiences up and down the Parkway! Several Parkway museums and cultural institutions will offer extended hours and special programming, including the return of Dino Dancing at the Academy of Natural Sciences!

The Johnny Shortcake Show

October 27 and 28, 11 am and 2 pm; November 3 and 4, 11 am and 2 pm

Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St.


“Suppose your nose was where your elbows goes — would you call them smellbows?” The funky and surreal Johnny Shortcake Show will return to the Kimmel Center for two weekends, and you’ll be dancing, laughing, and wishing everyday was “Cupcake Tuesday” right alongside your kids! Read more about the man, the music, and the “pop magic” inspiration in our interview.

Philadelphia Orchestra: Halloween Tricks and Treats

October 27, 11:30 am

Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St.


The Philadelphia Orchestra performs some favorite spooktacular classics! Costumes are highly encouraged!

Flying Steps presents ‘Flying Bach’

October 28, 7:30 pm

Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St.


This internationally known dance crew presents an original dynamic dance show, combining hip-hop with modern ballet. In Flying Bach, the dancers will perform on a custom dance platform with a grand piano and harpsichord on stage playing adaptations of Johann Sebastian Bach music, and then add in electronic elements to bring the music into the present.

Organ and Orchestra Halloween

October 30, 7 pm

Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St.


Join the Philadelphia Orchestra in costume for this fun and irreverent night of “spooky” classical music. Stick around after the concert for the Kimmel’s signature “organ pump” experience—come up and lie down on stage to feel the vibrations from this king of instruments!

Chinese Warriors of Peking

November 2, 7:30 pm

Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St.


Kids and adults alike will marvel at this culturally enriching experience filled with juggling, acrobatics, weapons handling, and martial arts.


November 6–January 6

Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St.


Based on the beloved Roald Dahl novel, Matilda The Musical will delight with high-energy dance and catchy songs.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

November 6–18

Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad St.


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will make its Philadelphia debut at the Academy of Music with songs from the original film (just reading this, you know you’re already humming “Come with me, and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination!”) as well as a new score from the songwriters of Hairspray.


November 14–December 23

Quintessence Theatre, 7137 Germantown Ave.


With familiar songs like “Consider Yourself” and “Food, Glorious Food,” this musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic is a crowd pleaser for all ages.

Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Potter Experience

November 20—25

Zellerbach Theatre at Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 3680 Walnut Street


This (very unauthorized) parody condenses all seven Harry Potter books (and a real life game of Quidditch) into 70 hilarious minutes. It is recommended for “ages six to Dumbledore.”

Charlotte’s Web

November 28, 2018 – January 27, 2019

Arden Theatre, 40 N. Second St.


The heart-warming story of a special friendship between a lovable pig and everyone’s favorite spider comes to life at the Arden.


Photographs courtesy of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.



Contributing Writer