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The Philly Family Fall 2019 Arts Preview

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

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!

Los Trompos

August 19–November 17

Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St.


This free, interactive art installation features 10 three-dimensional, larger than life tops you can sit and spin on! Designed and woven by Mexican artists Esrawe + Caden, these joyful pieces on Commonwealth Plaza are meant to inspire collaboration and interaction.


August 27–November 17

Forrest Theatre, 1114 Walnut St.


The Broadway sensation based on our ten dollar founding father is finally coming, so do not throw away your shot! Don’t have tickets? Enter the #HAM4HAM lottery! Still don’t have tickets? We rounded up ways to stay entertained with Hamilton-related activities in Philly until you do!

Photograph courtesy of the Kimmel Center.

Young Frankenstein

September 3—October 20

Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St.


It’s alive! This musical stage adaptation of Mel Brooks’ hilarious film comes to WST. Tickets available online.

Fringe Festival

September 5—22


This annual festival brings over two weeks of performances ranging from dance, theater, and more. For little ones, don’t miss Billy the Baaadly Behaving Bully Goat: The Musical at Nest (1301 Locust St.) on the weekends! In this piece by Play Nice Productions, a young bully goat must learn how his mean behavior affects others. Kids aged 4–9 will laugh, sing, and interact with the talented cast—all while learning to be caring and compassionate up-standers. And families from ages 6 and up will be enchanted by Beyond the Light at Theatre Exile (1340 S. 13th St.) from September 18—22. This theatrical exploration of dance, light effects, and puppetry is set to the poetry of Walt Whitman and Emma Lazarus, and is truly unique. Plus, Bearded Ladies Cabaret hosts Family Cabaret with Drag Story Hour on Sundays! Tickets are available online.

Performances in Public Spaces presents Circadium School of Contemporary Circus 

September 14, 2–3 pm

Pastorius Park, 200 W. Hartwell Ln.


Circadium, Philadelphia’s college for contemporary circus, presents a free performance by students at the school. Juggling, acrobatics, and aerial work combine with dance and theater in this thrilling site-specific creation.


Opens September 20

Ninth and Market streets


Coming to the new Fashion District, Candytopia brings its wildly popular experiential installation art to Philly this fall. Favorites—like the marshmallow pit filled with over 250,000 foam marshmallows, and the rainbow-filled room with flying unicorn pigs and confetti explosions—will be joined by Philly-specific elements (Could they possibly top Jellybean Gritty?). It’s Instagram heaven, and you even get to eat candy throughout the experience! Tickets are available online, where you can reserve your timeslot. Kids age 3 and under get in free!

Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Jr.

September 21—October 6

Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St.


Journey “under the sea” with Ariel and her aquatic friends in this song-filled musical for kids adapted from the hit Disney Broadway show and the Academy Award-winning movie.

PNC Grow Up Great Free Concerts at the Kimmel Center

September 21, October 19, and November 9 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.” Special for the October show, stick around after the concert for a gravity-defying performance by the Youth Troupe of The Philadelphia School of Circus Arts!

Peppa Pig Live!

September 22, 3 pm

The Met, 858 N. Broad St.


Every toddler’s favorite British pig comes to Philly in an action-packed live stage show, featuring your favorite characters as life-size puppets.  Peppa Pig’s Adventure finds the gang camping in the woods, singing a bunch of songs, and probably calling someone a clever clogs.

Photograph by Christopher Duggan, courtesy of Annenberg Center.

Sugar Skull: A Día de los Muertos Musical Adventure

September 27—28

Annenberg Center, 3680 Walnut St.


When a candy skeleton in her abuelita’s cemetery suddenly springs to life, Vita finds herself on a magical, musical journey to unravel the true meaning of Día de los Muertos.

POPS Goes to Hollywood

September 27—29

Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St.


Featuring the unforgettable music of The Avengers, Black Panther, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and a whole lot more, the Philly POPS celebrate the excitement of Hollywood. Plus, costumes are encouraged—you’ll be right at home with an expected visit from some superhero characters!


October 2—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. The weekend of October 5 and 6 is DPKidsFest, where fun, creative hands-on activities will be presented on a drop-in basis at a different location each day of the weekend. From 11 am—noon both days, kids ages 4-12 can meet Pals Socks founder, Hannah Lavon, for a special hands-on workshop that will introduce them to the world of apparel design, and where they will be able to create their own mismatched Pals Socks! Register online for special workshops.


Other events that will be particularly interesting to families include the hands-on Family Galaxies workshop at The Fabric Workshop and Museum on October 5, peeping the gorgeous public installations of the Fishtown Floral Crawl from October 7—9, and stopping by one of the festival’s hubs, Cherry Street Pier, for ongoing installations and open galleries.

Site/Sound: Family Day at the Rail Park

October 12, 3—5 pm

The Rail Park, 1100 Callowhill St.


This free afternoon includes interactive demonstrations from a Franklin Institute sound scientist, art activities with the Mural Arts Mural Mobile, and special performances and activities from Asian Arts Initiative and Philadelphia Chinatown Community Development Corporation.

Frozen Jr.

October 18, 7 pm

Venice Island Performing Arts Center, 7 Lock St.


ASH Theater Company presents this Disney favorite with all of the memorable songs from the animated film, plus some new ones from the Broadway show!


Photograph courtesy of the Kimmel Center.


October 18—20

Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St.


Viva la vie bohème! RENT came to Philly this past winter, but it was so popular that the tour decided to come back for one weekend this fall, so if you missed out, now is your chance! Recommended for ages 13 and up.

Circus Day at Woodmere Art Museum

October 19, 1—4 pm

9201 Germantown Ave.


Come for an afternoon of fun and performances in and around Woodmere’s legendary Straw Maze. Performers from Circadium: School of Contemporary Circus will demonstrate world-class juggling, acrobatics, and balancing skills for audiences of all ages. Plus, see performances by the kids of Philadelphia School of Circus Arts’ Youth Troupe!

Come From Away

October 22—November 3

Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad St.


This deeply moving Broadway musical is about 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them in the wake of 9/11. Recommended for ages 10 and up.

Philly POPS presents ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’

October 24—25

The Met, 858 N. Broad St.


In a nod to the Hollywood Bowl’s productions of Tim Burton’s masterpiece, The Philly POPS will perform the film’s classic score alongside the original film. Everyone is invited to attend in costume; Tim Burton-themed costumes are especially encouraged!

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Halloween Spooktacular

October 26, 11:30 am

Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St.


Put on your best Halloween costume and the Orchestra will put on theirs, as they explore the spooky and the silly in this orchestral adventure. Enhance your family’s experience with Pre-Concert Adventures, free for all ticket holders, beginning one hour before the concert.

Shrek: The Musical

November 5—January 5

Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St.


This award-winning Broadway musical based on the beloved movie features all new songs and fun for the whole family.

POPS Rocks Abbey Road

November 8—10

Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St.


The Philly POPS will celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ masterpiece Abbey Road, joined by Beatles tribute band, Classical Mystery Tour.

Baby Shark Live!

November 10, 2 pm

Academy Of Music, 240 S. Broad St.


Baby Shark teams up with his friend Pinkfong to sing and dance to new and classic songs. One of them is undoubtedly his theme song (doo doo doo doo doo doo). In fact, if this is just an hour straight of the YouTube song, you only have yourself to blame. We may have to go out of sheer curiosity how they will fill an entire stage show based on this viral earworm. And if you can’t get enough Baby Shark, you can upgrade to the Baby Shark Meet and Greet for access to an after-show photo opportunity with Baby Shark and Pinkfong, along with an exclusive Baby Shark souvenir bag.

Universoul Circus

November  14—December 8

52nd and Parkside, Fairmount Park


For over 25 years, this incredible circus has celebrated diversity, talent, and spectacle. It comes to the big top in Fairmount Park this fall!


Photograph courtesy of the Kimmel Center.

Mean Girls

November 19—December 1

Academy Of Music, 240 S Broad St.


Because you’re not like a regular mom, you’re a cool mom! This hit Broadway show based on the movie written by Philly’s hometown hero Tina Fey comes to the stage in all its sharp-witted glory.  So fetch! Recommended for ages 12 and up.

The Rainbow Fish

November 23, noon and 3 pm

Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St.


Marcus Pfister’s sweet children’s book about sharing comes to the stage, along with two of the author’s companion tales, Rainbow Fish Discovers the Deep Sea and Opposites. The noon performance is sensory-friendly.

The Snow Queen

November 27—January 26

Arden Theatre, 40 N. Second St.


Based on Hans Christian Anderson’s classic fairy tale, The Snow Queen transports audiences on a journey through the four seasons, and celebrates the magical power of friendship.

Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’

November 30—December 22

Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St.


Close out the season with a special hour-long musical adaptation for kids that uses traditional songs to highlight Dickens’ magical Christmas story.

The Spongebob Musical

December 3—15

Forrest Theatre, 1114 Walnut St.


Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Broadway’s best creative minds reimagine and bring to life the beloved Nickelodeon series with humor, heart, and pure theatricality! Recommended for ages 5 and up.


Lead photograph by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images for Candytopia.


Contributing Writer