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The Philly Family Fall 2021 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!


September 2-October 3

JUNK, 200 Spring Garden St.


Dragonbutter is a thrilling and immersive performance that puts you deep inside a sci-fi adventure. Throughout the experience, visitors will explore a multitude of experimental themed rooms, which include live dance performances, mazes, and puzzles, all leading up to the grand finale, a final fight against the “Boss.” For ages 13 and up. Tickets available online.

2021 Fringe Festival

September 9-October 3

Citywide (and virtual)


This annual citywide celebration of contemporary art and performance will feature hundreds of both live and streaming performances throughout the city. While many performances are more for adults, there is something for everyone! Family-friendly picks include circus, Shakespeare, dance, and more. Streaming and virtual options include The Greatest ShowmanThe Frog Prince, and a scavenger hunt!

Theatre Exile presents ‘The Ever Present’

September 11-19

Various locations throughout Philadelphia


The Ever Present, a fantastical, family-friendly new play written by award-winning playwright and author R. Eric Thomas, centers on a South Philly vacant lot that turns out to be more than meets the eye. Follow a cast of hilarious, Philadelphia-inspired characters for a mystery adventure that spans decades and spins a constellation of awe-inspiring stories. The play will be shown at free performances over six different dates at six different public parks. For each show, guests are invited to bring blankets and lawn seating.

Kimmel Center Arts Launch 2021

September 18, 11 am–4 pm

Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St.


After an 18-month closure, the Avenue of the Arts is coming alive once again for a FREE unforgettable event, marking the region’s return to live, in-person arts. The day of live performances and fun activities includes everything from ballet to opera to a Hamilton singalong, and so much more! Note that proof of vaccination and masks are required for all Kimmel Center Campus performances this season.

Clay Fest

September 18, noon–6 pm

1425 N. American St.


Celebrate clay and community with a free, fun day of muddy festivities near the Clay Studio’s soon-to-be new home in South Kensington! Enjoy hands-on activities for all ages, wheel throwing demos, a group sculpture extravaganza, artist projects, an ice cream social, screen printing totes, and music!


October 6—17


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. Details are still being firmed up, but you can expect that the festival will be full of open houses, exhibits, and more. The festival’s hub, Cherry Street Pier, will also have ongoing installations and open galleries. It all kicks off with a hybrid kickoff party on October 6.


October 20-November 28

Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad St.


The Broadway sensation based on our ten dollar founding father is coming, so do not throw away your shot! Recommended for ages 12 and up (but you can gauge your kid’s readiness by watching the performance on Disney+ first). Note that proof of vaccination and masks are required for all Kimmel Center Campus performances this season.

Photograph courtesy of the Kimmel Center.

Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles

October 29-31

Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St.


In celebration of the anniversary of Abbey Road, Rain will bring the greatest hits of this epic recording to life, in addition to all your early Beatles favorites. Note that proof of vaccination and masks are required for all Kimmel Center Campus performances this season.


November 2021 (CraftNOW Create on November 6)


CraftNOW activates the city the days and weeks surrounding the Philadelphia Museum of Art Contemporary Craft Show. The highlight of CraftMONTH for families is the much-loved CraftNOW Create on November 6. This year, rather than having it at the Kimmel Center, CraftNOW takes it outside to Smith Memorial Playground! Demonstrations and take-home kits will be set up on their wrap-around porch and immediately in front of the Playhouse. All projects are free, and most are ideal for elementary-aged students.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid

November 16–January 2

Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St.


Journey “under the sea” with Ariel and her aquatic friends in this song-filled musical based on the beloved Hans Christian Andersen story and the classic Disney film. All guests must be fully vaccinated to enter the theatre and must present digital or physical proof at the door. Children under 12 and people with a medical condition or closely held religious belief that prevents vaccination may show proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Masks are required regardless of vaccination status.


November 23-28

Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St.


As Anya uncovers her mysterious past as the lost Grand Duchess, you’ll be swept away in 1920s style and show-stopping musical numbers. Journey to the past with the hit Broadway musical adapted from the animated film Anastasia. Note that proof of vaccination and masks are required for all Kimmel Center Campus performances this season.

Strike a Pose: Interactive Visual Arts


Ongoing; two new installations debut September 24

27 N. 11th Street


We love the ambitious and instaworthy Wonderspaces in Fashion District Philadelphia. While it is an ongoing art space, many of the exhibits are temporary, so there is often something new to see and experience. Starting on September 24, two new installations join the lineup: Matthew Matthew’s On a Human Scale and Candy Chang’s Before I Die. On a Human Scale unites voices and faces of the world through technology, and visitors are invited to play, bringing the immersive audio-visual installation to life. Before I Die is a global participatory public art project that invites people to reflect and share their personal aspirations in public. These two pieces join the lineup of visually stunning installations like the twinkling lights of Submergence and the kid-favorite Body Paint. Masks and advance tickets are required. For a limited time use our Philly Family Discount code AfterHours (valid through 12/31/2021). 


Photograph by Laura Swartz


Now through December 31

901 Market St.


This immersive– and highly instaworthy– pop-up devoted to all things sweet returns to Fashion District Philadelphia for a second limited run. Jump in the marshmallow pit filled with over 250,000 foam marshmallows, the rainbow-filled room with flying unicorn pigs and confetti explosions, and much more– plus candy in every room! Advance tickets required online.

Insta Philly

219 Market St.


This summer, a brand new interactive and Instagrammable exhibit opened in Old City, colorfully paying homage to Philly and its artists. Insta Philly features 22 unique installations that invite you to pose, play, and post! Advance timed tickets available online. Details in our preview.






Lead photograph by Society Hill Films, courtesy of Wonderspaces/ Aversa PR


Contributing Writer