10 things to do in Philly this October
Why sit around and waste your time this October? Philadelphia is booming with attractions this fall. From festivals, walks, tours and shows, there is something for everyone in Philadelphia this month.
1. Harry Potter Fest
The town of Chestnut Hill’s very own pride and joy, Harry Potter Fest. Running Oct. 20–21, Harry Potter Fest returns for the eighth year. This will be the biggest festival to date in the town located in Northwestern Philadelphia. The festival spans over 12 blocks wide and will include activities for all ages to enjoy. Shops downtown transform from their normal fronts into Hogsmeade, the fictitious shopping town of the cult series. Chestnut Hill College hosts the eighth annual “Brotherly Love Cup” quidditch tournament against rival schools. Many of the school’s athletic teams and clubs will run tents and tables as fundraisers for their organizations. Restaurants serve their most Potter-esque dishes, but the most popular by far is butterbeer. Different local shops test their skills and create this magical drink enjoyed by many. Other, activities include movie screenings, The Hogwarts Express, costume contests, and Wands and Wizards Night. For more information visit Chestnut Hill’s website.
2. Eastern State Penitentiary
If you are looking for something less magical and more thrilling, look no further than Eastern State Penitentiary. Now through November 11, Fairmount unleashes their most haunting tour through one of the most terrifying buildings in Philadelphia. With the help of special effects, and over 200 actors, one of the largest former prisons in the country transforms into one of the scariest Halloween experiences in the Philly area. Visitors have the option to become part of the terror by being pulled down secret tunnels, grabbed by ghosts, or held back. In addition to tours, visitors can take part in different experiences around the prison. Blood Yard involves a “hunt or be hunted” type chase. Infirmary is a deeper look into medical treatment in the prison. Detrius takes visitors around the original cellblock from the 1800s and the greenhouse. Lockdown is located in one of the “most haunted” sections of the penitentiary and is for those who have an interest in zombie take-overs. Quarantine is an in-depth 4-D experience with interactive medical features. Break Out, an inmate filled thriller, tests visitors to find their own way out. Finally, the Machine Shop opens up cellblocks that have never been open to the public before, and allows visitors to discover haunting machinery that will send chills down your spine. For more information check out Terror Behind the Walls’ website.
3. The Glow in West Fairmount Park
Starting Oct. 6 and running through Oct. 29, West Fairmount Park will host The Glow: a Jack O’Lantern Experience. Every weekend the park will have a walk lined with pumpkins carved by local artists. The family friendly event will have more than 5,000 pumpkins with icons varying from cartoon characters, to sports, and famous Philly icons. With no scary elements involved it is a great activity for families with young children, or adults who don’t want to be too spooked. Enjoy fall themed snacks and drink available for purchase. Tickets are required for this attraction and cost $16. Picture opportunities are available. For more information follow The Glow on Facebook.
4. Philly Film Festival
The 26th annual Philadelphia Film Festival will take place for eleven days beginning Oct. 19 and running through Oct. 29. This festival will showcase some of the best independent and foreign films from around the globe. Prior to this festival critics scour international festivals to bring Philadelphia the best cinematic experience. The festival is packed with entertainment featuring short-films, animation, feature-length films, documentaries, among many other categories. PFF expects more than 25,000 attendees and filmmakers combined. Tickets go on presale starting Oct. 6 for members only, but the public can get their hands on tickets beginning Oct. 9. For more information and a full schedule visit the Philadelphia Film Festival’s official website.
5. South Street Pumpkin Fest
On Oct. 28 Headhouse District’s South Street hosts its Pumpkin Festival. A family friendly festival filled with trick-or-treating and Halloween fun. Kids can enjoy crafts, Pumpkin themed “Putt-Putt” golf, face painting, and costume contests. For the kid at heart, pumpkin pie eating contests and Jack O’Lantern contests will be on the schedule. South Street is also offering horse and wagon hay rides, live music and entertainment, and a hay bale maze. Fall themed snacks and drinks will be available. Common Wealth Ciders and Philadelphia Brewing Company will be pouring adult beverages along side other South Street eateries who will offer various snacks and drinks. Broad Street Mission is collecting gently used winter coats, shoes, and other donations at the Pumpkin Fest this year. The festivities begin at noon and continue until five. New this year, on Friday Oct. 27 the Headhouse Shambles will be showing “Its the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” “Young Frankenstein,” and “Night of the Living Dead”. For more information and scheduling visit South Street’s official website.
6. Chrysanthemum Festival at Longwood Gardens
Beginning October 7 through November 19, Longwood Gardens hosts the Chrysanthemum Festival. More than 20,000 flowers have been arranged in the Conservatory for this year’s festival. This is the largest display of chrysanthemums in the country and it all happens right here in Philadelphia. At the festival’s center is the “Thousand Bloom”. Covered in over 1,500 yellow blooms, the “Thousand Bloom” is modeled after a traditional Japanese and Chinese method of growing the flowers. These flowers are all arranged on a single stem. Other flowers have been arranged in “orbs, spirals, pagodas, and more,” according to the Longwood Gardens’ website. Tickets can be purchased for the festival online.
7. Sports openers
Cheer on your local hockey and basketball teams as they open their seasons at home this October. The 76ers home opener for the season will be at the Wells Fargo Center against the Boston Celtics on October 20. Tickets are available, but the game will also be broadcast on TV and radio, check your listings. For more information and a full schedule visit the NBA’s official website.
The Philadelphia Flyers will also be playing at the Wells Fargo Center for their home opener on October 14 against the Washington Capitals. The game will be broadcast on NBC. Tickets to see the game are available online. For more information and a full schedule visit the NHL’s official website.
8. Philadelphia Open Studio Tours (POST)
For two weekends only Philadelphia Open Studio Tours will give visitors a look into the creative process behind local artists’ work. Over 300 artists participate in the program and share their work for all to see. Visitors will be able to interact with local artists in various neighborhoods. Everything from photography, to sculptures, and textiles will be on display during this time. Tours held on October 7–8 will be located east of Broad Street. On October 14–15 tours will be open west of Broad Street. Guided trolley tours will also be available for visitors. More information can be found on the POST website.
9. AIDS Walk/Run Philly
If being outside and working for charity is more your speed check out AIDS Walk Philly. Fighting against AIDS and HIV, the walk on October 15 increases awareness and spreads the slogan “Getting to Zero.” Funds raised during the walk will go to research and prevention for HIV and AIDS. If you can’t join on the day of the walk and still want to be involved, virtual donations are accepted online. To register for the walk visit the official website for AIDS Walk Philly.
10. Rittenhouse Fine Craft Show
The fall edition of this biannual festival will be held October 13–15 this year. With over 100 artisans lining Rittenhouse Square, the fair showcases the craftsmanship of local projects. Hand-crafted furniture, jewelry and clothing, pottery, and more will be on display during this weekend long show. Different artists and crafters will showcase their individual skills for the public to enjoy. The Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen has a full list of vendors and booths on their website.
For more festivals and activities check out Visit Philadelphia.