Philadelphia is known for being a hub of diversity and a melting pot of many different cultures, all mixed together within the city’s limits. Every summer for the past 15 years, PECO has held a multicultural festival at Philly’s own Penn’s Landing, where a different culture is featured nearly every weekend from June to September. This fun outdoor festival series is meant to celebrate all the different cultures in Philly and offer diverse entertainment every weekend at the Great Plaza stage. It’s no surprise that PECO hosts this annual event, because they are one of Philadelphia’s most civically active corporations – they sponsor many community programs and organizations, specifically in culture, education, environment, and economic development. This summer-long festival series is educational in the sense that attendees can learn about many different cultures, but also entertaining and perfect for all ages. All the events are free and open to the public, so this season-length celebration should be at the top of your summer bucket list!
The multicultural series kicks off with the Irish Festival on Sunday, June 7, from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. This day is focused on celebrating the luck of the Irish, offering food, music, and Irish dancers and bands performing their complex routines. There will also be merchants selling traditional Irish goods, making for an educational and interesting family-friendly day.
The next event will be the Islamic Heritage Festival on Saturday, June 13, from 2 p.m. – 8 p.m. The weekend starts off with the Unity in Diversity Parade, which begins near the Historic District and will make its way through Old City and end at Penn’s Landing. Following the parade, the Islamic Festival will offer boat rides, a health and wellness fair, kid-friendly games, face painting, free prizes, and a traditional open-air market bazaar. The event will also host singers and entertainers for the audience to enjoy — in past years, artists have included famous jazz artists, Muslim rap artists, and R&B artists.
Following the Islamic festival, the Portuguese Heritage Festival will be held on Sunday, June 21, from 1 p.m. – 7 p.m. The purpose of the Portuguese Festival is to show Philadelphians how Portuguese immigrants have contributed to the well-being of the city through their work. Merchants set up around the event will offer traditional Portuguese dishes and wines for free samples or purchases. Every year during the festival, the Tall Ship Gazela, a Portuguese ship home ported in Philadelphia, is blessed in front of the crowd. The blessing of the ship along with displays of Portuguese art, performances of folklore dance groups, and international music playing is meant to give local Philadelphians a glimpse into the history of the Portuguese culture in their region.
Next is the Hispanic Fiesta, held the weekend of July 11, from 2 p.m. – 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Hispanic event is the most popular of all the cultural festivals held at Penn’s Landing and attracts more than 15,000 people each day. The event is meant to raise awareness of Latino culture in Philadelphia and offers a fun celebration of music, dance, and entertainment from top Latino artists that attract a large audience. The celebration also offers delicious ethnic foods and traditional, handmade crafts from many Latin American countries.
The next celebration is held by the African Cultural Alliance of North America on Sunday, August 2, from 2 p.m. – 8 p.m. The African Festival is mostly recognized as a concert offering a wide range of African entertainment, varying from traditional African dance to popular modern dance and reggae music performances. The concert is free and will also include vendors selling authentic African cuisine, clothing, and pieces of art.
Following the ACANA Festival is the Festival of India, held on Saturday, August 15, from 1 p.m. – 7 p.m. This celebration of Indian culture is hosted by the Council of Indian Organizations and is held on the same date of India’s Independence Day. Thousands come to attend this vibrant collection of Indian art, music, dance, and cuisine, which offers something for the whole family.
Next is the Caribbean Festival, which takes place on Sunday, August 18, from 12 p.m. – 8 p.m. Currently in its 28th year, the Caribbean Festival celebrates the culture and unique music from 14 different Caribbean islands. The festival this year will offer a children’s corner for child-friendly activities, a Caribbean “workshop” to learn more about the culture and a Caribbean marketplace with traditional island foods. Most importantly, the festival is used to raise scholarship funds for college students of Caribbean descent.
The Mexican Independence Day Festival is on Sunday, September 13, from 1 p.m. – 7 p.m. Planned to commemorate the independence of Mexico, the celebration offers traditional arts and crafts, tasty Mexican cuisine, face painting, prizes, and popular Mexican rock bands.
The last event to wrap up this season of PECO’s multicultural festivals is the Brazilian Day Festival, which will be held on Sunday, September 20, from 1 p.m. – 7 p.m. This festival will demonstrate true Brazilian culture through its authentic music and dance performances with all the popular rhythms and dances from Brazil. Performers will showcase the samba, forro, pagode, capoeira, samba-reggae, and more.
Throughout the wide variety of cultural festivals held this summer, local residents and tourists alike will have the chance to learn and engage in new, exciting cultures on the shores of the scenic Delaware River Waterfront. What better way to spend your relaxing summer weekends than learning about cultures that are all around you in your city?