More Culture:

May 19, 2015

BBQs, fireworks & history fill Memorial Day weekend

There's more to the holiday than crowded beaches

Events Holidays
Flags Memorial File Art/for PhillyVoice


Though Memorial Day officially honors those who have fallen while serving in the country's armed forces, the day is also seen as the unofficial start of summer. Throughout the Philadelphia region, ceremonies and events will be held from Friday, May 22, to Monday, May 25, to remember those lives lost as well as celebrate the new season. 

While many will head down the shore for the long weekend, there will still be plenty to do within the city limits and the 'burbs. Be sure to check out the local fun between barbecues.

Superhero Weekend

Kids can celebrate their favorite heroes all weekend, joining local "Special Help Heroes" like firefighters and physicians. Superheroes from The Heroes Alliance will make appearances, too.

Friday, May 22 through Monday, May 25
Event times vary | Free with museum admission ($17)
Please Touch Museum
4231 Avenue of the Republic
(215) 581-3181

Spruce Street Harbor Park & RiverRink Summerfest Opening Day

Spruce Street Harbor Park, the city's favorite seasonal space, reopens for the summer season just in time for the holiday weekend. The waterfront's latest attraction, the RiverRink Summerfest, complete with roller rink, is opening, too.

Friday, May 22
11-1 a.m. | Free admission
RiverRink Summerfest
101 S. Columbus Blvd. 
Spruce Street Harbor Park: Columbus Boulevard and Spruce Street
(215) 922-2386

Tropicana's Multimedia Light and Sound Show Kick Off Celebration

The Tropicana casino has gotten a makeover. Its facade now includes huge LED screens and digital media displays that create a fantastical show for Boardwalk-goers. Its debut will be followed by fireworks.

Friday, May 22
7 p.m. | Free admission
Tropicana Casino & Resort
2831 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, N.J.
(609) 340-4020

Serve Like a Hero

Weekend craft activities encourage kids to see how U.S. soldiers have made sacrifices by decorating medals of honor. Admission to the National Liberty Museum is pay-what-you-wish on Memorial Day, too.

Saturday, May 23 and Sunday, May 24
10 a.m.-5 p.m. | $2-$7
National Liberty Museum
321 Chestnut St.
(215) 925-2800

Memorial Day at the Constitution Center

Over the weekend, the National Constitution Center will host flag-raising ceremonies, flag etiquette talks, make-and-take crafts and special tours. Admission will be free on Monday, May 25, but tickets should be reserved in advance. 

Saturday, May 23 through Monday, May 25
Hours vary | $8-$14.50
National Constitution Center
525 Arch St.
(215) 409-6600

Memorial Day BBQ on Sesame Street

Sesame Place will host a few special barbecue meals for guests over the weekend. The cookout in Big Bird's Pavilion will include seasonal classics like burgers, hot dogs and baked beans. At 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, fireworks will go off set to Sesame Street music, too.  

Saturday, May 23 through Monday, May 25
Dinnertimes vary | Ages 10 and up: $29, ages 2-9 $18 (plus park admission)
Sesame Place
100 Sesame Road, Langhorne, Bucks County
(866) 464-3566

Living History

Independence Mall will be filled with free events like "Living History: Meet the Patriots," a two-hour American Revolution display, a concert of music from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, a free walking tour and a holiday ceremony.

Saturday, May 23 through Monday, May 25
Times & locations vary
Independence National Historic Park
41 N. 6th St.
(215) 965-2305

Franklin Flea

The curated flea market of upcycled, vintage and handmade goods returns to Headhouse Plaza for its second summer date.

Saturday, May 23
10 a.m.-5 p.m. | Free admission
Headhouse Plaza
2nd Street between Lombard and South

Macy's Family Fun Day: Afro-Asian Connections

A day of family-friendly activities will focus on the culture of people from the African Diaspora and their cross-cultural connections to those of the Asian Diaspora. Music, dance and crafts will be featured. 

Saturday, May 23
10 a.m.-5 p.m. | Free with museum admission ($10-$14)
The African American Museum in Philadelphia
701 Arch St.
(215) 574-0380

Memorial Day Salute to Broadway

This special performance by the Philly POPS is sure to sell out. The night's program includes a mix of Broadway and patriotic tunes and features vocalists Klea Blackhurst, Ross Lekites and Kathryn Guthrie.

Saturday, May 23
7:30 p.m. | $55-$85
Longwood Gardens
1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, Chester County
(215) 893-1999

Laurel Hill Memorial Day Parade

The Grand Army Meade Post #1 will be recreated at the site of the first Memorial Day service in Philadelphia in 1868. A wreath-laying, speeches and honor guards fill out the ceremony.

Sunday, May 24
Noon | Free admission, donations encouraged
Laurel Hill Cemetery
3822 Ridge Ave.
(215) 228-8200