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April 20, 2023

Cheer on racers and shop small businesses at the Kensington Derby and Arts Festival

One of the city's largest spring events returns on Saturday, May 13 with more than 100 vendors and musicians

Festivals Derby
Kensington Derby and Arts Festival Provided Image/Kory Aversa

The Kensington Derby and Arts Festival, now in its 15th year, returns to Trenton Avenue on Saturday, May 13 with live musicians and more than 100 vendors. Registration for competitors is open now.

More than 15,000 people are expected to come out and cheer on the competitors in this year's Kensington Derby and Arts Festival as they parade down Trenton Avenue and attempt to make their way around a series of messy obstacles. 

The Fishtown District's annual outdoor festival returns on Saturday, May 13 from 12 to 6 p.m. on Trenton Avenue from Norris Street to Frankford Avenue. In its 15th year, the Kensington Derby invites teams to construct and race "human-powered vehicles" — no electricity or motors allowed, so it's usually festooned bikes — through the muddy, bubbly streets.

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Those interested in participating in the Derby can sign up using this online form that explains the rules and regulations of the race. Thanks to a donation from the Penn Treaty Special Services District, there is no fee to sign up and join the race. The Derby, which has a new three-mile parade route, will begin at Trenton Avenue and Dauphin Street and continue through the obstacle course set up by small businesses throughout Fishtown and Kensington. 

Dozens of human-made vehicles will compete in the Derby to win coveted awards and impress guest judges before heading back to the festival grounds for the mud pit finish. Prize categories include the "people's choice award," "judge's choice award," "best small team" and "best costume." 

This year, the Fishtown District is partnering with Nextfab, located at 1800 N. American St., to provide technical assistance to Derby teams assembling their sculptures and handing out free three-month memberships to a handful of teams participating in the race. 

More than 100 artists and craft vendors will line Trenton Avenue to sell handmade housewares, gifts and apparel. In addition, neighborhood restaurants will join at least 20 food trucks in serving up Italian, Asian and Mediterranean cuisine and plenty of sweet treats. A full vendor list will be added to the Derby's website closer to the event. 

Live musicians will perform at two stages during the festival, though the line-up will be made public closer to the date of the event. For more information about the Kensington Derby, stay updated on its Facebook and Instagram accounts. 

The Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby was first organized in 2007 as an initiative to promote local artists, musicians and businesses lining the neighborhood's commercial corridors. The Derby has been held in conjunction with the Trenton Avenue Arts Festival since 2015, and is now organized by the Fishtown District as a way to provide additional funding for community enhancement. 

Kensington Derby and Arts Festival

Saturday, May 12, 2023
12 to 6 p.m. | Pay-as-you-go
Begins at Trenton Avenue and Dauphin Street
Philadelphia, PA 19125