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June 22, 2024

Lemon Hill will be site of FIFA Fan Fest when 2026 World Cup comes to Philly

Watch parties and other activities will take place at the Fairmount Park property during the five-week tournament, which has six matches scheduled at Lincoln Financial Field

Entertainment World Cup
World Cup Philly Provided Image/Marvel

Philadelphia is one of 16 host cities for the 2026 World Cup. In East Fairmount Park, Lemon Hill will be the site of the FIFA Fan Fest for events and watch parties throughout the tournament.

When the 2026 FIFA World Cup comes to Philadelphia, it will be accompanied by a five-week festival for soccer fans taking place at Lemon Hill in Fairmount Park. 

The historic mansion estate on the east side of the Schuylkill River, with its views of Center City, will serve as the "central destination" for watch parties during the tournament's 104 matches, which are being played in Philadelphia and 15 other cities in North America. Lemon Hill will be transformed into a festival grounds with free entertainment for fans and vendors selling food and drinks and merchandise.

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Some of the renovations to this area of the park will remain after the World Cup is over.

"Beyond the tournament, this investment will enhance the park's infrastructure, facilities and community engagement opportunities," Mayor Cherelle Parker said Thursday.

Philadelphia Soccer 2026, the organization staging the city's turn as a World Cup host, said it hopes Lemon Hill can replicate the experiences seen on Brazil's beaches and Germany's town squares during past tournaments.

"Lemon Hill was the first parcel of land along the Schuylkill to be purchased by the city of Philadelphia when it began to contemplate the Fairmount Park System in 1844," said Meg Kane, who heads Philly's World Cup preparations. "With its incredible views and deeply rooted history, FIFA Fan Festival offers a generational moment for East Fairmount Park to not only be invested in – but to shine."

The work planned at Lemon Hill will be done by landscape architecture firm Marvel, which has created renderings showing what FIFA Fan Fest will look like. Marvel said it will work with community groups from the neighborhoods around Lemon Hill to address transportation and public safety issues.

FIFA Fan FestProvided Image/Marvel

A rendering shows Philadelphia's plans for the FIFA Fan Fest in 2026.

The 2026 World Cup runs from June 11 to July 19. Philadelphia's matches will be played at Lincoln Financial Field, including five during the group stage of the tournament and one on July 4 during the Round of 16. That knockout stage game will coincide with Philly's celebration of the nation's 250th anniversary, which is now in its planning stage. Around the same time that July, Citizens Bank Park will host MLB's All-Star Game.

Details from FIFA about the World Cup schedule indicate it's unlikely the U.S. Men's National Team will play in Philadelphia, despite the fanfare of the holiday. During the next World Cup tournament, the field of teams competing will expand from 32 to 48; the three host countries — the United States, Canada and Mexico — receive automatic bids for their national teams.

During the group stage, the USMNT will play its games in Los Angeles and Seattle. If the team advances to the knockout stage, its early round matches remain on the West Coast. The 2026 World Cup final match will take place at MetLife Stadium in North Jersey on July 19.

The U.S. last hosted the World Cup in 1994, and Philadelphia was not among the 12 host cities for the tournament that year. Philadelphia was a host city for the Women's World Cup in 2003, when the FIFA tournament was moved to the U.S. from China due to the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.