Disclaimer: Due to COVID-19 concerns, many events might be canceled, postponed, or changed into limited versions, sometimes at very short notice. Please check with event organizers directly for the latest updates.
The visitors to Philadelphia will never get bored during the Memorial Day weekend as it is packed with events and activities. There are both solemn parades and processions dedicated to honoring American soldiers, as well as other festivities and merriments that often extend well into summer.
Memorial Day Weekend at National Constitution Center (May 31, 2021, unconfirmed)
An immutable part of the holiday in Philly is the Memorial Day Weekend at the National Constitution Center. The attendees pay credit to those who gave their lives while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Over a few days, visitors partake in a range of activities such as flag folding workshops, Thank-A-Vet postcards, and interactive shows.
Memorial Day Parade, Service, & Reception at Laurel Hill Cemetery (May 30, 2021)
An annual Memorial Day ceremony takes place at Laurel Hill Cemetery. This location is exquisite as it is the site of Philadelphia's first Memorial Day Observance which occurred back in 1868. The service in honor of the veterans traditionally takes place at the grave of General George Gordon Meade, the hero of the Battle of Gettysburg. The solemn ceremony features all the traditional rites such as wreath-laying, honor guards, and speeches. Admission to the event is usually free, but a $5 donation is welcome at the door in support of the work and preservation efforts.
Bridesburg Memorial Day Parade (date to be announced)
The neighborhood of Bridesburg hosts an event to honor those who died fighting for their country. It's recognized to be one of the area's oldest Memorial Day parades dating back to 1946. Neighbors line up the streets to cheer the march. Amid all the fun, this occasion is meant to commemorate the enormous sacrifice the militaries have made for the freedom of America.
Philly Tango Festival at Lithuanian Music Hall (postponed to October 28-31, 2021)
Along with official festivities, the city offers plenty of versatile entertainment throughout Memorial Day weekend. Hundreds of tango enthusiasts gather at Lithuanian Music Hall for the annual Philly Tango Festival. The four-day celebration of the Argentinian dance features workshops, performances, and dance parties. The organizers were preparing for the 10th anniversary in 2020, but the outbreak of COVID-19 forced them to make a heartbreaking decision to postpone the next edition to 2021.
Devon Horse Show & Country Fair (canceled in 2021)
The oldest and largest equestrian event in the US takes place at Devon Horse Show Grounds, some 20 mi (32 km) southwest of Philadelphia. The festivities occur over ten days in late May, including Memorial Day weekend. The Devon Horse Show & Country Fair feature horse riding competitions, equestrian-themed exhibitions, and shopping, as well as pay tribute to the heroes on the Memorial Day ceremony.
Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest (mid-May–early September 2021, dates TBA)
Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest runs at Delaware River Waterfront annually starting from early May through to early September and is an excellent place to spend Memorial Day weekend with the entire family. Among the entertainment offered at the Summerfest are skating at Center City’s only roller rink, a boathouse-style lodge and more fancy places to chill out, a Ferris wheel and midway, classic Philadelphia foods, mini-golf, and other amusements.
Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival in Franklin Square (dates TBA)
One more thing to do on Memorial Day weekend in the capital of Pennsylvania is to see dozens of larger-than-life illuminated lanterns exhibited at Franklin Square. Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival features much more, namely authentic cultural stage performances, both Asian and American specialties, and a lot of fun.
Fireworks & Fountains at Longwood Gardens (May 6–October 31, 2021)
The best way to crown Memorial Day is to watch fireworks at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, around 40 mi (65 km) northwest of Philly. The exuberant 40-minute Fireworks & Fountain shows take place during six evenings from late May and early September. The series kicks off on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.