Not every summer day should be spent cooped up inside with the closest possible air conditioning unit. Summer is a great time to have fun in the Delaware Valley. Here are some of the best indoor and outdoor options to take in music and movies in the Philadelphia area this summer:
The 2018 Blobfest
I love old horror movies. While some special effects will feel dated, certain classic films that were creepy in black and white remain horrifying now (i.e. 1931’s Frankenstein).
One horror movie whose initial thrills remain intact is 1958’s The Blob. The movie about an alien amoeba that terrorizes rural Pennsylvania was filmed in Phoenixville and Downingtown, PA. The flick notably featured a young Steve McQueen. The trailer indicated that “a cast of exciting young people” star alongside him.
Phoenixville will celebrate the movie with its annual Blobfest from July 13-15.
One memorable scene in the film included a sequence inside Phoenixville’s Colonial Theater where the creature enters the packed movie house and causes a panic. Every year, fans reenact the moment from the film by running out of the theater. Even though the 2018 event is sold out, you can still watch the “Friday Night Run Out” from outside the movie theater on July 13.
Bill Jersey (The Blob’s art director) and Keith Almoney (who played Danny) will be among the guests for a Q&A session on July 14. There will also be screenings of Steve McQueen: American Icon, The Blob, Creature From The Black Lagoon, 4D Man, and I Married A Monster From Outer Space. Other events on Saturday include a street fair with a Fire Extinguisher Parade.
On July 15 the Colonial Theater will have an encore presentation of The Blob and I Married A Monster From Outer Space.
Click here for the Blobfest’s schedule.
Spruce Street Harbor Park
Located near the Independence Seaport Museum, you can catch a band as you lounge on a hammock in the shade of Spruce Street Harbor Park’s trees.
Spruce Street Harbor is hosting free concerts throughout the summer. The park is hosting WXPN Welcomes Waterfront Sessions through August 30. The concert series will spotlight indie bands.
The park is also hosting Jazz In The Park on select Sunday afternoons this summer. The jazz series runs from May 20 through September 16.
Earlier this summer I was at the park for the first night of WXPN’s concert series. I loved the location and plan to go back later this summer. The Penn’s Landing location also has great food options that will fit any palate.
Click here for Spruce Street Harbor Park’s schedule.
Bryn Mawr Film Institute
The Main Line movie house shows movies on the big screen that you cannot see anywhere else. Located on Lancaster Avenue, the Bryn Mawr Film Institute has must-see classic movies and live-streamed performances on their calendar.
A Hitchcock-heavy lineup of Dial M For Murder, Rope, and Rear Window dominates July. One beloved silver screen feature is celebrating its silver anniversary this year. To mark 1983’s The Outsiders, you can take in the film at Bryn Mawr Film Institute on July 12.
Bryn Mawr Film Institute closes out the summer with a bang. August showings of The Last Waltz, Dirty Dancing, Yellow Submarine, Saturday Night Fever, Seven Samurai, Casablanca, Lawrence of Arabia, and O Brother, Where Art Thou? are a great way to ride out the dog days of summer.
One of the unique attractions of the Bryn Mawr Film Institute are live-streamed performances of plays that you could not see without a passport. Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff star in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth live from the National Theatre in London on July 21.
Click here for Bryn Mawr Film Institute’s schedule.
Relieve The Grateful Dead At JFK Stadium – There are few things that fill up a summer night better than a great concert. Even though it might not be live music, you can beat the heat by watching a screening of the last show at JFK Stadium from the comfort of an air-conditioned movie theater on August 1.
Various theaters throughout the Delaware Valley will screen the entirety of the Grateful Dead’s July 7, 1989 concert at JFK Stadium. The show displayed the band’s ability to play at extreme length. It took two hours and 53 minutes for the Grateful Dead to reel off nineteen songs that included a pair of Bob Dylan covers.
It is hard to imagine another venue being located at South Philadelphia’s Sports Complex in 2018, but JFK stadium was a huge outdoor venue in South Philadelphia that held crowds of over 100,000. The Grateful Dead’s 1989 concert at JFK Stadium was the last concert at the aging venue. It was condemned by the City of Philadelphia just six days later.
Click here for a list of movie theaters screening the concert.
The Mann Center For The Performing Arts
For actual outdoor concerts in Philadelphia, there is no better spot than the Mann Center For The Performing Arts. Fairmount Park’s outdoor theater has been a summer staple for bands and popular artists since 1976. While the Mann itself is a solid facility, there are a few cool aspects of the venue that set it apart from its contemporaries.
For a reasonable price, you can take in a performance from the comfort of the Mann’s lawn. You might be relegated to watching a show on big screens, but audience members can at least take in a fantastic view of the Philadelphia skyline. If you are lucky a steady summer breeze can turn your seat into a prime spot to relax and listen to a concert.
Next to Union Transfer, the Mann’s lawn area is my favorite spot to catch a show in Philadelphia. I love being able to kick back and enjoy a concert without worrying about seating or sight lines.
This is especially true for the Mann’s summer movie events. Since 2014, the Mann has regularly screened popular films during the summer. The films are complemented by the presence of the Philadelphia Orchestra and other classical ensembles who perform the scores of these films.
I have been to the Mann for two films and loved every aspect of the outdoor screenings. There is no better way to watch a movie than from a lawn chair at the Mann. Two movies on the venue’s slate this summer include Star Wars: A New Hope and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Eagles Super Bowl mania continues on July 24 with a screening of A Championship Season.
Click here for the Mann Center’s 2018 summer schedule.