Open Streets: Festival Edition

Celebrate our Great Northwest with Two Free Festivals this Saturday — Philly Free Streets makes it safe & easy.

With Broad Street closed to traffic from City Hall all the way to Germantown Avenue, it’s not hard to feel overwhelmed with choices. So many local parks, murals, businesses, and historic landmarks are suddenly ridiculously approachable – it’s like a whole different city! Philly Free Streets gives us a chance to really drink in the flavor of vibrant Philly neighborhoods best experienced on foot.

Two of these communities share borders with East Falls, and both will be in Festival Mode this Saturday August 11th: each location offers a full day of local art, culture, food, vendors, and family-friendly fun. Best of all, Free Streets makes it super safe and easy to explore a wide swath of Northwest Philly. Along the way, all kinds of neat stuff on North Broad (8am – 1pm).

Our suggested route from East Falls and back is just like a 12 mile loop (with cheap parking under the Twin Bridges). Fun for all fitness levels — the roads are pretty much flat, so it’s like boardwalk biking. You can also take your bike on the train or bus down to Broad, which’ll cut your trip in half (but you’ll miss out on beautiful river views, sigh).

So take the Schuylkill River Trail* to Spring Garden Street, which has a designated bike path leading to Broad. Take a Right at Broad to head to City Hall, where you circle around to Thomas Paine Plaza (at JFK/Arch). Early birds, ribbon cutting is 8am here. At noon, Philadelphia Horticultural Society is hosting a free plant giveaway (first come, first served). Also, they’ll have some kids activities too.

Other fun stuff all day: free admission to PAFA and other museums/galleries/theaters. Lots of kids activities, live music, health & wellness demonstrations, historic tours and even a scavenger hunt.

AND A BEACH! For reals, they’re trucking in 50 tons of sand to North Broad & Masters Street.– they’ll have beach chairs, games, music… WMMR’s gonna be there, probably other stations too. Full roster of events online at, plus even more details on Facebook

Make your way to the intersection of N. Broad & Germantown Ave. Mural Arts partners with the Free Library’s Nicetown-Tioga branch to paint a chalk-based literacy-themed street mural. There’s also a stage here with family-friendly activities plus tables & chairs for takeout from nearby restaurants (including Dwight’s Southern BBQ on Germantown and Max’s Steaks on Erie).

From there, head up Germantown to Nicetown Park, for the “Give Back” Festival. In it’s 16th year, this event is a chance for the Nicetown Community Development Corporation to give back to the families and businesses it serves. Two days of arts and culture to engage, educate, and entertain Nicetown friends & neighbors.

Music, kid’s activities, Women Rock! pop-up workouts, college fair, info/resource pavilion, and a Vendors’ Bazaar featuring local food, art, crafts, jewelry, home decor, and so much more.

An exciting roster of live performances including Philly’s own Garfield Fleming & Firestorm Band, Rick Tate & the Peb Band w/ Jaz Jordan, Aviance: Ladies of R&B and Soul, Full Circle Band, Expression of Soul Band with Jovan Chaney, plus surprises and special guests.  (11am – 5pm, 1759 St Pauls St FREE)

A few blocks up Germantown Avenue (at Penn Street), amidst historic colonial & Victorian architecture, the neighborhood’s Special Services District hosts the 11th Annual Germantown Great Road Festival. This big block party celebrates Germantown’s incorporation into the city of Philadelphia – 329 years ago.

Of course there will be Antique Cars! Also live music, dance performances, a vegan/vegetarian food fest, family village, and more. (11am – 6pm, Germantown Avenue & Penn Street FREE)

From there, our ride home isn’t quite 2 miles  – the route takes us roughly right up School House with some detours to side streets to avoid traffic. From the intersection at Henry Avenue, you can reach any neighborhood in East Falls (if you parked at the Twin Bridges that’s just another mile — downhill! — to the river).

Here’s hoping for nice weather (although Philly Free Streets is rain or shine). If you see a couple on a dark blue tandem with side baskets, by all means say hello. Or email us if you’d like to follow us down (and/or back). Looking forward to getting to know better our cool little corner of the city.

PS: Nicetown’s festival actually kicks off Friday, with a different roster of talents to enjoy.

*Instead of the Schuylkill River Trail, you can ride down the opposite side of the river on MLK, which is closed to traffic Saturdays from 7am to 5pm (Sundays too, btw).

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