Fall in Philly brings colorful foliage, crisp nights, and more festivals and events than one could count. Look forward to spirited cultural celebrations like the Puerto Rican Day Parade, massive block parties including the Midtown Village Fall Festival, Halloween-themed festivities such as Terror Behind the Walls, and two of the city's biggest sporting events: the Philadelphia Marathon and the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta.
Autumn also ushers in the finale of Parkway 100, the city's grand centennial celebration of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, bringing a massive soiree to the boulevard.
Terror Behind the Walls (Sept. 21-Nov. 10, Eastern State Penitentiary). Scream your heart out at one of the nation's top-rated haunted attractions, housed in a historic former prison. If you dare, take the scare level up a notch by marking yourself eligible for the immersive option, in which costumed actors are permitted to grab guests and even occasionally make them part of the show. (215-236-3300, easternstate.org)
Brauhaus Schmitz Oktoberfests (Sept 22. and Oct. 5 and 6, Center City). The pre-October South Street version comes first. The 23rd Street Armory iteration follows with three seatings on two days on the first weekend of October. (267-909-8814, brauhausschmitz.com)
Discovery Center Community Day (Sept. 29, East Park Reservoir). The Audubon Society and Outward Bound host a party to inaugurate their new birding/adventure venue at the Fairmount Park reservoir, an urban sanctuary for our feathered friends. Events include bird walks, live bird presentations, arts and crafts, and a climbing wall. (discoveryphila.org)
Puerto Rican Day Parade (Sept. 30, Benjamin Franklin Parkway). Celebrate Latino culture through music, dance, poetry, and more at this lively gathering. More than 1,000 marchers perform on the Parkway for the annual event. (215-627-3100, elconcilio.net)
DesignPhiladelphia (Oct. 4-13, various locations). From fashion shows to studio tours to panel discussions and workshops, more than 100 events are lined up for this citywide celebration. The 10-day event is said to be the oldest of its kind in the country. (designphiladelphia.org)
The Glow: A Jack O'Lantern Experience (Oct. 4-28, near the Mann Center). National tour brings its 5,000-pumpkin display of carved creations back to West Fairmount Park for another year of weekend evening ogling (Thursday through Sunday) throughout October. (theglowjackolantern.com)
Midtown Village Fall Festival (Oct. 6, 13th and Sansom Streets). Head to this massive block party to enjoy a day of live music, shopping, al fresco food and drinks, and plenty of activities for the little ones. The free festival goes on from noon to 8 p.m. (215-670-4323, midtownvillagephilly.org)
Outfest (Oct. 7, 13th and Locust Streets.). The largest celebration of National Coming Out Day in the world, Outfest draws hundreds to the Gayborhood for one of its most spirited celebrations. Look forward to drag shows, high-heel races, dancing, and more. (215-875-9288, phillygaypride.org)
Festival for the People (Oct. 13-28, Cherry Street and Race Street Piers). Celebrating the opening of Cherry Street Pier, the newest Delaware River waterfront attraction, this two-week-plus festival features interactive art installations and creative festivities. Expect tattoo art, comics, internet culture, and more. (philadelphiacontemporary.org)
Pulaski Day Parade (Oct. 14, Benjamin Franklin Pkwy). In a day of Polish pride, the 85th annual parade brings folk dancers and costumed marchers to the Parkway. Thousands of spectators in red-and-white attire, in the spirit of the Polish flag, attend every year. (215-922-1700, polishamericancenter.org)
Philadelphia Film Festival (Oct. 18-28, Roxy Theater and Prince Theater). More than 25,000 film enthusiasts — and some talented filmmakers — gather for the annual festival. More than 100 movies will be screened. Some showings feature industry guests and talks. (267-239-2941, filmadelphia.org)
Parkway Soiree: Finale to the Parkway 100 celebration (Oct. 26, Benjamin Franklin Parkway). A citywide celebration of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway's 100th anniversary kicked off last September, with public artworks and events galore. The celebration comes to a close in October with a giant bash on the culture-packed milelong boulevard.
Head of the Schuylkill Regatta (Oct. 27-28, Kelly and Fountain Green Drives). Thousands of athletes take to the Schuylkill in one of the nation's largest rowing events. Come out to cheer on participants of all skill levels, from beginners to Olympic-caliber competitors. (hosr.org)
Philadelphia Marathon (Nov. 17-18). This year marks the 25th anniversary of the scenic 26.2-mile race, which winds its way past the Philadelphia Museum of Art, along the Schuylkill, and through University City and Manayunk. The two-day event also includes a half-marathon, an 8K race, a fun run for kids, and a fitness expo. (philadelphiamarathon.com)