There’s an unusual confluence of public art events starting this weekend — and if “public art” leaves you cold, hold on a sec: These art installations are 1) free and 2) photo-friendly. The buzziest one might be Ghost Ship, the evening-only apparition of an 18th-century ship, created by underwater mist fountains and lighting projections. But there’s also the two-week festival, Site/Sound: Revealing the Rail Park, which will take place in some unestablished parts of the future 3-mile park, of which only a quarter-mile currently exists.
If you like more pointed Instagram backdrops, the King of Prussia mall has the thing for you: Happy Place, a 15,000-square-foot space that’s intended for just that; read more below. There’s also a motorcycle and vintage-car race on the beach in Wildwood, festivals in Midtown Village and Germantown, and the regular slew of concerts (including Carrie Underwood, Incubus, and Bon Iver). Finally, there’s the more free-form Design Philadelphia, a 10-day citywide celebration of design it all its facets.
And if none of that appeals, how about a drink? Grace Dickinson rounded up 6 fall libations — from real pumpkin lattes to apple cocktails — that should hit the spot.
— Jenn Ladd (@jrladd, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Chinatown’s streets close to traffic for this evening bash, which sees about 20,000 people come out to enjoy all sorts of food, from soup dumplings to pound cake and Albanian byrek pastries. Local DJs spin tunes for the party. — Bethany Ao
7 to 11 p.m., Thursday, 10th and Race Streets, pay as you go, yeshinightmarket.com
Ambler started hosting its own Oktoberfest nearly three decades ago. This year’s edition brings 90-plus vendors, 10 food trucks, children’s rides, two stages, and a beer garden to Butler Avenue. — Nick Vadala
11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, Butler Avenue, Ambler, pay as you go, 215-646-1000, ext. 121, amblermainstreet.org
Pull out your selfie stick and take a trip to Happy Place, a pop-up exhibit opening this weekend at King of Prussia Mall, featuring 12 Instagram-ready rooms. The interactive experience invites visitors to snap photos with 40,000 handmade gold flowers, enter the gravity-defying Upside Down room, step into the world’s largest indoor confetti dome, play in a rubber ducky-themed bathtub of fun, and more. Originally launched in Los Angeles, the traveling exhibit has drawn in more than a half million visitors over the past two years. — Grace Dickinson
Opens Saturday, King of Prussia Mall, 160 N. Gulph Rd., King of Prussia, $30-$35, happyplace.me
Whether you’re aware of it or not, design seeps into every corner of our existence — it’s been carefully (or sometimes, not carefully enough) integrated into our homes, our offices, cars, phones, and clothes. This 10-day festival from the Center for Architecture and Design explores the many ways design touches our lives. Events and exhibits cover everything from furniture to landscaping, architecture, restaurants, and health: Go to the Philadelphia Furniture Show at the 23rd Street Armory; take a floral walking tour of Fishtown; hear the Di Bruno Brothers walk through their new all-day cafe space while enjoying a tasting menu; and learn about wearable tech. If none of that catches your eye, check out the extensive list of events at designphiladelphia.org/events2019. — Jenn Ladd
Through Sunday, Oct. 13, various times, locations, and prices, designphiladelphia.org
The Ghost Ship installation on the Delaware isn’t the only large-scale outdoor artwork in town: The Rail Park is getting lit up with three audiovisual installations for this weeklong festival. In addition to the projections, soundscapes, and “experiences” aimed at celebrating the past, present, and future of the Rail Park (on former tracks and terminals of the Reading Railroad), there will also be walking tours, workshops, and performances. See a full list of events, including a talk on the history of railroad signaling and an aboveground and belowground walking tour, at sitesoundphl.org. — B.A.
6 to 9 p.m., Saturday, various programs through Saturday, Oct. 19, various locations including the Rail Park at North Broad and Noble Streets and the Cut at 465 N. 18th St., 215-440-5500, therailpark.org
Shop, eat, and drink your way through this giant block party, in an area that includes some of Center City’s best restaurants, bars, and boutiques. — B.A
Noon to 8 p.m., Saturday, between Broad and 11th Streets and Market and Spruce Streets, pay as you go, 215-670-4323, midtownvillagephilly.org
Since 1927, folks have been reenacting 1777’s Battle of Germantown, in which Gens. George Washington and William Howe squared off for control of Philadelphia. (If you don’t remember how that turned out, you must have missed last weekend’s Occupied Philadelphia in Old City.) You can meet Washington and see where Howe slept at this celebration, which ends with an Oktoberfest at Grumblethorpe. — B.A
10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Grumblethorpe (5267 Germantown Ave.) and Cliveden (6401 Germantown Ave.), free, 215-843-4820, revolutionarygermantown.org
A massive race between more than 100 vintage cars and motorcycles takes over the Wildwood shoreline this weekend. Before the main race day (Saturday), spectators can catch a car show on Thursday and Friday. Post-race, enjoy a beach party complete with a bonfire and live music. Beach racing continues on Sunday, winding down the weekend with a bracket-style competition to determine who wins the title. — Grace Dickinson
Race at 8 a.m. Saturday, entrances at Lincoln and Schellenger Avenues; bonfire, 8 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, Wildwood, NJ, $50 weekend pass ($15 for children ages 7-15, free for children under 7), theraceofgentlemen.com
A stand-up veteran of more than 30 years, Maron for the last decade has been best known for his excellent podcast, WTF with Marc Maron. These days, he’s breaking further into the film world with projects like the offbeat comedy Sword of Trust and director Todd Phillips’ DC Comics movie, Joker. Catch him before he becomes a full-blown movie star. — N.V.
7:30 p.m., Thursday, Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St., $35-$45, 215-893-1999, kimmelcenter.org
Inspired by the guitar interplay of their heroes the Velvet Underground and Television, Luna began with three excellent albums: Lunapark (1992), Bewitched (1994), and Penthouse (1995). Dean Wareham reactivated the band in 2015 with Britta Phillips, Sean Eden, and Lee Wall, and they are featuring those three albums on different nights of their current tour: We get Penthouse on Friday at Union Transfer. It features favorites such as the shimmering “Chinatown” and the amusing Serge Gainsbourg cover “Bonnie & Clyde” (a hidden bonus track — remember those? — on the original album, but also one of its biggest hits). Don’t expect Television’s Tom Verlaine to sit in, as he did on Penthouse’s “23 Minutes in Brussels” and “Moon Palace,” but do expect dazzling guitar work from Wareham and Eden. — Steve Klinge
8:30 p.m., Friday, Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., $25, 215-232-2100, utphilly.com
He’s straight out of eastern Kentucky, and Ian Noe makes no effort to hide that fact. On his stunning and often stark debut album, the Dave Cobb-produced Between the Country, the singer and songwriter conjures a bleak beauty as vividly as he evokes life in his corner of Appalachia, where hope is hard to come by for the frequently desperate and/or doomed characters who populate the songs. Joining Noe on the bill is Jeremy Ivey, another artist with a notable debut, The Dream and the Dreamer, produced by his more famous wife, Margo Price. With Dylan Jane. — Nick Cristiano
8:30 p.m., Friday, MilkBoy Philadelphia, 1100 Chestnut St., $10-$12, 215-925-6455, milkboyphilly.com
Country music women are banding together, fighting back against male-dominated radio playlists. Along with the Highwomen supergroup and Miranda Lambert’s all-female tour this year, Carrie Underwood is giving exposure to young female acts on her Cry Pretty tour. Her openers are Maddie & Tae and Nashville trio Runaway June. — Dan DeLuca
7 p.m., Saturday, Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St., $45.50-$95.50, 215-336-3600, wellsfargocenterphilly
Was smooth-voiced Calabasas, Calif. native Brandon Boyd’s alt-metal ’90s act, Incubus, ahead of its time with its scratchy turntable-ism, indie-rock twitches, and subtle synth washes, or just another Limp Bizkit come-lately? I’d like to think that, between the rich melodies, heightened sense of dynamics, intricate rhythms, and Boyd’s gorgeous voice, Incubus was way ahead of the game — especially where its 1999 album, Make Yourself, was concerned. They must have at least been beloved, since Incubus’ first announced show at the Met sold out, with another just added. Along with a focus on the platinum-selling breakthrough album, expect a wealth of songs old and new. — A.D. Amorosi
8 p.m., Saturday and Monday, the Met Philadelphia, 858 N. Broad St., 800-653-8000, $29-$99, themetphilly.com
A year ago at this time, JD McPherson was revitalizing the Christmas-music genre with Socks, a thoroughly original set of Leiber- and Stoller-inspired holiday songs that were a blast from start to finish. It was emblematic, really, of the way the retro-minded singer-guitarist from Oklahoma has always used old forms, especially from the time when rhythm and blues was morphing into rock-and-roll, as the framework for fresh and invigorating music of his own. It’s impervious to fashion and utterly timeless. — N.C.
8 p.m., Sunday, World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., $25, 215-222-1400, worldcafelive.com
Although Justin Vernon’s Bon Iver debuted with the hushed, solitary For Emma, Forever Ago in 2008, the band’s musical palette has expanded commensurate with its popularity. The tour for this year’s colorful, complex i,i brings them to 10,000-seat arenas such as Temple’s Liacouras Center, where Bon Iver plays Thursday (the show was originally booked for the Wells Fargo Center). But even when Vernon’s songs amp up, such as on the current hit “Hey, Ma,” they have a stillness at their center. To help fill the large space, the band is bringing an elaborate light show. And to help fill the seats, they’re bringing as an opener the mellifluous singer Feist, who is also adept at scaling up intimate moments. — S.K.