Since holding the first major U.S. protest for LGBT rights some 50 years ago, Philadelphia has continued to prove that it’s still one of the best destinations for LGBT travellers to get their history straight and their nightlife gay.

The city offers a full calendar of events that include weekly parties, performances, arts, entertainment, and the popular annual Pride celebrations. Here’s a look at the best events by the night, week, month and year in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.

LGBT Annual Celebrations:

  • Diners nosh for a great cause during Dining Out for Life. Restaurants around the city donate 33% of every breakfast, lunch and dinner bill to Action AIDS. April 14.
  • Over five days, Philadelphia Black Gay Pride entertains and inspires with open-mic spoken word, awards, parties and more happening at venues all over the city. April 28-May 1.
  • Bucks County’s annual New Hope & Lambertville Celebrate Pride includes the Pride Parade, athletic events, family activities, performances and dance parties. Proceeds benefit national and local charities. May 15-22.
  • The 15th annual Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference, held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, focuses on educating and empowering Trans, GV (gender variant) and GNC (gender non-conforming) individuals and promoting wellness in mind, body, spirit and community. June 9-11. 12th & Arch Streets, (215) 563-0652,
  • The 27th annual PrideDay LGBT Parade and Festival takes place during International Gay and Lesbian Pride Month and features live music, DJs, food and drinks. A festive parade, the signature event, runs from the Gayborhood to Penn’s Landing. June 12. (215) 875-9288,
  • A picture-perfect event for movie buffs, qFLIX Philadelphia welcomes independent LGBT filmmakers to town to screen dozens of movie premieres and attend other celebrity-studded events. July 5-10.
  • The hottest guys in the region descend upon Philadelphia for The Boys of Summer, Philly Gay Calendar’s annual swimsuit party and fundraiser at Voyeur. Highlights: hot body contest, live performances and lifeguards galore. August 5-7. 1221 Saint James Place,
  • The sixth annual GayFest! takes the stage as Philadelphia’s only LGBT theater festival. People enjoy plays, music, dance, performance art and spoken word at Plays & Players and Theatre Exile. August, exact dates TBA. Plays & Players, 1714 Delancey Place; Theatre Exile, 1340 S. 13th Street, (215) 627-1088,
  • Summer, sports and LGBT celebration come together for the Philadelphia Phillies Gay Day. The beloved home team welcomes thousands of gay and lesbian fans to Citizens Bank Park each season. Summer, exact date TBA. 1 Citizens Bank Way, (215) 463-6000,
  • Philadelphia celebrates National Coming Out Day with OutFest, a block party in the heart of the Gayborhood that’s made up of drag shows, games, bar crawls and shopping. Philadelphia’s celebration is the largest Coming Out Day street festival in the world. October 9. (215) 875-9288,
  • Twice a year, the Pink Pub Crawl guides participants to some of the Gayborhood’s favorite watering holes. Those wearing pink can join the sipping for $25 ($30 for non-pink wearers), which includes free admission to Voyeur Nightclub and a few drinks along the way. Dates TBA.


LGBT Monthly Must-Dos:

  • DJ Robert Drake gets the new wave party started on varying Fridays each month in Voyeur’s Ruby Lounge during Sex Dwarf. This “new wave clubhouse,” which starts at 10 p.m., features different themes and a playlist of underground music from the 1970s and 80s. 1221 Saint James Street, (215) 735-5772,
  • Our Night Out gives LGBT professionals the chance to network with colleagues and friends at monthly happy hours all over the city.
  • Gamers grab their daubers and head straight to Gay Bingo, a monthly fundraiser hosted by hilarious drag queens known as the BVDs (Bingo Verifying Divas) at The Gershman Y. All proceeds benefit the AIDS Fund. 401 S. Broad Street, (215) 731-9255,

Weekly Events:

  • It’s all about Broadway during Showtune Sundays at Tavern on Camac, which broadcasts clips from popular stage and movie musicals. 243 S. Camac Street, (215) 545-0900,
  • Every week at Tabu, The Goddess Isis invites special guests for Sinful Sundays, an evening of female illusion and gender-bending hilarity that gets started at 9 p.m. 200 S. 12th Street, (215) 964-9675,
  • Wannabe stars belt it out during Sing Your Life Karaoke. Well-known karaoke host Sara Sherr runs the Sunday event at Bob & Barbara’s, starting at 9 p.m. 1509 South Street, (215) 545-4511,
  • Thirsty partiers head to ICandy for Turn Up Your Tuesdays or Seductive Saturdays. The slew of drink specials starts at 10 p.m. 254 S. 12th Street, (267) 324-3500,
  • Players try their best poker face at Stir’s Texas Hold’em each Wednesday starting at 8 p.m. The drink specials and prizes are worth betting on. 1705 Chancellor Street, (215) 732-2700,
  • Boxers Philadelphia hosts events throughout the week (Quizzo on Wednesdays, pool and beer pong on Sundays), and a nightly happy hour that runs from 6-8 p.m. 1330 Walnut Street, (215) 735-2977,
  • Bob & Barbara’s draws a diverse crowd for its legendary Thursday Night Drag Show, the city’s longest-running drag show starring the entertaining Miss Lisa. Adding to the fun: the famous Citywide Special, a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a shot of Jim Beam for just $3.50. Show starts at 10 p.m. 1509 South Street, (215) 545-4511,
  • Cowgirls and cowmen boot scoot over to Woody’s for two-stepping, country and line dancing during A Sexy Hoedown, taking place at 7 p.m. every Friday. 202 S. 13th Street, (215) 545-1893,


Seven Nights A Week:

  • Philly’s longtime leather outpost, The Bike Stop is the perfect place for a pick-up pool game or grabbing an extra-large beer. The friendly bar hosts the famous Underwear Night on Wednesdays, as well as a variety of happy hour specials on its three floors (The Pit Stop, The Bike Stop and The Short Stop). 206 S. Quince Street, (215) 627-1662,
  • A bi-level gay sports bar, Boxers Philadelphia draws crowds with brick-oven pizza, a full bar, a pool table, flat-screen TVs, weekly events and a seven-days-a-week happy hour. 1330 Walnut Street, (215) 735-2977,
  • ICandy’s three levels of fun starts with the first-floor bar and restaurant. Going up: a dance floor and a lounge that opens up to a roof deck in the summer. 254 S. 12th Street, (267) 324-3500,
  • A lunch, dinner and late-night favorite for the mature crowd, Knock dishes out creative entrees and a lively bar scene. Regulars love the see-and-be-seen outdoor dining area during the warm-weather months. 225 S. 12th Street, (215) 925-1166,
  • Both guys and gals flock to lesbian-owned Stir Lounge for happy hour, dance parties and special events featuring DJs and creative drink specials served up by some of the friendliest bartenders in Rittenhouse Square. 1705 Chancellor Street, (215) 732-2700,
  • Sports fans catch the big game on the big screens at Tabu, a gay sports bar and eatery. Upstairs in the lounge, guests enjoy karaoke, drag shows and comedy acts. 200 S. 12th Street, (215) 964-9675,
  • Tavern on Camac houses three settings under one roof: an intimate fine-dining restaurant called The Tavern downstairs, an energetic piano bar on the main floor and a top-floor dance club and cocktail lounge featuring DJ nights, karaoke and community events. 243 S. Camac Street, (215) 545-0900,
  • U Bar boasts a wall of windows for prime Gayborhood people-watching beginning at 11 a.m. The no-frills spot has built its reputation on stiff drinks and friendly bartenders. 1220 Locust Street, (215) 546-6660,
  • A gay after-hours favorite, Voyeur really heats up in the early-morning hours when popular DJs spin club hits. Three floors of dancing, a VIP mezzanine level and weekly drag shows and dance parties keep the place hopping. 1221 Saint James Street, (215) 735-5772,
  • As one of the longest-standing bar/nightclubs in Philadelphia, Woody’s draws a gay crowd for happy hours and a variety of themed dance parties throughout the week. The upstairs late-night lounge hosts DJs spinning must-dance playlists until last call. 202 S. 13th Street, (215) 545-1893,

Performing Arts Galore:

  • Tony Award-winner Kelli O’Hara is the first of several Broadway divas to join the Merriam Theater’s interview-concert series with pianist and host Seth Rudetsky. Following her are Sutton Foster and Megan Hilty. May 5. 250 S. Broad Street, (215) 893-1999,
  • A large-scale fire-and-sand performance, a circus built on a foundation of yarn, a traveling symphony performed in water fountains and a sprawling street fair on Broad Street can only mean one thing: the return of PIFA (Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts). With 60 performances, PIFA weaves together a variety of art forms and genres by local and international artists in an arts extravaganza. April 8-23. (215) 893-1999,
  • The dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet produce original pieces for Shut Up & Dance. The annual one-night performance takes place at the Forrest Theatre and benefits local HIV/AIDS non-profit MANNA. April 9. 1114 Walnut Street, (215) 496-2662,
  • Tony Award Lifetime Achievement Recipient Tommy Tune brings his one-man show, Taps, Tunes And Tall Tales, to The RRrazz Room at the Prince Theater. May 6-7. 1412 Chestnut Street, (267) 239-2941,
  • Philadelphia experiences two weeks of artistic pleasure during the annual Fringe Festival. Avant-garde performance meets street theater at venues large and small throughout the city. September 9-24. (215) 413-9006,

LGBT travellers looking for a night on the town can choose among a range of bars and restaurants in Philadelphia, including the city’s Gayborhood, or visit a welcoming mainstream spot frequented by gay and lesbian locals in Midtown Village, Rittenhouse Square, East Passyunk and other neighborhoods.

Click here for a Gayborhood Map and a Navigaytor Travel Guide.

More general information can be found on the official Philadelphia Tourism website, as well as UWishUNu

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.