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Philadelphia is about to be swallowed whole by deep-pocketed politicos, die-hard Democrats and, most likely, an army of protesters.
Mixed in will be the Democratic National Convention’s official business, along with a slew of big-ticket concerts and exclusive parties that, let’s face it, we have no chance of getting into.
Whether you want to attend the concert by Lady Gaga, Lenny Kravitz and DJ Jazzy Jeff at Camden’s BB&T Pavilion, the “unity” show at the Electric Factory with Snoop Dogg or even the opening of the POLITICO Hub with Alicia Keys, you either need to be a volunteer or staffer, a special invitation or plenty of cash.
But even if you don’t have convention credentials, in-the-know contacts or a checkbook that you’re willing to open, there are still plenty of convention-themed events across Philadelphia for foodies, music fans and politics-lovers without connections.
If you’re willing to escape quiet Delaware to battle convention week traffic, you’ll still be able to sneak a taste of the convention’s excitement thanks to the swarm of free and low-cost satellite events being held throughout the city.
After all, this is going to be a big political party.
Friday, July 22 through Wednesday, July 27
The heart of the convention’s activities outside of the Wells Fargo Center can be found at the host committee’s six-day PoliticalFest. The nonpartisan exhibit celebrates political history, government and presidential elections through interactive displays, guest speakers and historical artifacts. One of the biggest draws is a replica of the fuselage from Air Force One, outfitted to match the interior of the plane used by President Reagan, which will be at the Pennsylvania Convention Center (1101 Arch St.), along with a replica of the Oval Office. PoliticalFest’s main hub will be at the National Constitution Center (525 Arch St.) where a main stage will host everything from trivia games and discussions to politically-themed game shows created just for the family-friendly event. Politicalfest tickets are valid for all six days and cost $15 at phldnc.com/politicalfest. Tickets are $5 for children 17 and younger, students with ID and seniors. Tickets are also available to buy at the National Constitution Center. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. Locations also include the Library Company of Philadelphia, Philadelphia History Museum, The Heritage Center of the Union League of Philadelphia, National Liberty Museum and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Saturday, July 23
Indie Fishtown rock club Johnny Brenda’s is not about to let an excuse to party slip by. The venue (1201 N. Frankford Ave.) will host its (Un)Official DNC Rock N’ Roll Dance Kick-Off Party at 9 p.m. Rock six-piece Renegade headlines with a several DJs spinning in between. “As always, Renegade promises special guests, but please stop asking whether the rumors are true that Bill Clinton will join us on saxophone. We cannot comment,” the band jokes. Tickets are $10 at johnnybrendas.com.
Monday, July 25
Does the thought of a President Donald Trump send you into a death spiral of depression-induced binge eating? If so, we present to you Philly Feast, United We Eat — a free, four-hour food truck festival to help welcome visitors. Grab the biggest fork you can, head over to 3rd and Arch streets in Old City from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and let the gorging begin. Expect a slew of the city’s best food trucks serving up an eclectic mix of lunches, paired with other local vendors promoting fresh, locally-sourced foods and selling crafts, jewelry, clothing and more. A live music stage will feature four Philly-area acts: singer/songwriter Julian King, rapper Chill Moody, country band Philbilly and, of course, a Bruce Springsteen tribute act — the B Street Band.
Have you heard about the 51-foot joint headed to Philly for the convention? Marijuana activists will be descending on the city and marching with the over-sized (fake) joint from Center City to the Wells Fargo Center around 1 or 2 p.m. When night falls, the same activists, including the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, will host a free DNC Marijuana Welcome Party at Connie’s Ric Rac (1132 S. Ninth St.) at 7:30. A night of comedy, music and speeches is lined up and who knows, perhaps there will be an appearance by a giant joint.
Tuesday, July 26
The Trocadero (1003 Arch St.) will host a celebration of veterans at a 10 p.m. show put on by MusiCorps, the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center-based music rehabilitation program that helps wounded veterans through music. The group’s Wounded Warrior Band will headline the free Veteran’s Benefit Concert with MusiCorps and Congressional Jam Session show with singer Aloe Blacc (“The Man”) sitting in. The Wounded Warrior Band has performed everywhere from Madison Square Garden to “The Colbert Report” over the years. Opening acts include Dilemma and Worldtown Soundsystem. CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers will host.
Wednesday, July 27
Still feeling the Bern? If you’re an apoplectic Bernie Sanders supporter who refuses to hop into Clinton’s camp, you’re in luck. The BB&T Pavilion (1 Harbour Blvd., Camden) just so happens to be hosting a totally unrelated heavy metal triple bill that will give you plenty of opportunities to funnel your rage: Slipknot, Marilyn Manson and Of Mice & Men. Tickets for the 6:30 p.m. growlfest are $25-$65.
Wednesday, July 27 and Thursday, July 28
The weekly Passyunk Passeggiata event is transforming into a two-night street festival for the convention, closing East Passyunk Avenue for four blocks from Broad Street to the Singing Fountain at Tasker Street. The South Philadelphia fest, which runs from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. each day, will open the Italian neighborhood to al fresco dining and outdoor bars. The Farmers Market will also be open for the special Passyunk Passeggiata Street Festival with musical acts including Brown Sugar, a Rolling Stones cover band set to perform from 7 to 10 p.m. Go to facebook.com/epassyunkave for details.
Thursday, July 28
The Northern Liberties hangout at The Piazza at Schmidt’s Commons (1001 N. Second St.) is growing up. Kinda. The same spot that has “Animal House” movie nights and has had concerts by acts like Wiz Khalifa and Young the Giant in the past will host an open-to-all DNC Watch Party starting at 7 p.m. Clinton’s speech and the convention’s balloon-filled finale will be shown on the big screen. Spectators are encouraged to bring a chair or blanket. Food and drink specials will be offered, including cocktails such as The Hillary (tequila, sour mix and a splash of lime served in a fishbowl topped with a can of 21st Amendment’s Hell Or High Watermelon beer) and Feel the Bern (tequila, Tabasco and splash of Mama Walker’s maple bacon liqueur).