Hot-air balloons, one-minute plays, Blackstar Film Festival — plus 10 more ways to beat the mid-summer blahs

     The 2013 QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning is July 26-28.

    The 2013 QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning is July 26-28.

    Looking for something to do this week? WHYY’s Robin Bloom has some recommendations on what’s happening in the Philadelphia region. Here are her picks:

    In and around Philadelphia

    New Jersey Festival of Ballooning

    It’s “love at first flight” at the 2013 QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning, the largest summertime hot-air balloon and music festival in North America, July 26-28. Morning and evening ascensions at 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. of more than 100 balloons from around the world.

    This year’s new signature special-shaped balloon is “Flighthouse,” a 115-foot-tall flying lighthouse to promote the “restore the shore” efforts. Additional balloons include the world’s largest free-flying flag; Pea-Nut, a 100-foot-tall inverted flying elephant; a 105-foot Elvis; and much more.

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    Catch a taste of ballooning with a tethered ride in a balloon that stays close to the ground and overlooks the entire festival grounds.

    Musical performances from REO Speedwagon, Big & Rich, Blues Traveler and R5 featuring Ross Lynch from the Disney Channel — plus human cannonball Jennifer “The Cannon Lady” Smith, a 5K race, fireworks, a nighttime balloon glow, arts and craft vendors, food, and more. At Solberg Airport, Readington, N.J., north of Princeton.

    130726 XPoNential 145x100XPoNential Music Festival

    The XPoNential Music Festival returns this weekend, July 26-28, featuring a lineup of established and up-and-coming artists, including Erin McKeown, Lumineers, Dr. Dog, Bob Dylan & His Band, My Morning Jacket, Dr. John, Justin Townes Earle, and more along the Camden waterfront on the River Stage and Marina Stage at Wiggins Park and on the Key Stage and Main Stage at Susquehanna Bank Center. In addition to continuous music, the family-friendly festival offers food and craft vendors along with the Kids Corner area in the Children’s Garden from 11:30am-6pm Saturday and Sunday.

    130726 PACraft 145x100Pennsylvania Guild of Fine Craft Fair

    The Brandywine Valley’s largest fine craft fair, the Pennsylvania Guild of Fine Craft Fair, returns this weekend to the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington, Del. More than 190 independent local and regional craft artists showcase their work, which includes furniture, clothing, jewelry, pottery, woodturning, sculpture, photography, and fine art. Saturday, July 27, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Sunday, July 28, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

    130726 PeoplesFest 145x100Peoples’ Festival

    The 19th annual Peoples’ Festival pays tribute to Bob Marley in his first American hometown, Wilmington, Del., Saturday, July 27, noon – 10 p.m., with live music, international food, worldwide arts and crafts, and performances by LUCIANO, Jah Works, Spokey Speaky, I-Kronic and more. Tubman-Garret Riverfront Park, Water Street.

    The party continues at World Café Live at the Queen and a concert with Weekday Warriors, 10:30 p.m., 500 N. Market Street, Wilmington.

    130726 Bartrams 145x100Bartram’s Garden

    Spanning over 45 acres along the Schuylkill River, Bartram’s Garden is the oldest botanical garden in the United States, founded by father and son botanists John and William Bartram. The site includes the Bartram house, botanical garden, meadow, parkland and a wetland.

    Check out the “Franklinia” tree, the pair’s famous discovery, named for family friend Ben Franklin. Bartram’s hosts a Family Discovery Day “Ice Cream Tour,” Saturday, July 27, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.; “Boat to Bartram’s Garden,” Sunday, July 28, noon – 3 p.m.; walks through the garden and more. In Fairmount Park, 54th Street and Lindbergh Boulevard, Philadelphia.

    130726 IHPfilm 145x100International House Philadelphia’s new family film series

    Start your child’s love of film early with International House Philadelphia’s inaugural, year-long, family-friendly film series of carefully curated cinema from around the world, beginning this Saturday, July 27, 2 p.m., with “My Neighbor Totoro,” an anime film about the magic of friendship from the Oscar-winning director of “Spirited Away,” Hayao Miyazaki.

    Other movies on this summer’s schedule include Albert Lamorisse’s “Red Balloon, and White Mane,” as well as Nan Goldin’s “Nana,” a “faux fairytale” about a girl developing her independence on the edges of her grandfather’s pig farm. Ibrahim Theater, 3701 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia.

    130726 image012 145x100Late Nite Catechism: Summer School

    The international hit comedy “Late Nite Catechism: Summer School,” by Maripat Donovan, comes to Sellersville Theater 1894 on Saturday, July 27, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

    The theater is located at 24 W. Temple Avenue, just off Route 309 between Quakertown and Montgomeryville, in Sellersville, Pa.


    130726 theheavensband-web 145x10040th Street Summer Series continues

    The 40th Street Summer Series continues this Saturday, July 27, 6 p.m., with the Heavens Atheist Gospel Trombone Choir, performing in Philadelphia for the first time and joined by Polkadelphia, along with complimentary Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and pretzels, face painting, circus arts, balloon art, and more.

    Upcoming performances include Spaceship Aloha (featuring Man Man drummer/producer Christopher Sean Powell). And Millennial Territory Orchestra performs the music of Sly & The Family Stone. Located behind the Walnut West Free Library, 40th and Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia. Free.

    130726 Graham-Nash2 145x100Graham Nash: The Art of Visual Harmony

    Rock ‘n’ roll legend, photographer and visual artist Graham Nash returns to Stone Harbor, N.J., with a display of his latest collection of artwork, “Graham Nash: The Art of Visual Harmony,” through August 4.

    The exhibit includes nearly 100 of his paintings, pastels and artistically enhanced photographs at Ocean Galleries, 9618 Third Avenue. Nash will be on hand at a gallery reception, Saturday, July 27, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.

    130726 EPA-Car-Show 145x100East Passyunk Car Show & Street Festival

    The 8th Annual Car Show and Street Festival (formerly known as the Doo Wop Festival) rolls into East Passyunk Avenue this Sunday, July 28, noon – 5 p.m., one of South Philly’s largest outdoor festivals, as more than 140 cars, motorcycles and trucks line the five blocks between Broad and Dickinson streets and compete for Best of Show and other honors.

    The accompanying free street festival features continuous live music, circus performances, street vendors, rack sales, children’s activities and a craft show. Nearly all food and drink served outside is specially priced at $5 or less. Rain date is Sunday, August 4.

    130726 Blackstar2 145x100BlackStar Film Festival

    The BlackStar Film Festival returns to Philadelphia for a second year, August 1 – 4, celebrating film by and about people of African descent at International House Philadelphia, The Barnes Foundation, and Drexel University, among other venues.

    Films include “Nairobi Halflife,” “Yelling to the Sky,” “Mother of George” (pictured), and more. The festival highlights films that are often overlooked from emerging, established, and mid-career directors, writers and producers working in narrative, documentary, experimental and music video filmmaking.

    New this year, a children and family film block, youth-directed films, and a film competition, which includes a screenplay competition with scripts read live by actors and juried by industry professionals. Also, a just-released short film featuring prominent actors paying tribute to Trayvon Martin on opening night and a Q&A with Hank Willis Thomas, Bayete Ross Smith, and Omari Hardwick.

    130726 scribe1 145x100Street Movies!

    Scribe Video Center kicks off its annual, month-long “Street Movies!,” urban drive-ins without cars. Now in its 16th year, the series is a citywide tradition that brings neighbors together for outdoor screenings of short films, discussions and live performances and begins on Thursday, August 1, with an opening performance by Ursula Rucker and Tim Motzer at the Memorial Garden, 536 North 54th Street, Haddington, West Philadelphia. All events are family-friendly and free and open to the public, beginning at 7:45pm and continue through August 22.

    130726 Musikfest2 145x100Musikfest

    Musikfest 2013 kicks off next Friday, August 2-11 with 10 days of concerts on 14 stages, and more than 300 performances including Darius Rucker, Ke$ha, Carly Rae Jepsen, OneRepublic, Skillet, George Thorogood, Styx/Foreigner, KC & the Sunshine Band, Lucy Kaplansky, and many more in venues in downtown Bethlehem, PA. Many performances free. Additional activities include artisans, food, children’s activities, theme days and more.

    Additional events in the region

    Philadelphia Dance Day

    Put on your dancing shoes and join in the fun with the 4th annual “Philadelphia Dance Day,” Saturday, July 27, beginning at 10 a.m. and featuring free workshops, live performances by some of Philadelphia’s best dance instructors at venues across the city, culminating in an evening dance party at the Ethical Society Building on Rittenhouse Square. The event is designed for dance enthusiasts of all ages, dance specialty and skill level, with an array of workshop options from Bellydance to Ballet, Waltz and Salsa. A detailed schedule of events and venues is available online.

    Philadelphia Young Pianists’ Academy

    The inaugural Philadelphia Young Pianists’ Academy is July 27-August 3, featuring 16 young piano virtuosos, ages 12 to 19, from around the world offering Master Classes and recitals with faculty members Charles Abramovic, Meng-Shieh Liu, Sergei Babayan, and Ching-Yun Hu at Field Concert Hall of the Curtis Institute of Music, 1726 Locust Street, Philadelphia.

    1st Philadelphia One-Minute Play Festival

    The 1st Philadelphia One-Minute Play Festival is coming to InterAct Theatre Company for three performances only, Monday, July 29, Tuesday, July 30, and Wednesday, July 31, all at 8 p.m. The New York based company The One-Minute Play Festival (OMPF) has collaborated with InterAct for the past year to feature over 70 brand new one minute plays by close to 50 Philadelphia playwrights, selected by invitation. Playwrights include P. Seth Bauer, Madi DiStefano, Elizabeth Scanlon, Seth Rozin, Bill D’Agostino and many more. The production also includes over 30 actors and directors including Tina Brock, Liam Castellan, and Daniel Student. The plays are organized thematically and seek to represent both local cultures and varying points of view, 2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia.

    Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre’s “Two Noble Kinsmen”

    Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre presents free performances of “Two Noble Kinsmen,” William Shakespeare’s and John Fletcher’s retelling of Chaucer’s classic story, “The Knight’s Tale.” Two honorable young men, Palamon and Arcite, are prisoners of war, cousins, and sworn brothers. However, when they see the beautiful Emilia from the confines of their prison cell, they become mortal enemies in their determination to win her hand. Previews July 31 and August 1, and then onstage August 2 – 18, 2111 Sansom Street, 2nd Floor, Philadelphia. Arrive at least 45 minutes before the show to secure free tickets.

    KidFest at Abington Art Center

    The annual KidFest returns to Abington Art Center, Thursday, August 1, 5:30 p.m., celebrating family, community and art with an exhibition of works created entirely by children, interactive and hands on projects and workshops, lawn games, food, a “Family Fair,” Kulu Mele African Dance & Drum Ensemble, the “Fun Bus,” and a performance by KJ, 515 Meetinghouse Road, Jenkintown, PA.

    Philadelphia Podcast Festival

    Learn all about podcasting at the first Philadelphia Podcast Festival, August 1 – 3, showcasing twelve Philadelphia podcasts during three nights of live episode recordings at PhilaMOCA, 531 N. 12th Street, Philadelphia. A daytime workshop and panel discussion about the benefits and uses of independent media offers the opportunity to talk with experts in the field, hosted by Geekadelphia’s Jo Pincushion. Podcast participants include Storyshuffle, Talkadelphia, Rep Radio, Comedy Food Sports, and more.

    “Fences” by GoKash Productions

    GoKash Productions presents August Wilson’s “Fences,” directed by Damien Wallace, with Kash Goins (GoKash founder) playing the role of Troy Maxson. The play, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play, is the sixth in Wilson’s 10-part “Pittsburgh Cycle,” exploring the African American experience, onstage through August 4 at Plays & Players Theatre, 1719 Delancey Street, Philadelphia.

    Cecily Garber and Ilana Levinson contributed reporting to this week’s guide.

    To submit an event to be considered for the Weekly Entertainment Guide email Robin Bloom at

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