Want to get your patriotism on, but still have to pay rent for your summer sublet? Living in Philly can be expensive, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the many interesting free and cheap activities that pop up all over the city. Celebrate Memorial Day on a budget with these events that’ll probably cost you less than a meal swipe. 

2019 Memorial Salute by the Philly POPS 

Free

The Philly POPS, a 65–piece orchestra performing American popular music, will join professional and student choirs in its annual concert celebrating Memorial Day. The concert, which takes place on Saturday, May 25 from 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m., will feature “patriotic anthems, Great American Songbook classics, and showtunes.” Supporting local musicians is always cool, and it’s pretty rare to hear a professional orchestra play for free. All it takes is about a 15–minute Uber ride from campus to the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, located at 5201 Parkside Avenue in Philadelphia. 


UNIVESTival at Spruce Street Harbor Park 

Free

The three–day celebration, which takes place from Friday, May 24 to Sunday, May 26, promises food, family–friendly activities, and musical performances. The highlight of the event is a concert by the U.S. Air Force Band Full Spectrum at the Great Plaza on May 25, which will be followed by a fireworks show. Walking around and watching the fireworks is completely free, but you might end up spending some money on food and drink while you’re there. 


Independence National Historical Park 

Free 

The national park has family–friendly activities planned all throughout Memorial Day weekend. From May 25–27, you can enjoy presentations by park rangers on military service animals and American soldier spies, as well as test your trivia skills during daily Quizzo at the Benjamin Franklin Museum.


Memorial Day Parade: A Comedy Variety Show

$5–7

Want to celebrate Memorial Day with some lighthearted comedy? Philly Improv Theater is hosting a variety show on Monday, May 27 from 7:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m., centered around the organizers of a small-town parade who “may have bit off more than they could chew.” Tickets are only $5 online and $7 at the door. The theater is located at 2030 Sansom Street in Philadelphia. 

Photo courtesy of Philly Improv Theater

The National Constitution Center

$13 for students 

The historical museum is full of special events for Memorial Day, all of which will take place from May 25–27 during regular hours. Festivities include a concert by the Air National Guard Band, a presentation on the origins of the national holiday, and hands-on activities involving real Civil War artifacts. The regular exhibits are also up for display, so the National Constitution Center gives you an entire weekend’s worth of patriotism and learning for just $13. 


Museum of the American Revolution 

$18 for students 

This traditional way of celebrating Memorial Day is a little low on the list because it’s pricier than other events, but if you’re interested in the history of the holiday with a focus on the Revolutionary War, it’s definitely worth a look. Museum–goers get access to everything included with the general admission ticket in addition to hands-on exhibits and guided tours to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The special events last from regular museum hours on May 25 until May 27. And if you’re a veteran or an active/retired service member, you can actually go for free! 

 Photo courtesy of GordonMakryllos  

Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival

$18–20

Not that into the history and just want to do something fun? The Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival, which is open through June 30, will shine nightly in Franklin Square from 6:00 p.m.–11:00 p.m. during Memorial Day weekend. The lanterns, craft displays by Chinese folk artists, and traditional musical performances are all included with the admission ticket. There’s also food, drink, and crafts for sale at the venue. 


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