35 Best Performing Arts Venues in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

Center City West Fodor's choice

This striking complex evokes Philadelphia's traditional redbrick structures, while making a contemporary design statement. The 450,000-square-foot facility by architect Rafael Viñoly includes the 2,500-seat cello-shaped Verizon Hall, the more intimate 650-seat Perelman Theater, a restaurant run by chef Jose Garces, a rooftop terrace, and public plaza—all topped by a dramatic glass-vaulted roof. Along with its resident companies, such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra, and the American Theater Arts for Youth, the center presents touring orchestral, jazz, and dance performances.

Philadelphia Folk Festival

Fodor's choice

First held in 1961, the oldest continuously running folk festival in the country takes place each year in late August. Arlo Guthrie, Levon Helm, Trombone Shorty, Doc Watson, Taj Mahal, Joan Baez, and Judy Collins are just a few of the artists who have performed here.

Academy of Music

Center City West

Inspired by Milan's La Scala opera house and completed in 1857, the Academy of Music is the oldest grand opera house in the country still used for its intended purpose. An architectural marvel as well as a center for culture, the Academy features a lavish, neo-baroque interior, with red velvet seats, gilt, carvings, ceiling murals, and a huge crystal chandelier. Home to the Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Ballet, the landmark also plays host to performances by major orchestras, theatrical and dance touring companies, and solo artists.

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Annenberg Center

University City

The performing-arts complex on University of Pennsylvania's campus features multiple stages, from the 115-seat Bruce Montgomery Theatre to the 936-seat Zellerbach. Something's always going on—including productions of musical comedy, drama, dance, and children's theater.

Arden Theatre Company

Old City

The Arden, formed in 1988, is known for premiering new works and offering a mix of classic drama, comedy, and musicals, with a special affinity for the works of Stephen Sondheim; the company has won many local Barrymore Awards. Its home is in Old City.

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AVA Opera Theatre

Rittenhouse Square

The resident artists at the Academy of Vocal Arts, a four-year, tuition-free vocal training program, present four or five fully staged opera productions during their September to May season. They are accompanied by the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and perform at various venues in and around the city.

Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia

Center City West

Directed by Dirk Brossé, this prestigious group performs chamber music from September to May at the Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.

Clark Park Music and Arts Festival

University City
Typically scheduled for the Saturday closest to the summer solstice, this annual celebration brings together live bands, performers, vendors, food, and kid-centric activities---a tradition that’s been in place since 1970 in this 9-acre city park. It’s an inviting introduction to the all-are-welcome, multicultural energy so closely associated with West Philadelphia.

Curtis Institute of Music

Rittenhouse Square

The gifted students at this world-renowned music conservatory give free recitals several times a week from October through May at 8 pm. All of its students are on full scholarships; its alumni include such luminaries as Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Barber, and Anna Moffo. The school also has an opera and symphony orchestra series.

Forrest Theatre

Center City East

The Forrest is the place to catch Broadway blockbusters in Philadelphia. About eight high-profile shows are presented each season—think hits like The Book of Mormon, Bullets Over Broadway, Pippin, and The Sound of Music.

Freedom Theatre

North Philadelphia

The oldest and most active African-American theater in Pennsylvania is nationally renowned. Performances are scheduled throughout the year, primarily from September through June.

Keswick Theatre

This 1,300-seat hall is a former vaudeville house and cinema that's on the National Register of Historic Places. Known for its fine acoustics, it hosts rock, jazz, country, comedy, and other entertainment.

Mann Center for the Performing Arts


Pop, jazz, contemporary music, Broadway theater, opera, dance, and Shakespeare are presented in this open-air amphitheater in Fairmount Park from May through September. In the summer months, the Philadelphia Orchestra is in residence, along with noted soloists and guest conductors. International food booths and a tented buffet restaurant offer dinner before the show.

Merriam Theater

Center City West

Built in 1918 as the Shubert, the ornate 1,688-seat theater has had many stage greats, including Al Jolson, Helen Hayes, Katharine Hepburn, Sammy Davis Jr., Angela Lansbury, and Sir Laurence Olivier. Named after a local benefactor, the lavishly decorated Merriam hosts a full schedule of national tours of Broadway shows, modern dance companies, and solo performers, from the magicians Penn & Teller to tap dancer Savion Glover.

Opera Company of Philadelphia

Center City West

The company stages five or six productions a year between October and May at the Academy of Music; some operas have international stars. All performances are in the original language, with English supertitles above the stage.

Painted Bride Art Center

Old City

By day it's a contemporary art gallery showing bold, challenging works. By night it's a multidisciplinary, multicultural performance center, with performance art, prose and poetry readings, folk and new music, jazz, dance, and avant-garde theater. The gallery is open Tuesday–Saturday noon–6.

PECO Multicultural Series

Penn's Landing

PECO, Philadelphia's primary electric provider, sponsors a series of global celebrations along Penn's Landing over summer weekends. Each installment focuses on a different cultural tradition, a welcome respite from the grueling dog days of the season.

Pennsylvania Ballet

Center City West

Artistic director Angel Corella leads the company through a season of classic favorites and new works; they dance on the stage of the Academy of Music and at the Merriam Theater at the University of the Arts. Their annual production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker is a holiday favorite.

Philadelphia Chamber Music Society

Center City West

From October to May, the society presents 60 concerts featuring nationally and internationally known musicians. The schedule is packed with a piano, vocal, and chamber music series, a special-events and jazz series, and string recitals. Performances are held in the Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and at other locations in the city.

Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts

Center City East

Dedicated solely to jazz, including its history and instruction, the Clef Club boasts a 240-seat theater for live concerts, celebrating both the present and past of Philly jazz.

Philadelphia Dance Company

Center City West

This modern troupe, also known as PHILADANCO, is recognized for its innovative performances that weld contemporary and classical forms and the traditions of other cultures, with a particular emphasis on African-American dance heritage.

Philadelphia Film Festival

This two-week extravaganza in late October organized by the Philadelphia Film Society is filled with screenings, seminars, and events attended by critics, scholars, filmmakers, and cinema buffs. It's held at various venues around the city.

Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe

Northern Liberties

The Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe, known collectively as FringeArts, is a performing arts festival that takes over the city for approximately two weeks each September. Live Arts offers cutting-edge dance and theater from international and local groups, while the Fringe is a free-for-all of longtime established companies to fly-by-night operations that produce their own shows. Productions, once spread far across the city, are now concentrated at the org's headquarters at Columbus and Race streets.

Philadelphia Orchestra

Center City West

Considered one of the world's best symphony orchestras, the Philadelphia Orchestra is overseen by the effervescent Yannick Nézet-Séguin. The orchestra's present home is the cello-shaped Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. The 2,500-seat hall is the centerpiece of the performing-arts center at Broad and Spruce Streets—a dynamic complex housed under a glass-vaulted roof. Orchestra concerts during the September–May season are still among the city's premier social events. In summer the orchestra performs at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts.

Philadelphia Theatre Company

Center City West

Philadelphia and world premieres of works by contemporary American playwrights are performed here. In 2007 they moved to their new permanent home, the 365-seat Suzanne Roberts theater on the Avenue of the Arts.

Prince Music Theater

Center City West

Owned and operated by the Philadelphia Film Society, the Prince has evolved into a regular venue for movie screenings, though it also hosts concerts, cabaret, opera, comedy, and more.

qFLIX Philadelphia

This annual festival of contemporary LGBTQ+ cinema takes place in a variety of venues around the city. qFLIX Philadelphia hosts other film-related events throughout the year.

Roots Picnic

Northern Liberties

A one-day free-for-all on the Festival Pier of the Delaware waterfront in early June, the Roots Picnic is hosted by Philly's own hip-hop legends, The Roots, and includes a slew of hip-hop, indie, and DJ performances, including previous performers TV on the Radio, Public Enemy, and Nas.

Society Hill Playhouse

Society Hill

For more than 50 years, this small off-Broadway–style theater, just off South Street, has mounted original plays. The main stage is for contemporary works; the smaller Red Room features cabaret and musical comedies.

Susquehanna Bank Center

Across the Delaware River in Camden, New Jersey, the Susquehanna Bank Center programs everything from classical to rock and roll in an adaptable space. Between the outdoor and indoor areas, it can host crowds as large as 25,000, with the indoor facility able to accommodate 7,000.