Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, with Welcome America, announces today the opening and reimagination of The Oval XP, Presented by Our People Entertainment. The Oval XP transforms a public parking lot into Philadelphia’s largest outdoor urban oasis where locals and visitors alike can enjoy eight acres of food and beverage, art, music and entertainment, wellness experiences, and free special event programming. The Oval XP officially opens to the public on Thursday, June 16, 2022, bringing a renewed sense of energy to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The Oval XP will be open Wednesday through Sunday through August 21, 2022, extending its seasonal run from six to eleven weeks this summer.
The summer-long experience welcomes Philadelphians back to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway while uplifting and investing in the city’s creative economy. The Oval XP will showcase Philadelphia’s award-winning and talented local artists, makers, and entrepreneurs. Highlights at The Oval XP include unique art installations, live music performances and additional entertainment, wellness programming and more, alongside numerous food and beverage pop-ups throughout the season. Most notably, The Oval XP will be home to Philadelphia’s largest beer garden and anchored by the world’s largest mobile observation wheel and signature Carousel.
“Since we first launched The Oval in the summer of 2014, Philadelphians have come to expect dynamic all-ages outdoor programming on the Parkway, and we know the newly imagined Oval XP will deliver,” says Kathryn Ott Lovell, Commissioner of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation. “Thanks to our incredible partners and sponsors, this summer, The Oval XP will host ten weeks of dynamic, vibrant summer fun celebrating the arts, culture, and communities that make Philadelphia great.”
Front and center at The Oval XP is the Ferris wheel – standing at 108 feet tall – and the brand new Summer Stage – a 32’x24’ foot stage that will host some of the most diverse music programming in the country. Confirmed acts for the summer include Queen of James, Chestnut Grove, Zeek Burse, SNACKTIME, CATBITE, June Divided, UGO, The Huntertones, Dry Reef, Remember Jones, York Street Hustle, Arthur Thomas & The Funkitorium, Stella Ruze, and more.
The Summer Stage will also host free community-based events, including the 2022 Love From Philly Festival on June 11, 2022, and NUEVOFEST on July 9th, 2022. The 2022 Love From Philly Festival makes its triumphant LIVE return from its groundbreaking virtual rendition in 2020 that raised over $100,000 for out-of-work musicians and gig workers. This year’s festival will be capped with a FREE screening of Amir “Questlove” Thompson’s Academy Award winning documentary Summer of Soul, the first screening since its debut at Sundance. Directly behind and overlooking The Summer Stage sits the Ferris wheel, offering riders never-before-seen views of Philadelphia – including 360-degree aerial views of the Ben Franklin Parkway, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Center City skyline, and more.
“The opening of The Oval XP presents an incredible way to keep the energy and excitement of our City going all summer long,” says Michael DelBene, President & CEO of Welcome America Inc. “We are delighted to support this new opportunity for Philadelphians to continue celebrating what makes our city so special – from arts & culture, award-winning food & beverage, live musical entertainment and more.”
To celebrate the public art found throughout the city, The Oval XP will be enhanced with a 33,000 square foot ground mural titled, Common Ground, by artist Calo Rosa. Born in San Salvador and now an artist that lives and works in Philadelphia, Calo Rosa notes the inspiration from the mural comes from the idea to create a playful space where we all can relate and enjoy being together in common ground. Best known for his colorful street art pieces, Calo Rosa and his works portray his Latin American culture and mirror the sounds, roots and forms of the urban-tropical lifestyle,
“Art is a common ground that unites us all,” says Jane Golden, executive director, Mural Arts Philadelphia. “Mural Arts Philadelphia is thrilled to enhance The Oval XP with public art to amplify this space that will bring communities together this summer. We can’t wait to join in the fun.”
The beer garden, at The Oval XP houses nearly 60,000 square feet of outdoor space – the largest outdoor beer garden in the city to date – including multiple bars and seating options, giant backyard game and a small performance stage with a line-up of free performances by diverse local comedians, spoken word poets and acoustic artists and more. Operated by Philadelphia’s MilkBoy (with an additional location at 1100 Chestnut Street), the beer garden will feature 24 taps from local craft breweries, alongside a rotating selection of pop-up menus crafted by local minority and female chefs. The beer garden’s unique décor is made up of upcycled materials Philadelphia Parks & Recreation has stored throughout the decades – including old building materials, park benches, and trash cans. Guests are invited to admire pieces of Philadelphia’s history as they sip on beers and indulge in local cuisine.
“There are so many creatives in this city that deserve an outlet to spotlight their work. The Oval XP gives these individuals and organizations a platform to showcase their talents, amplify their reach and uplift our community while doing so,” says Will Horrocks, Co-Founder & Owner of Our People Entertainment. “We are honored to bring unique, unexpected, and most importantly accessible programming to the people of Philadelphia throughout the summer.”
Our People Entertainment and its partners have also brought the space into the current times in developing a user-friendly mobile application that allows visitors to control their experience. The app will include an interactive map noting events, programming, vendors, food and beverage interests across The Oval grounds. An integrated POS system allows visitors to engage in contactless purchases and choose to either pick up food and beverage items or have their experience delivered to them at their seat. Follow @theovalphl to find out how to download the app and be the first to hear about the dozens of upcoming announcements throughout the summer.
For those looking for family-friendly programming, The Imagination Space at The Oval XP offers free immersive installations and amenities designed to engage kids ages 12 and under. In The Imagination Space, enjoy nine-hole miniature golf course, imagination playground blocks and builder kits, and interactive gaming activities – like ping-pong, Connect Four and Legos, plus borrow books and instruments from the outdoor reading and music carts. The Imagination Space will also offer a variety of free events ranging from storybook readings, arts and crafts, music lessons, children-friendly performances and more. Next to The Imagination Space, guests can ride The Oval XP’s signature Carousel.
“The Parkway Council and its members are excited to welcome visitors to The Oval XP this summer,” said Matt Rader, President of the Parkway Council. “The Oval is a wonderful opportunity to activate the Parkway and welcome visitors to see for themselves what makes the Benjamin Franklin Parkway a world class urban park.”
The Oval XP will feature free programming and games every day. Complimentary restrooms and WiFi will also be available onsite, pairing with pay as you go attractions and amenities like the Ferris wheel, Carousel, and beer garden.
“Spending time at the Oval is quickly becoming a must-do summer ritual for families in Logan Square and across Philadelphia,” said Dennis Boylan, President, Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA). “We are excited to welcome The Oval XP back to the Parkway for a safe and successful summer 2022 season!”