The Oval+

Summer 2017 welcomes a re-imagined version of the Oval back to the Parkway, emphasizing its role as both gateway to Fairmount Park and a great civic space in its own right. What’s Your Parkway?

The Oval began as an experiment in activating underutilized public space in the summer of 2013. Over the past four years, Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation have worked in partnership to bring the Oval to the Parkway, transforming an eight-acre surface parking lot into a vibrant seasonal destination with games, fitness, and activities for people of all ages. In 2016, we added a series of events, resources and workshops aimed at engaging the public in envisioning the past, present, and future of Fairmount Park.

Now in its fifth year, the Oval returns as the Oval+ (Plus), building on previous efforts to highlight the Parkway as a gateway to Fairmount Park, and challenging visitors to take ownership of the Parkway as a great civic space in its own right. By expanding both its vision and physical footprint , the Oval+ asks all Philadelphians to answer the question: “What’s Your Parkway?”

A collaboration between Fairmount Park Conservancy, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, and design firm PORT Urbanism, the Oval+ features three open-air “rooms” punctuated by customized, illuminated totems. These totems, some reaching up to 24 feet in height, are physical structures that identify each space’s theme (nature, art/culture/play, and dialogue) and highlight the expansion of the Oval to satellite sites at Aviator Park and the recently re-opened, re-designed Shakespeare Park, outside of the Free Library.

One “room” invites visitors to explore the lost and hidden Fairmount Park. Another celebrates both familiar and not-so-familiar aspects of Philadelphia culture and recreation. The last “room” centers on a huge chalkboard ground mural of the city, allowing visitors and locals alike to literally draw onto the city what they imagine their Parkway to be. The new ground mural is designed by PORT Urbanism and painted by Mural Arts Philadelphia.

Locations of THE OVAL+ at Eakins Oval, Shakespeare Park and Aviator Park.


The Oval+ offers an expanded slate of programming in 2017. Like the Oval of years past, this includes the ever-popular movie and music nights, food trucks, beer garden, and other family-friendly activities. It also includes a new and dynamic maze through the trees and opportunities for conversation and open dialogue through hosted gatherings and talks.

The Oval+ runs from July 20 – August 20, Wednesdays through Saturdays. Programming includes:

  • Wellness Wednesdays, offering free fitness classes from 6-8pm (including power yoga by Yoga Habit; Philly Dance Fitness; CKO Kickboxing; Dance Boot Camp; CoreFitness Boot Camp)
  • Arts & Culture Thursdays, featuring hip-hop classes and DJ dance parties (Hip Hop Fundamentals)
  • Food & Flicks Fridays
  • Game Day Saturdays, with Kids Music Jam 2-4pm and Quizzo 4-6pm in the beer garden
  • Family Fun Sundays
A view of the summer installation and beer garden at THE OVAL+.