Philadelphia is gearing up to host Pope Francis during the weekend of Saturday, September 26 – Sunday, September 27. Events open to the public include a speech at Independence Hall, an outdoor Festival of Families, and a Papal Mass. Here’s what you need to know if you want to see the Pope while he’s in Philly.

The Pope in Philadelphia

Pope Francis to visit Philadelphia

Philadelphia is gearing up to host Pope Francis in September (Photo Philadelphia Traveling Mom Sarah Ricks)

If you do not have tickets to the public events, you can watch the Papal visit, even events closed to the public, via 40 Jumbotrons that will be erected around Center City Philadelphia. Those events include the Pope’s 10:30 a.m. Mass at Philadelphia’s Cathedral on Saturday, and the Pope’s visit to a Philadelphia prison (11 a.m. Sunday).

The good news about Pope’s visit to Philadelphia

Hotel rooms and AirBnB rentals are still available. You can also stay with a family in their own home, with listings organized by the World Meeting of Families. Listings are available here.

While some businesses and all government offices will be closed during the Papal visit, food trucks, Reading Terminal Market, and many restaurants will be open to feed the crowds. And Philadelphia has lots of free fun things to do, many of which will be open even during the Pope’s visit.

The less good news about the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia

Security is very tight. The Secret Service is in charge of security because the Pope is a head of state. From Friday night through some time Monday, the Secret Service will prohibit all vehicles from several highways, the Ben Franklin Bridge, plus a huge chunk of Center City Philadelphia. Even buses and taxis are not allowed inside the no-traffic zone. The best way to get to Center City will be regional trains, buses, subway and trolleys, which will run on a limited schedule. Details here.

Pope visit to Philadelphia

Pope Francis will visit Philadelphia in September (Photo by Philadelphia Traveling Mom Sarah Ricks)

Once you arrive in Center City Philadelphia, the best way to get around is walking. Be prepared to walk long distances. Wear comfortable shoes. Drink water. Weather for the weekend is predicted to be partly sunny with a high of 79 degrees, so dress in layers, use sunblock, stay hydrated.

Inside the no-traffic zone, organizers encourage clear bags, ponchos instead of umbrellas, and fully charged cell phones and portable batteries since charging abilities will be limited.

No Selfie Sticks

What not to bring inside the no-traffic zone: Obviously, no weapons. But the Secret Service also prohibits, among other things:

  • Backpacks and bags exceeding 18″ x 13″ x 7″
  • Bicycles
  • Glass, thermal, or metal containers
  • Hard-sided coolers (soft-sided thermal coolers are allowed)
  • Packages
  • Selfie sticks

In Philadelphia, shops selling Pope toys, mugs, T-shirts, and key chains have popped up as excitement builds about the Pope’s visit in September.

Have you ever attended a huge public event that attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors? Do you have any advice? Please share it in the comments.