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17 awesome things to do in Philadelphia this weekend

17 awesome things to do in Philadelphia this weekend
Photograph: Courtesy Center City District/Matt Stanley

November is moving along, which means we’re inching closer to the holidays. If you’re ready to dive in, you can enjoy the first weekend of two major annual Christmas events: the Rothman Ice Rink at Dilworth Park and the Franklin Square Holiday Festival and Electrical Spectacle. If you’re not quite ready to get on the holiday bandwagon, there’s plenty more to do. Annie debuts at the Walnut Street Theatre; NSFW Dance Party hosts a hanky-themed bash; and the Rocky Run takes off from the Philadelphia Museum of Art with thousands of runners donning Rocky Balboa gear. Find info about all that and more in our roundup of the best things to do in Philadelphia this weekend below.

Friday, November 10

franklin square

Rothman Ice Rink and America’s Garden Capital Maze at Dilworth Park; all day; pay as you go
Get the full holiday experience at this charming rink in the shadow of City Hall. Besides endless skating, this year’s Wintergarden features the Rothman Institute Cabin, where you can cozy up with seasonal cocktails, craft beer and light bites; the America’s Garden Capital Maze, a “popup maze-meets-garden” full of photogenic plants and lights; and the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market, which features wares from area artists, craftspeople and confectionary wizards.

Franklin Square Holiday Festival and Electrical Spectacle; 4:30pm; pay as you go
Franklin Square spreads the holiday cheer with its annual celebration centered around its dazzling light show, Electrical Spectacle, which features more than 50,000 lights and a glowing kite that recalls Ben Franklin’s famous experiment that was supposedly performed there. Wintry comfort foods, the Winter Beer Garden—which is always stocked with seasonal beers and cider—and weekend visits from Santa round out the seasonal fun.

Mike Daisey Monologues at Philadelphia Theatre Company; 8pm; $25–$69
Famed monologist Daisey rolls into Philadelphia to present two pointed works that look at where we are a year after the presidential election that gave us Donald Trump. In This Is Not Normal, he discusses the anxiety many feel about some of the policies and actions coming out of the White House and how that fear feeds into the creation of fascism. The End of Journalism zeroes in on the state of our news media and how befuddling it can be to live in a world where news alerts come across our phones more often than texts and we have to decipher “real” and “fake” headlines.

Annie at Walnut Street Theatre; 8pm; $20–$97
Watch with delight as Little Orphan Annie goes from hard-knock life to the lap of luxury in this beloved musical. Audiences of all ages will enjoy the Tony Award–winning show, complete with classic musical numbers like “Tomorrow,” “Maybe” and “Easy Street.”

Hanky: An NSFW Dance Party at secret location; $5–$10
One of Philly’s sexiest recurring LGBTQ dance parties returns with a hanky theme, nodding to the days when gay men used color-coded hankies to let other dudes know what they were looking for. The location of this one is super secret. You have to purchase tickets or register for the guest list to be notified.

Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival; various locations and prices
This 10-day flick fest features films made by and starring Asian American artists and that highlight the Asian American experience. The itinerary includes everything from documentary to feature lengths and shorts.

Saturday, November 11

Rocky Run

Rocky Run at Philadelphia Museum of Art; 7:15am; free to watch
Join thousands of runners wearing Rocky-inspired gear in this race that honors the beloved Philadelphia-based movie franchise. Participants have three options: a 5K, 10K and the 13.1-mile Italian Stallion Challenge. The treks meander along the Schuylkill River and loop back around to the base of the “Rocky Steps” where Instagram ops abound.

Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center; 10am; $18–$25
As part of the monthlong CraftNOW Philadelphia event, PMA hosts this major showcase of contemporary crafting wonders made by 200 artists from around the country.

EMA + the Blow at PhilaMOCA; 7:30pm; $13–$15
Erika Michelle Anderson makes droney, noisy electronic rock music that seethes with dark, muscular energy. Khaela Maricich and Melissa Dyne, a.k.a. the Blow, have a long-running experimental-pop project that seems to be in a lo-fi sci-fi state of mind these days. Both acts are mesmerizingly off-kilter—and both drop new records before this show rolls around.

The Mountain Goats at Union Transfer; 7:30pm; $26
There’s nothing particularly “goth” sounding about the Mountain Goats’ Goths record, but frontman John Darnielle is obviously a lover of the genre and the lost souls who are drawn to it. Gene Loves Jezebel, Robert Smith, Siouxsie Sioux, Sisters of Mercy and dozens of other eye-lined heroes get shoutouts in songs that have a stark, Leonard Cohen-ish spookiness. Saxophonist Matt Douglas really shines when these songs are played live.

Last Chance: Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary; 7pm; $19–$89
Haunted attraction Terror Behind the Walls involves six segments that add up to about an hour’s worth of character interaction, bone-chilling scares, prison exploration and elaborate costuming and makeup. This year’s brand-new attraction, “Blood Yard,” posits what it might be like to prepare human flesh for the tasting. Guests walk through a prison yard into a lair where a butcher and an empress await, flanked by a horde of cannibals wearing muzzles. Those who choose to interact could be asked to salt and prepare prosthetic limbs alongside the impatient flesh-hungry characters.

Sunday, November 12

Pennsylvania Ballet

On Edge at the Merriam Theater; 2pm; $35-$149
Three cutting edge choreographers debut new works in this Pennsylvania Ballet program that seeks to “push choreography to its limits” and challenge the notion of modern ballet.

Manayunk Cocktail Week; through Nov 12
Head to Main Street through Sunday for this multi-day celebration of Manayunk’s craft cocktail scene. Events include tastings, dinner pairings, cocktail competitions and more at participating bars such as Bourbon Blue, Lucky’s Last Chance and Manayunk Brewing Company.

Ongoing

Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival at various locations and various prices
If you felt overwhelmed by the Philadelphia Film Festival, the PJFF may be more your speed. It brings a doable 30 flicks over its two-week run to screens across the city, including the Gershman Y. Get the full rundown of showings here.

First Person Arts Festival at various locations
This 14-day festival celebrates the art of storytelling and features a ton of events. Get the full rundownhere

CraftNOW Philadelphia at various locations, times and prices
This month-plus event is a celebration of Philadelphia’s vibrant crafting community. Keep your eyes peeled throughout November for events that run the spectrum from hands-on craft-making workshops to parties and exhibitions at crafting hubs around town such as the Center for Art in Wood and the Clay Studio in Old City.

Monument Lab at various locations through Nov 19
A new Mural Arts Philadelphia project called Monument Lab tasks 20 local and national artists with creating monuments to the city. They will be displayed in 10 public parks around town between September 16 and November 19. The works in Monument Lab come in all shapes, sizes and formats—from a giant Afro pick at Thomas Paine Plaza to a collection of stoops in Washington Square—and are meant to give voice to overlooked communities and address current social issues facing this city. Here are five projects we’re excited about and where to find them.

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