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29 incredible things to do in Philadelphia this weekend

By
Josh Middleton
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As we sail on into mid November, Philadelphia is keeping busy with tons of weekend events. Over the next three days, board-game lovers can check out the first-of-its-kind PAX Unplugged at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. It’s three days of activities dedicated to analog, table gaming. The Philadelphia Marathon also returns for the entire weekend, bringing with it not only a major race, but chances for everyday folks to get in on the fun, like runs for kids, health expos and a family activity day at Eakins Oval. There’s also the National Dog Show, a cool brand new special exhibit at the Barnes Foundation and a slew of new ways to celebrate Christmas in Philadelphia, such as a light show at Shady Brook Farm, one of the first showcases of Christmas lights in Philadelphia, and the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market at Dilworth Park is one of the must-shop Christmas markets Philadelphia has to offer.

Friday, November 17

pax unplugged

PAX Unplugged

“Kiefer Rodin” at the Barnes Foundation; 10am; $25
This latest special exhibit at the Barnes Foundation, pairs the French sculptor Auguste Rodin, known for sculptural masterpieces like The Thinker and The Kiss, with contemporary German artist Anselm Kiefer, who’s made a name for himself with unflinching critiques of Germany’s dark role in history.

PAX Unplugged at the Pennsylvania Convention Center; 10:30am; $25–$60
The Penny Arcade Expo, a series of gaming festivals held throughout the country, comes to Philadelphia for its first analog-only event. Here video games are replaced by new and upcoming tabletop games that attendees can try. Besides playing at their leisure, guests can take part in tournaments, attend panels and gather in the evening for game-inspired concerts.

“Collage as Painting: Kate Abercrombie and Trevor Winkfield” at Fleisher/Ollman Gallery; 10:30am; free
This show looks at how Abercrombie and Winkfield, artists of different generations and backgrounds, use collage in their art. Abercrombie employs images scavenged from sources such as the internet, newspapers and magazines with drawings and gouache. Her interest in superstition and dreamworlds is evident. Winkfield uses collage as a precursor to his paintings, which have a Dada-esque quality.

Mike Birbiglia at Merriam Theater; 7pm; $30–$55
Though he’s got a “serious” side (performing a slew of one-man shows; making movies like Sleepwalk with Me and Don’t Think Twice), Birbiglia is always funny—in a bewildered, autobiographical kind of way. His new show is called The New One, which makes sense.

Eugene Onegin at Prince Theater; 7:30pm; $25–$50
Tchaikovsky’s most-celebrated opera has had some stellar international productions in major houses in recent years. But it’s rare and special to have the chance to see and hear it—with an orchestra—in an intimate setting like the Prince Theater.

Squeeze at Keswick Theatre; 8pm; $49–$69
Led by Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, Squeeze—the alt-new wave group who gave us “Tempted” and "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)" in the ’80s—released their second comeback record in October, The Knowledge.

Every Brilliant Thing at Arden Theatre Company; 8pm; $15–$52
Teardrops are sure to fall at this area premiere, tailor-made for Philly fave Scott Greer, who narrates the story about a young boy’s efforts to convince his troubled mother that life is indeed worth living. Part improv, part audience participation and all heart, this production of an Off Broadway hit by Duncan Macmillan and Jonny Donahoe inaugurates the Arden Theatre’s new Bob and Selma Horan Studio Theatre.

Get Pegged at FringeArts; 10:30pm; $5–$10
Bearded Ladies Cabaret Artistic Director John Jarboe—who recently slayed as the emcee in Arden Theatre Company’s production of Cabaret—hosts this monthly, queer-centric musical series inspired by old-school French cabaret. It features a top-notich lineup of vocal and performance-art talents from Philadelphia, New York City and beyond. This time around, look out for Angela Di Carlo from the comedic Attention Deficit Disorder Cabaret.

Saturday, November 18

National Dog Show

National Dog Show at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center; 8am; $16
Dog lovers will be in heaven at this century-old competition hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia, which sees 2,000 canines in all shapes and sizes—and including therapy and rescue dogs—in a contest to find this year’s Best in Show. Guests have a chance to get up close and personal with the animals as they’re getting groomed for the showroom, and can get down on the floor when the judges are doing their once-overs. Can’t make it to the show? Saturday’s portion of the event will be broadcast on NBC 10 on Thanksgiving Day from noon–2pm.

Cut Your Own Christmas Tree at Linvilla Orchards; 10am; $69.99
Linvilla Orchards is one of the best Christmas tree farms near Philadelphia, featuring a whopping 40,000 firs of all shapes and sizes. A trip out there to cut your own Christmas tree begins with a hayride through the 300-acre farm, where you’ll wind through verdant tree forests stocked with Canaan and Douglas Fir varieties. After you chop down your pick, Linvilla employees will wrap it up and help you haul it back to your vehicle. Not in the mood to cut your own Christmas tree? You can also shop from a variety of pre-cut ones in the Garden Center, and maybe pick up some holiday decor while you’re there. Be sure to head back on select Saturdays in December to take one of the nighttime Wassailing Caroling Hayrides.

Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market at Dilworth Park; 11am; pay as you go
Load up all season (and even a little beyond) with distinctive creations from area artisans, designers and confectioners in the shadow of City Hall. Find more great Christmas markets Philadelphia has to offer.

Holiday Light Show at Shady Brook Farm; 5pm; $12–$30
A one-stop holiday shop, Shady Brook Farm offers freshly cut Christmas trees, visits with Santa, marshmallow roasting, and, of course, lights—over 3 million of them. The Grinch, Statue of Liberty and local favorite characters make appearances during the 20-minute light tour, which you can enjoy from the comfort of your car or on a festive wagon ride. Discover other places to see Christmas lights in Philadelphia.

GayBINGO: Perfect Illusion at the Gershman Y; 6pm; $25–$35
This version of the BINGO bash, led by a campy gaggle of drag queens who call themselves the Bingo Verifying Divas (BVDs), is Lady Gaga themed. Throw on your best meat dress and meet the gals at the tables. Proceeds benefit local HIV/AIDS-fighting nonprofit AIDS Fund.

The Philadelphia Orchestra presents Haydn’s Seasons at the Kimmel Center; 8pm; $56–$101
It’s always an event when the Philadelphia Orchestra’s adored music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, takes to the podium. But the maestro has a special affinity for large-scale choral works, which he has consistently conducted with great success. This year it’s Haydn’s Seasons, a glorious spring-to-winter survey, about which Nézet-Séguin says: “Haydn put everything he had into that score.”

Princess Nokia/UNIIQU3 at Coda Philly; 8pm; $20
This is a double bill of top-notch female rappers. UNIIQU3, pronounced unique, is a bratty motormouth MC from Jersey. NYC’s Princess Nokia is more chill but just as ornery.

The Craftsman at Lantern Theater Company; 8pm; $15–$45
Seemingly every company in the area has staged something from Barrymore-winning playwright Bruce Graham—and now it’s Lantern Theater’s turn with this world premiere that concerns a Dutch art dealer on trial for selling Vermeer paintings to the Nazis. Look out for appearances by company regulars Dan Hodge, Anthony Lawton and Ian Merrill Peakes in this dark and provocative drama that examines the concepts of betrayal and genius.

Church Girls at Johnny Brenda’s; 8pm; $10–$12
This Philly band mixes groovy, jangly indie-pop with dark lyrics about outliving friends and breaking glass to stay awake. Hidalgo, released in September, pretty much sounds like ’90s band Belly, but laced with something bitter.

Sweet 16 at Christ Church Neighborhood House; 8pm; $25
Close out the 14-day First Person Arts Festival at this soiree featuring a whopping 16 storytellers performing throughout the night, such as Esther Chiang, Steve Clark, Lisa Nelson-Haynes and David Smith.

Last chance: Works by Luke O’Sullivan at Paradigm Gallery + Studio; 6pm; free
Journey into a world of fantastical, diorama-esque sculptures at this enchanting exhibit. Artist O’Sullivan draws inspiration from sci-fi and dystopian films and creates intricate, three-dimensional works that explore the relationship between our physical world and the underworld.

Sunday, November 19

Photograph: Courtesy Visit Philly/M. Edlow

Philadelphia Marathon at Philadelphia Museum of Art; 7am; free
You don’t have to be a runner to enjoy this annual race around the City of Brotherly Love. Make a sign and post yourself at one of the dozens of cheer zones along the route, which takes marathoners from the art museum to Center City and along the scenic Kelly Drive. The big race is Sunday, but noncompetitors can participate in a health expo and a family-friendly Kids Fun Run on Saturday.

My Fair Lady at Quintessence Theatre Group; 3pm; $18-$40
This small company has done some fine, often very imaginative work in its home base, a wonderfully atmospheric former movie theater. They specialize in classical theater—so My Fair Lady is both in their wheelhouse and an intriguing stretch. They’ll use the charming two-piano version that was a big Chicago hit not long ago, so expect the production to be full of interesting touches.

Last chance: Blood Wedding at the Wilma Theater; 8pm; $30
The Wilma Theater reimagines this searing Spanish classic, which picks up with a young bride on the morning of her wedding day. Things take a turn for the chaotic when a former lover—and an enemy of the bride’s family—swoops in and convinces her to run away with him. Suddenly a family feud is reignited, and the whole town is thrown into a tizzy—one that has destructive consequences.

Last chance: The Gap at Azuka Theatre; 2pm; pay what you decide
This world premiere by Philadelphia playwright Emma Goidel concerns a woman named Nicole who’s convinced she was abducted by aliens. Her sister Lee thinks she’s lost her marbles but decides to join Nicole on a journey to discover the truth about the bizarre experience. The show marries performance art and dark comedy to ponder the question: Is it really better to remember than to forget?

Last chance: 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.

Last chance: 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.

Last chance: 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.

Ongoing

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.

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.

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