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13 awesome things to do in Philadelphia this weekend

first fridays in philadelphia
Photograph: Courtesy Visit Philadelphia/B. Krist

The weather forecast looks a little iffy this weekend, with lots of clouds and maybe even a flurry or two on Saturday (😭!), but that doesn't mean you have to sit inside and Netflix-and-chill your time away. There are tons of things happening in the city this weekend, namely a whole lineup of cool First Friday art openings in Old City (we lay out four exhibits to check out below). It’s also the kickoff of the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival, which brings a whole week’s worth of activities to venues around the city to celebrate the gorgeous cherry blossom trees we’ve been seeing all over our Instagram feeds. On top of that, GayBINGO! returns for its last hurrah of the season with a disco theme, the Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival rolls along and Jerry Seinfeld performs at the Academy of Music. Find details on all that and more below.

Friday, April 6

United By Blue pennants

Photograph: Courtesy United By Blue

First Friday in Old City; 5pm; pay as you go

Hopefully the rain stays away long enough to allow folks the chance to enjoy First Friday in Old City this weekend. If you don’t know the drill: From 5 to 9pm on the first Friday of each month, Philadelphian art lovers take to the streets of Old City to browse over 40 galleries, which all stay open late to debut their latest exhibitions. Cafés and restaurants also get in on the fun, serving up food and drinks, and neighborhood boutiques put on sales for those looking to do some late-night shopping. The streets come alive with the sounds of live music, and local artisans set up makeshift booths to sell wares on the sidewalks. We’ve laid out a couple cool exhibits to check out below.

“Small Favors” at The Clay Studio; 5pm; free
While you”re doing your First Friday perusals, swing by the Clay Studio to check out annual exhibition of miniature artworks. They are cute, yes, but there are other reasons why artists might make objects that measure just under four inches. It could be a way to make a smaller version of something they’d normally make, or a chance to try something new. —Karen Chernick

Jane Irish and Jennifer Bartlett openings at Locks Gallery; 5:30pm; free
The Washington Square-adjacent gallery opens two excellent shows on First Friday: “Jane Irish: Architectures of Resistance” and “Jennifer Bartlett: Addresses.” Look up at the ceilings to find Jane Irish’s large-scale canvases, featuring crowning decorative architectural elements and glitzy rococo chandeliers. The murals are meant to illustrate Western colonialism and the Vietnam War—and will run concurrently with the upcoming “Jane Irish: Antipodes,” a large site-specific Irish project inside Fairmount Park Conservancy’s Lemon Hill mansion. In “Addresses,” Jennifer Bartlett uses colorful works of contemporary art to transport us outside Philadelphia to the homes of her friends, family and art dealers. The iconic works were created with enamel on steel plates. —Karen Chernick

Philly Pennant Collaboration Kickoff Party at United By Blue; 6pm; free
Old City outdoor gear retailer United By Blue teams up with True Hand Society and Oxford Pennant to create a limited collection of of Philly-inspired pennants and banners that you can hang on your wall to rep your 215 pride. The pennants shout out Philly neighborhoods, such as Fishtown and Olde City, and other slogans tied to our history, like Ben Franklin’s Revolutionary War-era cartoon “Join or Die.” The works will be available while supplies last through the month of April in both UBB locations.

Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival at various locations, through April 8 at various times and prices
This second annual film fest features 35 environmental films—both shorts and feature-length works–that spotlight some of the challenges our planet is facing and the groups working to make it right. Perhaps they’ll inspire you to get even more green-friendly.

Saturday, April 7

Photograph: Courtesy Shofuso Japanese House and Garden

Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival at various locations, times and prices
The first week of this annual festival kicks off with an itinerary of parties, food events and theater to celebrate not only Japan’s traditions but also the jaw-dropping cherry blossom trees in Fairmount Park. Timed around when the trees are expected to be at full bloom, the hoopla is anchored by two major events that actually happen next weekend, so mark your calendar: the Cherry Blossom 10K on April 14, which takes runners on a scenic loop through Fairmount Park, and Sunday Sakura, a daylong bash on April 15 that features traditional drum circles, live music, dancing, fashion shows and karaoke.

GayBINGO! at the Gershman Y; 6pm; $25–$35
Here’s your chance to play BINGO with a wild gaggle of drag queens before they pack up their cards and chips for the season. The final spring 2018 GayBINGO! night is Studio 54-themed, so channel your inner Andy and Liza, throw on some bell bottoms check off your numbers like a disco queen. The night is always a blast, cash prizes are up for grabs and—whether you win or lose—you’ll always walk out knowing you backed a good cause: Proceeds benefit local HIV/AIDS-fighting nonprofit AIDS Fund.

Jerry Seinfeld at the Academy of Music; 7:30 and 9pm; $70–$175
The wildly popular ’90s sitcom star brings jokes to the Avenue of the Arts. As of press time, there are still tickets available for the 9pm Seinfeld show.

The Wild Duck at Quintessence Theatre Group; 7:30pm; $18–$40
There are still tickets left to the opening night performance of this classic Ibsen work. After a smash-hit detour with My Fair Lady, Quintessence returns to its home turf of classic plays, an acknowledged masterpiece (though infrequently produced) that deals with some of the playwright’s favorite themes: family secrets and betrayal. —David Fox

Sunday, April 8

Photograph: Chuck Close

Last chance: “Chuck Close Photographs” at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; 11am; $15
Known for his larger-than-life portraits, Close has been creating photorealistic paintings for decades. The exhibit, with images from 1964 to the present, focuses on his photographs, many of which were studies for his paintings. Famous faces abound in Close’s art, but he also shows flowers and nudes. The artist has become a famous face in his own right—look for it, too, at this retrospective. —Sarah Jordan

Ongoing things to do in Philadelphia

“Game Masters” at The Franklin Institute; through September 3; $20
This brand new exhibition should appeal to gaming nerds with over 100 playable games from the arcade classics of the ’70s and ’80s to the multiplayer experiences of the present. Rare original concept artwork will be on view as well, showcasing the imagination of designers behind the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog. —Karen Chernick

Philly Celebrates Jazz at various locations, times and prices
Jazz Appreciation Month kicks off in Philadelphia, featuring a month-long itinerary of performances from local and international jazz artists. The event calendar is jam-packed, and includes everything from intimate shows in local jazz clubs, art exhibits and jazzy brunches. See the full lineup here.

Love Letter Train Tours at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; through May 27; $23–$41
Grab a seat on this 90-minute guided train tour of West Philadelphia that rolls past the series of 50 rooftop “A Love Letter for You” murals painted by Philly native Steve “ESPO’ Powers. In collaboration with Mural Arts Philadelphia, the works spell out adorable sayings like “open your eyes/i see the sunrise” and ”see me like i see you: beautiful.’ This is an especially good year to take a tour, since several of the murals were recently restored and Powers added a few more to ogle.

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