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14 incredible things to do in Philadelphia this weekend

Josh Middleton

The holidays are behind us and now we’re looking ahead at a brand new year. How are you going to spend the first weekend of 2018? It’s supposed to be bone-chillingly cold, but you could delve into some outdoor wintertime activities such as ice skating at Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest or the Rothman Ice Rink at City Hall—both of which offer cozy cabin retreats for when you need to warm up over a cup of hot chocolate or something boozier. It’s also First Friday in Old City, where you can hop from shop to shop and gallery to gallery to see what’s new in local art and fashion. If you want to be sheltered from the cold, check out some indoor to-dos such as a screening of Black Orpheus at the African American Museum of Philadelphia, a sure-to-be-sweaty indie-rock show at Boot & Saddle or a queer burlesque show in the Gayborhood starring some of the city’s hairiest shimmy-shakers. Find all that and more in our guide to the best things to do in Philadelphia this weekend below.

Oh, while you’re at it: Could you please take some time to fill out this quick click-through survey about living in Philadelphia? We’re looking to compile some stats about what locals think about their city—including their favorite neighborhoods to hang out in and best restaurants. Answers are completely confidential, so feel free to speak your mind. We’ll publish results in an upcoming issue of Time Out Philadelphia. Thanks in advance!

Friday, January 5

Happy hour offerings at Barclay Prime

Photograph: Courtesy Barclay Prime

Happy Hour at Barclay Prime; 4:30–6:30pm; pay as you go
The swanky Rittenhouse steakhouse and lounge recently kicked off a new happy hour program featuring an earlier start time (4:30pm) and a slew of new food and drink offerings. Everything on the happy hour drink menu is $6 and that includes four items each on a cocktail, beer and wine list. Pair your drinks with a selection of shareable plates—such as the new Alaskan king crab roll (pictured) or aged beef sliders—and options from the raw bar and seafood cocktail list. See the full menu here.

First Friday in Old City; 5pm; pay as you go
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. It’s a quintessential Philadelphia experience—and one of the best free things to do in Philadelphia.

Black Orpheus screening at the African American Museum of Philadelphia; 6:30pm; free
After happy hour, head to the African American Museum of Philadelphia to catch a free screening of the 1959 Oscar-winning flick that sets the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in the slums of Brazil. While you’re there, be sure to check out AAMP’s latest special exhibition, “Gardens of the Mind.”

Friday Night Improv Comedy at Good Good Comedy; 7pm; $12
During this long-running improv spectacle, actors from the N Crowd comedic troupe take audience suggestions and create an original show at each performance, so it’s a completely different experience every time.

Happy New Bears at Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar; 10pm
Head to Gayborhood sports bar Tabu to celebrate the New Year with Philly’s hairiest burlesque performers. The boys will take it all off and twirl a tassel or three while you enjoy A-plus mingling and drink specials at the bar.

Saturday, January 6

Flat Mary Road

Photograph: Courtesy Chris Sikich

Salsa Caliente! at Painted Bride Art Center; 8pm; $20
The Old City art center celebrates the Latin holiday of Three Kings Day with a night of salsa lessons, dancing and live music from a Latin band.

Flat Mary Road at Boot & Saddle; $10; 8:30pm
Philadelphia-based quintet Flat Mary Road bring their distinctive blend of indie folk to South Philly. Their sound is informed by indie rock recordings of the 1980s and Appalachian folk-style vocals. Expect violins blending seamlessly with guitars and percussion as they play through songs from their 2017 LP Driving With the Numen. They’ll be joined by other local acts Baker Man and Tough Guy Soda.

Sunday, January 7

Longwood Gardens Christmas

Photograph: Courtesy Harold A. Davis

Introduction to Astrology at Palo Santo Wellness Boutique; 5:30pm; $35
We all know our astrological sign, but the way that informs our behavior isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. This workshop in South Philly led by yoga instructor and astrology specialist Amanda Medina takes a deeper look at your celestial leanings through the study of birth charts and how other planets and signs interact with the energy that makes you you. Each participant will get a cup of tea to sip on throughout the class and will leave with a packet that you can study up on at home.

Last chance: A Longwood Christmas at Longwood Gardens; 9am; $23–$30
The 1,000-acre botanical garden in Kennett Square lights up for the season with over 100 trees sparkling with a half-a-million lights. Fire pits fashioned by craftsmen and local artists will be kindled each night to keep visitors warm and toasty on the trail, but those needing a more substantial respite from the elements can step into the heated conservatory. There, Francophiles will be dazzled by an elaborately adorned table set with Versailles-inspired decor, four acres of fragrant seasonal plants and a colossal fir bedecked with blue, copper and gilded ornaments.

Last chance: 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.”

Last chance: Holiday Light Show at Shady Brook Farm; 5pm; $12–$30
If you’re not quite ready to say farewell to Christmas, swing by Shady Brook Farm all weekend to take in the last three days of its massive light show featuring 3 million twinklers spread out across the farm. 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.


Rothman Ice Rink and America’s Garden Capital Maze at Dilworth Park; all day; pay as you go
Get the full wintertime 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.

Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest; 11am; pay as you go
Wassail on the waterfront at this urban wintertime retreat, or rent skates and hit the ice on their outdoor rink. RiverRink affords kids and adults the chance to kick their heels on the ice for a $3 admission fee, with a $10 skate-rental fee collected for those who don’t bring their own. The at-large Winterfest, meanwhile—an approximately two-acre campus encompassing an arcade, lodge and a Franklin Fountain–operated “Confectionary Cabin”—is a free space with plenty of pay-as-you-go indulgences. While the kids skate or push quarters in the arcade machines, adults can warm up by the fire pits with the Latin-inspired dishes of Garces, a basket of Chickie’s & Pete’s famous fries and their choices from a menu of craft beer.

“Winter Fountains for the Parkway” along the Ben Franklin Parkway; 6pm; free
In celebration of its 100th year, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will be decorated with a dazzling light and video show by artist Jennifer Steinkamp. Starting in early December and lasting through March, the installation comprises five 13-foot high domes lined up along the parkway. After dark, the domes will become glowing projection screens featuring animated videos inspired by the cultural institutions that line the boulevard—places like the Franklin Institute and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Steinkamp’s work is known for its sensuous beauty and transformative power. Prepare to be mesmerized.

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