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19 amazing things to do in Philadelphia this weekend

By
Josh Middleton
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After several weeks of Arctic-like temperatures a forecast of 50-plus degrees and sunny is like a heatwave. Get out and make the most of it with our guide to the top things to do in Philadelphia this weekend, which includes tons of new theater offerings, such as A Doll’s House at the Arden Theatre Company and the hard-rocking Passing Strange at the Wilma Theater, big-name concerts and the wrap-up weekend of the 10-day-long Philly Loves Bowie festival. Food and drink lovers will be excited to check out Philly Beerfest at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and then cap off their weekend with the inaugural night of Restaurant Week Philadelphia. Or you could just take it easy and enjoy a stiff drink by a crackling fire in our picks for the top cozy bars in Philadelphia. You’ll find details on all of the above and more below.

Friday, January 12

L.A. Dance Project

Photograph: Rose Eichenbaum

Philly Home Show at Pennsylvania Convention Center; noon; $10
This massive exhibition for the home-owning set features exhibitors and experts from around the country who can help and inspire you to make some much-needed or just downright frivolous changes around the house. Learn how to decorate small spaces, browse new and innovative architecture for pets (yes, that’s a thing) and meet some of the HGTV stars on those home-repair shows you’ve been binging on weekends.

Philly Loves Bowie at various locations
Philadelphia’s 10-day celebration of all things David Bowie wraps up this weekend with a string of events that would make the Starman proud. Offerings this weekend include a Sound & Vision Happy Hour at the Trestle Inn, where a DJ will be spinning Bowie tunes on vinyl and the bar will whip out drink specials like a $4 SingleCut Weird & Gilly IPA and a $7 Young Americans Sour. On Saturday there’s a Snowie Bowie Skate at Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest and the close-out bash, A Night of Stardust, on Sunday at Union Transfer features a concert of local musicians taking on Bowie tunes.

Beach Bash at Tropicana AC; 1pm; free
If you're up for a road trip, Atlantic City hotel Tropicana AC kicks off its 48-day, indoor Beach Bash event and destination. Think of it as something similar to what Delaware River Waterfront Corporation does with Spruce Street Harbor Park and Winterfest but with a beach-theme and a whole lot of Jersey cheesiness. This kickoff party includes free Boardwalk-inspired grub such as hot dogs, popcorn and Salt Water Taffy. The party continues through February 28, so pop down anytime to escape the heat and take part in a host of events they have planned. Find the full itinerary here.

Big Philly Beerfest at Pennsylvania Convention Center; 8pm; $45–$80
This two-day celebration of suds brings out more than 125 breweries pouring their latest and most-loved craft brews to thirsty attendees. Local spots taking place include Dock Street Brewery, which will bring Bohemian Pils, the Winter Haze IPA and their 5.4-ABV porter Man Full of Trouble; and Fishtown Brewpub will have on hand their It’s a Trappe! tripel, the Belgian golden strong
6 Saint Syl and the Subterranean IPA.

A Doll’s House at Arden Theatre Company; 8pm; $15-$52
In theater history terms, the shutting door at the end of A Doll’s House was the sound heard around the world in 1879. Henrik Ibsen’s classic play about a marriage tested by a sudden crisis still feels relevant, even radical. (Indeed, earlier this year, playwright Lucas Hnath had a big hit with his “sequel” on Broadway.) Arden’s production features a promising cast, including Akeem Davis, Joilet Harris and Scott Greer.

Copenhagen at Lantern Theater Company; 8pm; $15-$39
“Why did he come to Copenhagen?” This seemingly innocent question launches Michael Frayn’s cerebral and nail-bitingly tense three-character historical drama. The stakes could hardly be higher, as atomic physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg meet to potentially determine the future of the world. Lantern’s intimate setting is ideal for this conversation-driven piece, and the theater has a fine company on hand: Charles McMahon, Sally Mercer and Paul L. Nolan, under Kittson O’Neill’s direction.

L.A. Dance Project at Annenberg Center For The Performing Arts; 8pm; $30-$57
The University of Pennsylvania’s performing arts center has new management and an invigorated mission. Prominent this season is a visit from the L.A. Dance Project, a five-year-old collective company already making major waves in the dance world. The program at Annenberg includes works by two of the hottest choreographers around: Justin Peck (Murder Ballades) and LADP cofounder Benjamin Millepied (Sarabande).

Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven at TLA; 8pm; $25
The annual double-header by David Lowery and his two cult-favorite rock bands.

Saturday, January 13

GayBINGO

Photograph: Courtesy AIDS Fund/Jeff Fusco

GayBINGO! at the Gershman Y; 6pm; $25–$35
Play BINGO all night with a gaggle of campy drag queens, who will throw up a few irreverent zingers between their calling out of the numbers. This theme of the night is “Cabaret Rouge,” so show up waving those jazz hands, and wear something slinky and sassy. Proceeds from the night benefit local HIV/AIDS-fighting nonprofit AIDS Fund.

Untitled: Art Meets Improv at the Adrienne Theater; 7pm; $12
Visual arts and comedy converge in this unique monthly performance experience that invites local artists across various mediums to bring their work to the stage to inspire local improv performers to create a scene around it. But that’s not where it ends. While the action plays out, the artist will stay on stage to create another work inspired by what’s playing out on stage. This month’s guest artist is Nicole DiPonziano of the “extreme music”-based group Dark Arts Collective, so get ready to hear some cool and thought-up-on-the-spot tunes.

The Killers at Wells Fargo Center; 8pm; $25–$95
The Vegas alt/post-punk band comes to town in support of their most recent release, Wonderful Wonderful, an experimental affair that’s surprisingly self-aware.

Chicago at Parx Casino Xcite Center; 8pm; sold out
If you can grab a scalper ticket, you can be among the first to check out Parx Casino’s brand new live music complex, the Xcite Center, when legendary American rockers Chicago take the stage on Friday. The group is on tour to regale fans with a setlist of greatest hits such as “Saturday in the Park” and “If You Leave Me Now.” The Xcite Center is part of a $50-million, 45,000-square-foot expansion project at the casino that also incorporates two new restaurants: Lombard’s and the Liberty Bell Gastropub.

Passing Strange at the Wilma Theater; 8pm; $10–$30
A decade ago, singer-songwriter Stew created this odd work: a loose autobiography told through music in collaboration with Heidi Rodewald and Annie Dorsen. The piece was an immediate cult hit, but probably deserved a longer run on Broadway. Its edgy sensibility, abstract construction and international feel should ideally suit the Wilma, where it receives its first major revival, helmed by director Tea Alagić.

Sunday, January 14

Philadelphia Restaurant Week

Photograph: Courtesy Visit Philadelphia/Neal Santos

Center City Restaurant Week at various locations
The winter version of this twice-yearly event kicks off with an unbeatable deal: More than 120 participating restaurants offer a three-course lunch for $20 or a three-course dinner for $35. These eateries include some of the best restaurants in Philadelphia, such as Barbuzzo, Osteria, High Street on Market and more. Check out our full guide to where to eat during Restaurant Week in Philadelphia.

Morning's at Seven at People’s Light; 2pm; $34-$54
Paul Osborn’s lovely slice-of-American-family-life play is a time-tested audience favorite. It takes two things to make it work—a true ensemble and four wonderful, mature actors for the leading roles. It should have both at People’s Light. The company is a real acting collective, and Carla Belver, Alda Cortese, Janis Dardaris and Marcia Saunders are a sensational team of principals.

Proper Dodgy at the Adrienne Theater; 10pm; $5
The “most wicked” improv comedy duo from Essex—made up of Rachel Semigran and Lizzie Spellman—slip into a variety of characters for an off-the-cuff evening of comedic antics and audience banter. Spellman is a bit of a songbird, so expect to have some funny tunes thrown in the mix.

Ongoing

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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