We may still be a few weeks away from the official first day of spring, but events happening during this first weekend in March offer a little foreshadowing to get us excited. Case in point: Check out flowers of every shape, size and color at the Philadelphia Flower Show, which returns to the City of Brotherly Love for its 189th (!) year on Saturday. Franklin Square also opens for the season, bringing with it all the outdoor activities we know and love such as mini-golf and twirling on the carousel. There‘s also a new art exhibition opening at PAFA for lovers of classic art, and the Philly Craft Beer Festival is happening at the Navy Yard for those of us who just want to drink ourselves silly. Find details on all that and more below. And if you feel like looking ahead at what else is happening this month, check our guide to the best Philadelphia events in March.
Friday, March 2
Opening weekend at Franklin Square; 10am; free
In what is one of our first signs that spring is just around the corner, the historic park in Old City returns, bringing with it its adorable mini-golf course decorated with tiny version of Philadelphia attractions and the grand Parx Liberty Carousel. Those hankering for a Cake Shake will have to wait a few more weeks; on-site burger joint SquareBurger doesn’t open till March 24.
Closing weekend at Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest; 1pm; pay as you go
The last of Philadelphia’s holiday attractions closes this week, giving you one last chance to ice skate along the waterfront before they melt the rink and turn it into a roller rink for SummerFest. The closing weekend festivities are anchored around a lineup of to-dos on Saturday, including a free Dunkin Donuts and Tastykakes sampling from 1 to 4pm, and a “Kick the Keg” sale, which gets you $5 beers from 11am Saturday until 11pm Sunday night. See the full lineup of events here.
“First Academies” at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; 10am; $15
At this brand new exhibition, 60 paintings, drawings, sculptures and more tell the story of Benjamin West and his role in the creation of the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and later in Philly’s own Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Both institutions have provided tutelage to an impressive roster of masters, such as Charles Willson Peale, Gilbert Stuart, Mary Cassatt and even David Lynch.
East Passyunk Restaurant Week at various locations and times; pay as you go
The city’s hottest dining corridor hosts its sixth annual Restaurant Week event, featuring two weeks of deals in some of the best restaurants in Philadelphia. Here’s the deal: 26 restaurants up and down the avenue offer a three-course prix-fixe lunch and/or dinner menu at three price points, $15, $25 or $35. Find our guide to the best spots to try during East Passyunk Restaurant Week here.
First Friday in Old City; 5pm; pay as you go
It’s First Friday time in Old City, when 40 galleries in the area stay open late to show off their latest exhibitions, and restaurants host all kinds of food and drink deals. Hit the streets and explore!
Tom Green at Helium Comedy Club; 7:30, 10pm; $22–$28
After years of avant-garde antics on MTV (humping a dead moose, painting his parents’ house plaid), Green moved on to stand-up and now has a residency in Vegas. Check him out when he performs four shows—two on Friday and two on Saturday–this weekend in Philadelphia. —Patrick Rapa
Bechdel Test Fest at various locations all weekend
This three-day comedy festival featuring women and transgender comedians kicks off Friday night at Bourbon & Branch before heading to FringeArts on Saturday and then PHIT Comedy on Sunday. Each night features three blocks of comedy starring funny-lady standup acts, improv troupes and more. Think you have what it takes to join them? Stick around for the open mic following each nights’ performance.
Jeanne Robertson at Keswick Theatre; 8pm; $29.50–$49.50
Too classy and polished to be called a standup comic, this former Miss North Carolina prefers the terms “humorist” and “motivational speaker.” —Patrick Rapa
Saturday, March 3
Atlantic City Boat Show at Atlantic City Convention Center; 11am; $11–$14
Lovers of all things nautical should cruise down to Atlantic City for the weekend to take part in boat-centric activities and ogle more than 500 boats that include motor yachts, runabouts, water-sports vessels and the pièce de résistance, the WaterCar, a luxurious floater that drives on land and water. The extra impassioned can take part in a Touch-a-Boat Tour that takes you inside working vessels from the U.S. Coast Guard and a handful of recreational boats around the showroom floor. Kids can also climb in to talk to captains and take a selfie for their Instagram.
Philadelphia Flower Show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center; 11am; $29.95
Now in its 189th year, the largest and oldest indoor flower show in the world returns to Philadelphia with the theme “Wonders of Water.” Guests enter the show through an elaborate rainforest display featuring a canopy of boldly colored, exotic flowers, a contemporary, multi-level bamboo waterfall and a “rain curtain” that guides guests over a suspended rope bridge. Other show features include exhibits inspired by tropical jungles, native woodlands and desert landscapes and a host of water-conservation-themed workshops, speaker series and hands-on activities.
Philly Craft Beer Festival at the Navy Yard; 1:30pm; $12–$75
Seventy-five breweries and food trucks from across Philly and around the world set up under tents at the Navy Yard to give you the chance to sample hundreds of rare brews and gorge on street food all day. #winning.
The Bluest Eye at Arden Theatre Company; 8pm; $15–$35
Toni Morrison’s classic novel about racism and abuse is shorter than, but every bit as powerful as, Beloved and has a vivid theatricality of its own. Arden brings that quality to the stage in an adaptation by Lydia R. Diamond that’s directed by Raelle Myrick-Hodges. —David Fox
Something Rotten! at the Academy of Music; 2, 8pm; $20–$120
Something Rotten! works for theater fans who like Shakespeare and those who like musicals, offering an Elizabethan setting, a tuneful score and buckets of fun.
Flowers After Hours at the Pennsylvania Convention Center; 8:30pm; $75–$85
This late-night bash takes place on the same night as the Philadelphia Flower Show opening—giving you a chance to see the flowers (and drink and dance yourself silly) when they’re at their freshest. The disco-themed soiree features live music from WXPN DJ Robert Drake, a wine tasting, and an appearance by Ray Simpson of the Village People. Be sure to come wearing ’70s-inspired garb.
Sunday, March 4
“Cary Leibowitz: Museum Show” at the Institute of Contemporary Art; free; 11am
Take a twirl through this whimsical, sometimes comical career-spanning collection of works by the New York–based Leibowitz. Since the late 1980s, he’s used painting, textile, photography and more to highlight his experience as a gay Jewish man, and confront issues like identity, modernism and queer politics.
Last chance: “Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor”at Franklin Institute; 9:30am; $35
It’s your last weekend to check out the only East Coast showing of this exhibition that features a small army of 2,000-year-old clay statues that once stood outside the tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuangdi. The 10 sculptures are displayed alongside other ancient Chinese artifacts like weapons, jade pieces and golden trinkets.
Last chance: The Humans at Walnut Street Theatre; 2pm; $20-$87
This weekend is your last chance to catch Stephen Karam’s gorgeous play—a family drama with supernatural overtones. This show has been praised for its virtuoso stagecraft and great acting thanks to an extraordinary cast of some of Philly’s finest actors, including Mary Martello, Greg Wood and Alex Keiper. —David Fox
Last chance: Time Remembered at Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium; 2:30pm; $15
Jean Anouilh’s Time Remembered—performed 60 years ago on Broadway—is a perfumy, evocative adult fairy tale with a poignant message. It’s a great fit for this imaginative group.
Love Letter Train Tours at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; 10:30am, 1pm; $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.
“Winter Fountains for the Parkway” along the Ben Franklin Parkway; 6pm; free
This installation along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway by artist Jennifer Steinkamp comprises five 13-foot high domes that light up after dark with animated videos inspired by the cultural institutions that line the boulevard. Steinkamp’s work is known for its sensuous beauty and transformative power. Prepare to be mesmerized.