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21 awesome things to do in Philadelphia this weekend

Josh Middleton

This last weekend of February gives you a chance to get out and explore some of the venues and organizations (and beers!) that make this city great. Looking for cutting-edge art? Catch a weird, avant-garde performance at FringeArts. Wanna hear good tunes? The Barnes Foundation is hosting a bash on Friday night featuring a handful of stellar local musicians, or you could check out a concert by School of Rock students Sunday at World Cafe Live. Need to catch up on the Oscar movies before the awards ceremony next week? The Prince Theater is screening eight of the Best Picture nominees this weekend, including Get Out and The Shape of Water. If the word beer caught your eye in that first sentence, snag tickets to the Kennett Winterfest or Philly Bierfest to taste a variety of suds from local breweries plus live music and delicious grub. Find all that and tons more, including comedy, new theater openings and an anniversary bash at Reading Terminal Market below. Happy weekend!

Friday, February 23

Photograph: Lou Daprile

Dinos After Dark at Academy of Natural Sciences; 5pm; pay what you wish
Philly’s natural history museum keeps its doors open a little later so folks can explore Dinosaur Hall and all its massive inhabitants after-hours. The event also features hands-on activities, demonstrations, meet and greets with live animals and an indoor beer garden, called Dino Drafts, where you can snag beer, wine, cocktails and light bites. And the best part (besides the beer): admission is pay-what-you-wish.

Artist Bash: Heartache at the Barnes Foundation; 8pm; $10
This late-night event features an evening of live music and creative performances inspired by the Barnes Foundation’s latest special exhibit “Kiefer Rodin,” which pairs works by French sculptor Auguste Rodin with pieces by contemporary German artist Anselm Kiefer. The night’s entertainment roster includes musicians Laurin Talese, Kingsley Ibeneche and Daniel de Jesus, shadow puppetry by Hua Hua Zhang and a dance party featuring DJ Mr. Sonny James on the turntables.

Best Picture Weekend at the Prince Theater; 6:30, 9pm; $16–$50
Catch eight of this year’s Best Picture nominees in one weekend in Center City. From Friday to Sunday the Prince Theater will show The Shape of Water; Lady Bird; Call Me By Your Name; Darkest Hour; Get Out, Dunkirk; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; and Phantom Thread so you can get caught up before the Oscars on March 4.

Bert Kreischer at The Trocadero Theatre; 7:30, 10:30pm; $39.50–$62
The fratboy manchild has already sold out all of the shows in his Philly run, though you may be able to find some scalper tickets on the loose. —Patrick Rapa

Clock That Mug or Dusted at FringeArts; 8pm; $29 (pictured)
Performance artist Jody Kuehner (A.K.A. Cherdonna Shinatra) slathers herself from head to toe in drag makeup and birthday cake to show how we can use our bodies as a catalyst for social change, rebellion and personal growth. This show at FringeArts also serves as an homage to renowned feminist performance artists like Anna Halprin and Janine Antoni.

Plastic Cup Boyz at Punch Line Philly; 8, 10:15pm; $25
After years in Kevin Hart’s tiny shadow, these three comics are getting recognized for their stand-up and sketches. —Patrick Rapa

Saturday, February 24

Celebration of African Cultures

Photograph: Tom Stanley

Celebration of African Cultures at Penn Museum; 11am; $15
This bustling daylong event features live music, a colorful marketplace, craft-making stations and lectures inspired by the myriad traditions celebrated throughout the African continent. Make time to browse the museum’s African gallery, where you’ll find a world-class collection of textiles, sculpture and masks—a perfect complement to your day of learning.

Kennett Winterfest at Kennett Square; 12:30pm; $60
Take a trip to this charming Chester County borough to sample brews from a handful of the best regional and Philadelphia breweries, such as Yards Brewing Co., Dogfish Head, 21st Amendment and Oskar Blues. There will also be live music and grub from food trucks parked onsite.

Philly Bierfest 2018 at German Society of Pennsylvania; 2pm; $25
This beer fest is all about about German-inspired, Pennsylvania-made brews (plus a few that are actually from Deutschland). The day also includes live bluegrass music and burlesque performances as well as some quirky activities such as arm wrestling and quizzo.

HRC Greater Philadelphia Gala at Philadelphia Marriott Downtown; 5pm; $100–$225
The Human Rights Campaign throws its annual gala in Center City to raise money for the organization’s fight for LGBTQ equality in the Philadelphia area. The theme this time around is “Rise,” so expect a lineup of inspiring speakers and energizing live music on top of your catered dinner and A-plus schmoozing with the who’s who of the local LGBTQ community.

Ready Steady Yeti Go at Azuka Theatre; 7pm; pay what you wish
Azuka Theatre has risen to the ranks of top Philly theaters—a climb marked by their exceptional mentorship of new plays and writers. David Jacobi’s Ready Steady comes to the company as part of the New Play Exchange initiative, and promises an evening of heavy themes like racism, bad parenting and white guilt, all handled with humor. —David Fox

Demetri Martin at Keswick Theatre; 8pm; $39.50
The smarty-pants stand-up likes to punctuate his act with charts, graphs and nerdy visual aids. —Patrick Rapa

Mark Normand at Helium Comedy Club; 8:30, 10pm; $17–$34
After seeing Normand’s act, Amy Schumer gave the NYC comic a spot on her tour and a writing gig on her show. —Patrick Rapa

Sunday, February 25

Rothman Ice Rink

Photograph: Visit Philly/J. Fusco

Kids Rock Philly: A Benefit for LiveConnections at World Cafe Live; 1pm; $14–$69
Hundreds of kids from five regional School of Rock programs perform in a six-hour music festival to benefit a local nonprofit that provides music education to underserved schools. Look for a set list featuring covers of rock hits and originals from some of Philly’s most talented young folks. Put your (fake) lighters up!

Party for the Market at Reading Terminal Market; 7:30pm; $90–$175
One of the oldest and most-essential Philadelphia attractions celebrates 125 years in business with a ticketed soiree on Sunday featuring live music, open bars, casino games and, of course, nibbles from 30 market merchants.

Last chance: Rothman Ice Rink at Dilworth Park; $5
This is your last weekend to take a twirl on the ice 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

Last chance: A Doll’s House at Arden Theatre Company; 7pm; $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. —David Fox

Last chance: The Revolutionists at Theatre Horizon; 3pm; $25–$35
This new piece focuses on four women in the French Revolution—with resonance for our own troubled times. —David Fox


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.

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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