Best things to do in Philadelphia today
After a half-year performing in Las Vegas, Dito van Reigersberg is back and giving his beloved drag/cabaret alter-ego a welcome-home party. Expect bawdy jokes, good music and tales from Martha’s adventures in exile. You’re not living your best life as a Philadelphian if you’ve never seen Martha Graham Cracker in concert.
The Shofuso Japanese House and Garden throws a daylong festival celebrating the Japanese ritual of Obon, something akin to our homecoming celebrations in the States. Enjoy live music, vendor booths selling Japanese food and gifts and a traditional “bon” dance welcoming home family, friends and the spirits of departed ancestors.
Throughout the summer and fall, crowds flock to the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing to learn about the many ethnic groups that make Philadelphia the wonderful melting pot that it is. Each iteration of this festival celebrates a different world culture, including the Hispanic Fiesta, the Irish Festival, Brazilian Day Philadelphia and the Islamic Heritage Festival. Attendees enjoy international food, dancing, entertainment and crafts.
Co-produced by University City District, the University of Pennsylvania and the Rotunda, the 40th Street Summer Series brings free monthly live music concerts to Penn’s campus from May through September. This year’s festivities kick off with a double headlining show from the West Philadelphia Orchestra and Dan Blackberg’s Hot Klezmers. Performers scheduled to take the stage throughout the summer include New Sound Brass, Las Cafeteras and Thee Phantom & the Illharmonic Orchestra.
Internationally celebrated sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard usually makes her monumental abstract sculptures out of wood, with occasional exceptions, such as her remarkable 12,000-pound bronze works. In her second collaboration with the Fabric Workshop and Museum, the artist will exhibit large-scale works such as Ocean Floor, a 36-by-156-by-132-inch piece made of cedar, graphite, and intestines. If you like what you see, the exhibition coincides with a display of von Rydingsvard’s work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art sculpture garden, which also opens on April 27.
Hidden River Outfitters rents kayaks and paddleboards for three-hour sojourns on the Schuylkill River that afford spectacular views of Philly landmarks from the water, including Boathouse Row, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and many of the historic bridges that cross the Schuylkill from Manayunk to Center City. Each tour begins on land with basic paddleboard instruction, so you can get your ducks in a row before embarking on a watery journey.
Mingle with founding fathers at an after-hours soiree! On select nights throughout the year, Historic Philadelphia hosts this walking tour of Old City sites after the lights go down. The tour begins at the Museum of the American Revolution before heading to City Tavern, where you eat a three-course meal served to you by folks dressed in Colonial garb. Then you’re whisked away on the walking tour that comprises eight city blocks within Independence National Historical Park. The apex of the evening is a stop at Independence Hall where you’ll find Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and others in a heated debate about the Declaration of Independence. It’s a surreal step-back-in-time experience that’s uniquely Philly.
Life as Americans knew it was changing fast in the early 20th century—cars and moving pictures were introduced, cities were growing and artists tried to make sense of it all. This exhibition, drawn from the Alfred Stieglitz collection gifted to the PMA in the 1940s, illustrates how American artists (with a few shout-outs to Philadelphians) grasped the modern age. Look out for works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Horace Pippin, Marsden Hartley, Jacob Lawrence and more.
Isaiah Zagar’s outdoor mosaics, plastered on the sides of buildings all over the Bella Vista neighborhood and beyond, were inspired by international artists who’ve created similar environments around the world. The PMG pays tribute to these creators, who have played an important role in transforming Philadelphia as we know it into a multifaceted, shimmering tapestry of found objects.
“Video games are an art form,” you could say to the next person who gives you a hard time for obsessing over Super Mario Odyssey. This exhibition will help you prove your point, presenting 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.