- Claire Baker
The cosmopolitan city of Philadelphia boasts an incredibly diverse culture scene, with exciting events happening throughout the year. Fantastic restaurants, as well as top-quality art galleries fill the city streets, but one-off events and regular fixtures are also worth attending. Find out what’s on in Philly with our curated guide to the best culinary events, festivals, exhibitions and art events happening in the Pennsylvanian city.exhibitions and art events happening in the Pennsylvanian city.
Beyond the Paint exhibition
Until 6 April
The Mural Arts Program in Philadelphia has earned the city the nickname ‘City of Murals’ because of the thousands of pieces of street art, which have been created in its 30 years of existence. Collaborations between artists and residents to enliven public spaces have allowed individuals to express a part of their identity on the walls of their city. This has led to 3,600 murals so far covering Philadelphia’s vertical surfaces. On the occasion of its 30th birthday, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, in conjunction with the Mural Arts Program, has opened the exhibition Beyond the Paint: Philadelphia’s Mural Arts, which is open until 6 April featuring timeline exhibits, interactive features, as well as live and indirect mural creation.
Art Star Craft Bazaar
10 – 11 May
This two-day event transforms the Great Plaza by Delaware River into a crafts haven for anybody with an eye for creative and accessible objets d’art. This year, the Art Star Craft Bazaar falls on Mother’s Day weekend, and is organised by Art Star Gallery and Boutique. The gallery chooses 100 artists from all those who apply to take part in the show, and these artists and collectives can sell their wares and provide practical demonstrations as well as Make and Take activities at the bazaar, where visitors make something under the guidance of a professional, and get to take the result home with them.
The 7th annual edition of Roots Picnic is scheduled for the height of spring, and world-class names have already booked to fly into Philadelphia for the one-day music festival. The line-up announcement this year was met by thousands of ecstatic Roots Picnic fans, who can now anticipate greeting The Roots, Snoop Dogg, Janelle Monae, and Rudimental on to the stage at Festival Pier. Ironically, picnic items are to be left at home, but a wide variety of food vendors are on-site to ensure that the picnic theme is adhered to, come rain or shine.
Le Dîner en Blanc
Summer 2014, Date to be confirmed
What started 25 years ago in Paris as a daring but sophisticated adventure amongst friends has grown into an international dining movement and, in the case of Philadelphia, a notable calendar feature. The date is confirmed a little in advance but the location is only divulged hours before the rendezvous, though registration opens early, and the waiting list grows by the day. Diner En Blanc is first and foremost a gathering of like-minded but varied individuals who share a love of beauty and fine dining, and find an understandable appeal in dressing in white, congregating in an iconic location, enjoying a dinner with thousands of other people and being entertained by concerts and other surprises.
Art for the Cash Poor
14 – 15 June
This two-day extravaganza brings art purchasing to the masses, with affordable art sales in an environment of dialogue, exchange, and fun where artists and the public can freely interact. At Art for the Cash Poor, buyers and visitors (who can easily become buyers in turn) have the opportunity to meet the artists, sample the latest Philadelphia food-truck delights and listen to live music from local performers. The preview evening on 13 June is in partnership with the Aids Fund, and includes live music and light dining, for those lucky enough to get tickets.
ICA @ 50
Until 17 August
To celebrate the 50th birthday of the Institute of Contemporary Art, the gallery is putting together a rolling programme of fortnightly exhibitions celebrating the artists associated with the ICA. Exhibits covering all the disciplines will change every two weeks: sculpture, film, sound, painting, performance, writing and video will all be featured and presented in innovative ways. These micro exhibitions will total 50, to celebrate, appropriately, 50 years of art at the ICA. Featured artists include, among many others, Amy Benson and Linda Yun.
That’s So Gay: Outing Early America at the Library Company
Until 17 October
Homosexuality in early America was a covert, taboo and highly discriminated topic, and the materials and lives in the Library Company’s possession which were associated with the subject are only now being put on display to reveal a long and complex history. A wide array of texts, from fiction extracts to anecdotes, real-life accounts and biographies from writers and chroniclers who engaged in same-sex relations, or expressed gay attitudes, is currently on display at the Library Company. The touching selection presents relevant, personal and identity-driven texts; Walt Whitman, Harry Hay and Harriet Hosmer are featured, in unearthed and rarely displayed artefacts from the Library Company’s collections.
First Person Arts Festival
Autumn 2014, exact date to be confirmed
A unique event, which celebrates the spoken word as a carrier of emotions, anecdotes and art, First Person Arts Festival is going into its 13th year in 2014. Award-winning and renowned authors such as Toni Morrison, internationally acclaimed performers like Martha Graham Cracker, and ordinary people have read and improvised at this festival in the past, bearing their most intimate selves in personal stories shared with the audience. Other artistic disciplines are also represented, and the festival offers workshops to empower each of the participants to feel comfortable with spoken word performances, over the ten days of the festival.
Various locations across the city
Autumn 2014, Date to be confirmed
Philadelphia has world-class culture and culinary mastery a-plenty, and it’s only apt that this be celebrated, at least once a year. During the Fringe Arts Festival the top chefs, performers and artists unite in a celebration of food and the arts, brought together in a dazzling display designed to entertain, titillate the senses and raise funds for the creative arts in Philadelphia. The date for the 2014 edition of Feastival is yet to be confirmed, and once it is, expect there to be few tickets left within a short time, as the event is an incredibly popular fixture on Philadelphia’s culture and foodie scene.
Location to be confirmed
9 – 17 October
Now in its 10th year, Design Philadelphia is the premier design event in Philadelphia with an array of exhibitions, workshops and studio tours showcasing the best of all modes of design and contemporary architecture. The ethos of the event stretches beyond the aesthetic, and aims to highlight the relationship between inventive design and better quality of life, economics, and local talent. The 2014 edition begins in style with an experimental cocktail party and benefit called PopUp Place on 9 October, before launching into the full programme of events.
Various locations across the city
By Claire Baker