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Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend and Day of Service in Philadelphia 2018

Honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. over the long holiday weekend

Every year, Philadelphia honors the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with a day of giving back and an extended weekend full of activities across the city.

Now in its 23rd year, the Annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on January 15, 2018 is the largest Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in the country, with more than 140,000 volunteers participating in over 1,800 service projects (as documented in 2016).

Elsewhere, Philadelphia museums, attractions and more are holding special events and programming to celebrate King. Below are our top MLK Day picks, along with an array of ongoing events and activities to enjoy over the long weekend.


MLK Day Events and Activities | Other Events and Activities


Martin Luther King Jr. Day Events and Festivities

2018 MLK Weekend Celebration at the African American Museum in Philadelphia

African American Museum

The African American Museum has compiled a weekend-long itinerary of celebratory events over the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. (Photo by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

January 12-15, 2018

The African American Museum in Philadelphia kicks off its annual MLK Weekend Celebration on Friday, January 12, with a program entitled Passion, Progress & Pulchritude: An Evening of Poetry & Music. Throughout the weekend, guests can also explore the museum's core exhibit, Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia, 1776-1876, and its current special exhibit, Gardens of the Mind as well as participate in a handful of family-geared activities, performances and workshops. A reduced admission rate of $2 per person will be offered to all visitors from Saturday through Monday.

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The Philadelphia Orchestra's Free Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Concert

Philadelphia Orchestra

For decades, The Philadelphia Orchestra has gathered on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to celebrate King and unify the community through the power of music. (Photo by J. Griffin for Visit Philadelphia)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Celebrate the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. with the Philadelphia Orchestra in its annual free performance during the MLK Day of Service at Girard College. The 90-minute concert will serve as a finale to the Day of Service. Tickets are first come, first served and are available online starting January 9. Seating is also first come, first served, as tickets do not guarantee entry.

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Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at the National Constitution Center

national constitution center

Enjoy reduced admission along with an array of events celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. at the National Constitution Center. (Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia)

Monday, January 15, 2018

The National Constitution Center will honor Martin Luther King Jr. with a day-long commemoration on Monday, January 15. Folks can enjoy $5 admission to the museum and access to special service projects, performances, educational programs and activities, including readings of King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

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Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend at Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary brings a performance-filled commemoration to the Fairmount neighborhood with readings from King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail." (Photo courtesy Eastern State Penitentiary)

January 13-15, 2018

Eastern State Penitentiary honors Martin Luther King Jr. Day with special readings of King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" three times a day (11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.) from January 13 to 15. An informal question-and-answer session moderated by a civil rights scholar will follow each reading, and on Monday, January 15, children ages 7 to 12 can create artwork in response to the letter. The events are free and open to the public.

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Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the National Museum of American Jewish History

National Museum of American Jewish History

The National Museum of Jewish History offers free admission and a variety of programming on MLK Day (Monday, January 15). (Photo by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Admission to the National Museum of Jewish History will be free all day as the museum commemorates the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. A variety of special programming will unfold from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., including arts and crafts activities and spotlight talks about social justice.

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Sculptures

Through February 2018

Nine large sculptures will be on display throughout Philadelphia through the end of February, designed in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and incorporating quotes from King as creative inspiration. Sculpture locations include the African American Museum in Philadelphia, the Betsy Ross House, City Hall, the Comcast Center Plaza, the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Philadelphia School District Main Building and Temple University. More than 50 students — hailing from schools and organizations such as the Philadelphia High School for the Creative & Performing Arts, Overbrook School for the Blind, Girard College, Big Brother Big Sisters and more — were commissioned to create the works.

MLK Day at the National Liberty Museum

National Liberty Museum

The National Liberty Museum offers pay-what-you-wish admission and an opportunity to participate in interactive events in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. (Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

Monday, January 15, 2018

The National Liberty Museum will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with pay-what-you-wish museum admission and a variety of themed events on Monday, January 15. At both 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., visitors can catch a screening of Mr. Civil Rights: Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP, showcasing civil rights attorney Thurgood Marshall’s triumph in the 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education. Guests can also partake in crafting activities and a scavenger hunt themed around civil rights.

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MLK Day Celebration at the Please Touch Museum

please touch museum

Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. through hands-on art and storytelling opportunities at the Please Touch Museum on Monday, January 15. (Photo by M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphia)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Complementary to the hands-on learning environment at the Please Touch Museum, the museum will feature a day-long celebration with interactive events to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. Visitors can sit in on a storytelling session inspired by King’s legacy, engage in multiple crafting activities and join a musical parade promoting peace around the world. All activities are free with admission.

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Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

philadelphia museum of art

Bring out your artistic side to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. (Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

Sunday, January 14 and Monday, January 15, 2018

The Philadelphia Museum of Art celebrates the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with two days of programming including a performance of The Sound of Progress: Songs for John Henry on Sunday, January 14 and a day of community service projects on Monday, January 15. On Monday, the museum is open for the holiday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is pay-what-you-wish. Among other special programs, MANNA will collect art made by visitors to distribute with the meals the organization regularly delivers to those in need.

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Martin Luther King Jr. Day Festival at Woodmere Art Museum

woodmere art museum

Woodmere Art Museum will honor Martin Luther King Jr. with storytelling, interactive education sessions and more. (Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Letter-writing sessions to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and lively storytelling are just part of the thought-provoking activities scheduled for the Woodmere Art Museum's Martin Luther King Jr. Day Festival. Visit the museum from noon to 4 p.m. to join in on the multiple interactive education sessions scheduled to take place. All activities are free to the public.

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Volunteer and Service Project Opportunities on MLK Day

philadelphia skyline from city hall observation tower

Residents and visitors alike have the chance to take part in a number of volunteer opportunities on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Philadelphia. (Photo by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)

Monday, January 15, 2018

What better way to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. than to lend a hand in a service project? There are over 1,000 volunteer opportunities to choose from at places like Girard College, Awbury Arboretum and more. Historic Girard College will serve as the region’s service day hub, offering 150-plus projects to partake in alongside workshops, trainings, a job fair, a civic engagement expo, a health and wellness fair and other events. Browse all service and volunteer projects on the official MLK Day of Service page.

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Ongoing Events and Activities

The Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package Winter Getaway

january getaway hotel package

The Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package includes up to $235 in perks this winter. (Photo by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia / Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

Through Sunday, March 4, 2018

The long weekend of January 13-15 (which includes Martin Luther King Jr. Day) is the perfect time to utilize the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package Winter Getaway. Book the package and score FREE hotel parking, FREE tickets to Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor at The Franklin Institute, FREE ice skating passes at Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest and a $25 Garces Restaurants gift card. That's a total value of up to $235 in perks!

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Center City District Restaurant Week

center city district restaurant week

Center City Restaurant Week offers a great chance to sample the menus of some of the city's top restaurants, including Harp & Crown (shown). (Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

January 14-26, 2018

Treat yourself to a fantastic meal without breaking the bank during the always popular Center City District Restaurant Week. Enjoy a three-course lunch for $20 or a three-course dinner for $35 at some of the best restaurants in the city.

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Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest

The Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest is a can't-miss winter attraction on the Delaware River Waterfront, featuring ice skating, food and drink, arcade games and more. (Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

Through Sunday, March 4, 2018

The popular Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest is back for year five with fire pits, a Kids Lodge arcade, a cozy, chalet-style Lodge Restaurant and Bar, 12 nights of Christmas movies, sweets from Franklin Fountain Confectionery Cabin and hearty fare from Garces Group and Chickie’s & Pete’s. All the fun is centered around a regulation skating rink with a spectacular view of the Ben Franklin Bridge. Additionally, on select Thursdays in January and February, Winterfest hosts Fireside Sessions, a series of free concerts held by the fire pit area.

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Dilworth Park Wintergarden

This winter at City Hall, skate around the Rothman Institute Ice Rink, amble through America’s Garden Capital Maze and sip on hot chocolate at the Rothman Institute Cabin. (Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

Through Sunday, February 25, 2018

The heart of Center City surrounds itself with wintertime pop ups, including the the outdoor Rothman Institute Ice Rink & Rothman Institute Cabin, which offer ice skating, skate rentals, twinkling lights and indoor space to warm up and fill up on snacks, cocktails, beer and hot drinks. At the south end of the park, America’s Garden Capital Maze, a partnership with Greater Philadelphia Gardens, is a living labyrinth of seasonal plants and lights.

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Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor at The Franklin Institute

Terracotta Warriors exhibition at The Franklin Institute

Check out 10 stunning Terracotta Warriors and dozens of other artifacts at The Franklin Institute's blockbuster exhibition. (Photo courtesy The Franklin Institute)

Through Sunday, March 4, 2018

In 1974, a farmer digging a well in China struck one of history’s most significant archaeological discoveries: thousands of life-sized warrior sculptures that had been guarding the tomb of China’s first emperor since 210 B.C. Ten of the mysterious structures and 170 related artifacts — including weapons, jade and gold ornaments and ceremonial vessels — are now on display at The Franklin Institute in Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor, an exhibition that examines the story, craft and science behind the terracotta army. Philadelphia is one of just two cities hosting the exhibition, on display through March 4.

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Broadway Philadelphia’s Les Miserables at the Academy of Music

January 9-21, 2018

The Victor Hugo-by-way-of-Broadway musical smash Les Miserables brings the spirit of the French Revolution to the Academy of Music. Seen by more than 70 million people in 44 countries and in 22 languages around the globe, the production stands as the world's most popular musical, breaking box office records everywhere as it carries out its 32nd year.

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Old Masters Now: Rediscovering the John G. Johnson Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

An image from the <em>Old Masters Now</em>collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Part of Parkway 100, Old Masters Now celebrates the 100-year anniversary of a special gift to the museum. (The Battle of the U.S.S. "Kearsage" and the C.S.S. "Alabama", 1864. Edouard Manet, French. Oil on canvas 54 1/4 x 50 3/4 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917)

Through Monday, February 19, 2018

Described by The New York Times as “the greatest lawyer in the English-speaking world,” John G. Johnson bequeathed his 1,500 European artworks to Philadelphia in 1917. The Philadelphia Museum of Art's exhibition Old Masters Now: Rediscovering the John G. Johnson Collection focuses on the amazing collection and its collector, who lived during a time when Philadelphia was a manufacturing and financial leader. Visitors to the museum see familiar names, including Botticelli, Bosch, Titian, Rembrandt and Monet.

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Winter Fountains on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Through Sunday, March 18, 2018

The free, outdoor Winter Fountains exhibition illuminates the Benjamin Franklin Parkway this winter with a stunning nighttime display of surreal, glowing videos projected on to four large domes. The dazzling works — inspired by the Parkway's grand fountains — are a centerpiece exhibition of Parkway 100, the city's 14-month celebration commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the avenue's groundbreaking.

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Among His Troops: Washington’s War Tent in a Newly Discovered Watercolor at the Museum of the American Revolution

January 13 – February 19, 2018

One of the indisputable highlights of the Museum of the American Revolution, George Washington’s Revolutionary War headquarters tent will soon be complemented by a new, special exhibition featuring a 235-year-old, seven-foot panoramic painting. The watercolor depicts a 1782 Continental Army encampment and contains the only known wartime depiction of Washington’s headquarters tent, amidst hundreds of other military tents spread out across the lower Hudson Valley. The special exhibition will also bring together other works of art, weapons and artifacts from the Revolutionary War to explore the history surrounding the newly discovered painting.

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Kiefer Rodin at the Barnes Foundation

Explore works from Auguste Rodin — and the response to those works by artist Anselm Kiefer — at this exhibition at the Barnes Foundation. (Anselm Kiefer. The Cathedrals of France (Auguste Rodin les Cathédrales de France), 2016. Photo: Georges Poncet. © Anselm Kiefer)

Through Monday, March 12, 2018

That Auguste Rodin’s work stands the test of time is clearly evident in this Barnes Foundation exhibition. Rodin’s sculptures and drawings are displayed alongside contemporary artist Anselm Kiefer’s new, large-scale illustrated books, sculptures and paintings — all inspired by Rodin’s work. Presented in collaboration with the Musée Rodin in Paris, the showcase is part of #Rodin100, marking 100 years since the artist’s death (November 17, 1917) with exhibitions and programming at major art museums.

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Chuck Close Photographs at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Through Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts features 90 images from this eminent American artist’s career, the first-such comprehensive survey of Close’s barrier-breaking photography. The exhibition spans 1964 through today and includes the artist’s iconic black-and-white maquettes, massive composite Polaroids, small daguerreotypes and recent nudes.

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Philadelphia Home Show

January 12-15, 19-21, 2018

Looking for advice and inspiration on how to make your home the best and most beautiful it can be? Join 50,000 of your fellow homeowners at the Pennsylvania Convention Center during the Philadelphia Home Show and take advantage of the hundreds of exhibitors and experts who will be on hand to help. Celebrity guests at the massive show this year include New York designer Tyler Wisler and Kevin O'Connor, the host of the award-winning PBS series This Old House and Ask This Old House.

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Big Philly Beerfest

January 12-13, 2018

It’s all about the beer at the fourth annual Big Philly Beerfest. Spread over two nights, this crowd-pleasing event celebrates more than 125 breweries and a ton of craft beer varieties. Another bonus: Proceeds benefit Animal Rescue Partners.

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