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Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend and Day of Service in Philadelphia 2017

Honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. during the country’s largest Day of Service

Every year, Philadelphia honors the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with a day of giving back as well as fun activities across the city.

Now in its 22nd year, the Annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on January 16, 2017 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 in 2016.

Elsewhere, museums, attractions and more have special events and festivities Philadelphia in store to celebrate King. Below are our top picks along with an array of ongoing events and activities to enjoy over the long weekend.

MLK Day Events and Activities | Ongoing Events and Activities



Martin Luther King Jr. Day Events and Festivities

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. (J. Griffin for Visit Philadelphia)

Monday, January 16, 2017

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 concert will serve as a finale to the Day of Service and will feature compositions by Bach, Hailstork and more. Tickets are first come, first served and are available now online. Seating is also first come, first served, as tickets do not guarantee entry.

More about the Philadelphia Orchestra Concert

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 this weekend. (M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

January 13-16, 2017

The African American Museum in Philadelphia kicks off its annual MLK Weekend Celebration with a special screening of director Ava DuVernay's "13th," a Netflix original documentary about racial inequality in America. Throughout the weekend, guests can also explore the museum's core exhibit, Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia, 1776-1876, and 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.

More about MLK Weekend Celebration

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. (G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia)

Monday, January 16, 2017

The National Constitution Center will honor Martin Luther King Jr. with a day-long commemoration on Monday, January 16. 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.

More about events at the National Constitution Center

Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend at Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary

The penitentiary will light up the Fairmount neighborhood with readings from King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail." (R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

January 14-16, 2017

Eastern State Penitentiary honors Martin Luther King Jr. Day with special readings of King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" three times a day on Saturday, Sunday and Monday at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. An informal question-and-answer session moderated by a civil rights scholar will follow each reading, and on Monday, January 16, children ages 7-12 can create artwork in response to the letter. The events are free and open to the public.

More about events at Eastern State Penitentiary

Martin Luther King Jr. Family 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 16. (M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Admission to the National Museum of Jewish History will be free all day as the museum commemorates the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Take a self-guided tour of the museum or join in on a guided talk surrounding the civil rights movement taking place every hour beginning at 11 a.m. Other programming scheduled throughout the day: poetry readings, a choir concert and a screening of "From Swastika to Jim Crow," the story of Jewish intellectuals who escaped Nazi Germany and found refuge at traditionally black colleges in the segregated South.

More about events at the National Museum of American Jewish History

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. (J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

Monday, January 16, 2017

The National Liberty Museum will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with pay-what-you-wish museum admission and a themed events on Monday, January 16. At both 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., visitors can catch a screening of "Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin," an award-winning documentary about Bayard Rustin, a prominent civil rights leader who was Martin Luther King Jr.’s mentor and most influential advisor. Guests can also partake in guided tours of the museum, and children can create their own "I Have a Dream" speech with the help of museum staff members.

More about events at the National Liberty Musuem

MLK Weekend at the Please Touch Museum

please touch museum

All weekend-long, visitors to the Please Touch Museum can engage in arts and crafts, listen to stories inspired by King and more. (M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphia)

January 14-16, 2017

Complimentary to the hands-on learning environment at the Please Touch Museum, the museum will feature a weekend-long celebration of interactive community events to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. Visitors can sit in on storytelling inspired by King’s legacy, engage in arts and crafts and join a discussion centered around making the world a better place. All activities are free with admission.

More about events at the Please Touch Museum

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 courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with a day of community service projects taking place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Philly organization MANNA will collect art made by visitors to distribute with the meals they regularly deliver to those in need.

More about MLK Day at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

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. (J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

Monday, January 16, 2017

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.

More about Woodmere Art Museum MLK Day Family Festival

Volunteer and Service Project Opportunities on MLK Day

January 16, 2017

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 Awbury Arboretum, William Way LGBT Community Center 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, civic engagement expo, health and wellness fair and other events. Browse all service and volunteer projects on the official MLK Day of Service page.

more about MLK Day of Service



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 $228 in perks this winter. (M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)

Through March 19, 2017

The long weekend of January 13-16 (which includes Martin Luther King Jr. Day) is the perfect time to book the epic Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package Winter Getaway. Book the package and get FREE hotel parking, FREE tickets to Jurassic World: The Exhibition, FREE ice skating passes at RiverRink Winterfest, a $20 Garces Restaurants gift card and a FREE Uber ride (up to $10). That's a total value of up to $228 in perks!

book the Visit Philly Overnight hotel package

Jurassic World: The Exhibition at The Franklin Institute

Visitors come face to face with life-like animatronic dinosaurs at Jurassic World: The Exhibition at The Franklin Institute. (M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)

Through April 23, 2017

The prehistoric denizens of Isla Nublar come roaring into The Franklin Institute with the North American premiere of the 15,000-square-foot Jurassic World: The Exhibition. Fans of the "Jurassic Park" movie series can come face to face with animatronic versions of the 25-foot-long Brachiosaurus, 24-foot-tall T. Rex, Stegosaurus and other lumbering beasts. While the movies are fiction, the exhibition is based on true science.

More about Jurassic World: The Exhibition

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. (J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

Through March 5, 2017

Offering majestic views of both the Delaware River and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest is a delightful winterized riverfront park. Winterfest houses an Olympic-size skating rink, a ski chalet-style lodge, a decorated holiday tree, rustic furniture, fire pits, warming cabins and thousands of lights that illuminate the space in style. Come cruise along the rink and stay to relax in the festive riverside enclave.

more about blue cross riverrink winterfest

Rothman Ice Rink and America’s Garden Capital Maze at City Hall

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

Through February 26, 2017

Those looking to ice skate in the heart of Philadelphia and take in great skyline views can head to the ice rink at Dilworth Park, open for its third year in the shadow of City Hall. Afterward, warm up in the Rothman Institute Cabin, offering a variety of treats (like toasty hot chocolate!) or wander over to America’s Garden Capital Maze, a brand-new pop-up wintergarden filled with seasonal shrubbery and decorations.

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Robot Revolution at The Franklin Institute

Hang out with a collection of real robots at The Franklin Institute during Robot Revolution. (Photo Courtesy Franklin Institute)

Through April 2, 2017

Think you could beat a robot in a game of tic-tac-toe? Put your skills to the test at Robot Revolution, a new exhibition at The Franklin Institute that features a collection of robots gathered from around the world. Supported by Google.org and The Boeing Company, the interactive display explores how these fascinating machines can change how we live, work and play. Feel a therapeutic baby seal robot react to your touch, watch soccer-playing 'bots in action and more.

More about Robot Revolution

World War I and American Art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Through April 9, 2017

Dominated by John Singer Sargent’s seminal work Gassed (above), the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine ArtsWorld War I and American Art is the first major museum exhibition to revisit the unprecedented global event through the eyes of more than 80 U.S. artists. More than 150 works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Carl Hoeckher, Horace Pippin, Man Ray, Claggett Wilson and others reflect on the violence and impact of this major world war.

More about World War I and American Art

Bill Graham and the Rock and Roll Revolution at the National Museum of American Jewish History

Explore the world of rock and roll and one of the genre's greatest influencers at the National Museum of American Jewish History. (M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

Through January 16, 2017

From Jimi Hendrix to Santana to The Rolling Stones, Bill Graham worked with many of the greats of rock and roll and helped launched the careers of plenty of legends who gained their fame in the '60s. Through rock memorabilia, photographs, psychedelic art and more, the National Museum of American Jewish History dives deep into the life of this notable promoter and manager while also exploring the cultural transformations that took place during the '60s, '70s, and '80s in the world of rock and roll.

More about Bill Graham and the Rock and Roll Revolution

Dinosaurs Unearthed at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Check out dozens of true-to-life animatronic dinosaurs at Dinosaurs Unearthed. (Photo courtesy Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University)

Through January 16, 2017

Want to see and experience the mightiness (and roar) of a dinosaur up close? Head to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and embark on a multi-sensory adventure that involves moving, life-size animatronic dinosaurs. State-of-the-art and scientifically accurate (down to the feathers on T. rex), Dinosaurs Unearthed features more than a dozen realistic and full-bodied dinosaurs as well as skeletons, fossil casts of skulls, claws, horns and the ever-popular coprolite (dino poop).

More about Dinosaurs Unearthed

Unbounded Histories at The Barnes Foundation

Explore works of art at The Barnes Foundation paired with a soundtrack of poems, created with intention by Philadelphia artist Andrea Hornick. (B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia)

Through February 19, 2017

What if every museum came with a poetic soundtrack? Philadelphia artist Andrea Hornick brings this concept to The Barnes Foundation with Unbounded Histories, a set of poems that transform the traditional audio tour into an imaginative guide to the museum. Hornick's narratives, created by examining select works, brings about a program that encourages us to consider art in a new way.

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Magic in the Ancient World at the Penn Museum

Through September 4, 2017

The Penn Museum is ready to cast a fascinating learning spell on visitors at its latest exhibition, Magic in the Ancient World. Museum-goers are invited to discover how magic permeated the daily lives of ancient cultures, including those of Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome and Egypt, and to explore a presentation of objects associated with magical practices from the Penn Museum’s own collections.

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The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now at the Institute of Contemporary Art

At The Freedom Principle, learn about the vibrant art and music scene of the late 1960s via the lens of African-American culture. (Photo courtesy ICA)

Through March 19, 2017

The Institute of Contemporary Art takes a look at the jazz and experimental music era of the late 1960s and its continuing influence on art and culture today in The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now. The vibrant show also focuses on African-American culture and aesthetics by exploring the avant-garde, creative culture at the time. An improv performance series utilizing music and dance will accompany the large-scale exhibition.

More aboutThe Freedom Principle

Philadelphia Home Show

January 13-16 & 20-22, 2017

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 and take advantage of the talents of more than 300 exhibitors and experts who will be on hand to help at this massive show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

More about Philadelphia Home Show

Long Weekend Picks

There is a ton going on in Philly this holiday weekend. In addition to museum admission deals, movie screenings and festivals, there are also concerts, art shows and so much more. Click here to check out a full guide to this long weekend in Philly.

More on Long Weekend Picks




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