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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend and Day of Service 2015

Honor the legacy of Dr. King during the country’s largest Day of Service

Every year, Philadelphia honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a day for giving back.

Now in its 20th year, the Annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on January 19 is the largest MLK Day event in the country. More than 125,000 volunteers of all ages participated in hundreds of service projects in 2014 and this year is expected to be bigger than ever.

Browse service projects and volunteer on the official MLK Day of Service page.

In addition to hundreds of volunteer service projects, Philadelphia celebrates MLK Day with special events and festivities throughout the day. Check out a few of our top MLK Day celebrations in Philadelphia, below, as well as other ways to spend your time on the long weekend.

MLK Day Events and Festivities

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

Philadelphia Orchestra

(J. Griffin for Visit Philadelphia.)

Date: January 19, 2015, 1:30 p.m.

Celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with The Philadelphia Orchestra. Music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads the orchestra in their 25th annual free performance during the MLK Day of Service at Girard College. The 90-minute concert includes the world premiere of the first movement of composer Hannibal’s One Land, One River, One People, a work commissioned by the orchestra which will debut in its entirety in November 2015.

The concert will also feature guest vocalists Laquita Mitchell and Rodrick Dixon, choirs from the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, a reading Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech set to Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings and more. Tickets are first-come, first-serve and limited to four tickets per person.

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Sharing the Heritage Celebration at the African American Museum in Philadelphia

African-American Museum

(M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

Enjoy free admission to the African American Museum all day and celebrate with special events and activities including hands-on service projects, a Community Celebration with live performances, readings and more from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

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Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Museum of Art

(Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.)

Dates: January 16-19, 2015

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. with a long weekend of special events and the opening of their new exhibition Represent: 200 Years of African American Art. On Friday, January 16, guests can enjoy an extended Art After 5 with live music from Sound Reformation followed by a dance party in the Great Stair Hall until midnight. On MLK Day, the museum is offering pay-what-you-wish admission and features a variety of family-friendly workshops and projects throughout the day.

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Day of Service at the National Constitution Center

National Constitution Center

(D. Cruz for Visit Philadelphia)

Date: January 19, 2015

The National Constitution Center will honor Martin Luther King Jr. with a day-long commemoration on Monday, January 19. Throughout the day, enjoy $5 admission to the museum and access to special service projects, performances and activities, including readings of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The celebration is part of the National Constitution Center’s series of Macy’s Family Days at the Constitution Center, courtesy of The Macy’s Foundation.

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Martin Luther King Weekend at Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary

(R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia.)

Dates: January 17-19, 2015

Eastern State Penitentiary honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day with special readings of King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” during the holiday weekend. Listen to excerpts read from Dr. King’s letter–written 50 years ago three times a day on Saturday, Sunday and Monday at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Children ages 7-12 can create artwork in response to the letter from 10:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. each day. The events are free and open to the public. Free tickets are available online here or at the door subject to availability.

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MLK Family Day at the National Museum of American Jewish History

National Museum of American Jewish History

(G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia.)

Date: January 19, 2015

Admission to the National Museum of American Jewish History will be free all day as the museum commemorates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Enjoy live music, an art project led by Fleisher Art Memorial and a screening of the PBS documentary series Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Movement.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at the National Liberty Museum

Date: January 19, 2015

The National Liberty Museum will celebrate Martin Luther King Day with free museum admission and a variety of themed events all day long on Monday, January 19. Beginning at 10 a.m, check out the museum’s exhibitions on a self-guided tour and learn about the number of heroes of liberty present in the exhibitions, including Martin Luther King Jr..

After touring the museum, guests can sign up for educational workshops where helping others and making change, and children can create their own I Have a Dream speech — with the help of museum staff members. (Those interested in the educational workshops must sign up in advance.) Youngsters are invited to make a themed craft throughout the day, too. Inspired by the city’s Mural Arts Program, which features murals where MLK is the subject, children can create a mini-mural featuring their favorite hero.

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Ongoing Events and Activities

Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest

(Photo by Matt Stanley for DRWC)

Dates: Ongoing

For more than two decades, the Blue Cross RiverRink has delighted visitors with outdoor ice skating on the Delaware River Waterfront. This winter, the Penn’s Landing attraction is bigger and better than ever with holiday lights, outdoor fire pits, live entertainment, shopping and much more.

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Rothman Ice Rink at Dilworth Park

Rothman Ice Rink

(M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia.)

Dates: Ongoing

The Rothman Ice Rink has been massively popular since it opened in mid-November, attracting scores of people looking forward to outdoor ice skating in Center City. Combined with the rest of the new digs at the park, Dilworth Park has become a major destination for both residents and visitors.

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Center City District Restaurant Week

Restaurant Week

(E. Mencher for Visit Philadelphia.)

Dates: January 18-23, 25-30, 2015

Center City District Restaurant Week returns this January with delicious, budget conscious meals at more than 120 restaurants from $20-35. Dozens of Center City’s finest restaurants are offering indulgent prix-fixe menus that are both delectable and easy on the wallet with three-course dinners for only $35 per person. A number of participating restaurants will also be offering a three-course lunch option for $20 per person. (Price excludes tax, gratuity and alcohol.)

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William Glackens at The Barnes Foundation

Glackens at The Barnes Foundation

(Photo courtesy of The Barnes Foundation.)

Dates: Now extended through February 16

The Barnes Foundation recently extended the first comprehensive survey of Philadelphia-born painter William Glackens in nearly half a century. William Glackens features more than 90 of the artist’s works, including dozens of pieces from the Barnes’ permanent collection as well as public and private collections throughout the United States. The works on display show Glackens’ five-decades as an artist while highlighting is his zest for life and sophisticated techniques.

A Philadelphia native, Glackens (1870-1938) attended Philadelphia’s Central High School with Albert Barnes before going on to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The artist and Barnes were close friends, with Glackens encouraging Barnes’ appreciation of modern French painting and helping him acquire works from Cézanne, Denis, Picasso, Pissarro, Renoir, van Gogh and more.

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Body Worlds: Animal Inside Out at The Franklin Institute

Body Worlds: Animal Inside Out

Dates: Through April 12

Housed in the new Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion at The Franklin Institute, Body Worlds: Animal Inside Out features a rare and unprecedented view of the anatomy of nature with more than 100 specimens including sharks, goats, ostriches, a giraffe and even a giant squid. The striking exhibition uses plastination, a special process that replaces bodily fluids with plastics created by the founder of Body Worlds, to display the skeletons, muscles, organs and circulatory systems of a wide variety of animals.

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Chocolate: The Exhibition at the Academy of Natural Sciences

Chocolate: The Exhibition

(Photo courtesy of The Academy of Natural Sciences)

If you’re a fan of chocolate (and who isn’t?), mark your calendar to visit the tastiest exhibition in town. Simply titled Chocolate: The Exhibition, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University aims to trace the story of “food of the gods” from its origin as a unique rainforest tree to the sensuous sweet millions of people crave today.

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Philadelphia Home Show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center

Dates: January 17-19, 23-25, 2015

The Philadelphia Home Show, the region’s premier building, design and landscaping event, returns January 17-19 and January 23-25 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Whether you’re looking to perform a full scale remodel or just a few ideas to freshen up your home, the Philadelphia Home Show is the perfect place to gather useful information, comparison shop for products and services and ignite your imagination. Find the newest trends in home building and improvement and the greatest products to get it all done under one roof.

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Dinosaurs of the Deep Exhibition at the Adventure Aquarium

Dates: Opens January 16, 2015

Learn about the powerful marine animals that ruled the water during the time of Tyrannosaurs Rex in Dinosaurs of the Deep, a new temporary exhibit at the Adventure Aquarium. The exhibition is set to feature a variety of replicas, fossils, hands-on exhibitions, artifacts and instructional pieces to help visitors understand the marine creatures and also learn about the prehistoric animals that are still living today. Dinosaurs of the Deep will also put the spotlight on a 34-foot replica of a Liopleurodon, one of the ancient oceans’ most dangerous predators with four-inch-long teeth.

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