Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend and Day of Service 2016
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 21st year, the Annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on January 18, 2016 is the largest MLK Day event in the country. More than 135,000 volunteers of all ages participated in over 1,000 service projects in 2015, and this year is expected to be bigger than ever.
Consider getting involved, and then be sure to check out the other special events and festivities Philadelphia has in store to celebrate this honorary day. Below are a few of our top MLK Day picks, along with an array of other options to enjoy the long weekend.
January Getaway — Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package
The long weekend of January 15-18 (which includes Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) is the perfect time to book the brand new January Getaway — Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package.
Book a hotel room for that Friday and Saturday night and you get your Sunday night stay for FREE. Plus, the offer comes with FREE parking — up to a $100 value at Center City hotels — and FREE tickets to four Philadelphia attractions and events: the One Liberty Observation Deck, Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest, the National Constitution Center and the Philadelphia Auto Show (which runs from January 30 - February 7, 2016).
Click the button below to learn more and to book your January Getaway!
MLK Day Events and Festivities
Volunteer and Service Project Opportunities on MLK Day
Choose from thousands of volunteer opportunities on MLK Day taking part across the city. (Photo courtesy Global Citizen)
Date: January 18, 2016
What better way to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. than to join in the community and lend a hand in a service project? There's certainly no shortage of ways to do so with over 1,000 volunteer opportunities to choose from at organizations such as the Awbury Arboretum, Unitarian Society of Germantown, United Way and more. Browse all service and volunteer projects on the official MLK Day of Service page.
The Philadelphia Orchestra's Free Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Concert
For decades, The Philadelphia Orchestra has gathered on MLK Day to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and unify the community through the power of music. (J. Griffin for Visit Philadelphia)
Date: January 18, 2016, 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 its 26th 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 is timed to coincide with its conclusion. It will feature a selection from composer and renowned jazz trumpeter Hannibal Lokumbe’s One Land, One River, One People, as well as local Sphinx Competition winner Adé Williams, a choir from the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts.
Tickets are first-come, first-served and are available now.
A Weekend-Long Celebration at the African American Museum in Philadelphia
The African American Museum brings a weekend-long itinerary of celebratory events to Philadelphia. (M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)
Dates: January 15-18, 2016
New this year, the African American Museum will expand its annual MLK Day festivities to encompass the entire weekend, with a free young professionals’ mixer and panel discussion to kick things off on Friday. On Saturday through Monday, patrons can visit the museum for a reduced admission rate of $2 per person and participate in a variety of family-friendly activities to be held throughout the weekend. The museum will be open during normal hours of operation as well as from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday.
MLK Day at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Bring out your artistic side to celebrate the birthday of Dr. King at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. (Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art)
Dates: January 18, 2016
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. with a day full of family-friendly craft-making opportunities. Family tours, performances and other activities will also be ongoing from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Day of Service at the National Constitution Center
Enjoy reduced admission along with an array of tributary events to Martin Luther King, Jr. at the National Constitution Center. (D. Cruz for Visit Philadelphia)
Dates: January 15-18, 2016.
The National Constitution Center will honor Martin Luther King Jr. with a day-long commemoration on Monday, January 18. Throughout the day, enjoy $5 admission to the museum and access to special service projects, performances, educational programs 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.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend at Eastern State Penitentiary
The penitentiary will light up the Fairmount neighborhood with readings from Dr. King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail." (R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)
Dates: January 16-18, 2016
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 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 or at the door subject to availability.
MLK Family Day at the National Museum of American Jewish History
The National Museum of Jewish History will offer free admission and kid-friendly programming on Dr. King on Monday, January 18. (G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia)
Date: January 18, 2016
Admission to the National Museum of Jewish History will be free all day as the museum commemorates the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Enjoy multiple storytelling sessions and craft-making geared toward younger kids. There will also be an ongoing screening of the PBS documentary series Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Movement.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at the National Liberty Museum
The National Liberty Museum offers an opportunity to participate in interactive events in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photo courtesy of the National Liberty Museum)
Date: January 18, 2016
The National Liberty Museum will celebrate Martin Luther King Day with pay-what-you-wish museum admission and a variety of themed events all day long on Monday, January 18. Beginning at 10 a.m., check out the museum’s exhibitions through a self-guided tour or with a custom-made scavenger hunt that walks you through Civil Rights-related education present in the exhibitions.
After touring the museum, guests can sign up for educational workshops 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 an illustration featuring their favorite hero.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend at the Please Touch Museum
Join in on choreographed dance, craft-making sessions and more at the Please Touch Museum. (Photo by M. Branscom courtesy of the Please Touch Museum)
Date: January 16-18, 2016
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’s birthday. Visitors can sit in on storytelling inspired by Dr. King’s legacy, craft cards and quilts to be sent to a local children’s hospital and resident center, and join discussions centered around community service, aspirations and dreams.
A Hip Hop Fundamentals workshop will also take place at both noon and 2 p.m. each day throughout the weekend designed to get the audience moving as well as to educate about the rich and youth-inspiring history of the dance form. All activities are free with admission.
Woodmere Art Museum MLK Day Family Festival
Woodmere Art Museum will honor Dr. King with storytelling, interactive education sessions and more. (Photo courtesy of the Woodmere Art Museum)
Date: January 18, 2016
Lively storytelling, art-making and break-dance performing are all part of the Woodmere Art Museum's afternoon of family fun in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Visit the museum from noon to 4 p.m. to join in on the multiple interactive education sessions scheduled to take place.
Ongoing Events and Activities
Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest
Take in the picturesque view of the Delaware River while cruising in your skates around an Olympic-sized rink. (Photo by Matt Stanley for DRWC)
Dates: Through March 6, 2016
Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest transforms Penn’s Landing into a winterized riverfront park, featuring a slew of activities that are great for a weekend afternoon or night.
A cold-weather version of Spruce Street Harbor Park, Winterfest houses an Olympic-size skating rink overlooking the Delaware River, ski chalet-style lodge and winter garden with recycled shipping containers, a heated tent, fire pits and plenty of cozy seating.
General admission to the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest is FREE. Admission to the Blue Cross RiverRink is $3 with skate rental available for $10. Offering family-friendly activities by day and decorative lights, delicious food and cocktails by night, this is one of Philadelphia’s must-see winter attractions.
Rothman Ice Rink at Dilworth Park
The Rothman Ice Rink allows you to skate right alongside William Penn peering down at the rink from atop City Hall. (M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)
Dates: Through February 28, 2016
Those looking to ice skate in the heart of Philadelphia can suit up and head to the rink at Dilworth Park where skyline views surface as you skate. The ice rink is open to skaters of all levels and all ages, and those who aren’t so familiar with ice skating can take part in a $70, four-class learn-to-skate lesson on Sunday mornings.
Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 10 and under. Those who do not have their own ice skates can rent a pair for $9.
Center City District Restaurant Week
Indulge in a luxurious meal at one of Philly's finest restaurants during Center City District Restaurant Week, when three-course dinners become easier on your wallet. (E. Mencher for Visit Philadelphia)
Dates: January 17-22, 24-29, 2016
Center City District Restaurant Week returns in January with delicious, budget-conscious meals at nearly 120 restaurants. Many of Center City’s finest restaurants are offering indulgent, three-course dinners for only $35 per person, and a number of participating restaurants will also be offering a three-course lunch option for $20 per person. (Price excludes tax, gratuity and alcohol.)
Bonus: Show your Restaurant Week receipt at the Rothman Institute Ice Rink in Dilworth Park for $1 off admission.
One Liberty Observation Deck
From high atop the 57th floor of Liberty Place, visitors to the One Liberty Observation Deck will be welcomed with 360-degree landscapes that stretch for miles while also hearing tidbits of Philadelphia’s past and its evolution into a major American city.
Currently the tallest standing attraction within Philadelphia, One Liberty Observation Deck provides Philadelphia with panoramic bird’s-eye views of the city from the 57th floor of One Liberty Place in downtown Philadelphia.
Operated by Montparnasse 56 (or M56) — a Paris-based company that manages observation decks in the John Hancock Tower in Chicago and the Montparnasse 56 Tower in Paris — the observatory on the 57th floor of One Liberty Place in downtown Philadelphia offers the chance to score panoramic views of the cityscape, interact with innovative technology and check out Philly-centric art installations.
Amor at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Snap a photo atop the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art under Robert Indiana's statue of AMOR, which means "love" in Spanish.
Dates: Through January 29, 2016
To mark the historic visit by the pope to the United States and Philadelphia in September 2015, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Association for Public Art (aPA) teamed up to install Robert Indiana’s tremendous sculpture AMOR atop the museum’s steps on the east terrace overlooking the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
One of the City of Brotherly Love’s best-known landmarks is LOVE itself. Now, the six-foot-tall bilingual version — "amor" translates to “love" in both Pope Francis’s native Spanish and the Church’s traditional Latin — of the iconic sculpture mirrors LOVE at the other end of parkway in a temporary display that will last through January 2016. Check it out and snap a photo while you’re there.
Down the Rabbit Hole: Celebrating 150 Years of Alice in Wonderland at The Rosenbach
Housed in historic rooms on the second floor, the Alice in Wonderland exhibition displays hundreds of original documents related to the iconic novel.
Dates: Through May 15, 2016
Literary roots run deep in Philadelphia, a city that has inspired countless authors and continues to nurture their legacies.
Of special note, 2015 marked the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia celebrates the occasion to raise up its incredible collection of more than 600 Lewis Carroll books, letters and rare photos.
In honor of the sesquicentennial, The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia now features the exhibition Down the Rabbit Hole: Celebrating 150 Years of Alice in Wonderland on view through May 15, 2016 with a host of accompanying programs that explore the literary classic.
Vatican Splendors at The Franklin Institute
Explore 2,000 years of history during Vatican Splendors at The Franklin Institute. (Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)
Dates: Through February 15, 2016
Vatican Splendors explores more than 2,000 years of the history of the Catholic Church with an impressive display of historic artifacts and objects, many of which have never been on view outside of Vatican City.
Discover iconic works and approximately 200 objects on display across 11 galleries during the 10,000-square-foot exhibition in the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion. Items include artwork by Michelangelo, Bernini and Guercino as well as relics from the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul.
Animal Mythology Weekend at the Academy of Natural Sciences
Learn about enigmatic legendary and mythological creatures and how they came to be at this special cryptozoology event hosted by the Academy of Natural Sciences. (J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)
Dates: Monday, January 18
Ever wonder how the legend of Sasquatch came to be? Or what tools monster hunters use to track down their elusive subjects? The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is dedicating an entire day to such topics of mystery, formerly classified under what’s known as cryptozoology – the study of and search for animals, especially legendary animals, in order to evaluate the possibility of their existence. Various panels will be held throughout the day along with a few hands-on activities, including a “make your own unbelievable animal" session.
Little Blue Penguins at the Adventure Aquarium
Catch the Adventure Aquarium's newest indoor exhibit featuring adorable and notably petite Australian Little Blue Penguins. (Photo by C. Barrington for Visit Philadelphia)
Starting this January, you can catch what may be one of the cutest creatures on the planet. Australia's Little Blue Penguins, the smallest species of penguin, are settling into their new home this month at Camden’s Adventure Aquarium. Observe the beach dwellers as they dart through the water, waddle around and play together as a group. Be sure to check out the more than 8,500 other aquatic species while you’re there.