Top Reasons to Visit Philly in 2013
New exhibitions, returning festivals and more
Major openings and exciting events and exhibitions offer plenty of reasons for travelers to add Philadelphia to their must-visit list in 2013. For animal lovers, there’s the Philadelphia Zoo’s new children’s zoo and education center.
For history buffs, the opening of the Benjamin Franklin Life & Legacy Museum—formerly Franklin Court—will be big. For fashionistas, it’s the 30 dresses featured in the Come See About Me: The Mary Wilson Supremes Collection exhibition that are sure to dazzle. And for culture vultures, the return of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts is sure to please.
Watch our top reasons to Philadelphia in 2013 and read our top picks, below;
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Opening Spring 2013
In spring 2013, the Philadelphia Zoo will unveil the KidZooU: Hamilton Family Children’s Zoo & Faris Family Education Center, a wildlife academy that unites an education center with a reimagined children’s zoo. Open year-round, the zoo will feature rare breeds of goats, sheep, ducks, chickens, miniature horses, pigeons, tropical butterflies, Australian parakeets, coral reef fish and more, along with two climbing towers (one for goats and one for kids), a primate trail situated in the treetops and a barnyard and stables. Inside, the education center will teach kids to become champions for energy conservation and endangered animals.
Opening Spring 2013
When it opens in late spring, the new Chestnut Hill Friends Meetinghouse will debut a Skyspace designed by internationally renowned light artist James Turrell. The Skyspace chamber, which will be free and open to the public at scheduled times all year-round, will enclose simple seating, lighting and an aperture in the ceiling. The Friends will also host public workshops and lectures focusing on peace and social justice efforts.
Opening Summer 2013
The life of Benjamin Franklin will once again hold court in Franklin Court, where the underground museum will re-open in summer 2013 after a two-year renovation. The revamped Benjamin Franklin Life & Legacy Museum will feature artifacts and interactive exhibitions that chronicle the inventor’s life as a citizen and statesman. The above-ground “ghost house” and courtyard remain intact.
Through April 28, 2013
Throughout its 225-year history, the American citizenry has repealed only one Constitutional amendment: the one that established Prohibition. Through April 28, the National Constitution Center explores the build-up, execution and legacy of the ill-fated 18th Amendment in American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. The exhibition features 100 rare artifacts and collectables like a 1929 Buick Marquette, a car make and model that was often used by bootleggers to transport alcohol; a video game that lets visitors track down rumrunners; and a reconstructed speakeasy where the Charleston rules the dance floor.
January 25 – June 30, 2013
From January 25 through June 30, The African American Museum in Philadelphia celebrates the glory and talent of one of Motown’s most pioneering and influential musical acts with Come See About Me: The Mary Wilson Supremes Collection exhibition. Featuring more than 30 gowns worn by the iconic trio, the exhibit explores Mary Wilson’s journey to self-actualization as part of an internationally renowned female group whose music crossed over to mainstream audiences and broke racial barriers during a tumultuous time in U.S. history. Also on view: gold records, rarely seen video footage, album covers and other historic artifacts.
February 10 – May 19, 2013
One of the world’s largest and best-preserved ancient floor mosaics ever excavated lands in Philadelphia for the final stop on its American tour before it heads on to its permanent home in Israel. From February 10 through May 19, Unearthing a Masterpiece: A Roman Mosaic from Lod, Israel will be spread over a gallery floor at the Penn Museum (University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology), taking up more than 300 square feet and inspiring audiences with its 2,000-year-old intricacy and splendor.
April 1 – August 31, 2013
The exhibition Big Bugs will take over Morris Arboretum from April 1 through August 31. Created by sculptor Dave Rodgers, the 11 creations are made using various combinations of trees, cut green saplings, dry branches and other forest materials. Some of the bugs that will be on display throughout the 92-acre garden include a praying mantis, dragonfly, spider, ladybug and grasshopper.
May 4 – October 6, 2013
The mysterious life of spies has long entranced the public, and now The Franklin Institute is giving people a declassified peek behind the newspaper headlines and Hollywood movies to decode the real history of spies. From May 4 through October 6, more than 200 artifacts, including the ice axe that killed Leon Trotsky, a German ENIGMA machine and never-before-seen artifacts from the CIA, make upSpy: Secret World of Espionage and bring visitors close to the gadgets, techniques and technologies used by spies throughout the ages.
An Event To Remember
June 10-16, 2013
You don’t have to be a big-time golf fan to be excited about this: for the first time in more than 30 years, Philadelphia is hosting one of golf’s four majors. The 2013 U.S. Open will be played at the Merion Golf Club in Ardmore. That means all of golf’s biggest stars — Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, et al. — will be in Philadelphia for one week this coming June to play for one of golf’s biggest championships… and you can be there. Will Tiger break his drought of victories in a major? Will Phil finally win a U.S. Open? Will Rory crush the field as he did at last year’s PGA Championship? We don’t know, but we definitely want to be there to find out.
Throughout 2013, visitors can go Beyond the Garden Gates on select days at Longwood Gardens to explore the workspaces, meet the garden staff and see the ingenuity that does into everything they do there. Participants will discover areas of the gardens never before seen by the public and learn garden secrets like how they hang a half-million Christmas lights or design their popular fireworks and fountains shows.
March 2-10, 2013
The horticultural heritage of Great Britain blooms in Philadelphia from March 2 through 10, as the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society plants the British-themed PHS Philadelphia Flower Show in the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Themed “Brilliant,” the show exemplifies the vibrancy and sophistication of contemporary London and pays homage to the country’s proud gardening tradition through spectacular recreations of Big Ben, the royal palace gates, Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel, the Mad Hatter’s tea party, Sgt. Pepper’s band, London’s foggy streets and sunny cottage gardens. New this year: the addition of a second Saturday to the schedule, behind-the-scenes preview tickets, do-it-yourself workshops and a showcase of new plant varieties.
March 28 – April 27, 2013
The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts’ Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts 2013 (PIFA) returns for its second city-wide celebration March 28 to April 27, with the theme “If You Had a Time Machine…” The new and innovative works will transport audiences through time, tracing the ideas of past visionaries, examining current cultural events and fast-forwarding to imagine the possibilities for what’s yet to come. More than 50+ arts organizations will put on 50 events—some of which are free—range from music and theater to visual arts and family-friendly acts.
In October, the Mural Arts Program will collaborate with artists Lucy and Jorge Orta to stage the largest version yet of 70×7 The Meal, an ongoing series of visual and performance art pieces staged throughout the world that gather people around a communal table to engage in dialogue around a chosen theme—in Philadelphia’s case, food equity, sustainability and living art. On an early October evening, 2,000 people will gather in a public space to bring the work to life, transforming the familiar act of sharing a meal into an extraordinary sensory and creative experience. The artists will create a plate and a silkscreened table-runner for the meal. Location to be determined.