If, like us, your New Year’s Resolution is to be a more civically engaged citizen, then you’ve come to the right place. Here is your official Good Philadelphia Citizen Calendar for 2023. (We’ll keep updating it as new events crop up!)
Truth be told, you can be a good citizen any day of the year: Sweep your block. Donate a book to a little free library. Volunteer at any kind of shelter. Buy a a box of overpriced candy from a kid on the subway. Lend a hand to someone who could use it. Patronize a local business. Come interview candidates for mayor of Philadelphia.
But for specific ideas, pull out your new 2023 calendar, sharpen your favorite pencil, and start marking these civic holidays and Philly-centric events to make 2023 your best citizen year yet.
February 2: Glean What You Will from Groundhog Day
It’s odd, disproven, old-fashioned (what with the fellas in top hats), and borderline cruel to a hibernating groundhog who has, to date, received zero dollars for his annual appearances — not to mention for being the face of the Pennsylvania Lottery. But if it gives us a little hope, even perversely, that spring is coming, then, good on ya?
February 3: See Works by Kehinde Wiley, Kenneth James, Donna Grace and more on First Friday
Old City’s Thinker Maker Society goes all out for Black History Month and First Friday with the exhibition Spirit Mediums. See works by established, even world-famous but also up-and-coming Black artists. As always, your host is gallerist and innovator Quon Brinkley. February 3, 7-11pm. 320 Race Street
February 4: Honor Rosa Parks and Caroline LeCount on Transit Equity Day
Rosa Parks was not the first Black American woman to inspire a bus boycott. That was 19th-century Philadelphian Caroline LeCount, who is extremely overdue for a statue — and whom a group of neighbors on Taney Street would like their street named after. But Parks’ simple and defiant act inspired a 20th-century movement, and that movement inspired work to change for the better. So, ride a SEPTA bus, subway or train. Have a seat. Make room for another rider. Thank your driver.
February 4, 11, 18, 25: Ride the Sisterhood Sit-In Trolley
Saturday afternoons, February 4 through March 25, Jeannine Cook, owner of Harriett’s and Ida’s bookshops, hosts a Rebel Rides trolley tour — beginning on Rosa Parks’ birthday — of Black women-owned businesses such as Harriett’s, French Toast Bites at Cherry Street Pier, Ceramic Concepts, Bookers, Modest Transitions and Nyambi Naturals Urban Beauty. Along the way: games, gifts, sisterhood. Tickets are $40. 258 E. Girard Avenue.
February 5 & 25: Go on a Black History Month Civic Heroes Trolley Tour
Ninety minutes of riding around Philly, checking out public walls featuring original murals portraying African American national and neighborhood heroes — and you’ll never see Philadelphia the same way again. Mural Arts tours depart from PAFA at Claes Oldenburg’s Paint Torch sculpture at 10am February 5 & 25. Tickets $38 (adult) and $28 (ages 12 & under). 128 N. Broad Street
February 7: Join Us for The Third Ultimate Job Interview of Mayoral Candidates
Join The Philadelphia Citizen at Fitler Club from 6:30-8:30pm to interview Allan Domb and Rebecca Rhynhart, candidates for Mayor of Philadelphia. The event is free, but registration is required. All the information you need is here.
February 11: Bring Kid(s) to the African American Children’s Book Fair
The fair’s back in person for year 31, bringing the next Jason Reynolds or Jacqueline Woodson (or maybe the real ones) to Philly for three hours of unbridled shopping for and signing and reading aloud of children’s books by Black authors and illustrators. This is biggest such event on the East Coast. And, it’s a glorious sight to behold. PA Convention Center, 1-4pm.
February 21: Come to the Fourth Ultimate Job Interview of Mayoral Candidates
Join The Philadelphia Citizen at Fitler Club from 6:30-8:30pm to interview Helen Gym and Cherelle Parker for the important job of Mayor of Philadelphia. The event is free, but registration is required. All the information you need is here.
February 22: Register to Vote on Octavius Catto’s Birthday
On this day in 1839, Octavius V. Catto, aka Caroline LeCount’s partner, was born. Catto would go on to serve in the National Guard, recruit other African Americans to serve in the military, help establish Philadelphia’s Negro League Baseball (go Pythians), worked to integrate streetcars, and was assassinated after exercising his sacred right to vote. You know what you need to do: Register. To. Vote.
March 4-12: Breath Deep at the Philadelphia Flower Show
The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) is bringing back the world’s largest indoor flower show … indoors, after putting on an ambitious pop-up version for a couple of years in FDR Park. Your $38.50 adult admission, pricey though it may be, does help fund PHS’ greening of our fair city, which could use a few more trees, to be sure. PA Convention Center.
March 10: Buy a Book at a Black-Owned Bookshop on Harriett Tubman Day
When this day becomes a federal holiday, you can thank bookstore owner Jeannine Cook, who named her Fishtown shop after Tubman — and named her Collingswood, NJ location after Ida B. Wells. In the meantime, you can still add your name to a petition to make March 10 the first American holiday recognizing a Black woman. And shop at Harriett’s and Ida’s.
March 22: Be Extra Kind to Muslim Friends: Ramadan Begins
Fasting from sunup to sundown for a full month inspires reflection and even community building. It does not, however, come easily. Go easy on your Muslim colleagues, friends, neighbors and fellow citizens.
March 23-April 2: Get Dramatic during Philly Theatre Week
Like so many celebratory weeks, this one is longer than seven days, and spans theater groups and spaces in and beyond Philly. This is the time to sample the new stuff.
March 24: Eat One on National Cheesesteak Day
If you have to ask. (We love you Pat’s and Geno’s, but give a little love to your corner steak shop this go-round, wouldya?)
April 6: Catch the Phillies Home Opener
Opening day is usually too cold to be outside. But after that blissfully improbable run to the Series last fall? We’ll brave the chill. Go Phils!
April 11: Help an Animal on National Pet Day
Every human companion to a pet knows: Fur babies are the best babies. Philadelphia has long struggled to shelter all of our city’s un-homed animals. Here are 10 ways you can help, ranging from low-commitment — Take a dog for a walk! Donate used towels! Take a cat’s photo! — to the lifechangers, like adopting a new, barking or meowing family member.
April 12-16: Take Part in National Youth Violence Prevention Week
No need to tell any Philadelphian about what’s happening with our kids. Too many children — because that’s what they are — are becoming victims and culprits of violence, most notably, gun violence. We can’t keep blaming parents. We need to fix this ourselves. Here’s how:
April 15-16: Savor Spring at the Cherry Blossom Festival
Shofuso — the 17th-century-style Japanese house and garden gifted to Philadelphia in 1953 — remains one of the hidden gems of Fairmount Park. Except, that is, over this weekend, when everyone gathers beneath pink cherry blossoms to celebrate Japanese culture.
April 22: Fight Climate Change on Earth Day
Here are more more than 50 ways to save Planet Earth, mostly easy:
April 25: Show Your True Colors for the Phanatic’s Birthday
Before there was Gritty, there was this green, Galápogan big-bellied, silly-snouted creature, still the best mascot in all of baseball. For all the joy you’ve given us (since 1978!), Phillie Phanatic, we thank you. Feel free to sit on us during a home game.
April 30: Support Runners Doing Good at the Broad Street Run
You could stand between Central and the Navy Yard, cheering on the 40,000 runners, maybe even seeing a friend among them. Or, you could join them. Run with Back on My Feet, which helps people going through crisis through … running. Or sponsor a youth runner from Girls on the Run or Students Run Philly Style.
May 1: Last Day to Register to Vote Before the Primary Election
May 1-5: Do an Educator a Solid during Teacher Appreciation Week
Some believe a solid education, fueled by teachers and support staff who double as mentors, is the most essential solution of all. Shoutout to all the educators who look after our kids from pre-K to post-grad. Here are some ways to help teachers (and therefore students) here in Philly.
May 3: Buy a Newspaper on World Press Freedom Day
Pick up a newspaper: Maybe the Philadelphia Daily News or Philadelphia Tribune, or an Inquirer. Make a donation to a nonprofit newsroom that’s actively working to solve seemingly intractable Philadelphia problems … like, oh, I don’t know, The Philadelphia Citizen?
May 13: Sign up for Love Your Park Day
Like spring cleaning, except for your neighborhood park. Heck, like spring cleaning but for a park that you’ve never been to before, where you discover something new, like friends!
May 16: Vote in the 2023 Primary Election
Philadelphia being very majority Democratic, it’s more than likely that the primary election will determine who’ll be Philadelphia’s next mayor. You know what to do. Vote.
May 20-21: Climb the Greased Pole (or just watch) at the S. 9th Street Italian Market Festival
It’s loud. It’s crowded. There’s a greased pole that’s pretty much daring every post-championship pole climber to tackle it, en masse. There’s live and DJ’ed (hi, Jerry Blavat) music. And, cannoli. And giant pineapple drinks, lines out the doors of Di Bruno Bros, Claudio’s, Fante’s … It’s kinda blissful.
May 29: Honor Fallen Military on Memorial Day
Memorial Day began after the Civil War to honor members of the military who lost their lives in battle. Should you be feeling patriotic and / or grateful for the sacrifices made by service members and the people who loved them, pay your respects at Philadelphia National Cemetery in West Oak Lane at 6909 Limekiln Pike.
June 11: Do Up Odunde
This proud, woman-founded, extra lively West South Street tradition merges African and African American traditions into unbridled Black joy on the Second Sunday in June.
June 19: Celebrate Juneteenth — and Feel Great About It.
It’s been three years since President Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday, giving all Americans the opportunity to celebrate the end of slavery. Take this opportunity to visit the African American Museum in Philadelphia, support Black-owned businesses that do good, catch a parade — or to just listen.
June 20: Help Someone New to the United States on World Refugee Day
For the moment, the United States remains a promised land for people fleeing war, poverty, crime, and abuse. Here’s how you can help refugees who’ve come to the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection looking for a better life.
July 4: Catch Philadelphia Fireworks on Independence Day
The city’s tourism bureaus like to say, “The city that did it first, does it best.” Well, Phily certainly does it longest. Welcome America is a 15-day, event-filled runup to Independence Day, replete with concerts and fireworks, including the biggest of the year over the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
August 4: It’s Hot Out. Have a Beer.
Go to a Philadelphia brewery that does more than brews and serves delicious pilsners, ales, and whatnot. Go to a Philadelphia brewery that does good for its community.
September 3-4: Do More than Listen at Made in America
Jay-Z’s massive Labor Day weekend concert is known for bringing the biggest names in hip-hop to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. They also bring good causes, to … Cause Village. Visit.
September 4: Give Unions a Fair Shake On Labor Day
Unions get a bad rap. Some of us blame … gangsters. But, to review some American history, workers created unions as protection against on-the-job exploitation and discrimination. Here, a union president argues why we still need them.
September 15: Do Something for Democracy Day
“Democracy,” it is often said by the smartest people at The Philadelphia Citizen events, “is not a spectator sport.” During last year’s Ideas We Should Steal Festival, The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin elaborated, “Unless you participate, it’s going to fail. Run for office. Join a campaign. Don’t just give money. Don’t just write a check. Subscribe to a newspaper. Do something. Become a political participant.”
September 24: Let Loose on Gritty’s Birthday
Wear orange. Be weird. Have fun.
October 6-8: Roam the Gayborhood during OutFest
Pride is fun, but OutFest — which lays claim to being the nation’s largest Coming Out Day celebration — feels distinctly Philly.
October 9: Honor Indigenous People
All of Philadelphia was once the domain of the Lenni Lenape. On this, the day that used to be Columbus Day, we have a chance to celebrate them. Here’s how:
October 11: Praise Your LGBTQ+ Friend for Coming Out
Coming out in 2023 might be easier than it was in 1983, but it’s still not close to easy, not for most Americans. Congratulate friends you know who’ve done it. And, consider supporting a local LGBTQ+ cause or two.
October 14, 15, 21, 22: Go on an Open Studio Tour
For two weekends, the Center for Emerging Visual Artists invites Philadelphia artists to open their work spaces to the public. Drawing back the curtain on the artistic process, makers of fine arts share their secrets and inspirations.
October 23: Hurry! It’s Your Last Day To Register to Vote before Election Day!
Pennsylvania gives eligible residents — ages 18 and over — the chance to register to vote for up to 15 days before an election. This makes, by our calculations, October 23 the last day to register. Do it.
November 1: Eat Your Veggies on World Vegan Day
Didya know that Philadelphia has one of the highest ranked vegan restaurants … in the world? Vedge sure is a treat. But you can also get your vegan on at Monster Vegan, Bar Bombón, HipCityVedge, The Tasty, LUHV, The Nile Cafe, Miss Rachel’s Pantry, Fitz on 4th, Charlie was a sinner …
November 5: Show Your Philly Pride on Jason Kelce’s Birthday
Philadelphians don’t often adopt out-of-towners as one of our own. Kelce is an exception. Dude chugged a beer with the Phanatic during the 2022 World Series. Coined the phrase, “Nobody likes us, and we don’t care!” at the 2018 Super Bowl parade — while wearing Mummers regalia. Made his teammates sing on a Christmas album and created a line of merch — to benefit Philly kids. More on that: Time and again, Kelc has proven he really, truly, deeply cares about our city and the people in it. HBD.
November 7: It’s Election Day. Vote.
If you didn’t do it earlier, do it. Now.
November 10: Thank a Vet on Veteran’s Day
More than 7,000 military veterans call Philadelphia home. Thank them by supporting those in need and supporting their businesses.
November 11: Sign up for Love Your Park Day
So. Many. Leaves to pick up. Trash, too, this being Philadelphia.
November 13: World Kindness Day
Kindness is goodness in action. Did you know it is also the key to happiness? If you do nothing else all year long, do this: Be kind.
November 23: Give Thanks By Giving
Thank those Philadelphians who are making this city a greater city for all. Then, take some time to honor those in need. Here are some ways to do that:
November 25: Shop Small Saturday in Philadelphia
We’ve got some of the best urban main streets — although few go by that name — in the country. Choose one. Or more. Buy stuff there.
December 7: Write a Letter
On National Letter Writing Day, think about someone you’ve been meaning to reach out to — a far-away friend, grandparent, sibling, anyone you’ve lost touch with — and take a few minutes to send them a card or drop them a line.
December 21: It’s Quinta Brunson’s Birthday. Respect your Teachers.
The creator and star of Abbott Elementary made us fall in love again with Philadelphia’s public schools, warts and all — but especially with Philly educators. You know what they like: Gift cards for school supplies … and coffee shops.
December 26: Join One of the Oldest Kwanzaa Celebrations in the Country. (And Bake Cookies.)
That’s here, in Philadelphia, in case you didn’t know. Listen to Tonya “Food Griot” Hopkins’ podcast about the history of the holiday in Philly. Then start the festivities in the best way: Bake Kwanzaa cookies.