Have Fun, Do Good: Start 2020 Right

Fireworks on New Year's Eve, a vigil for elephants at LOVE Park and more ways to join community and get engaged during the first week of 2020

Have Fun, Do Good: Start 2020 Right

Fireworks on New Year's Eve, a vigil for elephants at LOVE Park and more ways to join community and get engaged during the first week of 2020

When Kwanzaa concludes on January 1, the major holidays will be officially behind us, leaving us good and ready to set out toward the fresh new decade ahead.

You’ll find plenty of ways to mark the coming of 2020 in Philadelphia this week, whether you want to watch fireworks blazing over the waterfront or party with the family at a host of early New Year’s Eve parties.

Events later in the week beacon engaged folks, including a face-to-face chat with climate scientists in South Philly, a cool poetry slam in West Philly or a vigil for elephants—yes, elephants—at LOVE Park.

Find details about all this and more below for a well-rounded and engaged first week of 2020.

Things to do in Philly this week for a good cause

1. New Year's Eve on the Delaware River Waterfront

People skate on the ice at Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest.
Photo courtesy J. Fusco / Visit Philadelphia

We’re going light on the New Year’s Eve parties, because there’s truly something out there for everyone. (Here’s a good guide for that.) But one sure-bet for any type of reveler is all the festivities happening on December 31 along the Waterfront—including the massive fireworks shows. If you’re looking to make a full day out of it, snag some tickets to one of two Parties On Ice at Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest. You can skate all day, chill and stuff your face in the cozy onsite food cabins, and have a prime seat to both fireworks shows over the Delaware, happening at 6pm and midnight. If you’re looking for a low-key—or cheaper—experience, find a spot along the waterfront that doesn’t charge admission, or call up one of your pals with a rooftop deck. It doesn’t get more NYE-in-Philly than that. Tuesday, December 31, fireworks happen at 6pm and midnight. 

2. Family-Friendly New Year's Eve Parties Across the City

A kid dances in confetti at the Please Touch Museum's annual Countdown2Noon New Year's Eve celebration.
Photo courtesy Please Touch Museum

Looking for something to do with the kids on New Year’s Eve? A bunch of museums and parks in the city are hosting earlier NYE bashes for families—complete with countdowns and, in some cases, spectacular views of the 6pm fireworks show. There’s the Kids’ New Year’s Eve Countdown at Franklin Square, where you’ll find dance parties, crafting opportunities and the best views of the aforementioned fireworks. A little closer to the river, Cherry Street Pier’s daytime family-friendly bash will also afford great views of the fireworks show—and the chance to design your own noisemakers and 2020 glasses. The Please Touch Museum gets going a little earlier with its Countdown2Noon that includes a massive, picture-worthy confetti drop. Kids with a penchant for science will love this New Year’s Eve bash at the Franklin Institute that promises “fiery live science shows” and, at noon, a “massive ball pit explosion.” Tuesday, December 31, various times, prices and locations. 

3. Women, Trans and Non-Binary Poetry Slam at The Rotunda

A woman speaks into a microphone at a Philly Pigeon story slam
Photo by Richie Lugo on Unsplash

The Philly Pigeon, a locally started organization working to spotlight performance poetry while building community across across gender, color, religion, sexuality and class lines, hosts its first poetry slam of the year. The evening will feature performances from a handful of local women, trans and non-binary artists, who will share their stories for the chance to win the night’s $150 prize. Guests will also get a chance to hear from Chicago poet and public school teacher Rachel “Raych” Jackson, who’s been burning up the national poetry slam circuit with stories about everything from the proper way to ask for tampons and pads to her thoughts on job and depression. Those wishing to compete need to show up by 8:40pm to put their name in a hat. It will be randomly drawn throughout the night. Those who want to watch, well, just sit back and enjoy! Friday, January 3, 8:30–11pm, $15, The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street. 

4. Vigil for Elephants at LOVE Park ????

Photo courtesy Katarzyna Nowak / Elephants DC

Elephants DC, a nonprofit committed to the promoting elephant well-being and abolishing ivory sales worldwide, calls all Philly supporters to LOVE Park on Saturday for the International Candlelight Vigil for Elephants. Light a candle and stand in solidarity with the organizations and individuals around the world working to protected these mighty tusked beings, and to “remember the Elephants who suffered and died in captivity during 2019.” There will be live performances amidst the rally cries calling for “a total ivory sales ban worldwide now, the end of all wild-caught elephant trade.” Saturday, January 4, 5pm, free, LOVE Park, 15th and Arch Streets. 

5. Climate Up Close at the Free Library

An audience listens to a presentation from scientists involved in Climate Up Close
Photo courtesy Climate Up Close

A group of climate scientists from around the country formed an organization called Climate Up Close that goes into Pennsylvania communities to give everyday folks a chance to talk face to face with climate experts to better understand the dire environmental situation we’re facing and, most importantly, form their own opinions about what needs to be done. This weekend they’ll be at the South Philly Branch of the Free Library. Each event includes a climate primer from the experts, a question-and-answer session and a casual conversation portion usually had over coffee or a light meal. Presenters at this event will include scientists from Princeton University, Harvard University and UC Berkeley. Keep track of what Climate Up Close is doing and learn about future events hereSunday, January 5, 2:45–4:30pm, free, South Philly Branch of the Free Library, 1700 S. Broad Street. 

Header photo courtesy Please Touch Museum

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