’Tis the season for the debut of major Philly holiday attractions, which started last week with the opening of the outdoor ice skating rink at City Hall and continues with this week’s kickoff of the dazzling holiday light show at Franklin Square.
If all this has you feeling extra festive, you could check out a holiday soiree / gift drive hosted by Covenant House, which works to support homeless and runaway youth in Philadelphia.
If you want to keep the holidays at arm’s length for now, you’re covered, too: You (probably) won’t find a Christmas tree or candy cane in sight at an axe-throwing event in Kensington to support the disabled, or Philly Zine Fest, which hosts its longest and most-diverse festival yet over the weekend in West Philly.
Find details on all that and a bunch more in our guide to the week’s best feel-good events below.
Things to do in Philadelphia this week for a good cause
Covenant House, a local agency working to help homeless and runaway youth, is hosting its annual gift drive and young-friends networking mixer to make sure that the youth participating in its program will have presents to open during the holidays. Guests are asked to show up at Field House with a gift card or unwrapped gift that will be donated to the cause. In return, they’ll get complimentary hors d’oeuvres, a free drink and happy hour specials throughout the night. Covenant House suggests a few gifts that they think youth would enjoy, such as $25 (suggested amount) gift cards to Target, Wal-Mart, Acme or McDonald’s, and other items like cologne or perfume sets, bath-and-body goods, Bluetooth speakers, headphones and more. Thursday, November 14, 5:30–8pm, suggested $25 gift, Field House, 1150 Filbert Street.
If you have pent-up frustration about, say, the current state of politics, there are few better ways to shake it off than hurling an axe across the room—at a target not your TV. The Young Philanthropist Group at Easterseals of Southeastern Pennsylvania is hosting a fundraiser this week to let you do just that—while also helping the nonprofit, which is working to change the way the world views disability. Random Axe of Kindness happens at Urban Axes in East Kensington, and includes a night of, well, throwing axes, food and drink and the benefit of knowing you’re doing it all for a great cause: $17 from your ticket goest straight back to Easterseals. Thursday, November 14, 5:45–8:30pm, $50, Urban Axes, 2019 E. Boston Street.
Last week we told you about the opening of the outdoor ice skating rink at City Hall, but this week Philly’s annual holiday events keep coming with the kickoff of seasonal programming at Franklin Square in Old City. The center of the festivities is the Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show, which illuminates the park through December with more than 80,000 LED bulbs that flicker along to a soundtrack of holiday tunes pre-recorded by the Philly POPS. The season also sees family-friendly activities like gingerbread-decorating and s’mores-making, and, for adults, a winter beer garden decked out with sizzling firepits and a bar cranking out beer, wine and hot chocolate. Go here for a lineup of events happening throughout the season—almost all of which, like the light show, are absolutely free to attend. November 14–December 31, Sunday–Thursday, 4–8pm; Friday and Saturday, 4–9pm, free to enter, Franklin Square, 6th and Race streets.
The first phase of the major and years-in-the-making renovations at the Penn Museum are complete, and now the University City cultural institution is ready to show off its new digs. Be among the first to check out the gorgeous updates at a two-day opening bash this weekend that includes the debut of the Mexico and Central American Gallery and African galleries, and the transformed Main Entrance Hall, which now plays home the museum’s mighty and world famous Sphinx. The weekend celebration also includes a host of activities to complement your relic-browsing experience, like talks with archaeologists and curators, traditional performances by Guatemalan and African dance troupes, and an ancient-glyph-writing workshop for kids. November 16–17, 10am–5pm, free with museum admission, Penn Museum, 3260 South Street.
Thanks to a passionate community of supporters, zines are still very much a thing—so much so that they get their own festival here in Philadelphia. Local library and print shop Soapbox, which boasts 2,500 zines from around the city and country, hosts Philly Zine Fest 2019 at The Rotunda in West Philly. Soapbox co-founder Mary Tasillo says this is the first year the festival has spanned two days, and it’s the most diverse Philly Zine Fest yet. Swing by for your chance to explore and purchase page after page of these zines and meet with the authors who are creating them. Saturday and Sunday, November 16–17, noon–6pm, pay as you go, The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street.
More things to do in Philly this week for a good cause
- November 12–16: The first annual PHLanthropy Week kicks off on Tuesday with several discussions on how to nurture and connect Philadelphia’s philanthropic community.
- November 12: A TEDxPhiladelphiaSalon at Guru this Tuesday touches on social justice and the arts.
- November 13: hosts a convening of scholarsThe Historical Society of Pennsylvania to discuss the history of prison reform movements in Pennsylvania.
- November 17: Check out this Eagles vs. Patriots tailgating party in Overbrook Sunday, complete with an inflatable TV screen, a grill for BYO burgers and dogs and community spirit out the wazoo.
- Through November 17: The Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival kicks off with dozens of films, panels, live music and more that spotlight the Asian-American experience.
- Through November 17: The First Person Arts Festival brings awesome and engaging storytelling events to venues across Philly
- Through November 23: Catch a flick during the Gershman Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival.