14 New Reasons To Visit Philadelphia In 2017

The NFL Draft, Museum Of The American Revolution Opening & A New Opera Festival On Tap For This Year

2017 looks to be another blockbuster year for Philadelphia, giving people plenty of new reasons to visit and explore the raved-about city. Still pumped from the excitement of a visit by Pope Francis in 2015 and the Democratic National Convention in 2016, Philadelphia will continue to bask in the national spotlight when the Museum of the American Revolution opens in the Historic District in mid-April and when the NFL Draft takes over the Benjamin Franklin Parkway later that month. Other highlights include the largest retrospective of works by Andrew Wyeth since the 1970s at the Brandywine River Museum of Art. Starting on the same weekend in mid-September, Opera Philadelphia will debut its annual opera festival O17, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will kick off the 15-month-long centennial celebration Parkway 100—which includes the groundbreaking temporary art exhibitions Fireflies and, later, Winter Fountains for the Parkway—and the entire city will host the public art exhibition Monument Lab.

Here’s a look at what’s in store for Philadelphia in 2017:

  1. In the exhibition Person of the Crowd: The Contemporary Art of Flânerie, the Barnes Foundation presents works by 40 international artists who’ve created in the streets. French for “aimless wandering,” flânerie as an art form can mean scavenging for materials, launching a guerilla campaign or creating a scene to bring an issue to light. Through May 2, 2017. 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 278-7200, barnesfoundation.org
  2. Brick by brick, LEGOLAND® Discovery Center will unlock imaginations as wannabe builders dive into an interactive world of hands-on play. Iconic Philadelphia landmarks created from millions of LEGO bricks in MiniLand, Play Zones with an almost unlimited supply of LEGOs, a kid-friendly ride and 4D cinema will keep children and parents entertained for hours at this this 33,000 square-foot indoor playground. April 6, 2017. Plymouth Meeting Mall, 500 W. Germantown Pike, Plymouth Meeting, legolanddiscoverycenter.com
  3. The Museum of the American Revolution opens its doors this spring in the Historic Philadelphia district, just steps from Independence Hall and in the heart of a city that served as the headquarters for the Revolution. Through immersive exhibitions and priceless artifacts, the museum traces the evolution of the colonies from the earliest days of unrest through a legendary war and the improbable victory that led to a new nation. Highlights include General Washington’s original headquarters tent, Revolutionary War weapons, centuries-old military documents and hundreds of other authentic objects. April 19. 101 S. 3rd Street, (215) 253-6731, amrevmuseum.org
  4. Here’s one that will please history lovers and outdoor fans. The New Year brings the opening of the new Bartram’s Mile, a 1.1-mile addition to Schuylkill Banks recreational trail. The 15-foot-wide multi-use path will extend along the western bank of the Schuylkill River through the grounds of historic Bartram’s Garden, frequented by Washington, Jefferson and other boldface names from history. Selfie alert: The new plaza at the 56th Street access point offers great skyline views. April 22, 2017 (tentative). Grays Ferry Avenue to south of 56th Street, schuylkillbanks.org
  5. Score one for Philadelphia, landing the 82nd NFL Draft for the first time in more than 50 years. During three days of festivities—all taking place outdoors in a space as big as 25 football fields—fans of all ages can enjoy virtual reality and interactive games, get autographs from current and former players, take pictures with the Vince Lombardi Trophy and much more. April 27-29. Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Sports fans rejoice: The Penn Relays, the oldest collegiate track meet in the nation, also take place this weekend at the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field.
  6. Returning to Franklin Square after last year’s amazingly successful local debut, the Chinese Lantern Festival will transform the historic park into a vibrant, multicolored, light-up wonderland for five weeks. In addition to 29 oversize animals, flowers, pagodas and the ever-popular giant dragon, the popular event brings with it Chinese foods, folk dancers, acrobats—and the Dragon Beer Garden. May 9-June 11, 2017. 6th & Race Streets,
    (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org/franklin-square
  7. After delighting crowds for more than 85 years, Longwood Gardens’ fountains are undergoing a $90 million makeover. Enhanced by 21st-century technology, dramatic new lighting and a variety of newly choreographed fountain shows featuring jets that shoot more than 175 feet in the air will elicit ooohs and aahhhs. New seating areas, a grotto, trestle bridge and landscaped paths offer guests lots of photo-worthy scenes. May 27, 2017. 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, (610) 388-1000, longwoodgardens.org
  8. Just when Philadelphians turn their minds to summer sun, America’s oldest zoo welcomes Winter: Exclusively at Philadelphia Zoo. The new exhibition features the 100-foot-long Snow Leopard Slope for snow-tubing, the powder-covered, all-ages play area Snow Zone and a tot lot called Polar Bear Pavilion. The seasonally contrary addition includes a refreshment zone featuring hot and cold snacks. June 17-August 20, 2017. 3400 W. Girard Avenue, (215) 243-1100, philadelphiazoo.org
  9. Not since 1973 has an exhibition so deeply explored Andrew Wyeth’s work. That changes this summer when the Brandywine River Museum of Art celebrates the 100th anniversary of his birth with Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect, featuring more than 100 of the artist’s works on canvas and paper. June 24-September 17. 1 Hoffman’s Mill Road, Chadds Ford, (610) 388-2700, brandywine.org
  10. LOVE Park, which got some love of its own in the form a major makeover, is getting ready to show off its new look. Redesigned sloping lawns, colorful new flower beds and a large central fountain are the backdrops to Robert Indiana’s famous LOVE sculpture, offering stellar sightlines of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for photo ops. The iconic round visitors center will also sport a new look and will offer food and beverage service. Summer 2017. 15th Street & John F. Kennedy Boulevard, phila.gov
  11. The Benjamin Franklin Parkway, oft referred to as Philadelphia’s Champs-Elysées, celebrates its centennial this fall in the 100 events of Parkway 100. The 15-month, indoor-outdoor festival’s theme of “We are Connected” is a grand invitation to residents and visitors to explore the museums that thrive along the corridor via performances, plein-air painting and art lessons, storytelling, Cai Guo-Qiang’s 27 light-up pedicab Fireflies (September 14-October 8, 2017), Jennifer Steinkamp’s five floral dome sculptures Winter Fountains for the Parkway (December 21, 2017-March 30, 2018) and more. September 8, 2017-November 16, 2018. Various locations. parkwaymuseumsdistrictphiladelphia.org
  12. The city’s musical profile hits a high note when Opera Philadelphia introduces O17, a new opera festival that will mark the start of the company’s season. O17 will thrill audiences with some of the genre’s glittering stars featured in more than 25 performances, including three world premieres, the exclusive East Coast appearance of an internationally renowned production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, commissioned works and must-see, site-specific performances. September 14-25. Various locations, (215) 732-8400, operaphila.org
  13. What makes a monument in the 21st century? Monument Lab will attempt to answer this question for Philadelphia with an eight-week citywide public art and history exhibition co-produced by Mural Arts Philadelphia and curators Paul M. Farber, Ken Lum and A. Will Brown. Monument Lab, a series of temporary installations by local and international artists accompanied by interactive pop-up laboratories for creative conversations. September 15-November 19, 2017. Various locations. (215) 685-0750, muralarts.org
  14. The Franklin Institute’s dramatic Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor reveals the secrets behind the 2,000-year-old army of clay statues that guarded the tomb of China’s first emperor until they were discovered in 1974. This traveling exhibition is the sole east coast appearance of the archaeological marvel and sheds light on the science, culture and craft of the stoic, silent guards. September 30, 2017-March 4, 2018. 222 N. 20th Street, (215) 448-1200, fi.edu


As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, VISIT PHILADELPHIA® builds Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.

On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.

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