Family cultural fun in Philadelphia
By Jay Nachman
Whether its museums, music or mammals that tickle your fancy, Philadelphia is a host to of cultural gems that are always a pleasure to visit — and many have holiday events that are fun for all ages.
The Philadelphia Zoo, America’s first zoo, is home to more than 1,700 rare and endangered animals. Throughout December, as the animals at the Zoo go to sleep in their indoor exhibits, the Zoo transforms into a dazzling winter wonderland, filled with lights, sounds, and surprises with more than a million twinkling lights across 14 illuminated zones. For more information, go to PhiladelphiaZoo.org/LumiNature or call 215-243-1100.
For the musically inclined, students at the Curtis Institute of Music perform more than 100 free recitals each semester, held on most Mondays at 7 p.m. as well as Wednesday and Friday evenings at 8 p.m. To attend, register at curtis.edu/curtis-performances/calendar or 215-893-5252. Registration is limited to four tickets per request.
On December 25, the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History has its annual program, “Being __ at Christmas” on Christmas Day. This long running community event that began decades ago as “Being Jewish at Christmas” evolved within the last decade to “Being _ at Christmas,” an all-ages family fun day. The open-ended name underscores the fact that the museum is open to all, particularly on a day when people of diverse faiths and backgrounds and- blended heritages may be looking for fun, education, and community. Crafts, music, and more will take place throughout the entire 100,000 square foot building and the galleries are open for general visitation. The museum offers free admission on Fridays through Sundays. There is a fee for the program. For more information visit TheWeitzman.org or call 215-923-3811.
The African American Museum (AAMP) in Philadelphia is the first institution built by a major United States city to house and interpret the life and work of African Americans. Currently on view at the AAMP are “Vision & Spirit: African American Art | Works from the Bank of America Collection” a collection of nearly 100 paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, and mixed media works by 48 renowned African American artists born in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and “Black Healthcare Studies” which explores the adverse history and barriers faced by Black students pursuing careers in healthcare. Information about the AAMP can be found at aampMuseum.org or by calling 215-574-0380.
Taller Puertorriqueño, Inc. is a community-based organization whose primary purpose is to preserve, develop and promote Puerto Rican arts and culture. An annual holiday tradition for Taller Puertorriqueño is its toy drive for Three Kings Day, during which families come to receive gifts from Three Kings. Families can receive one gift per child. The event, held on Friday, Jan. 6 is free and open to the public but advanced registration is required.
For many Christians in Spain and Latin America, the holiday season officially ends on Jan. 6, which is the 12th day of Christmas and known as the Feast of the Epiphany, or Three Kings’ Day. The holiday celebrates the biblical tale in which the Three Kings, or Three Wise Men, visit baby Jesus after his birth. For anyone willing to donate a new toy, there are collection boxes in the lobby at Taller Puertorriqueño, 2600 N 5th St., and in the lobby of the Academy of Music, 240 S Broad St. Families can register at TallerPr.org/about or call 215-426-3311.
The Asian Arts Initiative (AAI) is a community-based cultural arts center in Chinatown North at 1219 Vine St. AAI serves underrepresented artists and creates community with exhibitions, open mic nights, film screenings and performances. The center features a gallery, meeting space and black box-style theater. “Radio AAI,” a free interactive storefront highlighting Asian experiments with radio, is on view through Feb. 23, 2023. For more information, call 215-557-0455 or go to AsianArtsInitiative.org.
Additional holiday happenings can be found on the Visit Philadelphia website at VisitPhilly.com. General information about the city’s museums, attractions, cultural institutions and historic sites can be found on the Independence Visitor Center website at PhlVisitorCenter.com/ThingsToDo or by calling 1-800-537-7676.
Jay Nachman is a freelance writer in Philadelphia who tells stories for a variety of clients.