If you’re anywhere in the Philadelphia region between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, there’s a holiday tradition in Center City at the historic Wanamaker Building, occupied by Macy’s, that’s a must-see. The Macy’s Christmas Light Show has delighted young and old since 1956, and it’s completely free.
The Light Show
In the Grand Court of Macy’s, a four-story high light board twinkles with over 100,000 LED bulbs, surrounding the 40-foot Macy’s Magic Christmas Tree. Julie Andrews narrates the stories of The Nutcracker, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and more accompanied by music at the beginning and end of the show from the Wanamaker Grand Organ. It’s difficult to take your eyes off the show when it’s on, but if you can look around for just a moment and catch a young child wide-eyed with awe, it’s worth missing a scene or two.
Visitors can stand or sit on the floor of the Grand Court to look up to see the show that runs about 12 minutes. They can also head up to the second or third floor and grab a spot along the railing overlooking the Grand Court. In fact, the railings directly across from the Light Show on the second and third floors are some of the most coveted viewing locations.
The Wanamaker Grand Organ
Built for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, the Wanamaker Grand Organ was transported to Philadelphia and installed when the building was built. It’s now a National Historic Landmark. The organ is played regularly Monday through Saturday throughout the year. If you can catch a noon performance of the Light Show on those days, you’ll be able to hear the opening and grand finale played live by an organist. At most other times, the organ music is recorded.
On Saturday, December 9 only, Macy’s will hold its annual Christmas in the Grand Tradition Concert in the Grand Court. The concert features Peter Richard Conte on the organ with flugelhornist Andrew Ennis and singer Jillian Patricia Pirtle. The concert is free, and the 8pm showing of the Light Show follows.
Meet me at the eagle
A large statue of a bronze eagle, also created originally for the St. Louis World’s Fair, sits in the center of the Grand Court and can’t be missed. For over 100 years, it’s been the meeting place for people who want to find each other in the building. It’s tradition to say to others that you’re meeting for The Light Show, “Meet me at the eagle.” It’s also tradition to take your photo in front of the eagle before or after the Light Show.
What to do next
The Light Show, grand as it is, lasts only about 12 minutes, but that doesn’t mean the holiday experience needs to be over. Head up to Macy’s third floor or out of the Wanamaker Building for other Philadelphia holiday events.
- Dickens Village: On the third floor of Macy’s is a free, 600 square foot walk-through “A Christmas Carol.” Wander through various scenes from the classic holiday story, reading aloud passages as you go.
- Visit Santa: Also on the third floor of Macy’s is a Victorian Santa, who hears the Christmas List of those who sit on his lap. He is always up for taking photos that can be purchased on site. Santa’s last day at Macy’s is Christmas Eve.
- Reading Terminal Market Holiday Trains: An interactive, 500-square-foot model railroad display has 17 working train line and a little more than one-third of a mile of track. The free train display is in Reading Terminal, just a couple of blocks from Macy’s.
- Comcast Holiday Spectacular: One of the world’s largest highest resolution LED displays is at the Comcast Center, a short walk from Macy’s. During the holidays, it presents a free, 15-minute video performance featuring dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet and a magical sleigh soaring through Philadelphia’s skyline.
Where to eat
Center City Philadelphia has no shortage of great casual and fine dining locations, but here are two that seem particularly suited to a day of holiday activities.
- Reading Terminal Market: Just a couple easily walkable blocks away from Macy’s is the famous public market with over 80 vendors and a wide variety of restaurants and food counters under one roof. You can get a Philly Cheesesteak, a DiNic’s Roast Pork Sandwich (which the Travel Channel says is the best sandwich in the country), seafood, burgers, Amish baked goods, Po Boys, ice cream and more. (12th and Arch Streets)
- Magiano’s Little Italy: This upscale Italian chain restaurant is a perfect place for a family lunch or dinner after walking the chilly streets of Philadelphia. You can order individual dishes or order a family-style dinner. (1201 Filbert Street)
Locations, dates and times
- Macy’s Christmas Light Show: Top of every even hour from open to close. November 25-December 31. 1300 Market Street.
- Macy’s Dickens Village: Continual during stores hours. November 25-December 31. 1300 Market Street.
- Macy’s Visit Santa: Continual during stores hours. November 25-December 24. 1300 Market Street.
- Reading Terminal Market Holiday Trains: Continual during market hours. November 24-December 31. 12th & Arch Streets.
- Comcast Holiday Spectacular: Daily, at the top of the hour, 10 am-8 pm (except 5pm on weekdays). November 23-January 1. 17th Street & John F. Kennedy Boulevard.
Want to fill in a few of the gaps your high school history books and mainstream museum visits have left when it comes to the contributions of women over the centuries? These seven museums throughout the country fill in some of the blanks as they celebrate the stories of women in the armed forces, sciences, arts, politics, and more.
National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC
The only major museum in the world solely dedicated to championing women through the arts, the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), seeks to inspire dynamic exchanges about art and ideas with collections, exhibitions, programs, and online content.
The museum’s permanent collection contains more than 5,000 objects by over 1,000 artists like Frida Kahlo, Grandma Moses, and Georgia O’Keefe, as well as names that aren’t as well known, but should be. Each year the NMWA hosts ten world-class exhibitions featuring women artists. The museum is also a resource for facts about gender disparity in the arts.
- Hours of Operation: Monday – Saturday, 10am-5pm; Sunday, 12pm-5pm
- Admission Fees: Adults – $10; Seniors 65 and up – $8; Students – $8; Children 18 and under – Free
- Location: 1250 New York Ave NW, Washington, D.C.
United States Army Women’s Museum, Fort Lee, VA
The United States Army Women’s Museum is the only one of its kind – a museum dedicated to showcasing the history of contributions of women in the Army. From the American Revolution (where women had roles like laundresses and cooks) to the inception of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) to present-day where women serve in combat, stories of female patriots are preserved within the halls of the museum.
The museum is also an educational institution that provides military history training to soldiers and civilians.
- Hours of Operation: Tuesday – Saturday 10am-5pm
- Admission Fees: Everything is always free
- Location: 2100 ‘A’ Adams Avenue, Fort Lee, VA
International Women’s Air & Space Museum, Cleveland, OH
The International Women’s Air & Space Museum goes beyond Sally Ride and Amelia Earhart to document the history of all women in aviation and space, both past and present. Begun by a committee of Ninety-Nines (an international organization of women pilots), who saved memorabilia of women pilots, the museum opened in 1998.
The museum and its collection of artifacts, photographs, articles, textiles, art work, and paper items are located very close to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center, and should not be missed when planning a visit to one of the other two.
- Hours of Operation: Daily from 8am-8pm
- Admission Fees: Free
- Location: Burke Lakefront Airport, Rm 165, 1501 N. Marginal Rd., Cleveland, OH
Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta, GA
Located on the Spelman College campus, the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art is the the only museum in the nation that emphasizes art by women of the African Diaspora. These dynamic, important works are presented through exhibitions and programs.
The museum’s permanent collection dates back to the 1940s and is comprised of over 350 objects – including ethnographic, African, three-dimensional, polychrome, and wooden artifacts – that include African art and works by celebrated artists of African descent. The museum features female artists of descent from Cameroon, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and other regions.
- Hours of Operation: Tuesday – Friday, 10am – 4pm; Saturday noon-4pm; closed holidays, summers, and official college breaks
- Admission Fee: Adults – $3 suggested donation
- Location: 350 Spelman Lane, Atlanta, GA
National First Ladies’ Library, Canton, OH
Where can you find a collection of miniature First Lady gown reproductions? At the National First Ladies’ Library. The museum isn’t about only the fashions of president’s wives, though. It’s the foremost repository of scholarly research, information, and education on the country’s First Ladies.
Part of the museum is located on the site of the family home of First Lady Ida McKinley. Another part of the museum – the education and research center – is at the former City National Bank building just a block away from the McKinley home. In the library is a rotating exhibit space, a 91-seat Victorian Theatre where films and documentaries on the first ladies are shown and lectures are held. The library also houses a collection of books somewhat similar to the first White House Library.
- Hours of Operation: Tuesday – Saturday 9am-4pm; Sundays in June, July and August only 12pm-4pm
- Admission Fees: Adults – $7; Seniors – $6; Children 17 and under – $5
- Location: Museum/Saxton McKinley House. 331 S. Market Avenue; Education and Research Center, 205 S. Market Ave. Canton, OH
Pioneer Woman Museum, Ponca City, OK
Since 1958, the Pioneer Woman Museum has preserved the legacy of women who contributed to Oklahoma’s development. The 10,000 square-foot museum showcases the influence women had on the development of the state as well as the nation as a whole. In the museum’s education center visitors will find craft demonstrations, special exhibits, an interactive timeline, and the Pioneer Woman Walk of Fame.
The building’s entrance represents the iconic sunbonnet of pioneer women, and written on 20-foot tall copper bonnet are the words, “I See No Boundaries” – fitting words for a museum dedicated to the enduring spirit of women—past, present, and future. Outside the museum is the Pioneer Woman, a 30-foot tall bronze statue of a pioneer mother (in a sunbonnet, of course) with a Bible in her hand and courage and determination on her face.
- Hours of Operation: Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm
- Admission Fee: Adults – $7; Seniors – $5; Students 6-18 – $4; Children 5 and under, and Active Military Personnel – Free
- Location: 701 Monument Road, Ponca City, OK
National Women’s Hall of Fame, Seneca Falls, NY
2017 inductees to the National Women’s Hall of Fame include food activist, Alice Paul; athlete, Aimée Mullins; playwright and essayist, Lorraine Hansberry; and geneticist, Janet Rowley, M.D. These diverse women are just a handful of the females, honored in the museum, who have influenced other women and the country. The museum is purposefully located in Seneca Falls, the birthplace of the American Women’s Rights Movement.
This hall of fame is the nation’s oldest membership organization dedicated to honoring and celebrating the achievements of distinguished American Women. This group is 260+ women strong and grows each year. With special exhibits, events, and its annual Induction Weekend, the hall uses the stories of its inductees to help drive inspiration, innovation, and imagination.
- Hours of operation: Wednesday – Saturday 10am-4pm; Sunday – Tuesday 12pm-4pm
- Admission Fee: Adults – $4; Students and Seniors – $3; Families – $8; Children 5 and under – Free
- Location: 76 Fall St, Seneca Falls, NY
You could grab some friends and go have a glass of wine at a local bar – again. Or, you could grab those friends, have a glass of wine and create some holiday decorations you made yourself. Doesn’t that sound like a nice change of pace? These small wineries across the U.S. offer guided craft classes, complete with the ability to sip while you craft. Make your reservations as soon as possible – these fun events often sell out.
Wine Glass Painting at Laurita Winery, New Egypt, NJ
Create your own original artwork on not one but two wine glasses – one for you and one to share with a friend. You’ll be given everything you need, including step-by-step instructions, to turn wine glasses into Santa and one of his elves.
- Where: Laurita Winery, 85 Archertown Road, New Egypt, NJ
- When: Wednesday, November 29, 6:30 pm – 9 pm
- Tickets: $35 online; $45 at the door, includes one glass of wine
Holiday Wreath Making at Labelle Winery, Portsmouth, NH
Take a breather during this hectic time of year for some relaxing wreath making in the winery cellar. Create your own beautiful evergreen wreath that you can hang in your home or maybe give away as a hostess gift. Instructors will give directions, provide tips and offer suggestions. Wreath rings, tools, wire, mountain laurel, white pine and eastern hemlock will all be provided along with winter berries, and you’re welcome to bring some of your own natural elements to include, too.
- Where: Labelle Winery, 104 Congress Street, Portsmouth, NH
- When: Sunday, December 3, 10 am or 1 pm
- Cost: $30, wine available at an additional cost
Grapevine Snowman Wreath Making at Vineyard View Winery, Keuka Park, NY
Bring a little bit of the vineyard into your home by turning vines into an amazing wreath snowman. You’ll paint the wreaths and add embellishments while an instructor walks you through the whole process. To make it a little more snazzy, bring your own string of white lights to wrap around your snowman.
- Where: Vineyard View Winery 2971 Williams Hill Road, Keuka Park, NY
- When: Wednesday, November 22, 6 pm – 8 pm (registration required by November 20)
- Cost: $30, wine available at an additional cost
Wood Sign Painting at Summerset Winery, Indianola, IA
Customize a wooden sign just the way you want it when Gena’s Designs of the Heartland guides you through the steps to make a 12×12 inch piece of art. Sign style and design are chosen in advance so you’ll know exactly what you’ll be bringing home with you to brighten your decor.
- Where: Summerset Winery, 15101 Fairfax Street, Indianola, IA
- When: Wednesday, December 6, 6pm – 8pm
- Cost: $65, includes one glass of wine
Cork Ornaments at Cougar Vineyard, Temecula, CA
Sip, nibble & craft away while creating holiday ornaments out of wine corks. Bring home something special to hang on the tree and something stuff in someone’s stocking – you can make several cork ornaments during this event.
- Where: Cougar Vineyard, 39870 De Portola Road, Temecula, CA
- When: Wednesday, December 13, 4pm – 6pm
- Cost: $15 wine club members, pre-paid; $18 non-wine club members, pre-paid; $20 at door if still available, includes one glass of wine and light snacks
Slate Painting at Chateau Bu-De, Chesapeake City, MD
No experience is necessary to creating a beautiful painting on slate to add to your holiday and winter decor. During this festive evening, you’ll be guided through the steps necessary to paint a winter scene that will make you look like a professional artist. All supplies needed to finish your slate that evening will be supplied.
- Where: Chateau Bu-De, 237 Bohemia Manor Lane, Chesapeake City, MD
- When: Friday, December 8, 5:30 pm – 7 pm
- Cost: $50, includes one glass of wine
Snowman Wood Pallat Painting at Benigna’s Creek Winery, Klingerstown, PA
Let everyone know ‘There’s snowplace like home” with this folksy wood pallat painting of a cheerful snowman. Graphic designer and artist Connie Higgins leads painters through the process step-by-step. Even if you’ve never painted before, your artwork will come out looking like a masterpiece.
- Where: Benigna’s Creek Winery, 1585 Ridge Road, Klingerstown, PA
- When: Friday, December 1, 7 pm -9:30 pm
- Cost: $37, includes wine tasting and snacks
It’s not difficult to find Champagne any night of the week in New York City, but during New York Champagne Week, it’s almost as if the bubbles find you. This year Champagne Week turns five, and anyone can join in the celebration from November 6-11. So grab a glass or an entire bottle and find the fizzy fun at one of these events.
New York Champagne Week-Long Public Events
The Vine NYC at Kimpton Hotel Eventi (851 6th Ave) hosts a Champagne by the glass menu throughout the week featuring Champagnes by Boizel, Bulle De Rêve, Devaux, Jacquart and La Caravelle, plus a special 5th Birthday New York Champagne Champagne Cocktail will be served up all week long.
East Village hot spot Martina Pizzeria (198 E 11th St) invites guests to grab a pie and one of the many half bottles of bubbly on the menu. Champagne Laculle by the glass will also be on the available as long as the supply lasts.
Late nights, hit Corkbuzz (13 E 13th St), New York Champagne’s die hard unofficial late night spot for the entire week. From 10 pm till close get your fizz fix at a steal with half price bottles of bubbly.
New York Champagne Week Individual Events
Bubbles & Beats at Giulietta’s Cantina Club (13 Carmine St) will have special Champagne flights and food pairings, plus they’ll have their infamous Chambongs. Wednesday, November 8 from 7 pm–11 pm. Price: Pay as you go.
Bourbon & Bubbles at Bottle Rocket Wine & Spirit (5 W 19th St) bring together a match made in heaven – Bourbon and Champagne. Join Hudson Whiskey’s National Brand Ambassador Han Shan and New York Champagne Week Founder Blaine Ashley as they host an in-store tasting party. Thursday, November 9 from 5pm-8pm. Price: Free.
Fromage & Fizz at Bedford Cheese Shop ( 67 Irving Pl) Five types of real deal Champagne perfectly paired with 5 types of cheeses – the perfect French indulgence. Friday, November 10 from 7pm-8:30. Price: $85. Call 718-599-7588 to purchase tickets.
Champagne Cocktail Brunch at Giulietta’s Cantina Club (13 Carmine St) hosts a special New York Champagne Week Champagne Cocktail Brunch accompanied by live blues. Saturday, November 11 from 1 pm–4 pm. Call 212-206-9777 to make a reservation.
Bulle de Rêve
All the fine French Champagne that will flow during Champagne Week will be quality, but while you’re out and about enjoying the celebration of all things bubbly, keep an eye for the opportunity to try Bulle de Rêve – French for Dream Bubble. The label was launched by Wine Enthusiast magazine’s 40 under 40 alum & New York Champagne Week founder Blaine Ashley along with third-generation family-owned Champagne house Champagne Lombard. This limited edition Champagne is made from 100 percent Pinot Noir 100% from the French village of Grande Montagne de Reims.
New Orleans is a city filled with history, and some say many historical events left behind evidence of the paranormal kind. In the French Quarter, the cemeteries, and just about every corner you turn in The Big Easy, ghosts abound. So do ghost tours, but not all tours are for all people. To find the tour that’s right for you, check out these options.
Good for Families with Younger Children
The Cemetery and Voodoo Walking Tour from Gray Line goes easy on the scares. A climate-controlled bus transports guests to St. Louis Cemetery #1 for this two-hour, daylight-only tour. During the drive, a guide tells tales about people from the French Quarter’s long ago past who may still be hanging around today as ghosts (but there are no ghosts in the bus, of course). At the cemetery, a professional, licensed guide continues the stories with tales of the famous and infamous people who are buried there, as well as the evolution of Voodoo.
When guests get to the tomb of New Orleans Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau, they’ll learn how she was able to be in two places at once. They’ll also be able to make a wish or cast a spell at her tomb. A little history lesson happens, too, when the guide explains the above ground burial customs of the region and the origins of some of the tombs.
Guests walk away with a souvenir “Gris Gris” bag containing a Voodoo amulet.
- Tour departs from the Gray Line “Lighthouse” Ticket Office at Toulouse St. & the Mississippi River at the Steamboat Natchez Dock
- Price: Adults $27.00; Children ages 6-12 $15
- Dates and times vary depending on time of year – confirm with website
- Reservations are recommended 24 hours in advance
Good for Families with Older Children
The Ghosts of New Orleans Tour from Ghost City takes guests on a tour in hopes they will encounter a ghost along the way. Guests visit the most notorious haunted locations in the famous New Orleans’ French Quarter on this 90 minute tour. The tour visits haunted restaurants, hotels, and more. Along the way, guests will hear the true story behind the haunted LaLaurie Mansion, home to many tortured ghosts, and also visit sites of grisly murders and crimes where the victims are said to still haunt the living.
- Tour departs from 798 Chartes Street
- Price: Ages 12 and up $19.95; Children ages 6-11 $9.95; 5 and under are free
- Tours begin nightly at 6pm and 8pm
- Advance ticket purchase is required
Good for Giving You Nightmares
The 4-in-1 Ghosts,Voodoo,Vampires and Witchcraft Walking Tour from Witches Brew Tours encourages guests to take multiple pictures with flash photography because more often than not, something inexplicable finds its way into a photo during this dark-of-night ghost tour. The tour leads guests through the historic French Quarter and stops at buildings well known for paranormal activity and tragedies.
What makes this tour especially scary is that many of the stories told on this tour are true, so it may not be suitable for kids under 10. Tour guides take guests to the location where one of the world’s oldest vampires spent time in New Orleans in the 1920s. They also visit New Orleans’ most haunted house, the residence of Madame Delphine LaLaurie – the inspiration for Kathy Bates’ character in American Horror Story. In between there are stories of hauntings, spirits, and paranormal activity that have happened over the centuries in New Orleans.
- Tour departs from the corner of Royal and Conti Streets, directly across from Latrobe’s restaurant
- Price: Adults $25; Students, military with I.D, and seniors $20; Children ages 6-12 $12
- Tours begin at 5pm and 8pm
- Advance ticket purchase is recommended; walk ups are welcome to stand by
Good for a History Lesson
Saints and Sinners Walking Tour from French Quarter Phantoms doesn’t water anything down when it comes to the colorful history of New Orleans. This tour takes guests through the best and worst of the strange city with a dark, dark past. Not so much a ghost tour as it is a tour through the city highlighting the unique and interesting rumors of conspiracy, witchcraft, and vampires. It also highlights the truths of a Voodoo priestess and other historical figures through the centuries in this city that has had more than its fair share of saints and sinners.
- Tour departs from 718 N Rampart St. at the corner of Orleans Street and Rampart Street
- Price: $20 ages 17 and up. No one under 17 is permitted on this adult-themed tour
- Tours begin at 1pm daily
- Advance ticket purchase is recommended
Remember, no matter which tour you take, tour guides work hard to learn the history of New Orleans so they can pass on the information to you in a fun, educational, and a little bit spooky way. They always appreciate a tip at the end of the evening if you appreciated their expertise.
If being terrified brings you joy during the Halloween season, head to Philadelphia immediately to experience one of the scariest seasonal haunted attractions in the country. Terror Behind the Walls invites thrill seekers into the abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary, believed by some to be haunted by many of the prisoners who died there, to experience six separate scary attractions – all for one admission price.
Once inside the Fairmount neighborhood’s gothic-like prison built in 1829, brave guests will find themselves wandering through 10 acres of the old penitentiary for six different nightmare experiences.
- The Lockdown: Rioting zombie inmates have taken over the penitentiary. The zombie guards have lost control. Visitors may just become the next zombies.
- The Machine Shop: This interactive attraction takes visitors into cellblocks that the public has never been in before. Hidden deep inside the cellblocks is a long-forgotten machine shop. Evil pervades this space – an evil with one mind but with many bodies.
- The Infirmary: The Infirmary takes the fear of hospitals to a whole new level. Visitors discover the world of prison medical treatment, including shock therapy, hydrotherapy, and other torturous experiments gone wrong.
- Blood Yard: Visitors go deep within the prison to find a colony that leaves behind a trail of gnawed bones and decaying flesh. It’s hunt or be hunted. The carnage sends a clear message: you could be next.
- Quarantine 4D: This attraction takes a look into the world of prison medical treatment. Visitors experience mind altering effects and blurry vision. Flat walls appear to have depth, creatures emerge from nowhere, and fears will be faced.
- Breakout: Visitors find their own way out of Terror Behind the Walls, surrounded by inmates who may use them in any way imaginable to gain their freedom.
One of the scariest things about Terror Behind the Walls may be learning about the treatment of the former prisoners. After finding their way out, visitors have complimentary access to the no-contact visiting rooms for inmates where they can watch a video about the penitentiary’s history and also read about its past.
To Touch or Not
Everyone who enters Terror Behind the Walls gets the option to go through the attraction untouched by the actors or to get marked as someone who is willing to be fully immersed in the experience. Those who chose the mark may be grabbed, taken into cellblocks, separated from their group, and possibly become part of the show itself.
Those who want to be treated more importantly while they’re having the pants scared off of them can pay for one of these extra experiences.
- The Quick Pass: Gives guests front-of-line access at their appointed time. Without the quick pass, the wait me be half an hour to get in.
- The Hex Challenge: Before entering each of the six attractions, Hex challengers enter a secret room where they step further into the story, become part of the action and join forces with the zombies. It’s a physically challenging extra with requirements to crawl and fit into tight spaces. Those who aren’t up to the physical challenge or pregnant women are not permitted to participate.
- Fright and Bite Dinner Packages: Make a reservation at one of the participating neighborhood restaurants for a Halloween-themed meal, and the Terror Behind the Walls tickets are delivered with dessert.
- After Dark VIP Tour: Before entering the attractions at the front of the line, the tour is an hour-long, guided flashlight walk through the penitentiary that may include cellblocks, underground punishment cells and the operating room.
All proceeds from Terror Behind the Walls goes to the Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Inc., a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit that helps operate and preserve the penitentiary – a National Historic Landmark.
Terror Behind the Walls runs on select evenings between September 22 and November 11, 2017. Tickets vary depending on the day and time. General admission tickets range from $19-$45 online ($25-$50 at the door). Weekends are more expensive with the three weekends leading up to Halloween are the most expensive and mid-week visits the least expensive.
From September 7-24, Philadelphia hosts the 2017 Philly Fringe Festival, a 17-day, genre-bending arts extravaganza. This hotly-anticipated annual event features 130+ performances like adult-only puppetry, fetishy dances, and poetry married with 80s-era answering machines, but there’s stuff for the kids, too.
Highlights of Philly Fringe
Since 130+ performances divided by 17 days equals you can’t get to them all, you’ll have to pick and choose from all the worthy acts. Decision-making can get dizzying, so here’s a smattering of highlights from various genres – even though it’s tough to pick highlights from Philly Fringe’s embarrassment-of-riches schedule of events.
Labor of Love: Waitstaff Sketch Comedy, Philadelphia’s premier sketch comedy troupe, returns for its 16th Fringe Fest performing original sketches that run from “silly to sophisticated” and “rude to ridiculous.” It’s a safe bet the popular Real Housewives of South Philly will show up at some of the performances. (L’Etage Cabaret; 13 performances from Sept. 8-23)
Puppet-delphia Fringe Slam: An adults-only, late-night variety puppet show where both the puppets and their humans get “risky and frisky.” Musical acts and special guest stars join puppeteers from Philly, NYC, and beyond to share the stage with puppets for a wide-range of acts. (The Drake-Proscenium Theater; Sept. 23)
KINK HAÜS: Philadelphia-based choreographer and performance artist, Gunnar Montana, transports the audience to a brutal underground nightclub where “no f*cks are given, and fierceness is always welcome.” Anything goes at this performance of fantasy, fetish, and carnal desire. (The Latvian Society; 19 performances from Sept. 5-24)
Way of Words: Interactive poetry and visual arts collide with the muse of memory and the “urban wilderness” of Germantown where everyone is invited to write and read poetry, paint, collage, or just watch others experimenting with their creativity. A musical performance shows up somewhere in there, too. This is one of the many free events during Philly Fringe Fest. (Herman St. Studios; September 22-23)
Camper Fringe: Inside the Haas Biergarten at FringeArts is a 1962 Nomad camper where some definitely fringe-y action happens before and after various performances. On any given night there are tarot card readings, an interactive experience called Voicemail Poems that travels way, way back to the days of analog voice mail machines, or an oh-so-secret black market operation that sells small, intimate performances. (FringeArts; various days during Fringe Fest)
Sure, there’s a lot at Fringe that goes above the heads of tots, but they don’t have to be left completely out of the fun. Get the younguns excited about the arts with several Fringe performances like the Liberty City Radio Theatre recreating the “golden era of the theater of the mind.” Actors will play multiple roles and create an old-time radio show written for modern audiences. The two performances during Fringe will vary but will include a “dash of superheroes, a pinch of noir and an ample serving of humor.” (Headhouse Cafe; Sept. 8 and 22 at 8pm)
If you’re going
- With so many performances, the Festival Guide is your best friend. It’s online, but guide books are also distributed throughout the city.
- Students, and those 25 and under, can get $15 Presented Fringe Festival tickets and $5 off Neighborhood Fringe Festival tickets, if the original price is $15 or more.
- Get tickets early. About 40,000 fringe-y arts lovers attend the festival, and some events sell out quickly.
- Philadelphia’s St. Benjamin’s Brewing produced a special beer in honor of the fest, Fringe Benefits – a hoppy American ale brewed with heather. It’s available at Le Peg, at FringeArts, and St. Benjamin’s Tap Room, both excellent choices to grab a bite during Fringe Fest.
When you grow up in a town where the big names in music almost never come, you might want to change that. That’s exactly what Ithaca-natives X Ambassadors are doing. On September 22 & 23, 2017, the small town is being bombarded with eclectic, cutting edge, and daring musicians from all over the world including: The Roots, K.Flay, The Knocks, and Tei Shi. These groundbreaking bands will share the spotlight for the first ever Cayuga Sound Festival.
The main event for the Cayuga Sound Festival happens on Saturday, September 23 at Stewart Park in Ithaca. General Admission Tickets are $59.50 and VIP tickets are $209.50. Children 5 and under are free.
Doors open at 11am, and the music begins at noon. Bands will play throughout the day on two stages situated right next to each other – the Main Stage and the Lake Stage.
- 12:00-12:30pm Imperials – Lake Stage
- 12:30-1:00pm Stone Cold Miracle – Main Stage
- 1:00-1:30pm Izzy True – Lake Stage
- 1:30-2:10pm Jukebox the Ghost – Main Stage
- 2:10-2:40pm Sammus – Lake Stage
- 2:40-3:20pm Margaret Glaspy – Main Stage
- 3:20-3:50pm Crush Club – Lake Stage
- 3:50-4:35pm The Knocks – Main Stage
- 4:35-5:10pm Savoir Adore – Lake Stage
- 5:10-5:55pm K.Flay – Main Stage
- 5:55-6:40pm Tei Shi – Lake Stage
- 6:40-8:00pm X Ambassadors – Main Stage
- 8:25-10:00pm The Roots – Main Stage
Food will be available for an additional price – highlighting chefs and local food from across the region. Gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan food options will be available. The official brew of the festival is Ithaca Beer’s Cayuga Sounder IPA, which will be available for purchase for those 21 and up. Wine and non-alcoholic beverages will also be available.
What’s Allowed at Cayuga Sound Festival
- Empty, reusable, and sealed water bottles are permitted into the festival. There will be filtered drinking water throughout the festival to refill bottles.
- No outside food, drink, or coolers allowed.
- Blankets, collapsible lawn chairs, and umbrellas are permitted.
- Sunscreen and/or rain gear is suggested.
- Polaroid, cell phone, and point and shoot digital cameras will be permitted.
- Professional photographers with SLR cameras with detachable lenses must get prior approval.
- Pets (except for documented service animals), fireworks, glass containers, explosives, weapons, and illegal substances are prohibited.
Cayuga Sound’s VIP Experience
The VIP experience includes some serious swag for an extra $150.
The first VIP bonus is an exclusive dinner the night before the festival at Ithaca Beer, with an acoustic performance by X Ambassadors, and admission to Friday night shows at the The Haunt and The Dock. It also includes a festival t-shirt and a limited edition tote bag with Ithaca merchandise.
On the day of the festival, VIP ticket holders will have a VIP bar and viewing area, VIP reserved parking, and bathrooms, plus a private entrance lane for quicker entrance.
Separate from Saturday’s big festival, Cayuga Sound will host two parties in town on Friday, September 22, 2017.
The Dock will host the Official Cayuga Sound Festival Pre-party with some of Ithaca’s most exciting local talent including Namarah, The Miserable Genius, No Comply, Tender Crunch, and Beau Mahadev.
The Haunt will also host an Official Cayuga Sound Pre-Party featuring Jukebox the Ghost, The Blind Spots, and Mail the Horse.
Tickets for both official, pre-parties must be purchased separately from the general admission festival tickets. VIP ticket holders have access to both parties.
And, over at the Ithaca Marriott Downtown, those holding a festival ticket or valid student ID can attend a Cayuga Sound Talk Series with two talks. Live Music and Its Impact on the World runs from 10:30-11:30am. From Ithaca to the Billboard Charts – The X Ambassadors Story runs from 12-1pm. Seating is limited and only available on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Stewart Park is located at 1 James L Gibbs Drive, Ithaca, NY.
- Rain or shine event.
- Parking at the local high school will be available with shuttle service to the festival grounds, or ticket holders can bike or walk a waterfront trail from lots near The Haunt and The Ithaca Farmers Market.
- Hotels for Hope is the official hotel partner for the festival, and $2 from every, actualized room night is donated to nonprofits impacting, and improving, the lives of children worldwide.
- Other accommodations can be found at Visit Ithaca.
- Official hashtag is #CayugaSound.
Do you need to hear “unlimited cheese samples” to make the decision to attend Cheese Fest Atlanta? With those three little words, you know you’ll be joining cheese producers and cheese lovers on Saturday, September 23, 2017, from 1-8pm at Historic Fourth Ward Park to share cheese, pair it with wine and beer, and maybe even dance a little to music by local bands. Warning: you’re bound to leave the festival lactose intolerant.
About Cheese Fest
The $35 general admission ticket includes entry into Cheese Fest Atlanta. Once in, you’ll have access to the Meltdown/Macdown competition, and get to vote for best grilled cheese and best mac and cheese. There is also live music, the chance to meet cheese producers from around the world, and of course, the opportunity to taste all the cheese your heart desires from over 100 vendors – and buy the ones you love the most. Children 12 and under are free.
You’ll need to wash down all that cheese with something, so cash bars will be available throughout the festival to buy wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages. ATMs will be on-site.
The festival is outside, rain or shine, so check the weather and come prepared.
VIP Tickets & Pairings
For $55, the VIP ticket includes general admission, plus admission to one of the following classes. VIP ticket holders must be 21 or over. Murray’s Cheese – New York’s most iconic cheese shop – leads the pairing classes.
- Wine pairing
- Beer pairing
- Cheese Twins regional pairing class with a diversity of charcuterie and accoutrements
- Champagne and sparkling wine pairing
Getting to Cheese Fest Atlanta
Historic Fourth Ward Park is located at 665 North Ave. NE, Atlanta, Georgia. There isn’t a lot of on-street parking, and any pay parking lots are located a good distance from the park. Festival organizers recommend using Uber, Lyft, the Marta bus line, cycling, or walking to get to the Cheese Fest Atlanta.
Are you a Gryffindor or a Slytherin? If you’ve ever wanted to know which Hogwarts house the sorting hat would place you, take a Defense Against the Dark Arts class, or watch a Quidditch match, head to the 2017 Chestnut Hill Harry Potter Festival & Quidditch Tournament on October 20 & 21.
There’s plenty of mischief to manage at this mostly, pay-as-you-go celebration of the wizard world that brings together Potter fans of all ages. This year will be the biggest ever – doubling its size from the previous 6 blocks to 12 blocks of Germantown Avenue in the Philadelphia suburb.
Wands & Wizards Night on the Avenue: An evening of Potions, Pubs, and Magical Possibilities: Friday night from 6-9pm, the magical fun begins with photo booths, performances by aerialists, fortune tellers, and more along Germantown Avenue. Participating restaurants and pubs will offer food and drink specials, and all the avenue stores will stay open until 9pm.
Magical Make and Take Zones: On Saturday from 10am-4pm, a $20 wristband gives access to ten different areas of interactive activities designed for kids 4-12. Parents can accompany kids without a wristband, but they must have their own if they want to participate in the magical activities like make your own Golden Snitch, owl decorating, design your own crest, bubble wands, and Potter pics.
Philadelphia Brotherly Love Cup Quidditch Tournament: For 8 years, this event has entertained Harry Potter lovers at Chestnut Hill College. On Saturday from 10am-4pm, teams from visiting colleges and the local community compete in round-robin style Quidditch matches. The tournament is free to attend, and food, drinks (including Butterbeer), t-shirts, scarves, and more will be available to purchase.
Harry Potter Conference
Chestnut Hill College holds a Harry Potter Conference on October 19 & 20 in conjunction with the town’s festival. This annual, non-profit, academic conference allows Potter fans to truly get their geek on with scholarly presentations on the Harry Potter books and films. High school, college, and graduate students, along with faculty and community members, will present academic papers over the two-day conference. The conference is free. Registration is required for some events.
- Public transportation is preferred by attendees. Philadelphia regional transit (SEPTA) has two station stops in Chestnut Hill that are short walks from the heart of the festival. Look for Harry Potter look-alikes who frequently apparate onto the trains to greet guests.
- If you drive, satellite parking with shuttle service to/from the festival will be available. Details can be found on the festival’s website prior to the event.
- Closer to the event, additional details about all of the magic happening at the festival will also be added to the festival’s website, so check back frequently to see what’s been added.
- If you need a place to stay while attending the festival, look into a Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package with perks that can save you up to $173.