Philadelphia Marks 2015 With New Exhibits, Anniversaries & The Pope

Tall Ships, World Meeting Of Families, Alice In Wonderland & Other Events Dot The Calendar

With 2015 comes plenty of reasons for visitors to plan a trip to Philadelphia. In fact, The New York Timesranked Philly in the #3 spot in its article of the “52 Places to Go in 2015.”

So what’s on the calendar? The Tall Ships Challenge Philadelphia Camden 2015, showing off a dozen historic ships on the Delaware River Waterfront; Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting, featuring more than 80 works by a who’s who of painters at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and for the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland, The Dream of Wonderland: Alice Turns 150 at The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Of course, all eyes will be on Philadelphia when thousands of Catholic families from around the globe—and Pope Francis—gather for the eighth World Meeting of Families.

Here are some of the major happenings taking place throughout Philadelphia in 2015:

Travel-Worthy Exhibitions:

  • Dinosaurs of the Deep invades Adventure Aquarium—much to the delight of the children and adults curious about the prehistoric world. Large-scale skeletons, ancient fossils and 20 life-size replicas bring to life the most intriguing sea monsters that ever existed. A highlight of the 5,000-square-foot exhibit: the permanent instillation of a 34-foot scale model of a LiopleurodonJanuary 16-June 28, 2015. 1 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ, (856) 365-3300,
  • Art and science intersect for The Art of the Brick, featuring an astounding display of 70 LEGO® brick masterpieces at The Franklin Institute. Contemporary artist Nathan Sawaya’s eyebrow-raising sculptures include representations of famous works, such as the Greek Venus de Milo and Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night, and original pieces including a 20-foot-long T.rex skeleton and a giant skull.February 7-September 6, 2015. 222 N. 20th Street, (215)
  • The treasures and stories of Genghis Kahn’s 13th-century Mongol Empire debuts in Philadelphia when the Genghis Khan exhibit opens at The Franklin Institute. Visitors enter into the greatest empire the world has ever known to discover the amazing genius of the Mongolian conqueror, learn how this unsophisticated warrior nomad had such a profound impact on world politics and on creating an empire that led the world into the modern age. May 9, 2015-January 3, 2016. 222 N. 20th Street, (215)
  • When Alice fell down the rabbit hole 150 years ago, the world rushed to follow her adventures in wonderland. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia will celebrate the sesquicentennial ofAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland with The Dream of Wonderland: Alice Turns 150, featuring a host of exhibitions and programs that explore the literary classic. An interactive gallery will invite visitors of all ages to channel their inner Alice and showcase the author and mathematician’s games and puzzles.October 14, 2015-March 27, 2016. 2008-2010 Delancey Place, (215)

Anniversaries & Big Events:

  • Bravo to Opera Philadelphia, celebrating its 40th anniversary with a season of premieres and casts that possess an unprecedented roster of operatic firepower. The acclaimed Lawrence Brownlee will star in the world premiere of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird. The East Coast premiere of Oscar will feature David Daniels, hailed by The New York Times as perhaps the greatest countertenor of all time. And Eric Owens will return to his hometown to perform in Don Carlo. Through June 14, 2015. Various locations. (215) 732-8400,
  • The kid-centric Sesame Place is gearing up for a very happy 35th birthday. Highlights of the theme park’s anniversary year: the birthday party parade, special activities and three new rides. Begins May 2015. 100 Sesame Place, (866)
  • In honor of the 50th anniversary of one of the nation’s first gay rights demonstrations, the William Way LGBT Community Center, in partnership with the National Constitution Center (NCC), will mount an exhibit about the gay rights movement in the United States in the 1960s. On view at the NCC, Speaking Out for Equality: The Supreme Court, Gay Rights, and the Constitution will address the Reminder Day demonstrations outside of Independence Hall and explore the impact the demonstrations had on the gay rights movement. The anniversary event will also feature programming at museums and attractions throughout the city, including a reenactment of the original July 4 demonstrations on Independence Mall. June 1-September 15, 2015. 525 Arch Street, (215) 409-6700,
  • Odunde, the largest African festival of its kind in the country, celebrates the big 4-0 with a bigger-than-ever event. It begins with a spiritual procession to the Schuylkill River to ring in the Yoruba New Year, followed by a massive street fair that stretches for blocks. As a special anniversary treat, a new book and documentary will celebrate the woman who established the festival and the daughter who continues to build and grow it. June 14, 2015. (215)
  • Billowing sails will waft in the breeze when the Tall Ships Philadelphia Camden 2015 pulls into port. Visitors can tour the ships, which will dock at Penn’s Landing and the Camden Waterfront. Headlining the dozen-ship fleet will be L’Hermione, a replica of the ship that brought General Lafayette to the aid of the fledgling United States during the Revolutionary War. June 24-28, 2015. Delaware River Waterfront, (856)
  • Instagram lovers, rejoice! The Liberty One Observation Deck is set to offer breathtaking, picture-perfect skyline views 57 stories above the ground starting this summer. Montparnasse 56 (M56)—a Parisian-based company that operates observation decks in Chicago’s John Hancock Tower and Paris’ Montparnasse 56 Tower—is building the stunning attraction on the 57th floor of One Liberty Place in downtown Philadelphia. Summer 2015. 1625 Chestnut Street,
  • Tens of thousands of people from around the globe will converge on Philadelphia for the eighth World Meeting of Families. Throughout the week, 100 speakers will lead panel discussions and workshops at the Pennsylvania Convention Center focused on the theme “Love is our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.” Pope Francis will make his first visit to the United States to say a public mass during the event. September 22-27, 2015.
  • America’s favorite college football rivalry returns to Philadelphia. The Army-Navy Game goes down at Lincoln Financial Field, marking the city’s 86th year as host. Philadelphia has hosted the event more than any other city due to its history—the Army, Navy and Marines were first established in Philly—and the fact that it’s halfway between West Point and Annapolis. Will the Navy Midshipmen continue their 13-year winning streak, or will the Black Knights emerge victorious? December 12, 2015. 1 Lincoln Financial Field Way,

Extraordinary Art:

  • The Barnes Foundation will present the first comprehensive survey of William Glackens in almost 50 years. Focusing on his most distinctive works, the exhibition will feature 45 paintings and almost 25 works on paper, most from public and private collections and some on view for the first time. November 8, 2014-February 16, 2015. 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215)
  • With work by renowned artists such as Henry Ossawa Tanner, Horace Pippin, Jacob Lawrence, Martin Puryear and Carrie Mae Weems, Represent: 200 Years of African American Art showcases a range of subjects, styles, mediums and traditions. Since acquiring Tanner’s The Annunciation painting in 1899, the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection of African-American art has grown significantly, especially during the last three decades, and much of it will be on display in this exhibit. January 10-April 5, 2015. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215)
  • Horace Pippin: The Way I See It is the first major exhibition of the artist’s works in the country in more than two decades. The Brandywine River Museum of Art will feature 60 works that capture Pippin’s bold, colorful and candid paintings reflecting life in the African- American community and commenting on race, religion, war and history. April 25-July 19, 2015. U.S. Route 1 by Creek Road (formerly Route 100), (610)
  • Open Source, presented by the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and curated by Pedro Alonzo, will culminate in October 2015 with public art projects throughout the city by a dozen local and international artists. Each artist will work in residence within an existing area of the organization, and their projects will explore the intersection of street art, contemporary art and public art. The program will include numerous activities, including tours, panel discussions and special events. May-October 2015.Various locations.(215)
  • Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting celebrates the ambitious and visionary Parisian art dealer who supported and helped elevate a new style of painting. On view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the exhibition will showcase more than 80 works by Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley, Degas, Manet and others to trace Durand-Ruel’s role in the development of impressionism. June 24-September 13, 2015. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100,

Parks, Bikes & Trails:

  • Pedal power hits Philadelphia with the launch of the city’s Bike Share program. Cyclists will be able to rent more than 600 bikes located at more than 60 stations throughout Center City and beyond. Day, monthly and annual passes available. April 2015.
  • Days of family fun and evenings of live performances await at Venice Island in Philadelphia’s Manayunk neighborhood. The new park will feature a children’s spray garden to demonstrate water retention in an urban environment, basketball courts, a dock, outdoor sculpture and a 250-seat performing arts center. Soft opening 2014; official opening spring 2015. Access points from Main Streets at both Lock and Cotton Streets,
  • When the new Pier 68 Park opens, it will provide a southern trailhead for the continually growing Delaware River Trail. Built as a place for passive recreation, the $1.7 million park will be an angler’s delight with a dedicated space for casting lines and built in fish-cleaning stations. Native trees and plants will provide shade in the picnic grove and a cutout in the pier surface will allow visitors to watch the tide rise and fall. Late spring/summer 2015. Pier 68 Boulevard off of Columbus Boulevard,

VISIT PHILADELPHIA®, formerly known as Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases the number of visitors, the number of nights they stay and the number of things they do in the five-county area.

On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, and, 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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