Center City Restaurant Week, ‘Rhapsody in Blue,’ Ice Festival and an MLK Symposium in this week’s ‘Things To Do’

Jan. 18 - 21: Center City Restaurant Week in Philly, Puppy Pals Lives in N.J. and OperaDelaware’s Studio Series are among the weekend’s highlights.

Listen 5:30
Two people smile as they talk over dinner at a restaurant

Forsythia dining. (Credit: Max Mester for Center City Restaurant Week)

Baby, it’s cold outside, but don’t let that stop you from having a good weekend. Dilworth Park hosts the right-on-time Ice Festival on Saturday, promising dueling ice sculptures as well as on-theme dance and music performances. Center City Restaurant Week opens on Sunday just as the deep freeze is expected to thaw. The Black Pumas, Wynton Marsalis and the Philadelphia Orchestra promise to warm the soul, and author/scholar Lorene Cary’s “Ladysitting” offers a story based on unconditional love that will warm the heart. Depending on the severity of this weekend’s weather, these events are subject to rescheduling or cancellation, so make sure to check for updates before heading out.

New Jersey | Delaware | Special Events | Food & Drink | Arts & Culture | Outdoors | Kids | Comedy | Music

New Jersey

Puppy Pals Live

Animal lover Wesley Williams turned his love of animals into a stint on “America’s Got Talent.” Now, he’s the founder and CEO of “Puppy Pals LIVE!” a show where you’re guaranteed to have a dog-gone good time. (We just had to go there.) All the pups in the show are rescues and show organizers will have a donation kiosk in place to benefit the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter. 


Studio Series Sunday Spotlight: Brian Major and Michelle Johnson with Aurelian Eulert

  • Where: OperaDelaware Studios, 4 S. Poplar St., Wilmington, Del.
  • When: Sunday, Jan. 21, 2 p.m.
  • How much: $40 

As part of OperaDelaware’s Studio Series, husband and wife opera singers, soprano Michelle Johnson and baritone Brian Major, are joined by pianist Aurelian Eulert in a joint concert. The series is part of an effort to make opera more accessible (and affordable) by presenting concerts in intimate spaces.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Special Events

7th Annual Radical MLK Symposium

Martin Luther King, Jr. waves to the crowd at the March on Washington in 1963
File photo: Martin Luther King Jr. acknowledges the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial for his “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963. (AP Photo/File)
  • Where: Greene Street Friends School, 20 W. Armat St. 
  • When: Saturday, Jan. 20, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
  • How much: Free

MLK Day was celebrated on Monday, but the true impact of his life and legacy can’t be condensed down to one day. Marc Lamont Hill will host the 7th Annual Radical MLK Symposium, which will feature a keynote speech by Hill himself. The symposium recontextualizes King to his proper place as a radical whose message was considered incendiary during his time.

Dry Vibes Philadelphia

Fruity refreshing mocktails being served on a wooden tray decorated with flowers, raspberries, sliced apples and garnish.
Fruity refreshing mocktails being served on a wooden tray decorated with flowers, raspberries, sliced apples and garnish. (Courtesy of Bigstock)

Dry January is here — and with it are events where mocktails are the highlight instead of cocktails. Dry Vibes Philadelphia is such an event. It brings together people who believe you can enjoy an evening out without alcohol or judgment. You’ll enjoy tastings just the same, as well as the chance to buy specially crafted mocktails and other items. Hilary Sheinbaum, author of  “The Dry Challenge & A Journal for Bad Days,” is scheduled to speak, amid other panels on the non-alcohol industry. DJ Yolo Ono spins the afterparty.

Ben Franklin Birthday Celebration “Craftsmanship” Honoring Frank Gehry

This is an undated picture of a sketch of inventor, scientist and a signer of the U.S. Constitution Benjamin Franklin. (AP Photo)
  • Where: American Philosophical Society, Benjamin Franklin Hall, 427 Chestnut St.
  • When: Friday, Jan. 29, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • How much: Free

It’s Ben Franklin’s 318th birthday, and the American Philosophical Society is celebrating it in style. At the Ben Franklin Birthday Celebration “Craftmanship” Honoring Frank Gehry, the noted architect will be honored with the Franklin Founder’s Award. Afterward, a procession will head to Franklin’s grave at Christ Church. Franklin Fountain will be on hand to provide hot chocolate and shortbread.

Winter Salsa Night

Mark ‘Maestro Flaco’ Best dances with Lana Corrales at Siempre Salsa’s free lunch time dance lesson at LOVE Park in Center City Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Don’t mind the cold snap; a little salsa is all you need. At the Bok Building, Winter Salsa Night should shake off any icicles. The dance party includes deejays Big George and VSpice and a live performance by Orquesta del Barrio. Food from Darnel’s Cakes is available for purchase, and drinks are available from Bok Bar.

Winter Wonder

  • Where: Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Rd., Kennett Square, Pa.
  • When: Saturday, Jan. 20 – Sunday, March 24, Wednesday – Monday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • How much: Free with Gardens admission

Spring and summer highlight any garden when things are in glorious bloom. But in greenery’s off-season, Longwood Gardens offers Winter Wonder, a collection of hardy plants and flowers designed especially for times like now.

Food & Drink

Center City Restaurant Week

  • Where: Multiple venues
  • When: Sunday, Jan. 21 – Saturday, Feb. 3
  • How much: Prix-fixe, three-course dinner $45 – $60, two-course lunch $20

In the annual discount dining promotion, over 90 restaurants offer prix-fixe menus for Center City Dining Week, which starts on Sunday. A three-course dinner costs $45 – $60, while a two-course lunch is $20.  In addition, CCRW is partnering with Tres Generaciones tequila and Maker’s Mark 46 for special cocktail pairings. Takeout options and discounted parking are also available. You’ll find participating restaurants here. 

Arts & Culture


Lorene Cary, left, and Trazana Beverly, right, smile as they pose for a photo.
Lorene Cary, left, and Trazana Beverly, right. (Courtesy of Arden Theatre)

Playwright, author and scholar Lorene Cary turned the real-life story of taking care of her 101-year-old grandmother into a play. “Ladysitting” makes its world premiere at the Arden Theatre this week. Tony-winning actress Trazana Beverly stars as Nana, along with longtime Philly-area actress Melanye Finister as Lorene.

Pass the Mic Ripe Poetry Tour Philly

  • Where: Christ Community Church, 4017 Chestnut St.
  • When: Saturday, Jan. 20, 6:30 p.m.
  • How much: Free

Ready to get on the mic? Your standup stage awaits at the Pass the Mic Ripe Poetry Tour. All you need is a routine and a dream. Or just the willingness to get on stage, have fun, and see what happens. This is the last stop on the tour that multicultural Christian poetry collective Ripe Poetry put on throughout the state to showcase local poets. They’ll perform as well.


  • Where: Zellerbach Theater, 3680 Walnut St. 
  • When: Friday, Jan. 19, 10:30 a.m. (student discovery), 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20, 2 p.m., 8 p.m.
  • How much: $53 and up 

The innovative, inclusive dance troupe Bodytraffic’s mission statement is “Without movement, nothing changes.” They check into the Annenberg for four performances, with a repertoire that includes the world premiere of “I Forgot the Start,” the Dean Martin-inspired “PACOPEPEPLUTO” (note, it includes partial nudity) and “Blue Until June,” which incorporates songs from the late icon Etta James.

Upcycled Handmade Books at Cherry Street Pier

Makers and crafters alert. At the Upcycled Handmade Books event at Cherry Street Pier, you’ll be able to turn existing books into works of art. Cereal boxes, special binding techniques and cardboard, along with existing books can be repurposed as sketchbooks or travel memoirs. Organizers provide the materials that you can take home to finish your project, but you can also bring a favored hardcover you’re willing to sacrifice in service of something new.


Ice Festival

Ice skaters skate in the rink
File photo: Ice skaters glide around the rink installed at Dilworth Park. (Brad Larrison for WHYY)
  • Where: Dilworth Park, 1 South 15th St.
  • When: Saturday, Jan. 20, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  • How much: Free

We cannot think of a better time for an Ice Festival than this weekend, when temperatures will more than suit the theme. Dilworth Plaza hosts dueling ice sculptors and dance and youth skating performances. A group of Ice Princesses will hit the ice for a royal skate, and the Marian Anderson Historical Society will perform on an ice piano. We’ll say it…ice, ice baby, too cold, too cold.


 Lunar New Year

  • Where: Please Touch Museum, 4231 Avenue of the Republic
  • When: Saturday, Jan. 20, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • How much: Free with museum admission, reservations required

Celebrate the Lunar New Year with the kids at The Please Touch Museum. The all-day event offers multiple workshops, storytime, a science lab, a lion dance with the Philadelphia Suns, carousel rides and an end-of-day parade to usher in the Year of the Dragon.


Craig Ferguson: The Fancy Rascal Tour

Craig Ferguson speaks into a microphone
Craig Ferguson speaks on stage during the “The Big Bang Theory” panel on Day 2 of Comic-Con on Friday, July 25, 2014, in San Diego. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Scottish-American comedian Craig Ferguson brings his Fancy Rascal Tour to the Event Center at Live! Casino and Hotel. The former host of “The Late Late Show,” Ferguson passed the baton to James Corden a decade ago, but he’s obviously keeping up with current events as he tours around the country. Given the current news cycle, we figure he has lots of material.


Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue

  • Where: Verizon Hall, 300 S. Broad St. 
  • When: Thursday, Jan. 18, 7:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 19., 2 p.m.,  Saturday, Jan. 20, 8 p.m.
  • How much: $85 and up

George Gershwin didn’t lead a long life, but while he was here, he created two classic compositions — “Porgy and Bess” and “Rhapsody in Blue.” The Philadelphia Orchestra, under the direction of Eugene Ormandy, recorded a best-selling version of “Rhapsody” back in 1945. In 2024, current Philadelphia Orchestra music director Yannick Nézet Séguin and the Marcus Roberts Trio will recreate the iconic composition in three performances at Verizon Hall.

 Swinging with Josh Lee and the Extended Family

Musicians playing a concert
Josh Lee and the Extended Family Concert (provided)

Instead of bringing the neighborhood to the music, Artcinia’s goal is to bring music to the neighborhood. They’ve succeeded thus far, promoting concerts from artists of varying styles in neighborhoods all over the city. This Sunday, Josh Lee and the Extended Family are in Lawncrest with their big band swing for a concert that evokes the best of the genre’s 1930s heyday.

Creed Bratton

Creed Bratton poses for a portrait in the Fender Music Lodge during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011 in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Victoria Will)

You may be more familiar with him as the quality assurance director at Dunder Mifflin on “The Office,” but IRL Creed Bratton is an accomplished musician who’s been making music for five decades. He’ll showcase that side of his multiple talents at his concert at City Winery on Friday night.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Max Roach Centennial Celebration

Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra
Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (Courtesy of Piper Ferguson)

Max Roach was a pioneering jazz drummer who also spent his life in service to activism. He would have turned 100 this year, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra featuring Wynton Marsalis is touring to give Roach his just due. They’ll be in Philadelphia at Verizon Hall on Sunday.

Black Pumas w/Digable Planets

Eric Burton of Black Pumas performs onstage
Eric Burton of Black Pumas performs at Innings Festival at Tempe Beach Park on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022, in Tempe, Ariz. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

Singer/songwriter Eric Burton and guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada are better known to music lovers as the Black Pumas. The six-time

Grammy-nominated duo’s multigenre sound may best be classified as psychedelic soul, but their music explores a variety of musical paths. Decide for yourself at their show tonight at the Fillmore Philadelphia with Digable Planets as their opening act.

Saturdays just got more interesting.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal