Philly Holiday Experience, Diana Ross, The Big 5 Classic, and ‘Fat Ham’ in this week’s ‘Things To Do’

Nov. 30 - Dec. 3: The Philly Holiday Experience, Diana Ross in N.J., and the Annual Holiday Craft Show in Delaware are among the weekend’s highlights.

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A crowd gathered for the tree lighting

File - The tree lighting ceremony at Philadelphia City Hall in December, 2022. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Jazz stalwart Christian McBride swings into town with his New Jawn quartet, anchoring a solid weekend for music lovers. The heralded orchestra, Staatskapelle Berlin, will play Brahms under the direction of Yannick Nézet Séguin. And Diana Ross will perform songs from her legendary catalog at the Hard Rock in Atlantic City. Several plays debut this week, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Fat Ham” from homegrown playwright James Ijames and a reboot of Stephen Sondheim’s 1970 musical “Company.” Laurin Talese and Lady Alma showcase their powerful vocals in jazz and house, respectively. Also, the Philly Holiday Experience dazzles with a tree lighting, a parade, and free admission at participating museums through the end of the month.

New Jersey | Delaware | Holiday Events | Special Events | Arts & Culture | Sports | Kids | Music

New Jersey

Diana Ross

Diana Ross performs at the Glastonbury Festival in Worthy Farm, Somerset, England, Sunday, June 26, 2022. (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)
  • Where: Mark G. Etess Arena at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, 1000 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, N.J.
  • When: Saturday, Dec. 2, 8 p.m.
  • How much: $79 – $149

The word legend has been loosely applied to many — but for Diana Ross, it’s accurate. From anchoring one of the most successful girl groups in music history to her career as an actress, singer, and showstopper, Ross’s six-decade career has proven timeless. She’ll perform at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Saturday night.


Annual Holiday Craft Show

  • Where: The Delaware Contemporary, 200 S. Madison St., Wilmington, Del.
  • When: Friday, Dec. 1, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
  • How much: Free

The Delaware Contemporary’s First Friday Art Loop is enhanced this week by the annual Holiday Craft Show. Vendors will be onsite, along with Rich Lopez, who will oversee ceramic ornament-making. Or catch a floral arrangement demonstration by Art in Bloom in partnership with Ikebana International.

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Holiday Events

Roundup: Philly tree lightings

  • Where: Multiple venues
  • When: Though February
  • How much: Most are free, some ticketed

The Philly Holiday Experience is a series of events throughout the holiday season that began in November. Its anchor events kick off this weekend. Thursday’s Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration at City Hall features performances from “Frozen” and Grammy-nominee Jordin Sparks. On Saturday, the Holiday Parade goes from 2nd and Market to City Hall, starting at 5 p.m. Also, Saturday festivities on South Street include a tree lighting ceremony, a Santa meet and greet, and Mrs. Claus’s holiday market.

A Very Philly Christmas

They were the Philly POPS until a host of financial setbacks led to litigation and an eviction from their longtime home at the Kimmel Center. But as the No Name Pops, made up of former POPS members, they still have the holiday spirit and a stage in the Kimmel Center for A Very Philly Christmas. Vocalists, dancers, and holiday songs with contemporary arrangements are highlighted in the show.

Holidays in the Park

  • Where: Lemon Hill Mansion, Lemon Hill Dr.
  • When: Saturday, Dec. 2 – Sunday, Dec. 17
  • How much: $5

The historic Lemon Hill Mansion celebrates various cultures for the holiday season with “Winter Around the World,” a series of monthly events. On Saturday and Sunday, Celebrate Ukraine! and Celebrate Mexico! are on the schedule; next weekend, it’s Sweden and Southeast Asia. Lemon Hill is also participating in the 2023 Holiday House tours, which open the seasonally decorated historic homes of East Fairmount Park to the public.

Handmade Holidays

Bartram’s Garden
File photo: Volunteers cleaned up trash and debris around Bartram’s Garden for Earth Day 2021. (Bartram’s Garden)
  • Where: Bartram’s Garden, 5400 Lindbergh Blvd.
  • When: Saturday, Dec. 2, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • How much: Free, pay as you go

Bartram’s Garden is the location for Handmade Holidays, which emphasizes shopping for one-of-a-kind items from small vendors. While there, you can utilize a gift wrapping station, make a holiday wreath, pose for a professionally shot holiday card, and bring your best homemade pie to be judged in a friendly neighborhood competition. You can find other seasonal markets here.

Jazzed OUT Holiday

  • Where: Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad St.
  • When: Thursday, Nov. 30, 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 1, 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 2, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
  • How much: $35 – $65 

The Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus presents their “Jazzed OUT Holiday” concerts at the Suzanne Roberts Theater for four shows starting tonight. Expect ‘jazzed’ renditions of holiday classics like “Jingle Bells” and “Joy To The World,” along with other seasonal selections.

Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra Holiday Concert

The Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra’s winter season continues with a Holiday Concert that includes performances of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus,” “Deck the Halls,” “Sleigh Ride,” and more. Upper Darby’s High School Chorus will join the show, with its director Brian Boeshore.

Special Events

Rocky Day

Sylvester Stallone in front of his statue
Sylvester Stallone talks to reports in front of the Rocky statue for a “Creed II” photo op, Friday, April 6, 2018, in Philadelphia. The film, part of the “Rocky” film franchise, will be released later this year. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

My, how time flies. On December 3, 1976, a modestly budgeted movie named “Rocky” starring a little-known actor, Sylvester Stallone, was released. It became a phenomenon, and a franchise extended into multiple sequels, including three “Creed” films. Stallone comes to town for Rocky Day to officially open the Rocky store near Eakins Oval. It’s the retail companion to the Rocky statue across the street, forever memorializing the grit and toughness of South Philly.

Arts & Culture

Philly Zine Fest

  • Where: Mitten Hall at Temple University, 1913 N. Broad St. 
  • When: Saturday, Dec. 2, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • How much: Free

Celebrate and support small, indie, and DIY zine creators and publishers at the Philly Zine Fest. This year, 175 exhibitors will be onsite at Temple University to trade and sell ‘zines. If you’re interested in becoming a ‘zine creator, there’s a workshop to help you get started.

Pancakes and Booze

For many years, art shows have been held in inaccessible spaces designed for the elite, who presumably had the money to afford them exclusive access. The organizers of Pancakes and Booze wanted to change that and developed a worldwide model for a more inclusive art show. With pancakes and booze as the lure, their art shows create a closer connection between artists and buyers.

Roundup: Stage Plays

Playwright James Ijames
Playwright James Ijames returns to the Wilma Theater for its production of his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, ”Fat Ham.” (Emma Lee/’WHYY)
  • Where: Multiple venues
  • When: Various dates
  • How much: Various prices

If you love theater, the holidays provide multiple opportunities to see a variety of plays opening this week. “Fat Ham” is Philly playwright James Ijames’ Pulitzer Prize-winning take on “Macbeth.” The contemporary reboot of “Company” the 1970 musical with songs by Stephen Sondheim comes to the Forrest Theater. Anthony Lawton’s one-man take on Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is back at the Lantern Theater this year. For kids, the onstage holiday-themed fare includes,  “The BFG,” “The Little Prince: The Musical,” and “A Christmas Story: The Play,” all open this week.


Big 5 Classic 2023

The Big 5 college basketball conference is now, at least technically, the Big 6, now that the Drexel Dragons have joined it. But why let that little detail get in the way of marketing? The Big 5 Classic heads to Wells Fargo this weekend, where all six teams — Penn, Villanova, St. Joes, Temple, LaSalle, and the aforementioned Dragons play three games for the Big 5 title, and most importantly, local bragging rights.


Winter Kick-Off: Snow Day

Wear your jammies to this themed Winter Kick-Off Snow Day event at the Please Touch Museum. While it’s unlikely you’ll see any snow in the forecast, your kids will be able to create winter-themed arts and crafts, including a snow globe. The Chocolate Ballerina Company will perform excerpts from “The Nutcracker Dipped in Chocolate” at 1 and 2 p.m.


Connecting Communities: Live Concert with Lady Alma and Vertical Current

Lady Alma
Lady Alma (Karim Muhammad)
  • Where: Penn Museum, 3260 South St.
  • When: Friday, Dec. 1, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
  • How much: $10

The Penn Museum hosts “Connecting Communities,” a live concert featuring Philly-based house music star Lady Alma with jazz band Vertical Current. (Trust us, this is not as strange as it may sound.) The evening hosted by the Artvolution Cultural Innovation Project includes a self-guided tour of the museum’s extensive African art collection and a post-concert meet and greet with Lady Alma.

First Friday at the Barnes: Laurin Talese

If you saw “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” earlier this year, you are already familiar with the talent of jazz vocalist Laurin Talese. If not, prepare to be mesmerized. A Philly resident by way of Cleveland, Ohio, the multitalented Talese is the First Friday performer at the Barnes this week.

Christian McBride

Christian Mcbride
Christian McBride performing at NPR’s Tiny Desk (NPR)

Bass master Christian McBride cut his chops at Philly’s Creative and Performing Arts High School and has gone on to become one of contemporary jazz’s most prominent artists. Along the way, he became an educator and the host of the NPR show “Jazz Night In America.” He brings his quartet, Christian McBride’s New Jawn, to the Annenberg on Sunday. Let’s hope the Eagles have pulled off a definitive win by showtime both for Birds fan McBride’s sake and ours. Despite that potential conflict, tickets are going fast.

Staatskapelle Berlin

Staatskapelle Berlin
Staatskapelle Berlin (Courtesy of The Philadelphia Orchestra)

Any entity that can claim 453 years of existence is, by definition, unimpeachable. That’s the backstory of the renowned orchestra Staatskapelle Berlin. They could be anywhere in the world, but this weekend, they’re at Verizon Hall under the direction of Philadelphia Orchestra’s Yannick Nézet Séguin, performing Brahms’ Symphony #3 and Symphony #4.

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