Vegan dining, street festivals and Cinco De Mayo celebrations await

Philadelphia’s Chinese Lantern Festival will once again illuminate the night, Valerie June’s Astral Plane Tour stops in Ardmore, and “Fences” makes for good drama this weekend

August Wilson’s award-winning play

August Wilson’s award-winning play "Fences" (photo courtesy of REP Theater)

Philadelphia’s Chinese Lantern Festival will once again illuminate the night, Valerie June’s Astral Plane Tour stops in Ardmore, and “Fences” makes for good drama this weekend.

Philly Vegan Restaurant Week
Various locations
Through May 4
$35 prix fixe, varying prices

Philadelphia goes meatless, at least for a week, as restaurants introduce $35 prix fixe vegan menus or offer meatless meals as part of their offering during Vegan Restaurant Week. More than 40 participating restaurants will donate a portion of the proceeds to Misfit Manor, an organization that works to help at-risk animals and reduce the number of surrendered pets by assisting their owners.

University of Delaware Thompson Theater at Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Road (for GPS users, the address is 79 Amstel Ave.)
Newark, Delaware
Through May 12

August Wilson’s award-winning play, the sixth in his “Pittsburgh” series that became a Tony and Oscar-winning vehicle for Viola Davis, is being produced in Delaware. Troy Maxson is a garbage collector in 1957 Pittsburgh who provides a good living for his family — but not much in the way of emotional support. First produced in 1985, the play has since joined the American drama canon.

Valerie June Astral Plane Solo Tour
Ardmore Music Hall
23 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore
May 3; 8 p.m.

Valerie June defies genres by combining a blend of rock, soul, folk, bluegrass, and country to create an innovative sound. She was born in Memphis, Tennessee, where she learned to blend a mix of musical styles. June plays banjo, guitar and lap steel guitar, and she’s enjoyed tremendous support from her growing fanbase who helped her crowdfund one of her albums. She’s also appeared on the MTV reality web series “$5 Cover,” which chronicled the lives of Memphis musicians. Her latest release is 2017’s “The Order of Time.”

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Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival
Franklin Square
Sixth and Race streets
Through June 30; 6-11 p.m.
Free during the day; after 6 p.m., $12 and up

Now in its third year, the Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival has become one of the city’s most popular events, combining art and culture in the historic district. Chinese artisans handcraft the lanterns in the old traditions; this year’s displays include 29 new lanterns. Among the most impressive is a 21-foot tall phoenix weighing 6,000 pounds. The all-ages, family friendly event adds new installations including a dragon tunnel, a fortune-telling wheel, and illuminated swings. Other attractions during the two-month festival include the Dragon Beer Garden, Chinese-themed acrobatics, martial arts and dance performances, as well as artisans demonstrating and selling their crafts.

Reading Symphony Orchestra: “Tosca
Santander Performing Arts Center
136 N. Sixth St., Reading, Pennsylvania
May 4; 7:30 p.m.

Puccini’s opera has earned its reputation as one of the genre’s most dramatic. Themes of love, death and war are at the heart of the classic that debuted in 1900, based on the 1887 French-language play “La Tosca.” The Reading Symphony Orchestra collaborated with the Berks Opera Company, The Reading Choral Society and the Berks Youth Chorus for this current production featuring two of Puccini’s famed arias: Vissi d’arte and Recondita armonia.

Bristol Borough First Friday on the Delaware
Mill and Radcliffe Streets, Bristol, Pennsylvania
May 3; 5-8 p.m.

Rain or shine (and you may need those umbrellas this weekend) Bristol Borough hosts an all-ages street festival every first Friday of the month through September. Arts and crafts for all, live music, food and vendors selling one-of-a-kind wares, as well as a community art project, are all part of the fun. While May’s event has no theme, plans for include Mardi Gras in June, Christmas in July, and Philly Sports Fans in August.

Philly Girls Jump 2019 Season Jump Off!
Awbury Park
6101 Ardleigh St.
May 5; 2-6 p.m.

Remember how much fun it was to jump Double Dutch? Well, even if you don’t, it’s a lot of fun to watch. Philly Girls Jump was created to encourage fitness and community around jumping with two long ropes turning in opposite directions. It’s believed the name came from a game originated by Dutch immigrants to New York City. Double Dutch has long been a staple in the African-American community. Sunday’s event includes Double Dutch instruction in the first hour, music, food and giveaways.

Philly Tech Week
Various venues/prices
Through May 11

The weeklong conference incorporates 102 panels, parties and events and focuses on seven areas – media, creative, access, dev, business, sciences and civics. It is basically multiple conferences within a conference – with specific events on those tracks that are ticketed. Yet many others are free or are single, ticketed events taking place all around the city. Highlights include the fifth annual Women in Tech Soiree, Philly Codefest, Philly Tech Week Signature Event, and HUE Tech Summit For Women of Color.

South Street Spring Festival
South Street, between Second and Eighth, Philadelphia
May 4; 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

South Street is one of Philadelphia’s favorite thoroughfares, especially during the warm weather. Rain or shine, the South Street Spring Festival will offer bands, food — 30 restaurants will be serving outside — a taco-eating contest, and free Comic Book Day at Atomic Comics. The festival also incorporates the seventh annual German Maifest on the 700 block with the city’s biggest Maypole.

NBA Playoffs Game 4: Philadelphia 76s vs. Toronto Raptors
Wells Fargo Center
3601 S. Broad St., Philadelphia
May 5; 3:30 p.m.
$101 and up

The Sixers are trying to go deep into the playoffs. Right now, the heavily favored Toronto Raptors are in their way. Join Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler and, very possibly, Allen Iverson and Meek Mill cheering from the good courtside seats. You’ll see just how far the Sixers can take “the process” that’s seen then finally earn some NBA respect.

Down and Derby Wine Festival
Cooper River Park
Pennsauken Township, New Jersey
May 4; 3-7 p.m.

The 145th running of the Kentucky Derby takes place Saturday, and Pennsauken Township is celebrating. It may be almost 700 miles from the real thing, but that doesn’t mean visitors shouldn’t come out in their Derby-themed best attire. As Breaking Blonde performs all day, 10 area wineries will offer wine varietals native to the area with them. Cheer on Derby faves Omaha Beach, Roadster and Improbable, all who have a good chance to win this year.  La Scala’s restaurant group is providing the food to pair with the wine, and all wines will be available for purchase. You must be 21 or older to attend, and no smoking is permitted on site.

Cinco De Mayo Block Party
El Rey
2013 Chestnut St., Philadelphia
May 5; 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

Popular Mexican restaurant El Rey celebrates Cinco De Mayo, the annual celebration of the Mexican Army’s 1862 victory over the French in the Mexican city of Puebla. Ironically enough, Cinco De Mayo is more of an American celebration of Mexican heritage, as it’s not a national holiday in Mexico. El Rey marks the day with a block party featuring a live mariachi band and DJ Craig Dash, as well as the ubiquitous margarita in various flavors; nachos, guac and tacos; and fun and games for adults and children.

Jane’s Walk Philly
Various locations, times
May 3-5

Jane’s Walk started in Toronto in 2006 and has taken off from there in honor of the late writer and urbanist Jane Jacobs. Since then, it has expanded to 245 cities around the world and is observed on the first weekend in May. The walks are led by volunteers who support the concept of connecting people and communities by exploring their neighborhoods on foot. They’re not traditional “walking tours” but more of an organized reason to bring people together to learn from each other in a supportive and non-rushed atmosphere. The walks are open to all, and the only agenda is promoting community and learning.

CultureFest! – African and Diasporic Cultures led by the Colored Girls Museum
Penn Museum
3260 South St., Philadelphia
May 4; 1-8 p.m.
Free with museum admission until 5 p.m.; after 5, $10-$15

Philadelphia’s The Colored Girls Museum partners with the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology for an event that celebrates the extensive history and culture of colored girls in African diaspora. The current exhibit at The Colored Girls Museum, “In Search of the Colored Girl” created and curated by Vashti DuBois, celebrates women of color locally to globally. The day includes drumming, mask-making, film screenings, a storytelling circle, live music and dance performances and workshops. After 5 p.m., happy hour, food and music performed by Blakbushe and spun by DJ Ian Friday, for the grown folks, will commence. Food and drink available at separate cost.

Dancing in the Streets at the Hop: Block Party with the Philly POPS
300 S. Broad St. (between Spruce and Pine), Philadelphia
May 4; 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

In 2012, Philly achieved the Guinness Book of World Records honor for longest Soul Train line, a record that was usurped by Oakland, California, in 2015. Sigh. But Philadelphians have another chance to take a Guinness dance crown outside the Kimmel Center on Saturday. The Philly POPS invites the public to South Broad Street for an attempt to top “The Twist” record of 3,040 people dancing simultaneously.

C’mon, Philly we can do better than that! Jerry Blavat will host the attempt to get 5,000 people to Broad Street to break the record at noon. Billy Carlucci of Billy Carlucci and the Essentials and The Tymes will perform. Wear your ‘60s era outfits and be prepared to twist for five minutes. This coincides with the final afternoon performance of the Philly POPS “ At The Hop! A Philadelphia Story at the Birth of Rock and Roll” at the Kimmel Center, which is already sold out.

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