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20 Things to Experience in Philadelphia in 2020

December 30, 2019

Experience Philadelphia’s genuine energy and spirit in 2020.

Philadelphia is the only U.S. city selected by National Geographic’s travel experts for the 25 most exciting destinations for 2020. Home to iconic, unmatched historical attractions, an award-winning dining scene, world-renowned arts and cultural institutions, and distinct neighborhoods, the publication cites the “glimmer of new possibilities” Philadelphia offers.

With expanding non-stop flights to Philadelphia, including the first scheduled service from the continent of Africa, there has never been a better time to plan a trip to Philadelphia. Here are 20 experiences to look forward to in 2020…

Celebrate Beethoven’s 250th Birthday with the Philadelphia Orchestra

Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

The Philadelphia Orchestra celebrates its 120th season with BeethovenNOW, concerts in honor of Beethoven’s 250th birthday. Performances include Beethoven’s Piano Concertos January 23 through February 8, Symphonies, March 12 through April 5, featuring three of the world’s greatest pianists, Yefim Bronfman, Daniil Trifonov, and Emanuel Ax.

Appetizing Openings

Merkaz photo by M. Persico.

Visitors hungry for something new will find their appetites appeased thanks to a bevy of new restaurant openings slated for 2020. Look for the debut of Israeli skewer restaurant Laser Wolf by James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Solomonov (Zahav, K’Far, Merkaz) in February and cozy up to a plate of pasta at Marc Vetri’s Fiorella, set to open in the Italian Market in January. Even more new restaurants are slated to open throughout the year, not to mention any yet-to-be-announced offerings.

“Marie Cuttoli: The Modern Thread from Miro to Man Ray” at The Barnes Foundation

The Barnes Foundation photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

An exhibit tracing the pioneering career of Marie Cuttoli opens at the Barnes Foundation, February 23 through May 10. Marie Cuttoli: The Modern Thread from Miro to Man Ray is the first major exhibition to celebrate the groundbreaking entrepreneur’s visionary approach to art and business, from her early work in fashion and interiors to her revival of the French tapestry industry with Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and other modern artists. Cuttoli lived between France and Algeria and combined her love of Parisian modernism with her passion for the weaving traditions of North Africa, commissioning textile designs from European artists for manufacture in her adopted home and persuading some of the most renowned artists of her time to create designs.

Philadelphia Flower Show

2019 Philadelphia Flower Show photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

The largest and longest-running horticultural event in the United States (since 1829) will celebrate the calming, restorative influence of flowers with “Riviera Holiday,” inspired by the world’s most exotic Mediterranean gardens. This year’s Philadelphia Flower Show offers all new interactive experiences and mobile “Pop Up” moments at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, February 29 through March 8.

Attend one of Philadelphia’s signature LGBTQ events

Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia.

Philadelphia has one of the country’s oldest and largest LGBTQ communities and offers many events throughout the year. The independent LGBTQ film festival, qFLIX Philadelphia, screens films from around the world, March 22-29. Philadelphia Black Pride 2020 takes place April 23-26, PrideDay Parade and Festival is held every June during International Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, running through Philadelphia’s Gayborhood to Penn’s Landing waterfront. In October for National Coming Out Day, Philadelphia celebrates with Outfest, a block party and street festival, annually in October — one of the largest such events in the nation.

W and Element Hotels Opening

Rendering courtesy of the W Hotel Philadelphia.

The dual-branded, 51-story property on 15th and Chestnut streets will house a 295-room W Hotel and a 460-room Element, each with separate lobbies. The W will have a 7,000-square-foot outdoor terrace with a bar, year-round heated pool and 45,000 square feet of meeting and event space. The Element will also feature 560 square feet of meeting space. Anticipated opening is early 2020. Read more: Philadelphia’s Hotel Boom

Visit Philadelphia’s Countryside and America’s Garden Capital

Longwood Gardens photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

The Philadelphia region has more gardens in close proximity than anywhere else on the continent, with 36 public gardens, arboreta, and historic landscapes all located within 30 miles of Philadelphia. Two locations, Longwood Gardens and Chanticleer Gardens, recently won North America’s 10 most dynamic gardens by the North American Garden Tourism Awards.

Both of these gardens are located in Philadelphia’s Countryside, which will be home to new attractions and experiences in 2020. In Valley Forge, a $14 million renovation of the Valley Forge National Historical Park Visitor Center is anticipated to open by the end of the year and a thrilling NERF Challenge (complete with 500,000-square-feet of interactive play space and thousands of blasters) will take over the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center from March through May. Meanwhile, in Brandywine Valley, visitors can expect new exhibits at the popular Brandywine River Museum of Art, such as Votes for Women: A Visual History which celebrates the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

The 126th Running of the Penn Relays

Penn Relays photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

This April marks the 125th birthday of Franklin Field, the oldest college stadium in the United States and home of the Penn Relays, the historic track meet that has been held each spring since 1895. Penn Relays provide competition for more collegiate athletes than any other track meet in the world. Competitors from the across the globe take part in the three-day track and field event, held over the last weekend in April on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus. At Franklin Field, check out the country’s first scoreboard. The arena was the first double-decker stadium and was the site of college football’s first televised game. Read more: Annual Sports Events in Philadelphia

NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championships

Virginia Cavaliers players celebrate after winning the Division I Men's Lacrosse Championship held at Lincoln Financial Field on May 27, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by L. French/NCAA Photos

All eyes in the collegiate lacrosse world will be on Philadelphia in May 2020 as Lincoln Financial Field is set to host the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championships for the second straight year (2019’s Championships saw an amazing attendance of 83,000 over three days). The NCAA Lacrosse Championships will join other lacrosse-related events slated for 2020, including U.S. Lacrosse’s LaxCon and Fan Fest at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in January and the regular season of Philadephia’s National Lacrosse League team, the Wings, which runs through April.

National Constitution Center to open 19th Amendment Exhibit in Commemoration of the 2020 Centennial Anniversary

National Constitution Center photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which extended the Constitution’s promise of equal citizenship to women, the National Constitution Center opens a new exhibit that traces the successes and struggles that led to the ratification of this important Amendment. This new exhibit, opening in summer 2020, will explore the long fight for women’s suffrage that began before the Civil War and will build upon the Center’s newest permanent exhibit, Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality.

KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

Courtesy of KPMG Women's LPGA Championship.

In June, golf fans can watch the best female golfers in the world compete in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Held at the Aronimink Golf Club in Philadelphia’s Countryside, the 2020 championship will establish the venue as the only one to have hosted all three of the PGA of America’s three rotating major championships.

Spend July 4th in the city where it all began

Fourth of July fireworks over the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia.

Philadelphia honors our nation’s independence like no other with the Wawa Welcome America festival. The annual, week-long event, features over 50 free multicultural and multigenerational family friendly activities and events including free concerts, free museum days, community events, free outdoor movie screenings, block parties and – of course – fireworks – called the “most spectacular Fourth of July fireworks in America” by MSN.

Opera Philadelphia’s Festival O20

2019 Semele photo by D. Mercier for Opera Philadelphia.

The fourth annual Opera Philadelphia Festival returns September 17-27, with performances at various venues throughout the city. Opera superstar soprano Sondra Radvanovsky will be making an important role debut in a new production at the Academy of Music, and a new opera by one of the top composers in the U.S. will make its world premiere in the Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Also returning will be the Late Night Snacks cabaret series with the Bearded Ladies at a pop-up locations to be announced.

Cheers to New Beer

Yards Brewing Company photo by B. Lackey.

New things are brewing for Philadelphia’s already dynamic craft beer scene, with Downingtown-based Victory Brewing Company set to open a new taproom – complete with rooftop patio – along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in late 2020. Local favorites such as Yards Brewing Company and Love City Brewing will assuredly continue to develop intriguing new recipes and craft beer afficionados can celebrate all of the breweries in the region (and from around the world) at the annual Philly Beer Week celebration, which features special events and tap takeovers at bars and restaurants throughout the city.

Unprecedented Jasper Johns Retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and New York’s Whitney Museum

Philadelphia Museum of Art photo by E. Savaria for PHLCVB.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City collaborate on a retrospective of the iconic artist’s career, simultaneously staging two halves of an exhibition. Jasper Johns will feature a large body of work including painting, sculpture, drawings, prints, books, and costumes and set design. Two exhibitions – one in Philadelphia and one in New York City – are designed to be reflections of one another and can be viewed individually or together for an immersive and innovative exploration of John’s work. Opening in October 2020, the exhibit can be seen through February 2021.

90th Army-Navy Game in Philadelphia

The 2019 Army-Navy Game at Lincoln Financial Field photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

The 121st Army-Navy Game takes place Saturday, December 12, marking the 90th time “America’s Game” will be played in Philadelphia. The event brings thousands of active duty military, veterans, and their families to the city and offers exciting experiences all weekend long, many of which are free and open to the public.

The Holidays in Philadelphia

Christmas Village in Philadelphia 2019 photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

With one of the largest Christmas markets in the country – ranked by Family Traveller as one of the one of the best Christmas markets in the world – plus historic holiday house tours, amazing onstage productions, light shows, New Year’s Eve fireworks and the Mummers Parade on New Year’s Day, Philadelphia is the perfect destination to celebrate the winter holidays.

New Tax-Free Shopping Opportunities

Fashion District Philadelphia photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

New retail and entertainment options continue to fill the 900,000-square-foot Fashion District Philadelphia, including the recent openings of the AMC Dine-In Theater, Round 1 bowling and amusement space, and City Winery. Even more new tenants will arrive beginning in 2020, including trendy retailer, Primark, who will open a 34,000-square-foot space inside the Fashion District. Elsewhere, visitors can continue to benefit from tax-free shopping on clothes and shoes at the city’s collection of independently owned boutiques and national storefronts.

Enjoy the Mural Capital of the World

The Father of Modern Philadelphia © 2012 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Gaia, 1300 Drury Street. Photo by Steve Weinik.

See Philadelphia’s neighborhoods and learn about their stories through the lens of community-based public art with a Mural Arts Philadelphia tour. Take a self-guided tour of the City of Murals or guide-led tours are offered by foot, trolley, train or Segway of the largest public art program in the United States.

Explore America’s First World Heritage City

The Liberty Bell Pavilion with Independence Hall in the background photo by M. Zugale for PHLCVB.

A trip to Philadelphia isn’t complete without visiting some of America’s most historically significant sites at Independence National Historical Park. America’s “most historic square mile” features essential spots including Independence Hall – where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were debated and adopted – and the Liberty Bell, the iconic symbol of freedom. Start your journey by securing free, timed tickets for Independence Hall at the Independence Visitor Center and use our Historic District Itinerary.

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