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FunTimes Magazine

Ringing in the New Year

a Black family at the Elmwood park light up, under a tunnel of Christmas lights

As December winds down, you are either energized for the new year or a bit tired. If you are stir-crazy and eager to go out to explore, here are a few ways to celebrate the final days of 2021, and beyond that. But before proceeding, be sure to contact the event organizers of these activities for their updated in-person visiting pandemic-related safety precautions and protocols such as masking and proof of vaccination.



  Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia


The colors of Kwanzaa

Now through December 30, 2021. Enjoy visual arts, drumline performances, kinara lightings, and other live entertainment at Kwanzaa Weekend at Franklin Square with The African American Museum in Philadelphia. Join the festivities highlighting the seven principles of the season through the work of percussionists Sistas Laying Down Hands and hands-on engagements with teaching artists. Watch the lighting of the kinara and give thanks. Activities are in a heated tent. Free, daily, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. 

Franklin Square Park, 200 N. 6th St.



Photo by Jeff Fusco for Historic Philadelphia, Inc.


Kids’ New Year’s Eve Countdown….

December 31, 2021. Bring the kids, or at least “the kid in you,” and enjoy the family fun through music and cra­fts at 4 p.m. -- before the Square Drop from atop SquareBurger at 6 p.m. Franklin’s Winter View in a heated tent will host a Kids’ Dance Party. Free, activities are from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. 

Franklin Square Park, 200 N. 6th St. 

Through January 1, 2022. For one of the most marvelous sights this season, check out the bright lights at Boathouse for Kwanzaa. Two great spots to catch the illuminated structures are Fairmount Water Works or the platform above the Fairmount Fish Ladder on the Schuylkill River Trail off of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Free. Anytime after dark. Fairmount Fish Ladder, Schuylkill River Trail.



Through January 1, 2022. The Comcast Center’s annual Comcast Center Holiday Spectacular, a super high-res LED holiday show is playing outdoors this year. Performances from the Philadelphia Ballet are complemented with holiday classics as part of a 15-minute journey featuring a whirlwind aerial sleigh ride over Philadelphia. Brand new is The Universal Sphere, a free cinematic experience (advanced reservations encouraged) created by Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks Animation, Universal Parks & Resorts, and Comcast Labs in the upper lobby of the Comcast Technology Center. Shows run daily at the top of every hour, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The outdoor show is on the video wall in the Comcast Center Plaza.

1701 John F. Kennedy Blvd.




Through December 30, 2021. This appeared here before, but it’s worth repeating…How can you resist the combo of animals and lights? Wild Lights shine brightly on Elmwood Park Zoo over 16 acres. Live entertainment, animal encounters, holiday music, and Santa appearances are part of the festivities. From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., prices start at $10.95 for zoo members. 

Elmwood Park Zoo, 1661 Harding Blvd., Norristown.





Jazzing up their ‘house’

January 13, 2022. January will kick off on a smooth note as the famous Clef Club on the Avenue of the Arts South, in partnership with Chris’ Jazz Café, will hold a concert showcasing more than 20 musicians. The event is a fund-raiser for renovations of the cultural institution whose members once included the late Grover Washington, Nina Simone, John Coltrane, and other greats. The Clef Club’s educational programs have produced bassist Christian McBride, pianist Orrin Evans and organist-trumpeter Joey DeFrancesco, and other local contemporaries. The fund-raiser will highlight the talents of the organization’s alumni. Tickets: $25, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. 

Chris Jazz Café, 1421 Sansom St. Click here to find out more and reserve ticketsPay-as-you-wish streaming is available.



Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia




Sultans of Strut…

January 1, 2022. Picture Broadway meeting Broad Street. And then toss in a little Mardi gras into this sequined salad of fanciful color and pageantry! The New Year’s Day parade gets its musical roots from African dance, the Mummers Strut, and an African-American minstrel wedding tune, Oh Dem’ Golden Slippers. The Mummers Parade, the nation’s oldest folk festival of more than 120 years, begins at City Hall and continues south to Washington Avenue.

Judging for this non-professional competition takes place at 15th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard. Special designated viewing performance areas along the parade route are North 15th and Market streets, Broad and Sansom streets, Broad and Pine Streets, and Broad and Carpenter streets. A good perch to view the outdoor parade is the Parade Grandstand (the judging area near City Hall). Tickets are $20; reserve tickets in advance. Buy online or in person at the Independence Visitor Center, 6th and Markets streets. All other locations are free along the parade route.

Once one of the parade’s four divisions -- the Fancy Brigades – takes part in the outdoor show, they head to the Pennsylvania Convention Center at 11th and Arch streets for two ticketed competitive indoor shows -- the Mummers Fancy Brigades Finale – at 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tickets for both Fancy Brigade shows ($38 and $28) are available online and in-person at the Independence Visitor Center