Old City family time, holiday orchestras, and more to do this weekend

3 minute read
Enjoy making handicrafts like this in Old City this weekend. (Image courtesy of the Center for Art in Wood.)
Enjoy making handicrafts like this in Old City this weekend. (Image courtesy of the Center for Art in Wood.)

The holiday season is in full swing here in Philadelphia — with lots of opportunities to celebrate the season through arts and culture events.

Family time in Old City

Whether you have kids or not, stop by Old City’s Center for Art in Wood on Saturday, December 15, and Saturday, December 22, from 11am to 3pm for free family fun, crafting a wood ornament to take home.

You can also check out the Old City Holiday Market, which is open weekends through Sunday, December 23, located outside between the Clay Studio and Elfreth's Alley (137 N. 2nd Street). The Market features trees, wreaths, and holiday greenery by Petit Jardin en Ville, one-of-a-kind gifts from Old City shops and galleries, and seasonal sips and bites from local restaurants.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the newly renovated Cherry Street Pier yet, the Holiday Art Star Market is a good reason to venture there. The pier features a number of studios for artists in residence, food vendors, public gardens, event space, and more. The Art Star Market, open December 15 (11am to 8pm) and 16 (11am to 4pm), features unique arts-and-crafts gifts by local makers. Cherry Street Pier is an ADA-accessible venue.

Two orchestra options for families

Listening to familiar holiday music played by an orchestra is a wonderful way to introduce children to the experience of live orchestral music. This Saturday, December 15, at 11:30am, the Philadelphia Orchestra presents its annual Christmas Kids’ Spectacular at the Kimmel. The concert features favorites like “Joy to the World” and a sing-along featuring young people from the Commonwealth Youth Choirs, plus conductor Kensho Watanabe and Philly storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston. Tickets ($24-$53) are available online.

Members of Tempesta's Baroque orchestra are going beyond Bach. (Photo courtesy of Tempesta di Mare.)
Members of Tempesta's Baroque orchestra are going beyond Bach. (Photo courtesy of Tempesta di Mare.)

It’s also inspiring to watch young people take the orchestra stage. The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra is one of the nation’s oldest and most respected community music-education and youth-orchestra performance programs. This Sunday, December 16, at 3pm, the orchestra shares its holiday concert featuring the "Pas de deux" from the Nutcracker Suite. The concert takes place at the Kimmel Center. Tickets ($16.50 to $26.50) are available online. The Kimmel is an ADA-accessible venue.

A sensory-friendly princess performance

For children who are on the autism spectrum and/or have sensory sensitivities, Philadelphia Theatre Company at Suzanne Roberts offers a “relaxed performance” of A Dream Is a Wish: Princess Holiday Concert ($35) on Sunday, December 16, at 6pm. Cinderella and her friends host this live concert sing-along featuring holiday classics. Kids are encouraged to come in costume if they wish and will have the opportunity to meet the characters after the show. Suzanne Roberts is an ADA-accessible venue, including assisted-listening devices, Braille signage, and more. For more info, contact Allison Fifield at 215-985-1400 (extension 100) or [email protected].

The original Messiah

Handel’s Messiah is another holiday season favorite. This year, Tempesta di Mare, Philly’s Baroque orchestra, presents Handel's choral masterpiece in its original version and in the spirit of its 1742 Dublin premiere. Hear this Christmas classic on the period-style instruments of Tempesta di Mare, featuring soloists Julie Bosworth, Janna Critz, Jacob Perry, and Corbin Phillips, plus the choir of the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. It’s happening on Saturday, December 15, at 8pm at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral and on Sunday, December 16, at 3pm at Christ Church Christiana Hundred in Wilmington. Tickets ($10 to $49) are available online. (The Wilmington show is close to sold out; you’re likely to have better luck in Philly.) And for the true enthusiast, here’s Tom Purdom’s seasoned roundup of this year’s Philly Messiah offerings, including the Tempesta shows.

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