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7 Things to do in Philly this Week

Welcome back to University City! For all of those who are just joining us, before you get too comfortable within campus limits and before it gets too cold to venture past 30th St., consider attending one if not all of these events. I have picked a handful of activities that are occurring on the Parkway and near South Street—these locations are ideal for walking and are home to many great events that will transition us well into fall.

1. On behalf of new media artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, whether you decide to participate in this presumably awesome light show or not, you will still experience “Open Air” as the Philly skyline lights up this Thursday. Open Air is an interactive light show that will allow participants to use their voices and a GPS app on their phones to control light formations in the sky. The voices of the crowd will activate 24 robotic searchlights placed along a half-mile section of the Parkway. Just think of the Batman “bat signal” minus the bat! Make sure to bring your phone (duh) and your friends (double duh), and you are sure to have a good time.

2. First Friday is another event that is open all year round, but as someone who goes every month, I have to admit that it’s not nearly as enjoyable when the weather gets cold. Every first Friday of the month, many downtown art galleries and museums offer free admission and food to visitors. September’s First Friday just passed, but check it out next month on October 5th any time after 6 p.m. Most of the galleries begin at 2nd and Market and continue all the way along 2nd Street. There will be vendors on the street and a diverse set of galleries and shops open until around 9 p.m. Northern Liberties also has amazing restaurants and clothing stores, so if art galleries aren’t your scene, First Friday is still sure to please. 

3. You and a friend can also browse the Academy of Natural Sciences on Friday for the price of one! If you are a paleontology, archeology, zoology, or any natural science enthusiast, this museum is for you. It has hundreds of taxidermies, not to mention live animals and a butterfly room! The Academy was founded on March 21, 1812, so on the 21st of every month, the museum offers “2 for the price of 1” admission. So grab a beloved geeky friend and hit the Parkway this month or next to see this museum and all the amazing things it has to offer.

4. Festival of India is happening this Saturday at Penn’s Landing as part of a fall multicultural series. The festival will showcase all things lovely about Indian culture! There will be food, activities, and live performances. There’s no better way to end the summer than to stuff your face with Tikka Masala and watch some traditional Natya dance. 

5. Or visit a flea market in Old City this Saturday! Right near the river, this flea market is part of a series of Philadelphia flea markets happening around the city (look out for one in Rittenhouse as well). You are bound to find unique jewelry, vintage clothing, and other cool stuff for your dorm. Come out any time between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. There will be plenty of goodies being sold along 2nd and Arch. 

6. While you probably have never set foot on South Street any earlier than 9 p.m., consider waking up early on Sunday to check out the Farmer’s Head Farmers Market on 2nd and Lombard (the end of South Street). Open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the farmer’s market sells locally grown, organic, unique, and super fresh fruit, veggies, pastries, and cheeses. They always offer samples, and there are also awesome popsicles and taco stands. Check this place out to pick up some heirloom tomatoes, sweet blueberries, and wacky exotic mushrooms straight out of Alice in Wonderland. Don’t forget to pick up some ramen and frozen pizza at the Wawa just a block away!

7. Check out the Barnes at 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. This internationally acclaimed museum is open year-round and has an impressive garden and outdoor area. This quaint museum is overflowing with impressionist art and worth browsing whether you’re a hardcore art historian or not. If you go within the next few weeks, give yourself some time to walk around, bike, or enjoy the flowers while they are still in bloom. The new grounds have adorable paths and mini waterfalls; better yet, the Rodin Museum—also furnished with a fountain-bearing garden—is right next door and has free admission!

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