Black History Month in the Delaware Valley starts with an array of activities, including celebrations at the African American Museum, The Franklin Institute and Philadelphia’s Free Library. The Rosenbach offers a special look at their collection of rare books written by Black Harlem Renaissance writers, and the Philadelphia Film Society offers a weekend of Black cinema with screenings and special events. Restaurant Week moves to another neighborhood; this time, it’s Northern Liberties, with participating restaurants ranging from casual to more high-end. Cantina La Martina hosts its second annual Tamalada to determine the city’s best tamale. In Delco, the 10th annual Freezefest promises indoor and outdoor entertainment, including live deejays, competitive beer pong and ice sculptures galore right in time for a wintry weekend forecast.
Black History Month
32nd Annual African-American Children’s Book Fair
File photo: The 28th annual African American Children’s Book Fair at the Community College of Philadelphia was held pre-pandemic on Feb. 1, 2020. The fair is organized by Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati, who is organizing the inaugural “Juneteenth – Celebrating Literary and Artistic Freedom,” on Saturday. (Natalie Piserchio for WHYY)
Where: Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch St.
When: Saturday, Feb. 3, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
How much: Free
Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati has lived a lot of lives in one as a fashion journalist, PR maven, TV producer and radio host. But her enduring mark on Philadelphia and the world is as the founder of the 32nd Annual African American Children’s Book Fair. Lloyd-Sgambati started the fair when a friend asked her to create something for Black History Month and three decades later, it’s the foremost gathering of its kind. The free event brings award-winning authors to parents and children of a variety of backgrounds who love books and believe in diverse characters and stories.
Black History Celebration
Where: Walnut Street Y, 1000 N. Walnut St., Wilmington, Del.
When: Saturday, Feb. 3, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
How much: Free
Music, movement and a tribute to pioneering Black Delawareans are the focus of Wilmingon’s Black History Celebration. The family-friendly free event includes a Black-owned business marketplace and the presence of community and arts-based organizations, including Black Nurses Rock, the Delaware Afro-American Sports Hall of Fame, the Diamond State Black Film Festival and more.
Still I Rise: Jesmyn Ward
FILE – In this June 1, 2017 file photo, author Jesmyn Ward speaks at Book Expo America in New York. Ward, Masha Gessen and Frances Fitzgerald are among this year’s finalists for the National Book Awards. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Where: Wilmington Public Library, 10 E. 10th St., Wilmington, Del.
When: Thursday, Feb. 1, 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.
How much: Free
Two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward kicks off Black History Month tonight at the Wilmington Public Library to support her 2023 novel “Let Us Descend.” The author and Tulane University professor writes lyrically and heartbreakingly about Annis, an enslaved woman brought to New Orleans to be sold further south.
More BHM events
The African American Museum in Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
Where: Multiple venues
When: Thursday, Feb. 1 – Thursday, Feb. 29
How much: Various prices
Black History Month is upon us. As the place where the U.S. Constitution was drafted, Philly has its share of historical markers denoting the contributions of African Americans. Octavius Catto, William Still, Harriet Tubman, Billie Holiday, Paul Robeson, Richard Allen and Absalom Jones all lived here at various times. Some of the celebrations that begin this week are at the Free Library of Philadelphia, which offers events at its various branches throughout the month. The African American Museum in Philadelphia starts its celebration Thursday night with a lecture on African Americans and the arts by Ohio State University professor Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries. As part of its “Behind the Bookcase” series, The Rosenbach opens its archives so the public can view rare works by Harlem Renaissance writers Alain Locke and Langston Hughes. The Franklin Institute, The National Constitution Center, and the Please Touch Museum all kick off special programming this weekend.
With temperatures cooling as we enter the first week of February, the 2024 Freezefest will live up to its title. Delco’s tenth annual winter festival offers a chance to hear live deejays, enjoy ice sculptures created specifically for the event, sip on specialty drinks, pour from the chocolate fountain and “chill” in the ice lounge. There’s also a major beer pong tourney, so assemble your squad for a chance at the cash prizes.
Founders Philly Freeze-Out
Where: Multiple venues on and around Main Street
When: Saturday, Feb. 4, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
How much: Free, pay as you go, Chowder Crawl is ticketed
Main Street Manayunk transforms into a seasonal wonderland at the Founders Philly Freeze-Out. The Winter Market includes food, music and arts and crafts vendors, along with live ice sculpture carving demos and food and retail giveaways and discounts. Though the Freeze-Out runs simultaneously with the ticketed Chowder Crawl, unfortunately, that’s already sold out. But we’re sure a bowl of chowder can be had somewhere on Main Street if you’re craving one.
Rave’n Goth Prom
If your propensity for spiked outfits and black nails and lipstick didn’t quite lend itself to your high school prom scene, you don’t have to feel bad about it. At the Rave’n Goth Prom, you can wear all those things and more. The prom is dedicated to all things dark and gothic, drawing inspiration from influences like Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “The Raven.” Like any prom, you can get your pictures taken, and there’s even a Goth Couple contest. But this is an adult prom — so it’s 21 and over only.
Although not an initially intuitive combination, yoga and water, when you think about it, are both relaxing. The Wet Deck at the W Philadelphia is hosting Hydroga, a 45-minute yoga class in its heated pool. The workout should be an equilibrium reset as it includes shower and locker access at the Away Spa and an enhancement credit for a future spa visit. #Relaxationgoals.
Arts & Culture
A Raisin in the Sun
“A Raisin in the Sun,” the timeless play by African American playwright Lorraine Hansberry, opened on Broadway in 1959. Ironically enough, it made her the first Black woman to have a play produced on the Great White Way. The play has become a part of the American canon, with two Broadway revivals and numerous regional theater productions in the six-plus decades since. It’s now at Bristol Riverside Theatre through Feb. 18. On Feb. 16, Black Professional Night includes a buffet-style meal, drinks and a post-show conversation with the cast and director.
Black Cinema Weekend
The Philadelphia Film Society hosts Black Cinema Weekend to highlight the versatility of Black films and filmmakers. “Boyz ‘N The Hood,” “Eve’s Bayou,” and newly restored and rediscovered versions of lesser-known films like “Cane River” and “Chameleon Street” will be screened. A Black creatives mixer, a Black female filmmaker meetup and Family Day are also part of the weekend’s festivities.
Sydney McLaughlin Levrone: Far Beyond Gold Book Tour
Sydney Mclaughlin, of the United States, wins in a heat during the women’s 400-meter hurdles run at the World Athletics Championships on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Olympic track star Sydney McLaughlin Levrone is a world record-holder in the 400-meter hurdles. But she plans to run the 400 flat in the upcoming Paris Olympic Games. In a Philadelphia appearance promoting her new book “Far Beyond Gold: Running from Fear to Faith” she’ll talk about how faith informed her journey and that giving her life to Christ has helped her achieve more than she ever envisioned for herself.
Food & Drink
Philly Chocolate, Wine & Whiskey Festival 2024
Where: Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, 100 Station Ave., Oaks, Pa.
When: Saturday, Feb. 3, 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
How much: Sold out, waitlist only
The Philly Chocolate, Wine & Whiskey Festival brings together lovers of all three delicacies for a festival that focuses on the finer things in life. Your ticket includes unlimited wine, whiskies and ciders, chocolate samples and a fondue bar — that’s if you can get a ticket, as the event is currently sold out. But, you can still get on the waitlist and cross your fingers.
Northern Liberties Restaurant Week
Baan Thai (Photo by Eddy Marenco, provided by Aversa PR)
Where: Multiple venues
When: Friday, Feb. 2 – Sunday, Feb. 11
How much: Pre-fixe, two-course lunches $15, $20, three-course dinners $20, $25 and $40
Eat, drink and be merry! It’s Northern Liberties Restaurant Week and as per usual, the discounted dining promotion offers a chance to save on a variety of restaurant cuisines, from popular restaurants like Mexican eatery Anejo or Seiko Japanese Restaurant. Prix-fixes lunches are $15 – $20, and three-course course dinners are $25 – $40 for both dining in and takeout.
Where: Cantina La Martina, 2800 D Street
When: Sunday, Feb. 4, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
How much: Pay as you go, cash only
Cantina La Martina hosts the second annual La Tamalada event, where locally-based Mexican tamale vendors cook up varieties of the regional dish to be judged in the competition. The tasty part is that you can try out all the different vendors and provide feedback on your favorites.
Ronnie Chieng: The Love to Hate it Tour
Actor, comedian and “Daily Show” correspondent Ronnie Chieng checks in for a set at the Met Philadelphia. He’s likely to reference his experiences as a Malaysian-American raised in Singapore and the United States who also attended college in Australia, among other things. We have a feeling he’ll weigh in on this, too.
Who’s Bad: The Ultimate Michael Jackson Experience
FILE – In this Dec. 3, 1984 file photo, Michael Jackson performs with his brothers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Doug Pizac, File)
Michael Jackson died in 2009, but his hold on pop culture is stronger than ever. “Michael Jackson: The Musical” comes to Philadelphia early next year after its successful, Tony-winning Broadway run and a biopic starring his nephew Jaafar Jackson is set to be released later in 2025 as well. On Friday, the next best thing — the tribute show “Who’s Bad: The Ultimate Michael Jackson Experience” comes to The Keswick Theater.
Dave Hollister: Matters of the Heart Tour
File photo: Dave Hollister performs at the 2018 Essence Festival at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday, July 8, 2018, in New Orleans. (Photo by Donald Traill/Invision/AP)
Chicago-based crooner Dave Hollister ruled the ‘90s as the lead singer in the band Blackstreet. His first two solo albums “Ghetto Hymns” and “Chicago ‘85: The Movie” netted the hits “My Favorite Girl” “One Woman Man” and “Take Care of Home.” His vocal chops continue to be impressive decades later and they’ll be on display at his City Winery show on Saturday.
BoomBox with Tep No
Multi-genre jam bands are always welcome at Ardmore Music Hall, even when one of those genres is rooted in electronica. BoomBox is no exception. Singer-songwriter and band co-founder Zion Godchaux hails from the deejay scene and San Francisco, linking up with original bandmate Russ Randolph in the storied music town of Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Now teamed up with Kinsman McKay, BoomBox is making a stop at the suburban venue in support of their latest release “Dangerous Waters.”
Where: Solar Myth, 1131 S. Broad St.
When: Saturday, February 3, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
How much: Pay as you wish, $20 suggested donation
Philly’s own Hiruy Tirfe honed his craft on the saxophone at the University of the Arts, ultimately becoming a producer, arranger, composer and bandleader. As part of the inaugural class of Jazz Philadelphia’s CORE Cooperative, he’s now releasing his debut album “10,000 Hours.” He’ll play music from it via the Painted Bride’s Jazz on Market Series Saturday.
Escape to Margaritaville
Jimmy Buffett may have gone on to the great Margaritaville in the sky, but his billion-dollar branding of the experience continues. “Escape to Margaritaville” combines his hits like “Fins,” “Volcano” and “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” with new songs and the title track to a breezy storyline about a guy who owns a bar on a Caribbean island. Which one? It doesn’t matter, just sing along.
Let ‘Em Cook: Clean Comedy
Let ‘Em Cook! Clean Comedy is a showcase for those who like their humor delivered without profanity. It’s led by Don “Jream” Hines, the 2023 Comedy Pioneer Award winner, with a special feature by Leah Renee. Belynda Cleare hosts the evening, including a gameshow-style standup competition. Before the main event, enjoy a “pre-game” extended happy hour at a nearby venue where the comics will bartend.
Spokey Speaky’s 12th Annual Bob Marley Birthday Concert
Jamaican Reggae singer Bob Marley performs on stage during a concert in Bourget, Paris, on July 3, 1980. (AP Photo/Str)
Just in time for “One Love,” the Bob Marley biopic, comes Spokey Speaky, the Marley tribute band. Now in its twelfth year, the band’s annual Bob Marley Birthday Concert showcases the tunes that made the reggae superstar a worldwide icon. The late musician was actually born on Feb. 6, but close enough. Spokey Speaky is at the Queen on Friday, where you can join the celebration and inhale the, uh, vibes.