Philadelphia's culture scene hums, both with homegrown talent and great touring acts. For classical music and ballet, ticket prices are low compared with NYC; likewise, you could see a great rock show for $10. There's plenty of free entertainment, too, including superb classical music recitals. And don't overlook the chance to see one of Philly's sports teams in action.
Philly is a fine city in which to catch some live popular music with an indie rock scene that's the envy of other American metropolises and scores of venues where you can get up close and personal with the stage action. In summer a handful of major outdoor arenas become operational, most notably the Mann Center in West Fairmount Park.
A key player on the city's live-music scene is R5 Productions (www.r5productions.com), founded by Sean Agnew in 1996. Its primary aim is to put on rock shows 'for the kids, by the kids' which translates into good-quality bands and singers in decent venues at affordable prices (ie under $14 a ticket). Many of their regular gigs are open to those under 21; liquor licences at other performance venues, such as Johnny Brenda's and Boot & Saddle, means that gigs there are always for those 21 and over.
Classical Music & Dance
There's a vibrant and evolving classical-music scene in Philadelphia. Proof of this is Philadelphia Voices, a 2018 symphony composed by Tod Machover, who interweaved city sounds into his score: the performance of the piece by the Philadelphia Orchestra and a 250-strong choir was interspersed with recordings of sizzling cheesesteaks from Pat's King of Steaks and ecstatic match commentary from the Eagles Superbowl win.
The Philadelphia Orchestra (www.philorch.org) and the equally exceptional Philadelphia Chamber Music Society (www.philorch.org) both play concerts at the Kimmel Center as well as at other venues, including the outdoor Mann Center in the summer and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. New and emerging talent is nurtured at the Curtis Institute of Music, which stages a series of free and paid recitals throughout the year.
Performing at the Academy of Music and the Kimmel Center is the world-class Pennsylvania Ballet (http://paballet.org), founded in 1963. Other local dance companies whose shows are worth looking out for include Koresh (www.koreshdance.org) and the Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILDANCO; www.philadanco.org).
Home to America's oldest continually functioning playhouse, Philadelphia has a thriving theater scene with some excellent venues. You'll find both crowd-pleasing musicals and plays alongside more avant-garde and contemporary works staged by the likes of FringeArts and Pig Iron Theatre Company.
Mark your calendar for Philly Theatre Week, a 10-day event in February when the city's stages put on a special series of events and offer discounted tickets for shows.
To say that Philadelphia is sports crazy is an understatement. Support for the city's main professional teams is nothing short of fanatical. There are three major venues all clustered in the South Philadelphia Sports Complex at the southern end of S Broad St. Here you can catch the National Football League's Philadelphia Eagles (or the 'Birds'), the Major League Baseball team the Philadelphia Phillies, the National Basketball Association's Philadelphia 76ers (also called the 'Sixers'), and the National Hockey League's Philadelphia Flyers.
City sports is far broader than the big leagues. Philly hosts the annual Army-Navy college football game, and Penn and Temple Universities often field competitive college teams of all varieties, though local media tends to focus on men's football and basketball. Additionally, Philadelphia is home to the world's oldest and largest track meet, the Penn Relays, plus the famed Dad Vail Regata (www.dadvail.org).
Need to Know
- Theatre Philadelphia (www.theatrephiladelphia.org) Listings and information about the city's diverse theater scene.
- Uwishunu (www.uwishunu.com) Regularly updated listings on events.
- Philadelphia Weekly (www.philadelphiaweekly.com) Weekly updated listings.
- Gold Star (www.goldstar.com/philadelphia) National broker that sells discounted tickets (up to 50% off) to local performances.
- TodayTix (www.todaytix.com) Mobile app for discounted and full-price last-minute tickets.
The Kimmel Center offers a limited number of discounted community rush tickets for select performances at its venues, which includes the Academy of Music. Rush tickets go on sale at the box office at 5:30pm for evening performances and 11:30am for matinees.