Welcome to the "Beyond the Bell" calendar page! It's time to tear the last page off of 2016 and to welcome in 2017. As usual, there's always something special going on ...


December 2016

Saturday, December 31st

New Year's Eve Fireworks

The Independence Seaport Museum stays open late for a family-friendly celebration, allowing visitors to ring in the New Year early with noise makers, party hats and a sparkling cider toast before the waterfront lights up with a 6 o'clock fireworks show.

Independence Seaport Museum
Penn's Landing, Columbus Blvd. & Walnut St.
5 - 7 p.m. (fireworks start at 6)
New Year's Eve Fireworks

January 2017

Wednesday, January 11th

A President's Wife

Historian Louisa Thomas presents an intimate portrait of another Louisa, Louisa Catherine Adams. Unlike her husband, the all-American John Quincy Adams, Louisa was half English/half American at a time when most people were choosing one side or the other. Despite their differences in upbringing, John Quincy fell in love with her, and their often tempestuous but deeply close marriage lasted half a century. They lived in Massachusetts, in Prussia, Russia, and England, at royal courts, on farms, in cities, and in the White House, while J. Q. served his country. But wherever they lived, Louisa was always the divided one. The other members of the Adams family could take their identity for granted—they were Adamses; they were Americans—but she had to invent her own. Louisa Thomas tells us all how she did it.

American Philosophical Society
Benjamin Franklin Hall
427 Chestnut Street
5:30 - 7 p.m.
Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams

Saturday and Sunday, January 13th and 14th

Franklin Family Fun Zone

Celebrate Benjamin Franklin's birthday and enjoy a variety of activities inspired by Franklin's interest in science, music, art, and more. Try your hand at playing the glass armonica, take a selfie in colonial clothing, and participate in a scavenger hunt.

Franklin Court
Benjamin Franklin Museum
316 Market Street, between 3rd & 4th
10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Franklin Fun Zone

Friday and Saturday, January 13th and 14th,
Friday and Saturday, January 20th and 21st

Tippler's Tour: Ben Franklin's Birthday

The always festive Tippler's Tours focus on celebrating Ben Franklin's 311th birthday. With luck, he might even join in for a drink or two!

Tippler's Tour
departing from the Independence Visitor Center
6th & Market Streets
5:30 p.m.
Ben's Birthday Bashes

Monday, January 16th

Martin Luther King Day

The National Constitution Center commemorates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a day of activities, including a reading of the "I Have a Dream" speech. Admission to the museum is only $5 all day long, courtesy of Macy's.

National Constitution Center
525 Arch Street
Martin Luther King Day

February 2017

Thursday, February 16th

Politics of War in Early Pennsylvania

The Quaker colony of Pennsylvania was not always the peaceful place it was intended to be, as Patrick Spero reminds us. Its history was dotted with a series of formative but until now largely-overlooked confrontations. There was an eight-year-long border war with Maryland in the 1730s, the Seven Years’ War and conflicts with Native Americans in the 1750s, a series of frontier rebellions in the 1760s, and wars with Virginia and Connecticut in the 1770s over western and northern boundaries. These episodes created a distinc­tively combative “frontier society” well before the Revolutionary War that most of us are already familiar with.

American Philosophical Society
Benjamin Franklin Hall
427 Chestnut Street
5:30 - 7 p.m. (reception at 5:30, lecture at 6)
Frontier Country

Ongoing Events and Outdoor Activities

Now thru December 2017

Constituting Liberty

Opening on Bill of Rights Day (December 15th), 2014 and continuing through almost to the end of 2017, the National Constitution Center will be featuring the founding documents of our great republic. Starting with a first edition stone engraving of the Declaration of Independence, the exhibit includes a rare copy of the first public printing of the U.S. Constitution, and rounds it out with a special display of one of the 12 surviving copies of the Bill of Rights.

National Constitution Center
525 Arch Street
Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights


Outdoor History and After Hours Tours

Historic Philadelphia offers outdoor history tours, after hours events, and pub crawls. All of the details are on our Shows and Tours page.