The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts is in full swing, with a slew of ongoing events and one-night-only awesomeness. This weekend sees the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia perform the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Beethoven’s 9th Symphony at the Kimmel Center as well as closing weekend of The Bearded Ladies Cabaret’s Wide Awake: Civil War Cabaret.
But perhaps the easiest way to engage with the citywide festival is by strolling into the Kimmel Center, where tons of free live performances and events take place daily and curious visitors are welcome.
While you’re visiting the Kimmel Center, don’t miss the just-for-PIFA concessions by Garces Catering featuring signature cocktails like the Flux Capacitor and the Time Warp, as well as special snacks like honey-cayenne doughnuts and carnitas tacos. The food court is open daily, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. with the plaza bar open Sunday through Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to midnight.
See PIFA for free with these ongoing happenings in the Kimmel Center’s soaring Commonwealth — er, Time Travel — Plaza.
• The Time Machine: The Kimmel Center is now home to a 100-foot-long 16-foot-wide light, sound and video art installation that leads visitors on a free adventure through time. The time machine sprawls from the Broad Street entrance through the plaza as a visual representation of the festival theme If You Had a Time Machine…. With five large arches serving as centers of interaction, the installation features projections, video, touch sensors, an interactive kiosk and more. The installation is open everyday of the festival, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday, and 10 a.m. to midnight Wednesday through Saturday.
• Flash of Time: Activating the time machine every night, the new musical Flash of Time was created just for PIFA by Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk and directed by Jay Wahl. With more than a dozen characters from throughout time — cave men, space men and everything in between — the show takes viewers on a musical journey with two scientists. The free show of song, dance and puppetry goes off twice nearly every night of the festival at 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, March 28-April 27.
• Shut Your Wormhole: Also revolving around the time machine comedy troupe Tribe of Fools puts on a free, fast-paced, five-part 15-minute show exploring the pitfalls of time travel in the Kimmel Center’s Commonwealth Plaza at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, through April 26.
• Plaza Stage: In the center of the Kimmel Center, a temporary plaza stage hosts free live music nearly everyday. On Monday nights, check out university a cappella groups as they break into song from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Every Wednesday, 10:45 p.m. to midnight, listen to late-night sessions of jazz artists like Fresh Cut (April 10) and Perseverance Jazz Band (April 17). Thursdays and Fridays at noon, check out lunch-hour tunes from up-and-coming regional artists, and every Friday night sends audiences back to various eras in time with a Decades Mixer at 6 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. All shows take place on the TD Bank Plaza Stage.
• Philly Night: Every Thursday night, Philly artists get a great nod with an evening devoted exclusively to local artists. Coming up on Thursday, April 11, indie-folk collective The Heat Run takes the stage. Come April 18, singer-songwriter Talain Rayne takes his turn in the spotlight and finally, on April 25, The Swinging Foxes bring the group’s signature brand of soulful swing. All performers take two turns, at at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. on the the Kimmel Center pop-up stage.
• Street Fair: In the culminating event of the festival, PIFA shuts down Broad Street from Chestnut to South streets on April 27 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The free fair is set to transform the thoroughfare with an eight hour extravaganza of non-stop festivities ranging from street musicians and performers to food vendors and exhibitors. This year’s entertainment lineup will include classic carnival rides like a Ferris Wheel and Galleon, a number of grassy areas, a petting zoo, jungle gyms and tons more family-friendly activities.
PIFA’s Time Travel Plaza
When: Daily through April 27
Where: Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad Street
More info: www.pifa.org