What We’re Looking Forward to in Philly in 2021

Things are looking up already.

What a decade 2020 has been. In a year where so much has changed—for better and for, uh, not better—there’s only so much reflection we can do. Instead, let’s look to the future. A 2021 where things aren’t so dire and semblances of Philadelphia, old and new, emerge from the fiery hellscape that was 2020. With the highest hopes and best intentions, here’s what we’re looking forward to in Philly next year, from the return of live music (fingers crossed!) to new spins on storied institutions.

Museums to reopen

The Barnes Foundation, the Mutter Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Franklin Institute—how we have missed you! The citywide shutdown on museums has left our artistic and educational centers shuttered in the new year and we can’t wait to wander the galleries at the Penn Museum (Sphinx, we’re looking at you), to marvel at dinosaur fossils at the Academy of Natural Sciences, and explore Revolutionary War relics at the Museum of the American Revolution. In the meantime, we can get our fill virtually through digital tours and events.

Cheering on Philly’s pro sports teams in person

For a brief second this fall (about a month) a limited number of fans were allowed into Lincoln Financial Field for Eagles games, but as COVID-19 cases skyrocketed in November, the city put the kibosh on that plan. Will 2021 be the year some amount of spectators fill the seats at the Linc, Citizens Bank Park, Wells Fargo Center, and Subaru Park? A city with sports fans as impassioned as ours waits with bated breath.

Fireworks for the Fourth of July

While 2020 saw its fair share of unsanctioned neighborhood fireworks throughout the spring and summer, we were without a giant pyrotechnics show at the Art Museum this Independence Day. The city’s plans for Fourth of July 2021 remain to be seen, but we’re hopeful an ornate fireworks display is in the cards this year.

Seeing a show in one of Philly’s famed music venues

Nearly a year since the pandemic shuttered live music venues, seeing a show feels like a fever dream. There are few things that sound more enjoyable than a night spent at Johnny Brenda’s, grabbing a pre-show drink downstairs, then heading upstairs for a set from your favorite acts you truly haven’t seen in forever. Fingers crossed 2021 is the year venues like Union Transfer, PhilaMOCA, Underground Arts, and World Cafe Live welcome concertgoers back into their midst.

The (official) re-opening of Bridget Foy’s

After a fire destroyed the South Street mainstay in 2017, Bridget Foy’s is on the brink of reopening. Slated to open their doors in February or March, the restaurant will serve American comfort food, like burgers, wings, and mac and cheese. But until then, you can swing by the restaurant and grab some of its familiar fare at the East Philly Cafe Pop-up by Bridget Foy’s, featuring comfort food for takeout and outdoor dining with burgers, mac and cheese and chili.

Visiting a new museum on Independence Mall

Adding to the rich historic institutions that sit along Independence Mall is the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center, set to open this spring at 5th and Market Streets. Through film, interactive media, imagery, and artifacts, visitors will learn about the relationship between faith and liberty within America’s founding and history.

Spring and summer festival season—no matter how they look this year

Spring festival season is a special time in Philly: The weather is warming, the days get longer, everyone wants to drink beer in the street. The pandemic forced the cancelation of the usual spring and summer celebrations in Philly: South Street Spring Festival, Roots Picnic, Philly Pride Parade and Festival. While we might not have a full slate of seasonal festivals this year, we’re looking forward to the potential of al fresco socializing on closed city streets.

The first-ever outdoor Philadelphia Flower Show

Usually held in late February or early March at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Philadelphia Flower Show will take place outdoors for the first time ever in its nearly 200-year history. Taking place this year in June at JFK Park in South Philly, the show will follow the theme of “Habitat: Nature’s Masterpiece,” so expect lush displays and floral designs to punctuate the sprawling park.

The opening of Live! Casino & Hotel

The stadium area is set to get a little more crowded in 2021 when the Live! Casino and Hotel opens early next year on Packer Avenue. The casino will boast more than 150 table games and over 2,000 slot machines on which to try your luck. Some hotel rooms will offer prime views of the sports stadiums, others of the skyline. As for the eats, chow down at Guy Fieri’s Taco Joint, Guy’s Burger Joint, Lorenzo and Sons Pizza, Sangkee Noodle Bar and Kitchen, Termini Bros., and Luk Fu Noodles and Dim Sum.

Completion of the Delaware River Central Trail

By now you’ve noticed the construction on Columbus Boulevard between Spring Garden and Spruce Street. Well, that’s to make way for a segment of the multi-use Delaware River Central Trail that will be completed by fall and connect to completed segments south and north. The goal is to create a trail that runs the length of the Delaware River waterfront, accommodating walkers, joggers, and cyclists. When it’s completed, the 3.4-mile trail will provide non-motorists with easy access to hotspots like Spruce Street Harbor Park, Race Street Pier, and Washington Avenue Pier.

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Allie Volpe is a writer based in Philadelphia. She hasn't slept in days. Follow her on Twitter: @allieevolpe.
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