Philly celebrates the civil rights leader — plus more things to do over the long weekend, January 14-16, 2023…
ABOVE PHOTO: National Constitution Center — Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia
Each year, Philadelphia honors Martin Luther King Jr. with a day of service and an extended weekend of events celebrating the life and legacy of the iconic civil rights leader.
For 2023, Philadelphia museums and attractions — including the Museum of the American Revolution, the National Constitution Center and Eastern State Penitentiary — hold special events, programs and workshops to shed light on King’s legacy.
Volunteers can also find service opportunities during the Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service taking place on Monday, January 16, 2023.
Plus, the long weekend offers residents and visitors opportunities to enjoy outdoor winter fun at Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest, Dilworth Park and Franklin Square; meal deals during the ever-popular Center City District Restaurant Week and special exhibitions, including Matisse in the 1930s at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Extend the fun by booking the Visit Philly Overnight Package, which includes free hotel parking (valued at up to $100), a comfy bed you don’t have to make, and for the first time ever, pick-your-own perks to level up your stay in the City of Brotherly Love.
Below are our top picks for Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Philadelphia for 2023, along with an array of other events and activities to enjoy over the long weekend from January 14-16, 2023.
Note: Events are arranged in chronological order by section, starting with events that are ongoing.
Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend at the Museum of the American Revolution
January 14-16, 2023
A weekend of special programming at the Museum of the American Revolution is anchored by a Saturday performance from the Philadelphia Jazz Project. Wait Means Never: A Musical Exploration of MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail combines singing, instrumental music and spoken word to reflect on the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Other weekend highlights include daily gallery talks about voting rights, conversations about protest movements in early America and first-person performances portraying the life of Elizabeth Freeman, a formerly enslaved woman whose 1781 lawsuit helped to end slavery in Massachusetts. All programming is included in regular museum admission.
Where: Museum of the American Revolution, 101 S. 3rd Street
Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service
Monday, January 16, 2023
What better way to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. than by lending a hand in a service project? This year marks the 28th annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service. Volunteers can sign up for one of the dozens of in-person service projects happening throughout the region, including meal prep and food distribution initiatives, community cleanups, and literacy programs.
Where: Locations throughout Greater Philadelphia
Martin Luther King Day of Service at Bartram’s Garden
Monday, January 16, 2023 | 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Help beautify one of the city’s largest public gardens and historic landmarks during this two-hour service activity in Southwest Philadelphia. The event is helpful in prepping the community space for springtime plantings and activities.
Where: Bartram’s Garden, 5400 Lindbergh Boulevard
Uhuru Furniture & Collectibles’ 26th Annual MLK Day Event
Monday, January 16, 2023 | 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
This annual event — organized by the African People’s Education and Defense Fund — pairs reflection with direct action, with screenings of speeches made by civil rights leaders, live drum circles and spoken word poetry. The event is free, but registration is encouraged.
Where: Uhuru Furniture & Collectibles, 832 N. Broad Street
Free Admission to The African American Museum in Philadelphia for Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Monday, January 16, 2023 | 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
The African American Museum in Philadelphia celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day with free admission for all visitors on Monday, January 16, 2023, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition to the museum’s regular programming, Teana Sykes, financial consultant and founder of the local financial literacy group Tea Talk, is on hand to host interactive financial literacy activities for children and their families from 2-3:30 p.m.
Where: The African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street
Free Admission to the National Constitution Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Monday, January 16, 2023 | 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Enjoy free admission and extended hours at the National Constitution Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Special programming includes two readings of MLK’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech at 11:45 a.m. and 1:45 p.m., family-friendly concerts featuring songs from the civil rights era, and arts and craft activity tables in the grand hall lobby.
Where: National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Eastern State Penitentiary
Monday, January 16, 2023 | 11 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.
This free all-ages event at Philly’s historic Eastern State Penitentiary commemorates Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy with special emphasis on his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” an open letter he penned while incarcerated in 1963. Throughout the day, guest speakers read excerpts from the letter and other monumental texts written by civil rights leaders. From noon to 2 p.m., kids can participate in special storytime circles and hands-on activities.
Where: Eastern State Penitentiary, 2027 Fairmount Avenue
The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Concert at Girard College Chapel
Monday, January 16, 2023 | 3 p.m.
Lift every voice and sing! Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin and musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestra are joined by choirs from Girard College High School and Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts for this annual tribute concert. The afternoon program features works from Black composers and excerpts from speeches made by Martin Luther King Jr. The concert is free, but reserved tickets are required.
Where: Girard College Chapel, 2101 S. College Avenue