Welcome to the "Beyond the Bell" calendar page! As usual, there's always something special going on ...


November 2017

Now through December 31st

Franklin Square Holiday Festival

The free Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show presented by PECO is back! Franklin Square lights up nightly with the light of over 50,000 lights! The lights, accompanied by the recorded music of the Philly Pops, combine to create a series of alternating thirty-minute shows that will make the square a prime destination for everyone's holiday celebration.

Franklin Square
6th & Race Streets
4 - 8 p.m., to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
(Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day)
Electrical Spectacle

Starting Thursday, November 16th

Tippler's Tour: Cheers and Beers

After Halloween, the haunting spirits of the Tippler's Tour are put to rest and the spirit of the holiday season takes their place for the rest of the year. Raise a glass and celebrate Yuletide Cheers and Beers!

Tippler's Tour
departs from the Betsy Ross House
239 Arch Street
5:30 p.m.
Cheers and Beers

December 2017

Friday, December 1st

First Friday: Sci-Fi Radio Play

What if technology really could grant your every wish? In Ray Bradbury’s classic The Veldt, it happens – for better or for worse. First published in 1950, this classic science-fiction story has been adapted numerous times for radio, stage, and screen, and continues to serve as a cautionary tale for our hyperconnected world. Enjoy this special re-creation of an old fashioned radio play by The Mechanical Theater.

Chemical Heritage Foundation
315 Chestnut Street
5 p.m. - 8 p.m. (Presentation at 6)
First Friday at the Chemical Heritage Foundation

Thursday, December 7th

What're Words Worth?

Anyone can coin a phrase, but do you know what it takes to get a new word into the dictionary? Kory Stamper does. That's because she's a lexicographer at Merriam-Webster and she has just authored a new book called "Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries" revealing for all to read that the process of writing dictionaries is, in fact, as lively and dynamic as is language that is being defined itself. Enjoy her wit and irreverence. Signed copies of her book will be available for purchase. (The event is free, but reservations are required.)

American Philosophical Society
Benjamin Franklin Hall
427 Chestnut Street
5:30 p.m. reception, 6 p.m. lecture
Word by Word

Saturday, December 9th

Saturday Speaker: Preserving Ghost Towns?

Ghost towns are fascinating places. They give us a chance to travel back in time to experience the rowdy, boom-and-bust era of the Wild West, if only in our minds. Most are former mining camps. But we never experience ghost towns as they were in their heyday or as they would be today if left to the forces of nature. Instead, we encounter them in a carefully planned, often constructed, and constantly maintained state of arrested decay. Haverford College's Darin Hayton gives his thoughts on why we work so hard to preserve and commemorate ghost towns and their legacy of mining.

Chemical Heritage Foundation
315 Chestnut Street
11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Saturday Speakers at the Chemical Heritage Foundation

Tuesday, December 12th

Honoring Robert Ralston

The Pennsylvania Bible Society invites everyone to attend and participate in a celebration to honor the life, legacy, and inspiration of its founder, Robert Ralston, colonial, merchant, church elder, and philanthropist. This event will be hosted by the Presbyterian Historical Society. Socializing begins at 5:30 with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. The presentation follows at 6:30. Receive your free ticket by going to

Pennsylvania Bible Society
Presbyterian Historical Society
Presbyterian Historical Society
425 Lombard Street
5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

January 2018

Thursday, January 18th

Thomas Jefferson and Liberty

Looking spry for 275, the American Philosophical Society kicks off another year with a lecture by John B. Boles, whose new book is a celebrated biography of none other than Thomas Jefferson. TJ would also be 275 this year. How's he looking these days? Well, in his day, as Boles will no doubt tell you, Jefferson was not only a politician, but also a political thinker, architect, scientist, bibliophile, paleontologist, musician, and gourmet. With such versatility, is it any wonder we're so fond of him around here? (Free, but reservations are required.)

American Philosophical Society
Benjamin Franklin Hall
427 Chestnut Street
5:30 reception, 6 p.m. lecture
TJ and Liberty

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.