17 MAY 2017: Freedom has never looked or tasted so good. Representatives from Visit Philadelphia stopped by Toronto last week. They brought along acclaimed Philly chef Sylva Senat and talented artist James Burns from Mural Arts Philadelphia to spread the good word on all things Philadelphia. The event for media was held appropriately enough at the renowned Gardiner Museum. Philadelphia’s and Toronto’s museum community have very close ties.  

Meryl Levitz, president & CEO of Visit Philadelphia made it loud and clear that, despite the political situation in the US, Canadians are very welcome in Philadelphia. Canada, Levitz says, represents the city’s largest inbound market with 527,000 visitors in 2015 (latest stats available.)

Levitz emphasized a few key attributes that would definitely appeal to Canadians including: no sales tax on clothing and shoes, only a short 90 minute flight from Toronto or leisurely seven to eight hour drive, and more than 300 BYOB restaurants with many located in Center City (downtown).

Anyone who has stayed in a major city knows hotel parking especially downtown can cost up to $50/day. When converting our Canadian dollar to US currency that can mean even more. Levitz announced that more than 35 Philly hotels are offering a Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package (http://www.visitphilly.com/articles/philadelphia/philly-overnight-hotel-package/). This package provides free hotel parking, free bike share passes, a free PHLASH bus pass, a free Uber ride (up to $10 value) and SugarHouse Casino Dine and Play Experience.

Levitz introduced Sylva Senat, executive chef of Maison 208 restaurant in Philadelphia. The Haitian born and French speaking chef has trained and worked at some of the top restaurants in New York before settling in Philadelphia. He is part of a new generation of top chefs creating a culinary renaissance with numerous restaurants opening up from fine dining to bistro style. His new Maison 208 restaurant will feature an 80-foot mural created by local residents and artists.

James Burns, an artist at Mural Arts Philadelphia, spoke about the purpose and events in the Mural Arts programme. Murals are being painted across the city to help beautify neighbourhoods but more importantly create a sense of community and inclusion where everyone, no matter their artistic talent, can get involved.

Various projects have been undertaken to showcase the diversity of the community but also embrace its commonalities.

One of the biggest projects to date - Monument Lab - will be taking place September 16-November 19, 2017. It is a comprehensive city-wide public art and history project featuring more than 20 artists including artist Duane Linklater, a Cree artist from North Bay. Temporary monuments created by the various artists will appear in public spaces along with interactive pop-up “laboratories” for discussions amongst the public and arts community.

Philadelphia has always been known as a vibrant arts community with the world famous Barnes Foundation housing one of the finest and most extensive collection of impressionist and post-impressionist works by Picasso, Matisse and Renoir. Many special cultural events are happening this year in Philadelphia which Levitz says would be appeal to Canadians of various interests.

Museum of the American Revolution: This is Philadelphia’s newest museum which just opened in April 2017. The museum features exhibitions and artifacts from the Revolution including General Washington’s original headquarters tent.

Brandywine River Museum of Art: This museum presents the most extensive exploration of famed artist Andrew Wyeth since 1973. The Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect exhibition will display more than 100 of Wyeth’s works from June 24-September 17, 2017.

Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor: The Franklin Institute hosts a travelling exhibition of this amazing archaeological find and reveals the secrets behind the 2,000 year old army of the clay statues discovered in China in 1974. This will be the only East Coast USA appearance and runs from September 30, 2017-March 4, 2018.

Benjamin Franklin Parkway Centennial: Often described as Philadelphia’s Champs-Elysées, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway celebrates its centennial this fall with 100 events of Parkway 100. The grand parkway lined with museums along the corridor will feature performances, plein-air painting and art lessons storytelling, floral dome sculptures, and other activities from September 8, 2017 to November 16, 2018.

The Art of Distilling: Concocting spirits is a growing trend in Philadelphia. Due to recent liquor law changes distillers are now able to offer tours, samples and conduct onsite sales. Philadelphia is becoming a centre for distillers to develop and sell their products. If your tastes are more suited to craft beer, Philadelphia has more than a dozen microbreweries ready to serve you.

With its history, arts, architecture and eclectic culinary scene Philadelphia is ready to welcome Canadians “With Love”.

For further info: http://www.visitphilly.com/


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Chris Ryall

An industry insider with strong, outspoken opinions that readers enjoy, whether they agree, or take issue with his point of view.

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