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This has been the jewel of the Philadelphia culture scene since it opened in 1857. The simple brick Federalist exterior opens into an ornate interior—art deco lamps, velvet cushions, and possibly the largest chandelier on the East Coast. The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pennsylvania Ballet, the opera and the occasional pop show have performed at the academy. There is some criticism about the acoustics and sight lines, but none of this matters. This is where the big shows are.
The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts is the new home of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Accommodated within the center is Verizon Hall for orchestral presentations, the Perelman Theater for chamber music concerts, Innovation Studio and the Merck Arts Education Center. A variety of Philadelphia's performing arts groups serve as resident companies, presenting their artistry each season along with performances by visiting guest artists and ensembles.
Sit on the sloping lawn or in the reserved boxes under the high shed awning. Pick up a drink or some food from the stalls by the back fence—everything from hot dogs to a full-course salmon dinner served by waiters. This outdoor stage is the summer home to the Philadelphia Orchestra, plus a schedule of jazz, rock, big band, the Philly Pops, opera, theatre, and dance. The acoustics can be unreliable and Philadelphia's erratic weather can be a problem, but you can sit in Fairmount Park, hear a good show, and look at the soft night lights of the downtown skyline.