Philly plans celebrations and festivals

PHILADELPHIA -- This city will host a number of festivals and events this year that are being marketed by motorcoach firms.

The following is a rundown of three such events.

  • Philadelphia Open House, one of the largest series of house and garden tours in the U.S., will offer 39 tours from April 27 to May 21.
  • Behind-the-scenes tours survey private homes and clubs, public and private gardens and art collections and historical sites. This year, the program ventures into eclectic and unusual tours, including a museum of medical oddities, a tour of outdoor murals and a peek inside the city's historical boathouses.

    The Mutter Museum's Ghosts of Philadelphia tour is a tribute to 19th century medical advances and anatomical oddities. At the museum, clients can view an extensive skull collection and skeletons of a dwarf and giant as well as a cast from the bodies of Siamese twins.

    The tour proceeds to the city's historic district to explore "haunted" homes, churches and meeting places.

    The Boathouse Row and Fairmount Waterworks tour takes clients to the boathouses along the Schuylkill River. The tour provides an opportunity to explore the boathouses that are off limits to those who are not members of the city's exclusive rowing clubs.

    Tour prices range from $30 to $105 and include refreshments or a light meal. For a list of motorcoach operators marketing the event, call (215) 928-1188.

  • The Sunoco Welcome America festival, billed as the largest Independence Day celebration in the country, will take place from June 23 to July 4.
  • The 12-day celebration includes 80 free events. There will be fireworks, concerts, parades, evening outdoor film screenings, historic re-enactments and a 14-hour Fourth of July party.

    This year's festival will include a visit by more than 50 sailing vessels from around the world as part of OpSail Philadelphia 2000.

    The ships will be docked from June 23 to 29 at the cruise terminal at the Philadelphia Naval Business Center, along the Camden waterfront and at Penn's Landing. For a list of motorcoach operators marketing the event, call (215) 683-2200.

  • Longwood Gardens will host the Festival of Fountains from May 27 to Sept. 2.
  • The event includes illuminated fountains and music concerts. Daily visitor programs that include gardening demonstrations, plant walks and children's activities add to the festivities.

    Fireworks and fountains set to music from Tchaikovsky's "Sleeping Beauty" also are planned during the festival on three Friday evenings (July 14, and Aug. 11 and 25) and one Saturday evening (Sept. 9). For a list of motorcoach operators marketing the event, call (610) 388-1000, Ext. 513.

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