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Guide To The Philadelphia International Festival Of The Arts (PIFA) 2011

Ahh, Paris. Aptly nicknamed 'The City of Light.' Unofficially, also known as the city of love, fashion, food and le artiste.

This spring, enjoy Paris right here in Philadelphia at the Parisian-themed Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts. With three weeks of fun, fabulous, French-themed performances and events, you don't have to go far for a taste of French culture…with more than a little Philly-style, of course. –Chelsea Karnash

When: April 7 – May 1, 2011

What: The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, or PIFA, is a three week long celebration of arts and culture in the City of Brotherly Love. The festival spotlights fashion, photography, music, theater, fine arts and more, and features many one-time-only shows and events.

Why: PIFA is inspired by the Kimmel Center and Philly resident and philanthropist Leonore Annenberg, who dreamed of the city hosting a large-scale arts festival. Before her death in 2009, Annenberg set aside a grant to ensure her dream would be realized.

Theme: The theme of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts was inspired by the surge of creativity centered on Paris in the early 20th century. From 1910-1920, the city received an influx of artists, writers, dancers and creative thinkers, inspiring a new generation of visual arts, literature and theater. And, like early 20th century Paris, PIFA seeks to espouse a new generation of art and creativity here in Philadelphia.

Event Info: PIFA is set to feature over 100 performances and 1500 artists. Highlights include a first-time-together-ever performance by The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Pennsylvania Ballet, a French-themed concert by The Roots, and the opportunity to learn how to fly the trapeze on the Avenue of the Arts—courtesy of the talented aerialists slated to swing from the Kimmel Center's ceilings throughout the festival. Shows and events run the gamut from Jerry Blavat DJ-ing and cooking classes for kids, to speakers on the historical significance of Paris in the early 20th century and orchestral performances of Stravinsky's music by the Kennett Orchestra. Oh, and don't forget the 81-foot light-up Eiffel Tower replica located inside the Kimmel Center Plaza, or the seemingly endless food and (French) wine tastings happening every day of the festival.

For a full list of PIFA events organized by category, click here.

PIFA Opening Night Gala: Celebrate the opening night of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts with a dual-performance of Stravinsky's Pulcinella by the PA Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Additionally, the Opening Night Gala will feature dinner by Wolfgang Puck in honor of Philadelphia Chef Georges Perrier, a pre-dessert acrobatic performance by Grounded Aerial, cocktails and the lighting of the Kimmel Center's Eiffel Tower. Tickets for the performance and black-tie gala are $750, and tickets to the 40-and-under "Next Generation" concert and dinner are $250, but you can also get tickets to the concert itself for $15-139. Click here for more info.

PIFA Fashion Show: Couldn't make it to Paris for Fashion Week? Me either. But on April 8th, PIFA will host its own Parisian-style runway show, featuring nine top local designers and the city's best student designers. They'll showcase their wearable art on a 60-foot runway, and Philadelphia native and couture designer Ralph Rucci will receive the Visionary Award for Fashion. Tickets are $25-100. Click here for more info.

Gallery Night: On Friday, April 15th, make your way to as many city galleries as you can for free admission, light fare and beautiful and interesting artwork. For a list of participating galleries, click here.

PIFA Street Fair: The Avenue of the Arts will be transformed into a Parisian street fair on Saturday, April 30th, from 11 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. With vendors, a giant ferris wheel on Broad Street, a children's garden and live music and performances, the fair is sure to be a spectacular end to the festival's events. Bonus: the street fair is free! Click here for more info.

Tickets: While some performances are free, others require tickets. Tickets are available online at You can also call 215-546-PIFA (7432) between the hours of 9 a.m. – 8 p.m., or visit the Kimmel Center Box Office, which is located at 300 S. Broad St. and is open from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. (with extended hours on show nights).

Special ticket packages are available here.

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