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A Japanese festival, hippo birthday, historical tours, playgrounds & gardens, fairytales & more

Kimono dressing is among the demonstrations planned during the Cherry Blossom Festival, March 5-April 17.

Kimono dressing is among the demonstrations planned during the Cherry Blossom Festival, March 5-April 17.

Check out what's new for families in March!

Attractions and Tours

Pennsylvania

The 2010 Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia kicks off March 5. The city-wide celebration, which continues through April 17, celebrates spring and Japanese culture with workshops, performances and family fun at various attractions. Listen to Japanese stories at local libraries, participate in traditional tea ceremonies and enjoy crafts & cooking workshops. Japanese Culture Week, March 23-March 26 at Liberty Place in Center City, features lunchtime martial arts, origami, calligraphy and kimono dressing demonstrations. Mark your calendars for the Festival’s key celebration, Sakura Sunday, April 11 in Fairmount Park.

The Ride the Ducks sightseeing tours re-open for the 2010 season on March 6. On a Duck tour, families can learn about famous Philadelphia sites and history on a street tour, then splash into the Delaware River on the specially-designed vehicle. “Wacky Quaker” noisemakers are included with every tour.

Franklin Square in Philadelphia also re-opens for the season, March 26. The playground and park features Philly Mini Golf, the Liberty Carousel and SquareBurger restaurant.

Kids can make-and-take crafts daily at the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia, March 27-April 10. All month long, visitors to the House can meet a Betsy Ross re-enactor and see the exhibit Recovering the Past: The Upholstery Trade in Colonial Philadelphia.

South Jersey

Celebrate Button the hippo's birthday at Adventure Aquarium, March 27-April 11.The Camden Children’s Garden re-opens for the spring on March 20. Highlights of the Garden are a butterfly house, a carousel and storybook-themed gardens.

Button the Hippo turns 13 at the Adventure Aquarium in Camden this month. The Aquarium celebrates March 27-April 11 with festive decorations, arts & crafts activities, a dance party and character visits. Guests can also feast on birthday cake (and watch Button enjoy her own special cake), sing “happy birthday” to Button and write messages on Button’s birthday wall. Free with admission, $17.95-$21.95. $2 off admission coupons available at participating Wendy’s restaurants.

Delaware

Winterthur Museum & Country Estate re-opens for the spring season on March 9. The re-opening features the launch of a new exhibit, Flower Power: Floral Artistry at Winterthur, which highlights the floral designs of Henry Francis du Pont. Winterthur and nearby Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA are offering a Twice As Nice admission special, March 9-April 30. You can visit both Winterthur & Longwood for $20, which includes a guided tour of the Winterthur mansion.

Exhibits

Pennsylvania

Horenstein's quirky animal photos are on display at the Academy of Natural Sciences, March 13-May 16.The National Constitution Center and National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia celebrate Women’s History Month in March. Daily programs at the Constitution Center include a look at the role of women in Ancient Rome & early America, as well as famous females from Philadelphia. Visitors to the Liberty Museum can go on self-guided tours to learn about Mother Teresa, Oprah Winfrey, Rosa Parks & other famous women of past and present.

Black-and-white animal photographs by Henry Horenstein will be on display at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia during Looking at Animals, March 13-May 16. Alongside the exhibit, naturalists present daily talks with live animals, including birds & reptiles. Free with admission, $10-$12.

Original illustrations from award-winning children’s stories are on view at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, PA during Drawing from a Story: Illustrations by Selected Caldecott Medal Winners, March 20-May 23. Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are), Robert McCloskey (Make Way for Ducklings) & David Weisner (Three Little Pigs) are among the illustrators featured. Free with admission, $6-$10. Kids can receive free admission by reading Caldecott Medal-winning books. Visit www.brandywinemuseum.org for details.

The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia launches two new continuing exhibits on March 27. Discover the earth’s atmosphere, become a greenhouse gas and create weather in Changing Earth, an eco-focused exhibit. Electricity will be re-vamped so visitors can engage in hands-on experiments, including building basic circuits, using cell phones to transmit signals and stepping on a dance floor that emits electric sparks. Free with admission, $12-$14.75.

Two area historical sites launch new exhibits this month. On March 14, Pennsbury Manor in Morrisville, PA debuts an exhibit that will feature an original William Penn artifact and other historical items. A new exhibit So Long and Toilsome a Journey: Transportation in Colonial Pennsylvania runs March 6-Jan. 30, 2011 at Pottsgrove Manor in Pottstown, PA.

Performances

Pennsylvania

Get your groove on with the Groovaloos, March 9-14 at the Merriam Theater.The Hedgerow Theatre in Media, PA continues its Saturday children’s series. Snow White & the Little People continues through March 27 at 1:30pm, while Charlotte’s Web runs March 6-April 17, 11am. Kids can enjoy juice & cookies with the cast following each show. $9-$11.

See The Frog Prince, an original musical by Storybook Musical Theatre, at the Mitchell Performing Arts Center in Bryn Athyn, PA, March 2-14. $10-$12.

Programs II & III of the Pennsylvania Ballet 2009-2010 season are performed this month at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia: The Four Temperaments and Carmina Burana, March 4-13, and a series set to the music of Chopin (The Crossed Line, In The Night and The Concert), March 13-14. $24-$129.

The Groovaloos, a hip-hop/freestyle dance troupe, bring their high-energy Groovaloo tour to the Merriam Theater in Philadelphia, March 9-14. $25-$59.50.

The Marple Newtown Players present Doo Wop Wed Widing Hood, a ’50s musical twist on the fairytale Little Red Riding Hood, March 12-21, at the Gauntlett Community Center, West Chester Pike & Media Line Rd., Newtown Square, PA. $7-$8.

Family Stages presents Puss in Boots, a children’s play about an adventurous and fashion-conscious kitty this month. See the show in Trappe, PA at Augustus Lutheran Church, March 14-16, or in Oreland, PA, at Christ’s Lutheran Church, March 21-23. $8.

Go on an adventure under the sea with the Act 3 Children's Theatre Company of DeSales University in Center Valley, PA. The Little Mermaid runs March 23-May 8. $8.

Join Simba and friends in the hit Broadway musical The Lion King, on stage at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, March 23-April 24.

Walnut Street Theatre's musical for kids, How I Became a Pirate, based on the book by Melinda Long & David Shannon, runs March 26-April 10. $10-$14.

South Jersey

See a pop-rock musical version of Mark Twain’s classic novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at the Kelsey Theatre at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor, March 12-21. $12-$16.

The Discovery Theatre at the Garden State Discovery Museum in Cherry Hill presents Strega Nona, the story of a witch who uses her magical spells to help a village, March 27-April 10. Kids can also participate in an Italian tile-painting art project related to the show. Free with admission, $9.95.

Delaware

Clear Space Productions presents Fiddler on the Roof at the Cape Henlopen Theatre in Lewes & Schwartz Center for the Arts in Dover, March 11-27. The classic musical features a 40-person multigenerational cast. $5-$25.

See Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita on stage at the New Candlelight Dinner Theatre in Ardentown, March 12-April 24. The performance includes a dinner buffet. $32-$55.

Stephanie Halinski is calendar editor of MetroKids.

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