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As this year draws to a close in Philadelphia, it’s time to reflect on the best and brightest of our beautiful city. More importantly, it’s time to start planning next year’s to-do list of who to see, where to go and what to do. The best place to start your 2012 to-do list is with a look back at the most noteworthy people, places and events of 2011.

Open in May of 2011, this promenade offers visitors and residents alike a beautiful view of the Ben Franklin Bridge and Delaware River with a bi-level design that almost hovers along the water. From the same people who brought the High Line to Manhattan and James Corner Field Operations, the Race Street Pier is a part of a new vision by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation. The park plays host to a plethora of concerts, movie screenings, festivals and other events.

Philadelphia Geek Awards

Taking place for the first time at the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Philadelphia Geek Awards brought out the city’s brightest and nerdiest for a round of geeky awards in August. With humorous and distinguished speakers, this event proves that making fun of the nerds in high school is a bad idea when they will one day be your boss – or own your company. The black tie event is also sure to draw some entertaining guests decked in geekalicious garb, like this year’s Professor Snape and R2D2 impersonators.

Philadelphia International Festival of Arts (PIFA)

philadelphiaflowershow 2011 Arts & Culture Rewind: Phillys Top People, Places and Events

(Photo Credit: theflowershow.com)

On the heels of the 2011 Parisian-themed Philadelphia Flower Show, PIFA presented almost a month of art, music and culture.  Inspired by the Kimmel Center, where most events took place, the festival featured Cirque du Soliel acrobatic lessons, a giant, lit Eiffel Tower, and many moments of artistic expression. It is scheduled to return for 2013.

Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe

The Philadelphia Live Arts Festival attracts internationally acclaimed performing arts groups to the city for just over two weeks of curated high culture performances. The Philly Fringe, on the other hand, is an open forum for new or established artists to present their work to the public without judgment and with total artistic freedom. This year, hundreds of performances went on citywide during the days of these two cooperative festivals, offering great opportunities to see experimental theater, dance, music and other performance arts on formal stages, street corners and any other “venue” imaginable.

The Roots

theroots 2011 Arts & Culture Rewind: Phillys Top People, Places and Events

(Photo Credit: Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

This year, the Roots performed multiple times in Philadelphia, (including the Roots Picnic and the Wawa Welcome America Fourth of July celebration), won at the Grammys and were honored with the announcement that the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program is commissioning a mural of the group. For the ensemble, the journey began not just in the city, but at the Philadelphia High School for Creative Performing Arts, and Mayor Michael Nutter even recognized their accomplishments in 2011. The Roots also represent Philadelphia as Philadelphia 360 Creative Ambassadors and continue to support the city’s creative scene.

Lindsay Lewis is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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