University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Celebrating the Persian New Year – Saturday, March 30

PHILADELPHIA – Developed and presented in partnership with the Shabahang Iranian Cultural Society of America and the Middle East Center at the University of Pennsylvania, the Penn Museum will celebrate spring with CultureFest! Nowruz, Saturday, March 30, from 1:00 – 8:00 pm.

Part of the Penn Museum’s new CultureFest! series, which features family friendly activities in the afternoons and adult-focused programming in the evenings, Nowruz, or “new day” in Persian, is an ancient festival that marks the beginning of spring, a season of rebirth, and good luck in the Persian New Year.

Images of performers dancing

Nowruz has its beginnings in Zoroastrianism, an ancient Persian religion that traces its roots to long before the rise of Christianity or Islam. Observed by millions of people in the Middle East, Central and South Asia, southeastern Europe, Africa, and other locations around the globe, Nowruz varies from region to region, but it all begins with an intense “spring cleaning” of the home.

In the afternoon, families will enjoy:

  • cultural performances from the Silk Road Dance Company
  • art making, including “egg” decorating and “goldfish” designs
  • storytelling with Arsia Rozegar, the author of Shahnameh for Kids
  • brief “flash talks” with researchers about topics like “Iran in the 21st Century”
  • tours of the Middle East Galleries featuring a Global Guide originally from Iraq or Syria
  • choir performances from the Turkish American Friendship Society of the U.S.
  • a calligraphy-for-beginners workshop
  • and a bazaar with vendors selling art, snacks, henna tattoos, and much more.

These activities are included with Museum admission.

After 5:00, CultureFest! Nowruz continues with adult-focused programs, including a DJ set from Yavaran, a moniker for musician and producer Kamyar Jarahzadeh, and cocktails until 8:00 pm. Admission is $15.

“The ‘After 5’ portion of the festival is a great way to come together to share music and cocktails before hitting the town for a late dinner,” says Kate Quinn, Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs. “We are thrilled to co-develop the Nowruz Festival events with our friends and colleagues at Shabahang and the Middle East Center. Programs like CultureFest! embody part of the Penn Museum’s purpose – to create a platform for shared understanding of the human experience.”


Photos: Silk Road Dance Company by Yanping Wang, Silk Road Dance Company by Angela N., Yavaran

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