10 Great Reasons to Visit Pennsylvania in 2016

10 Great Reasons to Visit Pennsylvania in 2016

Now that 2016 is here, I thought I’d put together a list of some of the biggest events and milestones happening all throughout the year. These are the types of events that only come around once and are definitely worth planning an entire trip around. Whether you like new attractions, cultural events, or even politics, there is something great going on in 2016 that you are sure to love.

Scroll down to see the list and start planning your 2016 travels today!

100th PA Farm Show in Harrisburg – January 9-16

The Pennsylvania Farm Show Butter Sculpture

The butter sculpture at the Pennsylvania Farm Show is always a popular feature.

One of the biggest events every year is the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg. The country’s largest indoor agricultural event is held every January and attracts over half a million visitors during the eight-day event.

Visitors come from all around for the competitions, livestock events, shows, food, and shopping. Even if you aren’t into agricultural fairs, there is enough going on to interest everyone. For more information about the 2016 Pennsylvania Farm Show, check out their website.

200th Anniversary of the A.M.E. Church in Philadelphia – April 7-9, July 3-13

Founded in Philadelphia in 1816, the African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E) will be celebrating their bicentennial in 2016. Many of the celebratory events will be held in Philadelphia at Mother Bethel AME Church. Celebrations are planned for both April and July, and include a gospel concert, historical reenactments, forums, tributes to the church’s founders, and a denominational conference.

More information on the planned events can be found on the A.M.E. website.

275th Anniversary of Bethlehem – April 16 – December 31

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, will be celebrating their 275th anniversary in 2016.

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, will be celebrating its 275th anniversary in 2016.

2016 marks the 275th anniversary of the city of Bethlehem in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. Founded in 1741, Bethlehem is one of the oldest cities in Pennsylvania and will be celebrating its anniversary in a big way in 2016.

Things kick off on April 16 with the Anniversary Ball at the historic Hotel Bethlehem. The event is not only certain to be a fun time, but will also recognize the history of the city. Other events are being planned throughout the year and will be announced soon. Details about all of the events can be found on

Opening of the Scripture Rocks Heritage Park in Brookville – May

The Scripture Rocks in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, will open to the public in 2016

The Scripture Rocks in Jefferson County will open to the public in 2016 (Photo used courtesy of the Jefferson County History Center)

The Jefferson County borough of Brookville is in the process of opening one of the state’s most unusual outdoor attractions: The Scripture Rocks. Designed by local widower Douglas Stahlman over 100 years ago, the rocks feature different verses of Biblical scripture. The Heritage Park features over 60 of these inscribed rocks, along with the area that contained Stahlman’s cabin and chapel.

Up until recently, the land that contained these rocks was private property. However, the Jefferson County Historical Society has worked to make the area open to the public to showcase the rocks and preserve them for future generations.

More information on the rocks and when they will be open to the public can be found on their website.

2016 US Open at the Oakmont Country Club – June 13-19

Last year, the US Women’s Open was held at the Lancaster Country Club, and in 2016, the men will be competing at the Oakmont Country Club near Pittsburgh. This will mark the ninth time the US Open has been held at Oakmont, and the 19th major golf tournament in total.

Considered one of the best courses in the country, the best golfers in the world will converge on the Pittsburgh suburbs in mid-July to battle it out to see who comes out victorious. Those wishing to attend the tournament can find out more information here.

Bicentennial Bash in Pittsburgh – July 8-9

Pittsburgh will be celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2016.

Pittsburgh will be celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2016.

While it was founded decades earlier, Pittsburgh officially became a city in April 1816. To celebrate the city’s bicentennial, Pittsburgh will have six major events throughout the year. The largest celebration will occur during the first full weekend of July and will feature several parties and a parade. Events will also take place on March 18, in mid-November, and on December 31, 2016, to celebrate the city’s bicentennial.

More information on the bicentennial events can be found on or Visit Pittsburgh.

Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia – July 25-28

Whether you love them or hate them, there’s no denying that the Democratic National Convention will be bringing a lot of visitors and attention to Philadelphia this summer. This is actually the tenth time a major political party has held their national nominating convention in Philly (most recently, the Republicans visited in 2000).

If you aren’t planning to attend (or protest) the convention, it might be best to stay away from Center City Philadelphia from July 25-28, but if you are going to be in the city during this time period, there is sure to be a lot of amazing things going on.

Keep up to date with convention plans here.

100th Anniversary of the National Park Service – August 25

Independence Hall is one of the many National Park Service sites in Pennsylvania.

Independence Hall is one of the many National Park Service sites in Pennsylvania.

2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, and there is sure to be a lot going on at the 18 sites in Pennsylvania run by the National Park Service. From the natural beauty of the Delaware Water Gap to the history of Independence Hall, Pennsylvania has a wide range of National Park Service sites that are worth visiting in 2016.

While specific events haven’t been listed yet, there is sure to be something going on at every National Park Service site in the state. For more information on these sites, visit the National Park Service’s website.

Tall Ships Festival in Erie – September 8-11

For the first time since 2013, the Tall Ships Festival will be returning to Erie this coming September. These historic sailing ships, like Erie’s own Brig Niagara, give visitors a great chance to learn more about the history of sailing on the Great Lakes.

Up to 10 tall ships will be participating in the festival, and there are plans to have some available for public sailings through the bay. In addition to the ships, there will also be many vendors and food options. More information can be found on the Tall Ships Festival’s website.

275th anniversary of York

Just like Bethlehem, York, Pennsylvania, will be celebrating its 275th anniversary in 2016. The city that served as the United States capital city for about 10 months during the Revolutionary War has much to celebrate during this special year. Plans include roughly 30 events throughout the year, though it doesn’t appear that they are having any major events to mark the milestone.

Information on the schedule events can be found here.

Do you know of any once-in-a-lifetime celebrations or special anniversaries occurring in Pennsylvania in 2016? Let us know about them in the comments section below.

AUTHOR - Jim Cheney

Jim Cheney is the creator of Based in the state capital of Harrisburg, Jim frequently travels around Pennsylvania and has visited all 67 counties in the state. Jim has also traveled to more than 30 different countries around the world.

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