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Family-Friendly Holiday Events

Kids enjoy the holiday season with Philadelphia’s family-friendly events and performances

Holiday Traditions

Comcast Holiday Spectacular

Dates: November 28, 2013-January 1, 2014

It’s year six for Philadelphia’s high-tech holiday show, The Comcast Holiday Spectacular, shown on The Comcast Experience video wall, one of the world’s highest resolution LED displays, in the lobby of the 58-story Comcast Center. Set to the music of a 64-piece orchestra, this year’s show includes new scenes featuring Olympic-caliber ice skaters and performers from the Walnut Street Theatre. The free 15-minute show occurs at the top of the hour, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. (except 5 p.m. on weekdays).

Macy’s Christmas Light Show

Dates: November 29-December 31

A Philadelphia tradition since 1956, the Christmas Light Show at Macy’s in Center City illuminates a large wall inside the Wanamaker building, a National Historic Landmark, with almost 100,000 LED lights and finishes with sounds from the Wanamaker Organ.

Franklin Square’s Electrical Spectacle

Dates: November 14-December 31

The holiday magic at Ben Franklin’s namesake park begins with the new Franklin Square’s Electrical Spectacle – A Holiday Light Show, featuring a 10-foot-tall kite made of lights that sparkle and spread the glow to lights throughout the square. The show runs every 30 minutes between 4:30 and 8 p.m., weather permitting.

Pennsylvania Ballet presents The Nutcracker

Dates: December 7-29

A beloved holiday tradition, Pennsylvania Ballet presents George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ at the Academy of Music. Audiences can follow Marie and her prince through a glistening snowy forest into the kingdom of the Sugarplum Fairy, while enjoying the sounds of The Philadelphia Boys Choir.

A number of additional activities surround this annual extravaganza including special events, family-friendly parties and the brand-new Nutcracker Market at the Kimmel Center (December 7-8)

Sister Cities Park Winterfest

Dates: December 7, 14, 21

Celebrate the arrival of the holidays on Logan Square during Sister Cities Park Winterfest. Held on Saturdays starting December 7, the family-friendly holiday celebration features fun arts and crafts activities, holiday pop-up shops, hot chocolate and even a special visit from Santa.

Christmas at Adventure Aquarium

Dates: November 29, 2013-January 1, 2014

Enjoy the magic of the holiday season during Adventure Aquarium’s Christmas Celebration! Get into the yuletide spirit with Scuba Santa and his elves, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer — and, of course, plenty of sharks, fish and sea turtles!

Fairmount Park Holiday Tours

Dates: December 4-15

The long-anticipated restorations of the elegant Strawberry Mansion and Cedar Grove are complete, and visitors can see the results during the annual Fairmount Park Holiday Tours. From December 4-15, visitors can embark on tours of Cedar Grove, Mount Pleasant, Laurel Hill, Lemon Hill, Strawberry Mansion and Woodford Mansion. Visitors who prefer a self-guided or a trolley tour can do just that from December 5-8 and December 12-15. The trolley tours show off three houses in the morning and three different houses in the afternoon.

Enchanted Colonial Village at the Please Touch Museum

Date: November 16, 2013 – January 2, 2014
Location: Please Touch Museum® at Memorial Hall

The Enchanted Colonial Village, which graced the old Lit Brothers Department Store at 8th and Market Streets from 1962 until 1975, will once again enchant Please Touch Museum’s visitors this holiday season. As in last year, all remaining original Enchanted Colonial Village scenes will be displayed at Memorial Hall.

Trains, Trains and More Trains

A Brandywine Christmas

Dates: November 29, 2013-January 5, 2014

A Brandywine Christmas takes over the Brandywine River Museum of Art with a display of trees featuring “critter” ornaments (for sale December 7-8), a Victorian dollhouse, rare antique dolls and one of the largest O-gauge model railroad displays in the country. Created in 1973, the 1,220-square-foot Brandywine River Museum Railroad is a delightful holiday tradition and features more than 150 locomotives and 300 freight cars.

Reading Terminal Holiday Railroad

Dates: November 29-December 31

An ornate model railway wrapping through the bustling Reading Terminal Market, the Holiday Railroad features 17 working train lines running through tiny holiday scenes and winter wonderlands. While you’re there, be sure to partake in the delicious treats available around the marketplace.

Garden Railway at Morris Arboretum

Dates: November 22, 2013-January 5, 2014 (closed December 24-24, January 1)

Set amid the evergreens, Morris Arboretum’s Holiday Garden Railway showcases a miniature winter wonderland complete with a quarter-mile of model-train track; seven loops and tunnels; 15 different rail lines; cable cars, bridges and model trains that cruise past scaled replicas of historic monuments; and Philadelphia-area landmarks adorned with thousands of twinkling lights for the holidays. New this year: Friday Night Lights, providing evening viewings on select nights.

More Holiday Celebrations

Peace Around the World at the Penn Museum

Date: December 1

During the Penn Museum’s Peace Around the World: Passport to Cultures, visitors receive an itinerary that leads them through galleries to listen to speakers share holiday traditions of their home countries. The event also features international music and dancing, children’s choirs, exotic face painting, balloon art and free treats for children.

Washington Crossing the Delaware River

Dates: December 5 (Rehearsal); December 25 (Crossing)

History buffs get into the spirit of the season when they witness Washington Crossing the Delaware River, a free, annual reenactment staged at 1:00 p.m. on Christmas Day at Washington Crossing Historic Park. A day of family-friendly activities accompanies the full dress rehearsal a few weeks prior to the real thing.

“A Very Furry Christmas” at Sesame Place

Experience a one-of-a-kind family-friendly celebration with everyone’s favorite Sesame Street friends. A Very Furry Christmas features three Christmas shows, the illuminated Neighborhood Street Party Christmas Parade, dry rides, a special Christmas menu, holiday shopping, and Santa’s Furry Workshop. The park is decorated with more than 300 Christmas trees, including a huge celebratory tree decorated Sesame Street style. Click here for more information.

Being [ ] at Christmas

Date: December 25

On Christmas Day, the National Museum of American Jewish History invites families to fill in the blank during Being [ ] at Christmas. The event invites families from every background to join in its annual day of family fun with music, games, children’s activities and more.

The African American Museum’s Kwanzaa Celebration

Date: December 28-29
Location: 701 Arch Street

Join the staff of the African American Museum in Philadelphia for a week-long Kwanzaa celebration!

Bring your whole family out for the daily candle lighting ceremony and introduction to Kwanzaa symbols and principles at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. You’ll also find live traditional music, dance, drumming, storytelling, historical re-enactments, face painting, balloon art, and a Kwanzaa craft and game workshop.

Ring in the New Year

Countdown 2 Noon at the Please Touch Museum

Date: December 31

Please Touch Museum® celebrates 2013 early with Countdown 2 Noon. The museum opens at 9:00 a.m. and holds “Noon Year” party activities with music and confetti. Countdowns take place at noon and 1 p.m.

Kids’ New Year’s Eve Countdown at Franklin Square

Date: December 31

Those with early bedtimes can still enjoy an evening New Year’s Eve party at Franklin Square’s Kids’ New Year’s Eve Countdown, featuring a 6:00 p.m. “square” drop and a kids’ dance party in the pavilion and topped off with a great view of the early fireworks show at Penn’s Landing. While there, partygoers can also catch the all-new Franklin-inspired Electrical Spectacle light show that lights up the whole square.

New Year’s Eve Fireworks at Penn’s Landing

Date: December 31

This year, Philadelphia will have a double-dose of New Year’s Eve fireworks, with awe-inspiring displays lighting the night at both 6 p.m. and 12 midnight. This means that even the tiniest revelers will be able to shout “Happy New Year!” before turning in for the night.

More Holiday Events and Activities

Looking for even more fun this holiday season? Check out our Guide to the Holidays in Philadelphia for special events, annual traditions and holiday shopping ideas. Take advantage of all the holiday fun the city has to offer with the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package, a two-night stay with FREE hotel parking.

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