Top Holiday Events
Parades, light displays and community-wide celebrations make Philadelphia very merry, indeed
The Philadelphia region loves the holiday season. Visit and you’ll find craft fairs, light displays and community-wide celebrations. Here are a few of our favorite ways to celebrate this time of year.
Macy’s Christmas Light Show
Date: November 23–December 31
Location: 1300 Market Street
Shows: The top of each hour, beginning at 10 a.m.
The epitome of Christmas in Philadelphia, the Macy’s Christmas Light Show never fails to put a smile on your face and a skip in your step. The event boasts a display of 100,000 LED lights and sounds from the historic Wanamaker Grand Organ. The famous Julie Andrews provides narration.
Comcast Holiday Spectacular
Date: November 22-January 1
Location: 1701 JFK Boulevard
Shows: 10 a.m.–8 p.m. (except 5 p.m. on weekdays)
Prepare to be impressed by the Comcast Holiday Spectacular, a festive film experience screened on the largest four-millimeter LED screen in the world featuring enchanting scenes from The Nutcracker performed by the renowned Pennsylvania Ballet, a magical sleigh ride through the snow-covered Pennsylvania countryside and performances by some of Broadway’s best-known dancers.
Blue Cross RiverRink
Date: November 23-March 3
Location: Columbus Boulevard at Market Street
Ice skating is synonymous with the winter holiday season. Join the Blue Cross RiverRink during its 19th season. Located right on the Delaware River, the rink affords beautiful views as you skate into the holiday season.
Christmas Village in Love Park
Date: November 22-December 24
Location: Love Park, 16th and JFK Boulevard
Based on a traditional European Christmas Village, Philadelphia’s village hosts more than 50 international vendors, so all of your shopping needs will be met. Look out for live music and other special events; the village has programming almost every day. Plus, while Dilworth Plaza is being renovated, the City Hall Christmas Tree will once again be on display in Love Park this holiday season.
Rittenhouse Square Christmas Tree
Date: Starting November 5
Location: Rittenhouse Square, 17th and Walnut Streets
Celebrate at Rittenhouse Square during the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Count down to the lighting of the tree, after which it will be standing all holiday season to greet shoppers as they trek through the square. After the lighting, stick around the neighborhood for happy hour, dinner and some holiday shopping.
More Holiday Events
Being ____ at Christmas
Date: December 25, 2012
Location: National Museum of American Jewish History
On Christmas Day, the National Museum of American Jewish History invites families to fill in the blank during “Being _____ at Christmas. annual day of family fun will be held for the first time in the museum’s new building, which opens in November. Being Jewish at Christmas will include music, special children’s activities, refreshments and more!
The African American Museum’s Kwanzaa Celebration
Date: December 29-30, 2012
Location: 701 Arch Street
Join the staff of the African American Museum in Philadelphia for a weekend Kwanzaa celebration!
Bring your whole family out for the daily candle lighting ceremony and introduction to Kwanzaa symbols and principles. You’ll also find live traditional music, dance, drumming, storytelling, historical re-enactments, face painting, balloon art, and a Kwanzaa craft and game workshop.
Date: Sunday, December 9, 2012
Location: 401 S. Broad Street
An annual event at the Gershman Y, Latkepalooza gives area chefs the opportunity to show off their skills with a potato pancake and offers diners the chance to taste a variety of latkes, hear some live music and generally have a rollicking good time.
Tip: If you’re a latke lover, we recommend buying your tickets in advance, as this event has a history of selling out.
Longwood Gardens Christmas
Date: November 22-January 6
Location: 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square
To instantly feel the holiday spirit, look no further than Longwood Gardens. Half a million twinkling lights and tons of festive plants like poinsettias and Christmas trees decorate the grounds for this annual extravaganza.
Morris Arboretum’s Holiday Garden Railway Display
Dates: November 23-December 31 (Closed December 24-25), 10am-4pm
Location: 100 E. Northwestern Avenue, Chestnut Hill
The quarter of a mile Christmas train track is here again for another holiday season. The impressive display with loops, tunnels and bridges is set in the holiday-decorated garden at the arboretum. Replicas of some of Philadelphia’s most famous buildings can be seen along the tracks as well.
A Brandywine Christmas
Dates: November 23-January 6
Location: Brandywine River Museum, 100 Creek Road, Chadds Ford
The Brandywine Christmas celebration at the Brandywine River Museum includes impressive decorations including an 18-foot-wide wreath, parties and festivities all holiday season long including the highly anticipated critter sale, a three-decade-long tradition where volunteers create animal-themed ornaments out of natural materials like plants and pine cones. Don’t miss the museum’s extensive collection of model trains running on nearly 2,000 feet of track.
Christmasland at Linvilla Orchards
Dates: December 1-24
Location: 137 West Knowlton Road, Media
Christmasland at Linvilla Orchards will have you wondering if you’ve actually been transported to the North Pole. The Christmas shop and garden center will be stocked will everything to meet your Christmas needs. Pick up Christmas trees, wreaths, decorations, gifts and more. Santa will be at Linvilla every Saturday and Sunday in December. Bring your camera to snap shots of the kids with Santa. Also photo-worthy is the orchard’s petting zoo at the Winter Wonderland.
Please Touch Museum’s Enchanted Colonial Village
Dates: November 16-January 2
Location: 4231 Avenue of the Republic
Visit the Please Touch Museum for the Enchanted Colonial Village supported by the Philadelphia Foundation. The colonial village restoration presents a number of intricate colonial scenes, including a blacksmith shop, toymaker, watchmaker and others.
Byers’ Choice in Chalfont
Dates: Through December 31
Location: 4355 County Line Road, Chalfont
Discover the German Christmas market at Byers’ Choice this holiday season. Browse through advent calendars, gingerbread house and handmade toys. Enjoy live animals and a nativity scene, plus a one-man performance of A Christmas Carol, performed by Charles Dickens’ great-great grandson, Gerald Charles Dickens.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Tippler’s Tour: Yuletide Cheers & Beers
Dates: November 15-December 27, 5:30 p.m.
Location: Tours leave from the Historic Philadelphia Center at 6th and Chestnut Streets
Sing, toast and drink to the early years of our nation with The Once Upon a Nation storytellers at seven-block, four-stop Thursday night pub crawls around Old City through December. Tickets include food, drink, gratuity and of course your entertaining and educational guide. After your tour, be sure to check out 3rd Street shopping — Three Sirens, Third Street Habit, Sugarcube and Art in the Age are a few of our favorites.
Chestnut Hill’s Stag & Doe Nights
Dates: December 5, 12, 19, 6-9pm
Location: Chestnut Hill (8301 Germantown Avenue)
On the Wednesdays leading up to Christmas, Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill will transform into a Winter Wonderland for their annual Stag & Doe nights. The shops of Chestnut Hill will be full of holiday spirit with holiday treats and gifts for everyone on your list. Enjoy the sounds of favorite Christmas carols and be sure to stop by Bredenbeck’s Bakery for delicious homemade gingerbread (and special Wednesday night classes!), the revamped Cafette for tasty vegetarian bites, Tavern on the Hill for a cold one, and Mica for award-winning cuisine from Chef Chip Roman.
Fairmount Reindeer Romp
Date: Thursday, December 20
Lcoation: Fairmount (23rd Street and Fairmount Avenue)
A favorite holiday event in Fairmount, the Reindeer Romp churned out more than 1,000 guests last year, and this year is supposed to be bigger than ever. The event is presented by Sam Adams which means $3 Sam Adams drafts and bottles at all 10 participating bars. The event is a benefit for the Feel The Warmth charity. Bring $10 and a toy or a new or gently used coat to support the cause.
Ring in the New Year
New Year’s Eve Fireworks
Date: December 31, 2012 – January 1, 2013
Location: Penn’s Landing
What better way to usher the old year out than to join the revelry on Penn’s Landing and welcome 2013 by watch the celebratory fireworks..twice! This year there will be two fireworks displays, one at 6 pm and one at 12 midnight.
Tip: Plan to travel by taxi, bus or subway. Old City will be thick with party-goers and parking will be near to impossible.
First Annual Soup Day Festival at the Mummers Museum
Date: Sunday, December 23, 2 pm
Location: The Mummers Museum | 2nd and Washington Streets
Based on a long-running tradition, join the Mummers for a day-long celebration in South Philadelphia featuring the Soup Day Parade, Golden Ladel awards, food trucks, live entertainment and more.
Date: Tuesday, January 1, 9 am to 7 pm
Location: Broad Street, Oregon Avenue to City Hall
Philadelphia is the only city in America where New Year’s Day is more of a party than the night before. Don’t miss seeing the bands and brigades march, dance and strut down Broad Street.
Tip: The intersection of Broad and Washington is the only spot where you can view all the Fancy Brigades without a ticket, making it a good location if you want to see it all.