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Top Holiday Events In Philadelphia

Parades, light displays and community-wide celebrations make Philadelphia very merry, indeed

The City of Brotherly Love embraces the most wonderful time of the year, hosting a festive array of iconic holiday attractions.

Whether you’re looking to skate the brand-new ice rink at The Piazza at Schmidt’s, shop the popular German-style Christmas Market at Love Park, or check out Reading Terminal Market’s well-loved holiday railroad, the region is sure to get you into the holiday spirit.

See why the holidays are a great time to visit Philadelphia with our must-see holiday attractions, below.

Comcast Holiday Spectacular

Dates: November 28-January 1

Prepare to be impressed by the Comcast Holiday Spectacular, a festive film experience on one of the largest four-millimeter LED screens in the world featuring enchanting holiday scenes and computer generated animations. Located in the lobby of the Comcast Center in Center City, the shows run every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (no shows at 5 p.m. during the week).

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 that dance to the sounds of the Wanamaker Organ. Performances take place at the top of the hour, every two hours, from 10 a.m to 8 p.m.

Electrical Spectacle: A Holiday Light Show at Franklin Square

Dates: Through December 31

New this holiday season, Electrical Spectacle: A Holiday Light Show at Franklin Square is a can’t miss experience. The show features a 10-foot-tall kite made of lights that sparkle and spread the glow to lights throughout the square and tunes recorded by the Philly Pops, and runs every 30 minutes between 4:30 and 8 p.m., weather permitting. Other festivities include visits from Santa, rides on the holiday train and carousel, seasonal treats at SquareBurger and even mini-golf with warming stations to keep even the littlest players cozy. Activities and special events celebrate everything from Hannukah to Christmas to Kwanzaa. Take note, Franklin Square is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Blue Cross RiverRink

Dates: November 29-January 5

Ice skating is synonymous with the winter holiday season. Join the Blue Cross RiverRink during its 20th season. Located right on the Delaware River, the rink affords beautiful views to skate into the holiday season. Plus, this year it ushers in a restaurant, fire pits, beer garden and more for the brand-new Waterfront Winterfest.

Waterfront Winterfest

Dates: November 29-January 5

The Blue Cross RiverRink at Penn’s Landing opens its 20th season with a whole new look that comes in the form of a pop-up holiday winter garden and village called Waterfront Winterfest, featuring shops, music and food. Also new this year: a holiday-themed light show that runs on the hour from 5 to 11 p.m. Plus, under a massive 400-person warming tent folks enjoy comfort food, holiday cocktails and local beer.

Skate at The Piazza

Dates: November 30-February 23

For the first time ever, The Piazza at Schmidt’s welcomes a 5,000-square-foot pop-up ice-skating rink to its Northern Liberties grounds for winter revelers. Every day from November 30 through February 23, bring your own ice skates (or rent a pair for $1) and show off your finest twirl at the pop-up ice rink. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children.

Rittenhouse Square Christmas Tree Lighting

Dates: Tuesday, December 3

The holiday season lights up during the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Rittenhouse Square. Thousands gather every year for the lighting of the the 35-foot tree, which then shines all holiday season to greet shoppers as they walk through the square. After the lighting, stick around the neighborhood for happy hour, dinner and some holiday shopping.

Christmas Village at Love Park

Dates: November 28-January 1

The German-style Christmas Village has become a favorite tradition for holiday shoppers, who can peruse more than 50 decorated booths selling international seasonal gifts, traditional German Christmas ornaments, jewelry and high-quality arts and crafts. Hot mulled wine, gingerbread and bratwursts are also among the offerings. This year, visitors have even more time to shop and enjoy the entertainment as the village extends its season for the first time ever.

Franklin Flea

Dates: Saturdays through December 21 and Friday, December 20

Holiday shopping has never been so easy. The Franklin Flea indoor market opened its doors for its first season in 2013. The weekly market promises treasure-seekers a wide variety of unique items from a number of vendors. Look forward to vintage clothing, furniture, collectibles, jewelry and more at the carefully curated shopping destination. Pair your shopping with drinks and bites from some of the city’s fantastic food vendors, too.

Deck The Alley

Dates: Saturday, December 7

Elfreth’s Alley, America’s oldest continuously residential street, celebrates the holiday season with its annual Deck The Alley holiday event. Explore the meticulously maintained architectural details of the historic homes as residents deck the halls with Christmas trees, holiday lights and decor. In addition to home tours, look forward to seasonal refreshments, carolers, fireside holiday stories, a talk on Philadelphia’s holiday history, a visit from Benjamin Franklin and much more.

Family Favorites

The Pennsylvania Ballet Presents George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker

Dates: December 7-29

A beloved holiday tradition, the 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.

Morris Arboretum’s Holiday Garden Railway

Dates: November 22-January 5

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.

Reading Terminal Market Holiday Railroad

Dates: November 25-December 31

Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia’s indoor haven for all things food, sets up a super impressive 500-square-foot holiday railroad in its main court. Every holiday season, guests ooh and aah over the 12 working train lines and miniature scenery of Center City and the countryside.

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.

Fairmount Park Holiday Mansion 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. For much of the month of December, visitors can embark on tours of Cedar Grove, Mount Pleasant, Laurel Hill, Lemon Hill, Strawberry Mansion and Woodford Mansion. Those who prefer a self-guided or a trolley tour can do just that from December 5 through 8 and December 12 through 15. The trolley tours show off three houses in the morning and three different houses in the afternoon.

Washington Crossing the Delaware River

Dates: Rehearsal, December 8; Crossing, December 25

History buffs get into the spirit of the season when they witness Washington Crossing the Delaware River, a free, annual reenactment staged at 1 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.

The Enchanted Colonial Village at the Please Touch Museum

Dates: Through January 2

The Please Touch Museum presents the Enchanted Colonial Village Supported by The Philadelphia Foundation, with intricately restored colonial scenes depicting the bakery, blacksmith shop, toymaker, tailor shop, watchmaker and others. The village first made its home at the Lit Brothers department store from 1962 until 1975.

Ice Pop 2013

Dates: December 13-January 1

World-class ice carvers from Fear No Ice present a live holiday performance like no other in Center City this holiday season. Ice Pop 2013 combines live ice carving and music to create an energetic holiday experience. No one show is the same as artists take to the ice set to a lively soundtrack of classic rock and holiday favorites. Click here for tickets and showtimes.

Holidays in the Countryside

A Longwood Gardens Christmas

Dates: November 28-January 12

The holidays go red, white and green at Longwood Gardens during A Longwood Gardens Christmas, featuring 500,000 glowing lights, thousands of poinsettias, vibrantly decorated trees and dancing fountains throughout the vast grounds and conservatory.

Annual Gingerbread House Competition and Display at Peddler’s Village

Dates: November 22-January 4

In addition to great holiday shopping, a highlight during Christmas in Peddler’s Village is the Annual Gingerbread House Competition and Display. Participants compete in a variety of categories, including traditional, authentic reproduction of a significant building and unusual 3-D creations. During the season, visitors can also enjoy one million jewel-colored holiday lights, weekend visits with Santa at Giggleberry Fair and other special events.

A Brandywine Christmas

Dates: November 29-January 5

A Brandywine Christmas takes over the Brandywine River Museum with a display of trees featuring critter ornaments, a Victorian dollhouse, rare antique dolls and one of the largest O-gauge model railroad displays in the country. Be sure to make a special trip for the annual critter ornament sale on December 7 and 8.

Victorian Christmas Open House at Pennypacker Mills

Dates: December 14-January 5, 2014

Bask in Christmas of holidays past at Pennypacker Mills, the home of Pennsylvania’s late Governor, Samuel Pennypacker. On December 14, the historic Montgomery County home presents its Victorian Christmas Open House from 2 to 8 p.m. Take in the holiday cheer and impressive decor while enjoying holiday traditions and music from the 1900s. Visit with Santa, hear from historians, indulge in traditional holiday food and say hello to the butler at the afternoon open house. Be sure to stop by the gift shop for Victorian-inspired holiday decor for your own home. Through January 5, 2014, the home welcomes an array of Victorian holiday decorations like glass ornaments, a magnificent vintage-inspired Christmas tree, holiday greens and more.

Christmasland at Linvilla Orchards

Dates: December 1-24

Linvilla Orchards looks more like the North Pole during the holiday season. The decorated farm features a Christmasland display and petting zoo, while the market section is stocked with all-things holiday and crafts for younger guests. Santa makes an appearance every Saturday and Sunday in December, and on select afternoons, visitors can sing along during caroling hayrides that include marshmallow roasting and apple cider.

Byers’ Choice Traditional Christmas Market

Dates: Through December 31

The traditional German Christmas Market at Byers’ Choice boasts plenty of gifts for holiday shoppers (think gingerbread houses, advent calendars, handcrafted caroler figurines and toys) in addition to spirited events throughout the season. Note that the holiday market is closed on major holidays.

Happy New Year

New Year’s Eve Fireworks

Date: December 31

Penn’s Landing is the place to ring in the New Year with SugarHouse Casino’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront featuring two spectacular shows at 6 p.m. and midnight. Philadelphia’s main attraction on New Year’s Eve draws thousands of people to the Delaware River Waterfront each year. Conveniently located within a short walk of Old City, Society Hill and South Street, Penn’s Landing becomes a festive party with revelers of all ages delighting in a breathtaking fireworks display.

The Mummer’s Parade

Date: January 1, 2014

The Mummer’s Parade is a Philadelphia New Year’s Day experience that’s as traditional as cheesesteaks. Dating back to 1901, the only-in-Philly celebration is a lively and colorful parade of costumed men, women and children who practice all year to strut, dance and play music up Broad Street. The parade begins at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Broad Street and Oregon Avenue for the string bands and Broad Street and Washington Avenue for the comics, wench brigades and fancies, and everyone proceeds to City Hall. Arrive early for the best views along the parade route, but to catch the action from the judge’s stand, it’s best to purchase tickets ahead of time.

Tickets for parade bleacher seating at City Hall (15th & Market Streets) are available at the Independence Visitor Center (6th & Market Streets, (215) 965-7676) for $20. Tickets to the indoor Fancy Brigade Finales can be purchased online for $20-$25 at comcasttix.com or at the Independence Visitor Center.

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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