Top Holiday Lights Attractions in Philadelphia
Our top picks for light shows, music, seasonal train displays and much more
Philadelphia loves the holidays and below you’ll find our top picks for light shows, music, seasonal train displays and much more!
Dates: November 23-December 31, 2012
Location: 1300 Market Street – Macy’s Grand Court
An annual Philadelphia tradition, the Christmas Light Show at Macy’s Center City continues to entertain new generations of shoppers and visitors. Using over 100,000 LED lights and the sounds of the legendary Wanamaker organ, the Grand Court atrium becomes adorned with floating snowflakes, flying reindeer and many other familiar holiday images.
Dates: November 22-January 1, 2013
A holiday spectacle unlike any other returns for its third year. Shown on the state-of-the-art Comcast Experience Video Wall at The Comcast Center, the 15-minute Holiday Spectacular is filled with sights and sounds of the season. Shows run every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Date: December 5, 2012
Join Mayor Nutter at the Christmas Village at Love Park for the city’s official holiday season kick-off. After the tree lighting, enjoy some traditional holiday treats and shop for unique holiday gifts for sale at more than 50 quaint, wooden booths.
One of Philadelphia’s most memorable nighttime vistas is that of Boathouse Row, made up of a dozen sculling clubs that line the Schuylkill River behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In 2009, new full-color, energy-efficient LED light nodes were hung to showcase the intricate architectural details of the clubs. Now a drive or stroll along the river results in an eye-popping lighting marvel that normally glows white but can change to celebrate a holiday or civic celebration, a charity appeal or a significant professional sporting win.
Location: 6th and Race Streets
After Ben Franklin hands over the “key” to Franklin Square to Santa on November 27, the official holiday celebration begins. Enjoy festive lights, carousel rides, Philadelphia-themed mini-golf and warm up with a burger from SquareBurger throughout the holiday season.
Date: November 28, 2012
Location: 18th and Walnut Streets
Rittenhouse Square transforms into a holiday wonderland with the flip of a switch, as the park and Philadelphia’s largest Christmas tree (over 30 feet tall!) become illuminated with 5,000 brilliant, multi-colored globes and lights. Before enjoying the beautiful glow of the park, sneak in some holiday shopping at the shops and boutiques of Rittenhouse Row and enjoy a warm, delicious meal or a much-deserved drink at one of the many restaurants and bars in the area.
Light up your holiday season with a fantastic display of nearly one million holiday lights at Peddler’s Village in Bucks County. While your in a festive mood, explore more than 70 specialty shops perfect for crossing off items from your holiday shopping list.
No holiday is complete without a visit to Longwood Gardens, where more than 400,000 twinkling lights and spectacular fountain shows compose a brilliant wonderland your family is sure to love. Gaze upon the large, starry snowflakes and icicles that sparkle throughout the Gardens before warming up in heated conservatory with twenty “rooms” featuring festive displays of floral garlands, sparkling trees and more.
A miniature winter wonderland amid the evergreens awaits visitors to Morris Arboretum. The Holiday Garden Railway display is a quarter mile of model train track featuring seven loops and tunnels with 15 different rail lines, two cable cars, nine bridges and trains that cruise past scaled replicas of historic monuments and Philadelphia-area landmarks made from all-natural materials. Runs through December 31.
The Independence Seaport Museum will be parading boats doused in illuminated color just outside its doors on the Delaware River on Saturday, December 15. For the price of museum admission, guests will get a look at the magical holiday display and even get to hear some carolers sing, meet and greet with Santa and enjoy some light refreshments at this all-inclusive seaport spectacle. Bring a gift card from the store of your choice and make a donation to Liberty USO’s Liberty Claus. Learn more here.
Venture into South Philly, specifically the 2700 Block of Smedley Street between 16th and 17th Streets and Moyamensing and Oregon Avenues, for a peak at a hidden holiday gem. You’ll see trees covered from head to toe in glowing color-shifting lights, gigantic blow-up Santas and all of the neighborly holiday cheer one could ask for this time of year.
Another must-see holiday lights destination in South Philly is the 1600 block of S. 13th Street, known colloquially in Philadelphia as the “Miracle on South 13th Street.” The elaborate illuminations of the neighborhood homes along this stretch of street, which started 13 years ago, make for a perfect holiday evening outing. Be sure to bring a camera — posing with the digitally animated Santa is always popular.
Millions of lights sparkle at Shady Brook Farm during the incredible Holiday Light Show. Experience the magical drive in your own car or hop on a moonlit hayride or horse and buggy. Monday through Thursday is when the real tractor hayrides will happen, but then Thursdays through Sundays, you’ll ride around the display in a horse-drawn carriage. Also, don’t forget to stop and get your picture taken with Santa at Santa’s Village. Reservations are recommended.
For the holidays, Linvilla Orchards transforms into the North Pole — farm style. Get into the holiday spirit by cutting your own Christmas tree and doing a little shopping at the market that’s stocked with tasty holiday treats like hot mulled cider. Santa makes a guest appearance every Saturday and Sunday in December, and on select afternoons, visitors can sing along during Caroling Hayrides, complete with live music and apple cider.
Responsible for one of the region’s most celebrated snack foods, the Herr’s Factory is fully decked out for the holidays. They’ll be hosting all manner of Christmas-themed events centered around the light display which is now in its 23rd year. On December 12, bring out the family for hayrides through the Christmas lights. The annual light display features more than 400,000 lights arranged throughout the complex. Also, be sure you don’t miss “Big Red,” a 60-foot-tall Norway Spruce decorated with more than 1,500 red lights.