Top Places To View Holiday Lights in Philadelphia
The region glows bright during the holiday season
Winter nights turn glittery and bright with holiday lights that shimmer and shine all across Philadelphia and The Countryside. New displays at Franklin Square and the Blue Cross RiverRink join traditional favorites like the Christmas Light Show at Macy’s in Center City and The Comcast Holiday Spectacular.
Below, find our favorite local attractions and neighborhoods lighting up the skies with sparkling colors and elaborate light displays this holiday season.
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. Performances take place at the top of the hours.
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 (light-emitting diode) 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 5:00 p.m. on weekdays).
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 8:00 p.m., weather permitting.
Dates: November 29, 2013-January 5, 2014
All new for the Blue Cross RiverRink’s 20th-anniversary season at Penn’s Landing, Bright Lights, Big Santa introduces a festive mash-up of color, lights, hip-hop beats and dancing elves that all come together in 3-D light show accompanied by holiday music. Part of the Waterfront Winterfest—complete with pine trees, fire pits, a heated pop-up restaurant, craft market and other activities—the light show runs every hour between 5:00-11:00 p.m.
Date: December 3, 2013
Rittenhouse Square transforms into a holiday wonderland with the flip of a switch, as the park and Philadelphia’s largest Christmas tree (35 feet tall!) is 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.
Date: December 4, 2013
Join Philadelphia’s First Lady Lisa 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.
Dates: November 22, 2013-January 5, 2014
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.
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.
Date: December 14, 2013
The Independence Seaport Museum will be parading boats doused in illuminated color just outside its doors on the Delaware River on Saturday, December 14. 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.
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.
Christmas in the Countryside
Dates: November 28, 2013-January 12, 2014
No holiday is complete without a visit to Longwood Gardens, where more than 500,000 twinkling lights and spectacular fountain shows compose a brilliant wonderland your family is sure to love. Starting at 3:30 p.m. every day through January 12, 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. Timed advance tickets are required and sell out quickly, so get yours here
Peddler’s Village will light up your holiday season with a fantastic display of nearly one million holiday lights. While you’re in a festive mood, explore more than 70 specialty shops — perfect for your holiday shopping — and eight restaurants. While you’re there, check out the spectacular Gingerbread House Competition and Display.
Dates: November 23-December 23, 2013
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.
Dates: November 22, 2013-January 5, 2014
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.
Dates: December 9-21, 2013
Responsible for one of the region’s most celebrated snack foods, the Herr’s Factory is fully decked out for the holidays. Each year, Herr’s hosts all manner of Christmas-themed events centered around their fantastic light display. 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.
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.