Top Things to Do in Philadelphia
in November 2016
A Jurassic World-themed exhibition, must-see holiday attractions, the Philadelphia Marathon and more
November is going to be huge in Philadelphia — especially since it means the beginning of the holiday season.
The last full week of the month brings with it one of the most historic races in the nation (the Philadelphia Marathon), the country's oldest Thanksgiving Day parade and the opening of many of the city's iconic holiday attractions, from Christmas Village at Dilworth Park to the Macy’s Christmas Light Show.
The month also means the arrival of life-like animatronic dinosaurs at The Franklin Institute for the North American premiere of a Jurassic World-themed exhibition, the opening of two ice rinks and four different craft beer and spirits events.
So mark your calendars now and get ready for a November to remember. Find all of our top picks for the month below.
Thanksgiving Day Parade
November 24, 2016
Celebrating its 97th year, the 1.4-mile spectacle along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is the oldest Thanksgiving Day Parade in the country, and it continues to dazzle visitors with massive balloons, eye-catching floats, festive music, entertaining performances and visits from Santa. Head down to the parkway on Thanksgiving to experience it for yourself!
Philadelphia's Thanksgiving Day Parade is the oldest in the country, traveling 1.4 miles down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. (R. Kennedy For Visit Philadelphia)
Jurassic World at The Franklin Institute
November 25, 2016 - April 23, 2017
The prehistoric denizens of Isla Nublar come roaring into The Franklin Institute with the North American premiere of the 15,000-square-foot exhibition Jurassic World. Fans of the "Jurassic Park" movie series can explore the mysterious island and come face-to-face with animatronic versions of the 25-foot-long Brachiosaurus, 24-foot tall T. Rex, Stegosaurus and other lumbering beasts. While the movies are fiction, the exhibition is based on true science.
Visitors will come face to face with life-like animatronic dinosaurs during Jurassic World at The Franklin Institute. (Photo courtesy James Thomas)
Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest
November 25, 2016 - March 5, 2017
Offering majestic views of both the Delaware River and the Ben Franklin Bridge, Blue Cross RiverRink returns for its 23rd year and its fourth year as Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest, a delightful winterized riverfront park. Winterfest houses an Olympic-size skating rink, a ski chalet-style lodge, a decorated holiday tree, rustic furniture, fire pits, warming cabins and thousands of lights that illuminate the space in style. Come cruise along the rink and stay to relax in the festive riverside enclave.
Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest houses an Olympic-size skating rink overlooking the Delaware River and ski chalet-style lodge to warm up in after a skate. (Photo courtesy DRWC)
Macy’s Christmas Light Show
November 25 - December 31, 2016
More than 100,000 bright, energy-efficient LED lights come together to create whimsical holiday images during the Macy's Christmas Light Show, housed in the historic Wanamaker Building. Watch snowflakes, ballerinas and reindeer float in front of the four-story-high velvet curtain of the Grand Court atrium while enjoying music from the world-renowned Wanamaker Grand Organ. Don't miss out on this Philadelphia holiday tradition, which dates back to 1956!
Hundreds of thousands of lights create an impressive visual sight ever year at Macy's Christmas Light Show. (G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia)
The Comcast Holiday Spectacular
November 24, 2016 - January 1, 2017
Shown on the state-of-the-art Comcast Experience video wall at The Comcast Center, The Comcast Holiday Spectacular is filled with sights and sounds of the season. Since its debut in 2008, more than 1.6 million people have experienced the wonderful must-see holiday show in the Comcast Center lobby. Now an annual holiday tradition, the 15-minute Comcast Holiday Spectacular takes visitors on a festive, musical journey featuring classic family favorites like "Carol of the Bells," "Jingle Bell Rock" and "The Twelve Days of Christmas."
The Comcast Holiday Spectacular takes visitors on a festive, musical journey through a 15-minute screening on the Comcast Experience video wall. (M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)
Franklin Square Holiday Festival & Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show
November 10 - December 31, 2016
Festive lights, winter treats and holiday cheer fill historic Franklin Square for its all-ages (and completely free!) holiday festival and light show. The main feature is the Electrical Spectacle light show, which utilizes thousands and thousands of twinkling lights and a dynamic holiday soundtrack. The seasonal outdoor attraction rounds out the ongoing festivities with a winter beer garden, seasonal eats from SquareBurger, Lightning Bolt Holiday Express train rides around the square and a handful of other fun-filled events.
Franklin Square hosts an array of holiday events, including the spectacular Electrical Spectacle light show. (J. Fusco For Visit Philadelphia)
Christmas Village and Made In Philadelphia Holiday Market at Dilworth Park
November 24 - December 24, 2016
Even though the European wonderland known as Christmas Village moves to City Hall this year, expect the same outdoor holiday oasis with nearly 100 wooden booths modeled after traditional European open-air Christmas markets. New this year, the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market will lay just steps away in Dilworth Park, featuring local artisans, designers, crafters and confectionaries. If you're looking for a one-stop spot to do all your holiday shopping, these joint venues are a can't-miss spot!
Rothman Institute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park
November 11, 2016 - February 26, 2017
Those looking to ice skate in the heart of Philadelphia can pack up their cold-weather gear and head to the ice rink at Dilworth Park, opening for its third year. Skaters of all levels and ages are invited to cruise around the rink while taking in skyline views just outside of City Hall. Afterward, warm up in the Rothman Institute Cabin, offering a variety of eats and the ultimate post-ice-skating treat — hot chocolate.
Spend the day skating right beneath City Hall at the Rothman Institute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park. (J. Fusco For Visit Philadelphia)
America's Garden Capital Maze at Dilworth Park
November 11, 2016 - February 26, 2017
New this year, Dilworth Park hosts a popup maze-meets-garden created in partnership with Greater Philadelphia Gardens. Wander through the holiday-inspired America's Garden Capital Maze where you'll find a variety of seasonal shrubbery and decorations. Adjacent to the Rothman Institute Ice Rink, the garden will also bring a series of special programming – "Orchids for the Office," "Terrarium How To" and more – to be presented in Rothman's heated cabin.
Holiday Shopping in Philadelphia
Tax-free shopping on most clothing and shoes — need we say more? Take advantage of Philadelphia’s awesome shopping experiences on Black Friday, including brand-new retail destinations in Center City, charming craft bazaars and pop-up shops, independent boutique shops and top-rated shopping malls. The best time to begin shopping? Thanksgiving weekend. Not only do tons of stores offer once-a-year sales, but many Philadelphia holiday pop ups also begin that weekend — as do attractions that you can check out before or after your shopping trip!
Philadelphia area shops and seasonal pop-ups come alive with deals during the holiday season. (J. Fusco For Visit Philadelphia)
November 18-20, 2016
With a fast course that winds through the city’s historic downtown, past the stunning Philadelphia Museum of Art and along the scenic Boathouse Row, the Philadelphia Marathon is one of the country’s premier running events. The weekend also includes an 8K race, half-marathon, a Kids Fun Run and the well-attended Health & Fitness Expo. Even if you're not participating, there are a ton of reasons to join the 60,000 spectators cheering on the runners.
The Philadelphia Marathon is one of the country’s premier running events, winding its way by many of the city's coolest attractions. (Photo courtesy Philadelphia Marathon)
Reading Terminal Market Holiday Railroad
November 25 – December 31, 2016
Beyond serving as an incredible spot for food, the Reading Terminal Market – where you can score everything from soul food to Asian and Middle Eastern dishes to authentic Philly cheesesteaks to traditional Pennsylvania Dutch fare – always dresses up for the holiday season. Kids and adults alike will delight in its 500-square-foot model railroad display, featuring 17 train lines that run along a track close to a third of a mile in length.
The Reading Terminal Market presents an expansive railroad display that will wow kids and adults alike. (G. Widman For Visit Philadelphia)
Headed to the White House at the National Constitution Center
Through December 31, 2016
Got political fever? Don't miss the National Constitution Center's current featured exhibition. Headed to the White House invites you to explore an interactive exhibition examining the U.S. election system. Through multimedia, artifact exploration and more, learn about everything from the campaign trail to Inauguration Day. Think you have what it takes to land a seat in the Oval Office? Several role-playing opportunities will test your skills to see if you are "presidential material."
Visitors to Headed to the White House have plenty of opportunities to participate in interactive activities designed to explore all aspects of a U.S. presidential election. (M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)
Last Chance: Danny Simmons: Mostly Philly at Art Sanctuary
Through November 15, 2016
Danny Simmons is one of three founders of the Rush Arts Gallery and the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, dedicated to providing inner city youth across New York City with exposure to the arts. Simmons recently relocated from Brooklyn to Philadelphia with plans to open another Rush Arts Gallery space here in the City of Brotherly Love. Simmons paints in his free time, and an exhibition at Art Sanctuary seeks to showcase his abstract expressionist works, many of which he completed since making the move (implied in the title of the exhibition Danny Simmons: Mostly Philly).
Art Sanctuary shows the abstract expressionist paintings of Danny Simmons in its newest exhibition, Danny Simmons: Mostly Philly. (M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)
More Must-See Exhibitions
Philly's museums are filled with awesome exhibitions this November. From a sweeping black arts exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art to a dive into the history of rock 'n' roll at the National Museum of American Jewish History to playing tic-tac-toe with robots at The Franklin Institute, there are plenty of reasons to seek out Philly's amazing museums and galleries this month.
Find an array of exhibitions at museums citywide this month, including i found god in myself: The 40th Anniversary of Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls at the African American Museum. (J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)
UniverSoul Circus 20th Anniversary
November 3-27, 2016
One of the most interactive circuses in the world, UniverSoul Circus comes to Fairmount Park as it heads into its 20th anniversary season here in Philly. Look forward to a diverse selection of circus-oriented acts, such as a comedic dog performance from Chilean canines, contortionists from Ethiopia, tigers and disco-dancing and more.
Celebrate the 20th anniversary of UniverSoul Circus at Fairmount Park this month. (Photo courtesy Universoul Circus)
Last Chance: Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary
Through November 5, 2016 (select dates)
While November marks the end of Halloween season, you can still scare yourself silly at one of Philly's most awesome (and creepiest) historic destinations. Hollywood-quality special effects and lighting, animatronic creatures, spooky props and professional actors who revel in creating chills abound in Terror Behind the Walls. Recognized as one of the nation’s best haunted attractions, the annual thrill-fest casts its spell throughout the massive, gothic-style Eastern State Penitentiary.
Catch Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary before it's too late to experience one of the top haunted houses in the country. (M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphia)
First Person Arts Festival
November 7-19, 2016
Every November, folks from all walks of life come together to share their stories on stage during the First Person Arts Festival. Past participants have included everyone from musicians Toni Morrison and Talib Kweli to celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson to actress Janeane Garofalo to political activist Angela Davis. Beyond storytelling, the 13-day celebration includes food events, workshops and more.
Storytelling takes center stage at the annual First Person Arts Festival. (E. Vonie for Visit Philadelphia)
Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival
November 10-20, 2016
The Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival aims to educate and expose the Philadelphia region to films about Asian Americans and by Asian Americans via an abundance of awesome screenings and events. Multiple films are shown at different locations throughout the city each of the 10 days throughout the festival – all at a price under $10.
Movies screen at venues citywide during the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, which aims to expose viewers to Asian American film. (Phone courtesy International House)
Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival
November 5-19, 2016
The Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival brings more than 30 films from a dozen different countries around the world for a two-week festival designed to highlight the diversity and commonality we hold as humans. Screenings will be held at venues citywide and will span a wide range of genres, connected by a thread of Jewish culture, heritage and history.
Philly Craft Spirits Week
Through November 4, 2016
A dozen Philadelphia-area craft distilleries have partnered with Philadelphia magazine and Foobooz to launch the official Philly Craft Spirits Week. All week long, events will be held citywide, including a cocktail competition at Heritage, an industry tasting and panel discussion via Philadelphia magazine's Whiskey & Fine Spirits Festival and plenty of other sample-heavy, educational events.
Enjoy craft cocktails, spirits tastings and other themed events during Philly Craft Spirits Week. (Photo courtesy Federal Distillery Room)
Philadelphia International Unity Cup at Citizens Bank Park
November 5, 2016
November brings the championship game of Philadelphia’s first citywide, world-cup style soccer tournament. The Philadelphia International Unity Cup began as a knockout tournament between 32 teams of Philadelphians representing 32 countries around the world. Held at Citizens Bank Park, the culminating day of the series includes a parade of nations, a naturalization ceremony and, of course, the championship game to commence at 6:00 p.m.
Don't miss 30+ soccer teams from around the world compete in the Philadelphia International Unity Cup at Citizens Bank Park. (Photo Courtesy Philadelphia International Unity Cup)
Bacon and Beer Festival at 23rd Street Armory
November 6, 2016
Bacon and beer – two glorious words over which most people rejoice. Now in its fourth year, the Bacon and Beer Festival at 23rd Street Armory brings those two edible items together for a festival designed to delight your taste buds. A selection of local restaurants from all over the city will offer creative bacon-based dishes, and 15 different craft breweries will pour beer to pair with those tasty eats.
The 40th Anniversary Philadelphia Museum of Art Contemporary Craft Show
November 10-13, 2016
Close to 200 of the best and most dynamic craft artists from across the country will come together for the 40th Anniversary Philadelphia Museum of Art Contemporary Craft Show. The artists, selected through a highly competitive jury process, will present a diverse array of work, all available for sale. Throughout the show, on-site artist demonstrations will also take place for visitors to learn about the art of crafting.
Nearly 200 craft artists from across the country convene at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Contemporary Craft Show to sell and showcase pieces to the public. (Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art)
Craft NOW Philadelphia
Through December 3, 2016
Craft NOW Philadelphia returns for the second year, showcasing the work of the many talented and hardworking craftsman in and around Philadelphia. This year’s theme, “Analog-Digital,” focuses on the emerging trends and technologies that affect the crafting industry. Dozens of artists, galleries, museums, universities and other organizations will host public demonstrations, exhibitions, educational programs and more that take a look at Philly’s role in the future of the handmade crafting industry.
Five Dollar Comedy Week
November 13-19, 2016
Looking for some cheap (but hilarious) laughs? Don't miss the Five Dollar Comedy Week, a seven-day comedy festival featuring more than 30 original shows at the Good Good Comedy Theatre. As the name implies, each show is only five bucks and various five-dollar workshops will also go down at 4 p.m. each day.
Catch seven days of comedy shows for five dollars each during the Five Dollar Comedy Week festival. (Photo Courtesy Five Dollar Comedy Week)
Cyclocross at Sly Fox Brewery
November 13, 2016
Sly Fox Brewing Company raises a pint to the Belgian tradition of cyclocross and beer with its second-ever Sly Fox Cyclocross hosted at the Pottstown brewery location. More than 100 cyclists and a ton of spectators will come together for a day of bicycle racing, beer and food.
Catch heated bike races while enjoying a pint and a bite to eat during the second-ever Sly Fox Cyclocross. (Photo courtesy Sly Fox Brewery)
LOVE Your Park
November 12, 2016
Join one of the largest grassroots volunteer efforts in Philadelphia designed to beautify our city's many wonderful parks! Help plant trees, collect leaves for compost, clean up litter and more during a spirited community event sure to leave you feeling positive about both yourself and our city.
Volunteer to help beautify your local park on LOVE Your Park day. (Photo courtesy LOVE Your Park)
Apple Festival at Peddler’s Village
November 5-6, 2016
It’s all about the apples at the Peddler’s Village Apple Festival. The annual fruit fest honors the seasonal treat with old-fashioned country apple butter, apple cider, apple dumplings, apple fritters, caramel-dipped apples and pie-eating contests.
Enjoy an array of delicious apple treats at the Apple Festival at Peddler’s Village. (A. Sinagoga for Visit Philadelphia)
Old City Craft Beer and Restaurant Stroll
November 12, 2016
More than a dozen Old City area bars and restaurants come together for a delightful afternoon of eating, drinking and strolling through the history-rich neighborhood. This ticketed event includes plenty of food and beer samples, as well as a complimentary craft beer crawl mug.
Wander throughout Old City and enjoy beer and food samples as you go during the Old City Craft Beer and Restaurant Stroll. (R. Kennedy For Visit Philadelphia)