The Top Places to View Holiday Lights
The holiday season shines bright in Philadelphia
The holiday season shines bright in Philadelphia as attractions with glowing traditions both new and old.
Families have been flocking to Philadelphia for decades to enjoy the Macy’s Christmas Light Show, a holiday tradition since 1956 featuring more than 100,000 colorful lights. The city’s outdoor displays have expanded over the years to include Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest, the Franklin Square Holiday Festival & Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show and more.
Elsewhere, neighborhoods are transformed by spectacular decorations while regional attractions light up the beauty of the holiday.
To help you get into the spirit of the season, we’re shining a spotlight on a few of our favorite holiday light displays throughout the region.
The Macy’s Christmas Light Show
at Macy’s Center City
A Philadelphia holiday tradition since 1956
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. People of all ages delight in the 100,000 LED lights, narration by Julie Andrews and sounds from the Wanamaker Organ. Performances take place at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. everyday (excluding Christmas). While you're there, be sure to visit Dickens' Village featuring scenes from "Scrooge" and pose for a picture with Santa.
The Comcast Holiday Spectacular
A must-see holiday tradition in the lobby of the Comcast Center
Visitors gather in front of the Comcast Experience video wall, one of the world’s highest resolution LED displays, to catch the magic of The Comcast Holiday Spectacular. Throughout the free 15-minute show, dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet move to music from The Nutcracker, a magical sleigh floats over the Philadelphia countryside and actors from the historic Walnut Street Theatre perform — all to a seasonal soundtrack presented by a 64-piece orchestra. Shows run at the top of the hour from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. (excluding 5 p.m. on weekdays).
Franklin Square Holiday Festival & Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show
Brilliant bright display inspired by the imagination of Benjamin Franklin
The holiday magic at Ben Franklin’s namesake park comes in the form of the Franklin Square Holiday Festival featuring Electrical Spectacle: A Holiday Light Show. The free show runs every 30 minutes between 4:30 and 8 p.m., weather permitting, and showcases a giant lighted kite and 50,000 lights choreographed to holiday music.
Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest
Seasonal park on the Delaware River Waterfront
Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest transforms Penn’s Landing into a winterized riverfront park. A cold-weather version of Spruce Street Harbor Park, Winterfest houses an Olympic-size skating rink overlooking the Delaware River, ski chalet-style lodge and winter garden with recycled shipping containers, a heated tent, holiday trees, fire pits and plenty of cozy seating. New this year, the site will include tons more seating (both indoors and out), a 360-degree deck around the skating rink, expanded food options from Garces Group and others (think hot chocolates, holiday treats and more), more twinkling lights and awesome new themed events. The winter garden will also offer the added bonus of brand-new winter warming huts situated around some of the firepits.
Rothman Ice Rink at Dilworth Park
Three months of ice skating right next to City Hall
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. The rink, which offers excellent skyline views, is open to skaters of all levels and all ages. This season, the Rothman Cabin, a heated tent located at the tip of the ice rink, will debut. Inside of the tent, skaters can warm up with food and drinks from Garces Events including toasty hot chocolate, coffee, burgers, fries and more.
Holiday Lights at Boathouse Row
Traditional lighting on the Schuylkill River
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.
The Christmas Village in Philadelphia
Get into the holiday spirit in the heart of Philadelphia
With its medieval-village type setting, Philadelphia’s German-style Christmas Village has become a favorite tradition. Here shoppers find popular Christmas gifts from Germany, including glass ornaments, music boxes, nutcrackers and more while vendors serve up hot mulled wine, gingerbread and bratwursts to keep shoppers warm and satisfied.
Christmas at Rittenhouse Square
Illuminating Rittenhouse Square for the holidays
During the holidays, Rittenhouse Square boasts one of the largest Christmas trees in the city. Every year, locals and visitors pack the popular park for the ceremonial lighting of the Rittenhouse Square Christmas Tree, which is typically more than 30-feet-tall. Throughout the season, Rittenhouse Square is aglow with 5,000 colorful globes making a cheerful sight for holiday shoppers amongst the popular stores along Rittenhouse Row.
Sparkles inside and out
The city’s Jewelers’ Row — comprising 300 retailers, wholesalers and craftsmen on Sansom Street between 7th and 8th Streets and on 8th Street between Chestnut and Walnut Streets — features a light display rivaled only by the gems that adorn the shops’ windows.
Miracle on South 13th Street
Long-running neighborhood holiday tradition
In South Philly, just a few blocks off of bustling East Passyunk Avenue, the 1600 block of South 13th Street is known in Philadelphia as the Miracle on South 13th Street. The elaborate lights hung on neighborhood homes along this stretch, which has been a holiday-lights destination for more than a dozen years, is seriously a must-see.
Smedley Street Christmas Light Spectacular
South Philly lights up the holiday season
Venture into South Philly, specifically the 2700 Block of Smedley Street between 16th and 17th Streets and Moyamensing and Oregon Avenues, for a peek 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.
Longwood Gardens Christmas
Dazzling lights highlight this incredible holiday celebration
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. 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.
A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place
Nation’s only theme park based entirely on the award-winning television show, Sesame Street®
A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place® is a festive, family-friendly celebration with everyone’s favorite Sesame Street® friends. The park is transformed into a one-of-a-kind Christmas wonderland with millions of twinkling lights and festive decorations all around. Sing along at three special Christmas shows and a spectacular music and light show at our giant 1-2-3 Christmas Tree, and take a train ride tour through the Twiddlebugs’ Gingerbread Cookie Factory on the Sesame Place Furry Express.
North Pole by way of Media, PA
Christmas In Peddler’s Village
Celebrate the holiday season at Peddler’s Village
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.
Christmas Snacktacular at Herr's Snack Factory
December 12-19, 2015
Responsible for one of the region’s most celebrated snack foods, the Herr’s Factory goes all-out for the Christmas Snacktacular. Families can enjoy hay rides, snack making and meet a real Reindeer during the celebration, which is centered around Herr's impressive holiday light display. The festive display features more than 400,000 lights arranged throughout the complex including “Big Red,” a 60-foot-tall Norway Spruce decorated with more than 1,500 red lights. Though the Snacktacular takes place in mid-December, Herr's annual lights display is available for free drive-thru tours from November 25, 2015 through January 2, 2016.
Holiday Light Show at Shady Brook Farm
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. Also, don’t forget to stop and get your picture taken with Santa at Santa’s Village. Reservations are recommended.
More Holiday Events Guides