Get ready for a ton of holiday fun!
The long Thanksgiving weekend officially kicks off a season of nonstop festivities in Philadelphia, starting with the 98th annual Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade — the oldest parade of its kind in the nation. The 1.4-mile-long celebration down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway features gigantic balloons, celebrity appearances, local performers and festive floats.
Other activities to look forward to over the extended weekend include the opening day of multiple major holiday attractions, including:
From ice skating to shopping ops galore to tree lighting ceremonies, plenty awaits to fill your holiday weekend this year. Read on for our official guide to all of the fun happening during Thanksgiving week in Philadelphia.
November 9 – December 31, 2017
The Franklin Square Holiday Festival featuring the Electrical Spectacle Light Show makes this park twinkle, with free shows every 30 minutes between 4 and 8 p.m. on weeknights and 4 and 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Among the 50,000 lights set to music are a giant, illuminated kite and key. Festivities include #FranklinSquareFridays; Saturdays with Santa; Seasonal Sounds on Sundays; rides on the holiday train and carousel; treats such as make-you-own s’mores, hot doughnuts, local beer and hot beverages — served in a warming tent or around fire pits in a beer garden; and mini-golf.
November 10, 2017 – February 25, 2018
Located in Dilworth Park, the outdoor Rothman Institute Ice Rink & Rothman Institute Cabin offer ice-skating, skate rentals, twinkling lights and indoor space to warm up and fill up on snacks, beer and hot drinks.
The magical America’s Garden Capital Maze returns to Dilworth Park for a second season this fall and winter. The pop-up maze-meets-delightful-garden — created in partnership with Greater Philadelphia Gardens — features tons of twinkling lights and seasonal plants that showcase more than 30 public gardens, arboreta and historic landscapes located within 30 miles of Philadelphia.
November 17, 2017 – January 6, 2018
Let the Gingerbread Competition and Display at Peddler’s Village get your own creative juices flowing as you admire more than 50 sugar-laden holiday houses on display. The showcase is free to view and serves as the perfect activity to enjoy in between shopping at the 65 boutiques and specialty shops that make up Peddler’s Village and admiring the more than one million holiday lights set up around the shopping destination.
November 18, 2017 – January 1, 2018
Just steps away from Christmas Village, the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market outside of City Hall features all-local artisans, designers, crafters and homemade treat vendors selling a variety of gifting ideas and holiday foods in festively lit tents.
November 18 – December 31, 2017
Elmo, Abby, Oscar and friends—including, new this year, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Clarice and Bumble—are part of the ultimate little-kid theme park’s A Very Furry Christmas. Wee ones tour the Twiddlebugs’ Gingerbread Cookie Factory, meet Lightning, the reindeer from Elmo Saves Christmas, take in holiday productions such as the 1-2-3 Christmas Tree Show and snag spots for the Neighborhood Street Party Christmas Parade.
November 23 – December 24, 2017
The German-style Christmas market returns to a restored JFK Plaza, also known as LOVE Park. For the 10th year, 80 wooden booths of local and international merchants display and sell Käthe Wohlfahrt trimmings, wintry apparel, handmade toys and all manner of edible and drinkable treats, while entertainment keeps things festive. The LOVE statue makes its triumphant return in February 2018.
November 23, 2017 – January 1, 2018
A massive, street-level, high-resolution LED display shows The Comcast Holiday Spectacular, 15-minute features of dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet and a magical sleigh soaring through Philadelphia’s skyscape.
November 23, 2017 – January 7, 2018
Thousands of topiaries, wreaths, mirrors and floating cranberries, apples and gilded walnuts transform Longwood Gardens’ heated, four-acre, Versailles-inspired Conservatory, site of free and ticketed holiday performances, during A Longwood Christmas. Outside, 500,000 lights glitter in the trees, and gloriously renovated fountains dance to seasonal music. Fridays through Sundays, Terrace hosts by-reservation breakfasts with Santa.
Friday, November 23, 2018 – December 31, 2018
The Grand Court in the National Historic Landmark Wanamaker Building has hosted a Christmas Light Show since 1956. The department store revives the tradition of sugarplum fairies, dancing snowmen and more with a 100,000-light show narrated by Julie Andrews and accompanied by the famed Wanamaker Organ. Free performances take place every two hours during store hours. Between shows, visitors often tour the second floor’s vintage Dickens Village, setup of animated dolls retelling A Christmas Carol; each free walkthrough ends in a chance to meet and get photos with the real Santa.
November 24 – December 31, 2017
Every holiday season, Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia’s indoor haven for all things food, sets up an impressive holiday railroad display. This year’s all-new display features five magical interactive model train vignettes celebrating the history of the Reading Terminal Market, the Reading Railroad and the joys of the holiday season.
November 24, 2017 – March 04, 2018
The popular Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest returns for year five with fire pits; a Kids Lodge arcade; a cozy, chalet-style Lodge Restaurant and Bar; 12 nights of Christmas movies; sweets from Franklin Fountain Confectionery Cabin; and hearty fare from Garces Group and Chickie’s & Pete’s — all centered around a regulation skating rink with a spectacular view of the Ben Franklin Bridge.
Amid the evergreens at Morris Arboretum, the Holiday Garden Railway showcases a miniature winter wonderland complete with a quarter-mile of model-train track, seven loops and tunnels, 15 rail lines and model trains that cruise past scaled replicas of historic monuments and Philadelphia landmarks adorned with thousands of twinkling lights. Friday Night Lights provide evening viewings on select nights; advanced tickets required.
Thursday, November 22, 2018 | 8:30 am – 12:00 pm
The nation’s oldest parade — now a spry 98 — kicks off the holidays. The annual event features collegiate marching bands, performances by Walt Disney World characters, giant balloons, floats and, at the end of it all, the Clauses accompanied by postal workers collecting letters to Santa.
With Philly’s tax-free policy on most clothing and shoes, what better destination to get your holiday shopping complete? Take advantage of the city’s Black Friday deals, including those at brand-name retail destinations in Center City, charming craft bazaars and pop-up shops, independent boutique shops and top-rated shopping malls. The day after Thanksgiving brings a ton of once-a-year sales and also the start of many Philadelphia holiday pop ups.
A post shared by Manayunk.com (@manayunkdotcom) on Dec 3, 2016 at 1:43pm PST
A post shared by Manayunk.com (@manayunkdotcom) on Dec 3, 2016 at 1:43pm PST
Manayunk plays home to holiday festivities of all sort at its Tree Lighting event on Saturday, November 25. The celebration often includes photo ops with Santa, sing-alongs, hot chocolate and other soul-warming treats. Stay tuned for details on this year’s event.
For those who prefer to keep it local, Small Business Saturday is a national initiative spearheaded by American Express that devotes the Saturday after Thanksgiving Day to supporting the local small businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods around the country. This year, partake in the initiative right here in Philadelphia on business corridors in neighborhoods like Midtown Village, Queen Village, East Passyunk, Old City and Northern Liberties.
Philadelphia, one of the country’s most walkable cities, is incredibly easy to navigate either by foot or by public transportation. That just leaves the question: Where to park the car? During the holiday season, no meter parking limits will be enforced on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day or New Year’s Day. Plus, meter parking is free every Saturday after 11 a.m. from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day. Click the button below for more information.
Book the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package for stays through September 3, 2018 and get FREE hotel parking as well as free tickets to the Museum of the American Revolution, free tickets for a ride on the Ferris wheel and roller skating at Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest, a $25 CHeU Noodle restaurants gift card, free mini-golf and a carousel ride at Franklin Square, free passes to ride the PHLASH Downtown Loop and a $10 Lyft credit.