A Complete Day-By-Day Guide to Thanksgiving Week in Philadelphia 2017

Make the most of the holiday weekend, Thursday, November 23 to Sunday, November 26

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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:

  • Comcast Holiday Spectacular (opens Thursday, November 23)
  • Christmas Village (opens Thursday, November 23)
  • A Longwood Christmas (opens Thursday, November 23)
  • Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest (opens Friday, November 24)
  • Christmas Light Show at Macy’s (opens Friday, November 24)

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.


Franklin Square Holiday Festival featuring the Electrical Spectacle Light Show

Franklin Square’s annual holiday festival features a gorgeous display of lights and music. — J. Fusco for Visit 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.

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Rothman Institute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park

Ice skate in the heart of the city at the Rothman Institute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park. — J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

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.

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America’s Garden Capital Maze

The popular America’s Garden Capital Maze returns for another season at Dilworth Park with beautiful seasonal decorations. — J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

November 10, 2017 – February 25, 2018

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.

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Christmas at Peddler’s Village

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.

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Made In Philadelphia Holiday Market

Find the perfect holiday gift for everyone on your list at the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market. — Photo by Christina Kalff

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.

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A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place

— Courtesy of Sesame Place

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.

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Christmas Village in Philadelphia

The popular traditional German-style holiday market Christmas Village returns to the newly renovated LOVE Park this season. — J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

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.

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The Comcast Holiday Spectacular

Comcast Holiday Spectacular Comcast Holiday Spectacular
The Comcast Holiday Spectacular is a 15-minute screening on the Comcast Experience video wall that takes visitors on a festive, musical journey. — M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

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.

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A Longwood Christmas

Longwood Gardens goes all out for the holidays with giant Christmas trees, thousands of poinsettias and more. — Photo courtesy Longwood Gardens

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.

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Christmas Light Show at Macy’s

The annual Christmas Light Show at Macy’s is a celebrated holiday tradition featuring dancing lights set to music from the Wanamaker Organ. — (J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)

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.

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Reading Terminal Holiday Railroad at Reading Terminal Market

The Reading Terminal Holiday Railroad features a handful of interactive scenes depicting the history of the Reading Terminal Market, the Reading Railroad and more. — G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia

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.

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Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest

Enjoy an Olympic-size ice skating rink, a chalet-syle lodge, holiday activities and more at Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest this season. — Photo courtesy Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest

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.

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Holiday Garden Railway at Morris Arboretum

— Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

November 24 – December 31, 2017

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.

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Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade

— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

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.

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Holiday Shopping in Philadelphia

Philadelphia area shops and seasonal pop-ups come alive with deals during the holiday season. — J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

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.

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Manayunk Tree Lighting

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.

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Small Business Saturday

Main Steet shops in Manayunk Main Steet shops in Manayunk
— Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

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.

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Free Meter Parking on Saturdays

Score free meter parking every Saturday after 11 a.m. from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day in Philadelphia. — G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia

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.

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Hotel Deal

Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package

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.

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