It’s the most wonderful time of the year — especially in Philly, where iconic traditions and new festivities add an extra special sparkle to the season.
The city hosts a number of beloved holiday traditions (Christmas Light Show at Macy’s, The Comcast Holiday Spectacular, Franklin Square Holiday Festival) as well as several newer attractions (the numerous new pop ups at City Hall, the Old City Design Tree, a redesigned Reading Terminal Holiday Railroad).
The season all leads up to an explosive end to 2017 with the spectacular SugarHouse Casino New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront on the Delaware River followed by the incredibly exuberant Mummers Parade on New Year’s Day.
With pop-up shops, annual celebrations and more holidays lights than you can count, the Philadelphia region is bursting with things to do this holiday season. Browse our guide to the top holiday events below and learn about all of the grand seasonal celebrations you can enjoy this year!
Dates vary by attraction
The heart of Center City is packed with holiday pop ups, including the brand-new, nightly KLIP Collective creation, Deck the Hall Light Show at 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, cocktails, beer and hot drinks, while America’s Garden Capital Maze is a living labyrinth of seasonal plants and lights. Philly’s official tree overlooks North Broad Street, as does Craft Hall, an indoor beer garden, bakery and barbecue featuring Lost Breads and smoked meats. Within the open-air courtyard, the carousel returns, along with the Hernhut stars-topped stalls of the Made In Philadelphia Holiday Market of independent local vendors. Across the street at LOVE Park (in the midst of renovations) is Christmas Village, the annual German-style holiday shopping hot spot.
Through Sunday, December 31, 2017
The Grand Court in the National Historic Landmark Wanamaker Building has hosted the Christmas Light Show at Macy’s since 1956. The department store revives the tradition of sugarplum fairies, dancing snowmen and other holiday characters 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, a display of animated dolls that retells A Christmas Carol, and each free walkthrough ends in a chance to meet and get photos with Santa.
Through Monday, January 1, 2018
A massive, street-level, high-resolution LED display screens The Comcast Holiday Spectacular, a festive, 15-minute show that feature dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet and a magical sleigh soaring through Philadelphia’s skyscape.
The Franklin Square Holiday Fest & Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show make 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.
Through Sunday, March 4, 2018
The popular Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest returns for year five with fire pits, an arcade area designed for kids, a cozy, chalet-style lodge, 12 nights of Christmas movies, sweets from the Franklin Fountain Confectionery Cabin and hearty fare from Garces Group and Chickie’s & Pete’s. All of the fun is centered around a regulation skating rink that offers spectacular views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.
In addition to the region’s wealth of awesome retail destinations, boutiques and top-rated malls, findcreative craft bazaars and holiday pop-up shops all throughout the area this holiday season. From the traditional German Christmas Market at Byers’ Choice to the open-air Cricket Cringle in Ardmore, we’ve rounded up the top holiday spots to hit in our holiday shopping guide.
The Philly Holiday Festival brings five-plus weeks of seasonal fun to the Philadelphia area. Altogether, more than 15 time-honored traditions and brand-new festivities will blanket Philadelphia in holiday cheer. New additions for this year include Merry, Merry Happy Hours featuring weekly Thursday evening specials at spots around the city, free museum days at select participating spots and the Philly Holiday Tree on the north apron of City Hall. Click the button below to view all of the Philly Holiday Festival fun.
In South Philly, just a few blocks off of bustling East Passyunk Avenue, find what’s known as the Miracle on South 13th Street illuminating the 1600 block between Tasker and Morris streets. The elaborate lights hung on neighborhood homes along this stretch have made the street a holiday-lights destination for more than a dozen years and a serious must-see.
Through Sunday, December 24, 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.
A post shared by Adventure Aquarium (@adventureaquarium) on Nov 30, 2017 at 5:50am PST
A post shared by Adventure Aquarium (@adventureaquarium) on Nov 30, 2017 at 5:50am PST
December 2-30, 2017
Marvel at the world’s tallest underwater Christmas tree, which makes its debut at Adventure Aquarium this year. The 18-foot-tall tree, part of the attraction’s Shark Realm, will be on display through December 30. Alongside thousands of twinkling lights and colorful shells and coral, visitors will get the chance to see Scuba Santa and his “elfish” helpers swimming beneath the surface and celebrating the season.
Through December 31, 2017
Beginning the day after Thanksgiving, the PHLASH Downtown Loop begins daily service to popular Philadelphia spots through the end of the year. Service will be available every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., allowing passengers to easily experience festive holiday attractions throughout the city.
From classic light shows to timeless theatrical productions, holiday traditions abound in Philadelphia year after year. See all of Philadelphia’s annual holiday traditions by clicking the button below.
December 8-31, 2017 (select dates)
The Pennsylvania Ballet returns to the grand Academy of Music for an elegant (yet kid-friendly) Philadelphia dance tradition. Tchaikovsky’s iconic score pairs with lavish sets, lavish costumes and enchanting performances — by the dancers, members of The Philadelphia Orchestra and Philadelphia Boys Choir. This year’s sensory-friendly performance takes place December 27.
December 2-19, 2017 (select dates)
Maestro Michael Krajewski takes the baton to lead the Philly POPS in a newly re-imagined, always beloved concert featuring vocalist Justin Hopkins, the Philadelphia Boys Choir, the Philly POPS Festival Chorus and the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir, as well as a musical performance of How The Grinch Stole Christmas.
From grand productions by the The Philadelphia Orchestra to new twists on old classics performed on smaller stages throughout the city, venues citywide usher in the holiday season with a host of great shows. Click the button below for our full guide to holiday shows and performances in Philadelphia this year.
Thursday, November 30, 2017
The Betsy Ross House courtyard hosts the Old City District Tree Lighting on Thursday, November 30, 2017, complete with carolers, a performance from the Philadelphia Youth Ballet, seasonal drinks and snacks from Fezziwig’s Sweet Shoppe and an appearance by Betsy Ross herself. Stick around for $1 off admission to the Betsy Ross House until 8 p.m.
Friday, December 1, 2017
The popular Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest on the Delaware River waterfront goes all out in lighting its tree on December 1. Look forward to performers, singers, dancers and ice skaters, along with seasonal activities and a grand tree lighting finale — complete with fireworks — courtesy of PECO.
From bustling East Passyunk in Philadelphia to charming small towns in the city’s countryside, tree lighting celebrations throughout the region get the area’s neighborhoods and towns into the holiday spirit all season long. Click the button below for our guide to the most delightful tree lighting celebrations this season.
Through Sunday, December 31, 2017 (Select days)
The historic mansions in Fairmount Park get dressed up for the holidays this season in the theme of “A Very Philly Christmas.” Cedar Grove, Laurel Hill Mansion, Lemon Hill Mansion, Historic Strawberry Mansion and Woodford Mansion all open their doors to visitors during select days throughout the entire month of December. Four extra special events will also take place, centered around the Philly-oriented themes of music, food, neighbors and families.
Through Monday, January 1, 2018 (Select days)
All throughout the season, the Philadelphia Museum of Art hosts events and activities in celebration of the holidays. From a DIY card-making night to festive Friday night performances complete with spiked hot cocoa and other seasonal treats, a wealth of festivities invite you to make the museum part of your holiday traditions. Click the button below to check out all of the scheduled events.
December 14, 2017
Join a cheery band of carolers who make their way down the 6300 block of Germantown Avenue singing seasonal tunes as they go. Afterward, the 6300 Germantown Business Alliance will distribute food baskets to area families in need and apple cider and cookies will be served at The Johnson House.
Sunday, December 17, 2017
The annual lighting of the menorah in Rittenhouse Square is set for December 17 at 5 p.m. As dusk settles over the park, prayers will be sung and the first candle will be lit on one of the city’s largest menorahs.
Saturday, December 2, 2017
On December 2, Elfreth’s Alley residents welcome the public to tour their 18th- and 19th-century homes during the popular ticketed event Deck the Alley. The festive afternoon includes carolers, refreshments, appearances by a 19th-century Santa Claus and Benjamin Franklin — not to mention rare access to more than 20 of the private homes.
December 21-30, 2017 (select dates)
‘Tis the season for the Philadelphia Historic District’s information station to extend its hours until 7 p.m. and bring in colonial re-enactors to mingle with guests from December 26 to 30. Also for a limited time, the Independence Visitor Center will host winter storytelling and colonial carolers (December 21 to 23 and 28 to 30).
One Liberty Observation Deck gets decked out for the season for the debut of “A Very Philadelphia Holiday.” Attraction-goers will find the entire 57th-floor space decorated with iconic Philly holiday themes, featuring Mummers decorations, lights that replicate the “Miracle on 13th Street” and more.
Through December 28, 2017 (Thursdays only)
A little history, a little beer and a lot of fun are served up during Tippler’s Tour: Yuletide Cheers and Beers, when a Redcoat soldier recalls life in British-occupied Philadelphia in 1777 over brews at four cozy pubs.
Saturday, December 9, 2017
Penn’s Landing’s Independence Seaport Museum puts on a Saturday of nautical holiday fun — sailboat ornament-making, gingerbread boat-building, snow lessons and Santa — followed by the Parade of Lights, an early-evening parade of illuminated working vessels (tugboats included) along the Delaware River.
December 26-30, 2017
Winter break means loads of programming at the world’s only museum dedicated to U.S. Constitution. Visitors to the National Constitution Center can enjoy special programs and activities, including arts and crafts, games and interactive shows. Featured activities include colonial dress-up and photo opportunities, military muster demonstrations and the Growing Up, American Style show.
Philadelphia Historic District’s newest addition, the Museum of the American Revolution, inaugurates its first holiday season with Illuminating Liberty. Colorful illuminations based on those by eminent Revolutionary-era Philadelphia artist Charles Willson Peale fill the museum’s sidewalk-level windows.
Through December 30, 2017 (select dates)
The nation’s oldest continuously inhabited street tells the story of Christmas in America with Making Christmas, an exhibition retelling how 18th-century German immigrants brought over the folk traditions and customs (Santa Claus, toys, cookies and that tannebaum) that transformed December 25 into the holiday that it is today.
Sunday, December 25, 2017
On December 25, the National Museum of American Jewish History invites families to fill in the blank during Being __________ at Christmas. Families from every background can join in the annual day of family fun with crafting, storytime sessions and other all-ages activities.
Past and present are wrapped up in a bow for Historic Holiday Nights in Old City, taking place every Thursday in December from 5 to 8 p.m. Enjoy performances at the Betsy Ross House courtyard, must-see window illuminations at the Museum of the American Revolution, the Old City District Tree Lighting on November 30 and more. Click the button below to learn about all of the Historic Holiday Nights happenings.
December 2-17, 2017 (Saturdays and Sundays only)
On weekend afternoons in December, Blue Cross RiverRink welcomes Saint Nick onto the ice for Skate With Santa. Grab the kids and your camera and prepare for a fun afternoon out on the rink.
Saturday, December 9, 2017; December 26, 2017 – January 2, 2018
This city-centric museum hosts the Golden Age of Retail, a cocktail party and pop-up exhibition of artifacts from classic department stores John Wanamaker, Gimbels and Strawbridge & Clothier, along with vintage ornaments and 19th-century cards. During winter break (December 26, 2017 – January 2, 2018), the museum offers the gift of pay-what-you-wish admission.
December 27-30, 2017
The Kwanzaa Celebration at the African American Museum in Philadelphia features four family-oriented days that celebrate the First Fruits of the Harvest. In the first three days, crafting activities represent self-determination, working together and supporting each other. On the fourth day, a candle-lighting ceremony demonstrates purpose.
Through Saturday, December 30, 2017 (Thursdays through Sundays)
Getting around the Historic District is even easier Thursdays through Saturdays from 6 to 9 p.m., when a dedicated, decked-out PHLASH bus loops the neighborhood, picking up and dropping off riders free of charge. The six-stop, 17-minute route includes Franklin Square, the Museum of the American Revolution, Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest, 3rd and Market streets, Elfreth’s Alley and the Betsy Ross House.
Through Sunday, 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.
Through Saturday, January 6, 2018
Take in a ton of festive decor and get into the shopping spirit at Peddler’s Village, Bucks County’s holiday hub. December 2 and 3 bring the attraction’s Christmas Festival, a weekend filled with Santa parades and Victorian decorations to admire. While you’re there, visitors shouldn’t miss the Gingerbread Competition & Display in the Village Gazebo, where a few dozen edible creations are on display through Saturday, January 6.
Through Sunday, December 31, 2017 (select dates)
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.
All aboard the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad for a holiday train ride with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Lasting one hour, the holiday excursion invites families to sip hot chocolate and enjoy festive cookies as Santa and Mrs. Claus deliver a special gift to each child on board. Christmas carol sing-alongs will sweeten the ride as the train transports everyone to the “North Pole.”
A Brandywine Christmas takes over the Brandywine River Museum with a display of trees featuring critter ornaments, a rare antique doll collection and one of the largest O-gauge model railroad displays in the country with nearly 2,000 feet of track. Be sure to make a special trip for the annual critter sale featuring ornaments made from all-natural materials on November 30, December 1, 3 and 5.
November 24 – December 31, 2017
Set amid the evergreens, Morris Arboretum’s 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. On select Fridays, catch special nighttime viewings when white lights bedeck the rails and miniature greens adorn the buildings.
December 1-23, 2017
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. Santa makes a guest appearance every Saturday and Sunday in December, and on Saturday evenings, visitors can sing along on Caroling Hayrides.
Through December 23, 2017 (select dates)
Take a scenic, 90-minute holiday train ride through the Chester Creek Valley during Santa’s Express on the West Chester Railroad. Celebrate with Santa himself, pose for pictures, enjoy live music and more.
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A post shared by rachel.langan (@langan.rachel) on Nov 25, 2017 at 5:14am PST
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 an open-air wagon ride. Beforehand, consider picking out out a holiday tree and be sure to get your picture taken with Santa before you leave!
The Holidays in Manayunk include a Sweets and Spirits Holiday Happy Hour (November 30), the Rudolph Run (December 9), a Men’s Shopping Night (December 14) and more. Click the button below to view the full schedule of holiday happenings in Manayunk.
Sunday, December 31, 2017
Philadelphia will ring in 2018 not once but two times during the SugarHouse New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront over the Delaware River with fireworks lighting up the sky at 6 p.m. and again at midnight.
Monday, January 1, 2018
A longstanding tradition dating back to 1901, the Mummers Parade brings together thousands of elaborately costumed men, women and children for a day-long march down Broad Street. The carnival-like atmosphere is filled with music and merriment and always creates one of the most colorful starts to the year.
A spectacular Philadelphia’s New Year’s Day tradition heads indoors during the Mummers Fancy Brigade Finale at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Celebrate the New Year all week-long during MummersFest, featuring a behind-the-scenes look as the Mummers put the finishing touches on their costumes and routines.
Book the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package for stays through June 15, 2018 and get FREE hotel parking as well as a $25 We ♥ 13th Street restaurants gift card, a $25 CHeU Noodle restaurants gift card, a $25 gift card to R2L, a free cheesesteak from Campo's and a $10 Lyft credit.