The season shines bright in Philadelphia as attractions with glowing traditions, both new and old, light up for the holidays.
For decades, families have flocked to the City of Brotherly Love to enjoy the Christmas Light Show at Macy’s, a holiday tradition since 1956 featuring more than 100,000 colorful lights. The city’s outdoor displays have expanded over the years as well to include Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest, the Franklin Square Holiday Festival featuring the Electrical Spectacle and more.
Elsewhere, neighborhoods are transformed by spectacular decorations, while regional attractions light up the beauty of the holiday.
To help swing you into the spirit of the season, we’re shining a spotlight on a few of our favorite holiday light displays throughout the region.
November 20, 2017 – January 1, 2018
New this season, the Center City District, in collaboration with 6abc, debuts the Deck the Hall Light Show presented by Independence Blue Cross. This free, nightly, choreographed light show, created by local design firm KLIP Collective, projects onto Philadelphia’s historic City Hall every hour on the hour on weekday nights and more frequently on weekend nights through January 1, 2018.
Where: 1401 John F Kennedy Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19102
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.
Where: 1300 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
November 23, 2017 – January 1, 2018
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 other festive sights and sounds of the season unfold. Through December 31, shows run at the top of the hour from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. (excluding 5 p.m. on weekdays) and from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on New Year’s Day.
Where: 1701 JOHN F KENNEDY BLVD.
PHILADELPHIA, PA 19103
The holiday magic at Benjamin Franklin’s namesake park comes in the form of the Franklin Square Holiday Festival featuring Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show. Two alternating shows take place every 30 minutes each night beginning at 4:30 p.m. and continuing until 8 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays. On Fridays and Saturdays, shows goes until 9 p.m. Showcasing a giant illuminated kite and 50,000 lights choreographed to holiday music, the bright holiday display is one not to miss. Plus, each evening, one lucky participant from the crowd gets to ignite the festivities.
Where: 6th and Race Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest shines bright with 100,000-plus lights strung across its expansive grounds, including more than 40,000 lights on the holiday tree alone. Linked to a Bluetooth-programmable system, the twinkling tree produces a show of different colors and visualized music. Round up your family and friends and come out for a night of ice skating on the Olympic-size rink, shining extra bright on the Delaware River.
Where: 101 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Tree lighting: November 24, 2017
Join Mayor Jim Kenney and the Office of the City Representative on November 24, 2017 for the free Philly Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration, which officially unwraps the holiday season in the city with the flick of a switch. Gather at the 50-foot-tall Philly Holiday Tree at the north end of City Hall — complete with twinkling lights in 42 colors — and enjoy a festive evening with holiday cheer, live entertainment, free hot chocolate and a few surprises.
Where: City Hall
15th and Market Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Through February 25, 2018
Strings of white lights cover the nearby trees and shine overhead the Rothman Institute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park. Take in the holiday cheer as you cruise around the Center City rink, also offering excellent views of City Hall and the illuminated clock that graces every side of its towering top.
Where: 1 S. 15TH ST
PHILADELPHIA, PA 19102
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 adorned with twinkling mini-lights.
Where: 15TH AND MARKET STREETS
PHILADELPHIA, PA 19107
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Marc Cappelletti (@marcexplores) on Oct 15, 2016 at 5:12am PDT
A post shared by Marc Cappelletti (@marcexplores) on Oct 15, 2016 at 5:12am PDT
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 that come alive with lights each night. Take a stroll along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive or around the Philadelphia Museum of Art for an eye-popping lighting marvel filled with holiday spirit.
Where: 1 Boathouse Row, Philadelphia, PA 19130
Tree Lighting: November 28, 2017
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.
Where: 18TH AND WALNUT STREETS PHILADELPHIA, PA 19103
November 23 – December 24, 2017
A sign lined with holiday lights greets you at the European wonderland known as Christmas Village year after year. Returning to the newly renovated LOVE Park, the open-air holiday market offers more than 80 different vendors selling gifts of all kinds. Be sure to warm up with a hot chocolate, a German-style soft pretzel or a hearty bratwurst to fuel your shopping spree.
Where: 1 S 15th St, Philadelphia, PA 19102
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.
Where: 700 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
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 have made the street a holiday-lights destination for more than a dozen years and a serious must-see.
Where: 1600 S. 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19148
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 in glowing color-shifting lights, gigantic blow-up Santas and all of the neighborly holiday cheer one could ask for this time of year.
Where: 2700 Smedley Street
November 23, 2017 – January 7, 2018
No holiday is complete without a visit to Longwood Gardens, where more than 500,000 twinkling lights shine all season long. Gaze upon more than 6,000 seasonal plants and 50 trees that are decked out with sparkling red, gold and green glass ornaments — including a 30-foot floral tree created with hundreds of vibrant red poinsettias. Note: Timed advance tickets are required and sell out quickly.
Where: 1001 Longwood RoadKennett Square, PA 19348
November 17, 2017 – January 6, 2018
The holidays mean more than just shopping at Peddler’s Village in beautiful Bucks County. Filled with more than 60 different shops, the entire Village becomes adorned with beautiful, Victorian-style decorations such as wreathes and other seasonal greenery. And one million twinkling lights (!) complete the winter wonderland setting.
Where: 41 PEDDLER'S VILLAGE ROAD
(ROUTES 202 AND 263)
LAHASKA, PA 18931
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A post shared by John Concha (@jcr57rt) on Dec 25, 2015 at 9:23pm PST
November 17, 2017 – January 7, 2018
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 at Santa’s Village before you leave!
Where: 931 Stony Hill Rd. Morrisville, PA 19067
November 18 – December 31, 2017
A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place is a festive celebration with everyone’s favorite Sesame Street friends. The park gets transformed into a one-of-a-kind Christmas wonderland with millions of twinkling lights and festive decorations all around. The whole family can soar, swing and fly on exciting rides including five different options at Cookie’s Monster Land, a three-story net climb and a soft toddler play area. New this year, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is on hand posing for photos.
Where: 100 SESAME ROAD
LANGHORNE, PA 19047
December 9, 2017
Head to the Delaware River waterfront for the annual Parade of Lights, a lighting celebration unlike any other in the city. This boat parade features both pleasure boats and working vessels decked out in fabulous decorations and lights. Before the parade, head to the Independence Seaport Museum, which is hosting the parade, for holiday activities and festivities. (Tip: The best view for the parade is from the second floor balcony of the museum.)
Where: 211 S. Columbus Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
December 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29, 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. During Friday Night Lights events on select evenings in December, visitors marvel at the miniature railway glowing with tiny lights to celebrate the splendor of the season; advanced tickets required. Hot cocoa, coffee and snacks are available to help guests warm up when the December temperatures drop.
Where: 100 E. Northwestern Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19118
Book the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package for stays through November 30, 2018 and get FREE hotel parking as well as free tickets to the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art, a $25 gift card to the must-visit Reading Terminal Market, free Philly-themed mini-golf at Franklin Square and a $10 Lyft credit.