The season shines bright in Philadelphia as attractions with glowing traditions, both new and old, light up for the holidays.
Families flock 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 the Deck the Hall Light Show at City Hall, Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest, the Franklin Square Holiday Festival featuring the Electrical Spectacle and more.
Elsewhere, neighborhoods are transformed by spectacular decorations (e.g. The Miracle on 13th Street), while regional attractions like Peddler’s Village and Longwood Gardens light up the beauty of the holiday.
Bask in the glow of the season with this spotlight on our favorite holiday light displays throughout the region.
With more than 60 specialty shops — perfect for holiday shopping — and six restaurants, Peddler’s Village’s charm and beautiful, festive decorations help ring in the season — as do the one million twinkling lights (!) and series of fun holiday events that complete the winter wonderland setting.
Where: Peddler's Village, 2400 Street Road, New Hope
Each winter, strings of lights cover the nearby trees and shine overhead the Rothman Orthopaedics Ice Rink at Dilworth Park. Take in the holiday cheer by cruising around the Center City rink, strolling through the wonderfully lit Wintergarden and enjoying excellent views of City Hall and its shining clock.
Where: Dilworth Park, 1 S. 15th Street
The holiday magic at Benjamin Franklin’s namesake park comes in the form of the Franklin Square Holiday Festival featuring the Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show presented by PECO. Showcasing a giant illuminated kite and 75,000 lights choreographed to holiday music, the bright holiday display is one not to miss. Other festivities include Saturdays with Santa; rides on the holiday train and carousel; comfort foods, local beer and hot beverages; and mini-golf.
Where: Franklin Square, 200 N. 6th Street
November 16 – December 31, 2018 (select dates)
The Elmwood Park Zoo celebrates the season with the brand-new Wild Lights winter holiday festival, featuring millions of LED lights — including animated light installations — that cover the entire zoo. Guests can also expect live music, a peek into Santa’s workshop, live reindeer and more.
Where: Elmwood Park Zoo, 1661 Harding Boulevard, Norristown
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. Take a train ride through the Twiddlebugs’ Gingerbread Cookie Factory on the Sesame Place Furry Express, check out the Neighborhood Street Party Christmas Parade, and snap a photo with Rudolph, Clarice and Bumble!
Where: Sesame Place, 100 Sesame Road, Langhorne
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 a holiday tree — and be sure to get your picture taken with Santa at Santa’s Village!
Where: Shady Brook Farm, 931 Stony Hill Road, Yardley
Presented by Independence Blue Cross and 6ABC, the Deck The Hall Light Show returns to City Hall this November. The completely free show, which is synchronized to holiday music, runs nightly through New Year’s Day.
Where: City Hall, 1401 John F. Kennedy Boulevard
Mid-November 2018 to Mid-January 2019 (TBA)
The city’s Jewelers’ Row — comprising 300 retailers, wholesalers and craftsmen on Sansom Street between 7th Street and 8th Streets and on 8th Street between Chestnut Street and Walnut Street — features a light display rivaled only by the gems that adorn the shops’ windows.
Where: Jewelers' Row, 700 Sansom Street
Tree lighting: Wednesday, November 21, 2018 | 5-8:45 p.m.
All throughout the season, the Philadelphia Museum of Art hosts can’t-miss events and activities in celebration of the holidays. A highlight is the annual holiday-tree lighting, during which the 55-foot white fir tree comes alive with 12,000 lights.
Where: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
The European wonderland that is Christmas Village in LOVE Park returns, with Herrnhut stars decorating the tops of the wooden booths of 80 different vendors. Visitors can warm up with a hot chocolate, a German-style soft pretzel or a hearty bratwurst to fuel shopping sprees.
Where: Love Park, 15th and Arch streets
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. More than two million people have seen the show since its debut in 2008.
Where: Comcast Center, 1701 John F. Kennedy Boulevard
The Plummer family of West Chester take cues from the hilarious Griswold family of the popular National Lampoon movies with this massive holiday light display at their home featuring more than 85,000 lights — which change throughout the night — that are controlled via computer. Pro tip: Keep a close eye on the windows — you might spot Santa or Mrs. Claus!
Where: 304 Dutton Mill Road, West Chester
Thousands of poinsettias, Christmas trees and flowers transform a heated four-acre Conservatory during A Longwood Christmas at Longwood Gardens. Outside, visitors can stroll the grounds and take in 500,000 lights that glitter in trees and spectacularly restored fountains and fire pit flames that dance to seasonal music.
Where: Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square
The Grand Court of the historic Wanamaker department store — now a Macy’s — offers a free show of dancing lights around the larger than life Magic Christmas Tree accompanied by the famed Wanamaker Organ and narrated by Julie Andrews. Free performances of the show — which has been running since 1956! — take place every two hours during store hours.
Where: Macy's Center City, 1300 Market Street
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 Holiday Garden Railway Nights 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: Morris Arboretum, 100 E. Northwestern Avenue
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Dan Wisniewski (@danwisniewski) on Dec 21, 2017 at 6:53pm PST
A post shared by Dan Wisniewski (@danwisniewski) on Dec 21, 2017 at 6:53pm PST
Every year, the residents of the 4200 block of Greeby Street in Northeast Philly go all out on holiday decorations, lighting up the entire block all season long. Keep an eye out for visits from Santa…
Where: 4200 Greeby Street
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. Attendees can come out for a night of ice skating on the Olympic-size rink, shining extra bright on the Delaware River.
Where: Blue Cross RiverRink, 101 S. Columbus Boulevard
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
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Robert Calabro (@robbycalaby) on Dec 27, 2015 at 6:35pm PST
A post shared by Robert Calabro (@robbycalaby) on Dec 27, 2015 at 6:35pm PST
Venture to the 2700 block of Smedley Street in South for a peek at a hidden holiday gem. Check out 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 South Smedley Street
Over 5,000 holiday lights and a massive live Christmas tree turn Rittenhouse Square into one of Center City’s most festive public spaces for the holidays. Don’t miss the official tree lighting, when locals and visitors pack the popular park to usher in the season.
Where: Rittenhouse Square, 210 W. Rittenhouse Square
Join Mayor Jim Kenney and the Office of the City Representative on November 28 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 Philly Holiday Tree at the north end of City Hall and enjoy a festive evening with holiday cheer, live entertainment and more.
December 1-21, 2018 (select dates)
The Historic Houses of Fairmount Park get decked out in beautiful holiday decor for the season. Highlights include “A Very Philly Fun Christmas” at Laurel Hill Mansion featuring a lit 12-foot Christmas tree decorated with replicas of carousel animals, while Historic Strawberry Mansion gets in on the fun with decorations inspired by classic holiday stories. The Ice Bar at Lemon Hill Mansion, new for 2018, includes an ice lemon tree with real lemons and lighting design by Drew Billiau.
Where: Various locations including Laurel Hill Mansion, 7201 Randolph Drive
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
December 2018 (TBA)
One of Philadelphia’s most memorable nighttime vistas is that of Boathouse Row, made up of a dozen rowing clubs that line the Schuylkill River behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art that come alive with lights each night. Just like in 2017, Boathouse Row lights up with separate displays for Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa in 2018. Stay tuned for more info on exact dates, then plan a trip to 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: Boathouse Row, 1 Boathouse Row
Book the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package for a fall or winter getaway and get overnight accommodations as well as FREE hotel parking and awesome seasonal perks worth up to $198.
What not to miss during the most wonderful time of the year...