Article

Philadelphia’s Top Holiday Traditions for 2017

Light shows, theatrical productions, ice skating and more

1 of 1
1 of 1

From classic light shows to timeless theatrical productions, holiday traditions abound in Philadelphia year after year.

Look no further than the Macy’s Christmas Light Show, which has dazzled generations of visitors and residents since 1956. Or the Pennsylvania Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, now celebrating its 49th year.

Throw in sparkling holiday lights, ice skating and a few newer attractions and experiences that could become traditions in the not-so-distant future, and you have the makings of a wonderful holiday season to be celebrated with friends and family.

Whether they’ve been around for 50 years or just a few, these are the biggest holiday traditions in Philadelphia.

01

See The Nutcracker at the Academy of Music

Head over to the Academy of Music for a delightful performance of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker by the Pennsylvania Ballet. — B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia

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 Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra and Philadelphia Boys Choir. This year’s sensory-friendly performance takes place December 27.

Where: 240 S. Broad Street Philadelphia, PA 19104

Read More
02

Sing along with the classic Macy's Christmas Light Show

A Philadelphia holiday tradition since 1956

— G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia

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.

Where: 1300 MARKET STREET PHILADELPHIA, PA 19107

Read More
03

See The Comcast Holiday Spectacular on the largest four-millimeter LED screen on Earth

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.

Where: 1701 JOHN F KENNEDY BLVD. PHILADELPHIA, PA 19103

Read More
04

Spend a magical night at the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest

Seasonal wintertime park on the Delaware River Waterfront

— Photo courtesy DRWC

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.

Where: 101 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard Philadelphia, PA 19106

Read More
Advertisement
Advertisement
05

Shop at Christmas Village and the Made In Philadelphia Holiday Market at Dilworth Park

Get into the holiday spirit in the heart of Philadelphia

— M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

Christmas Village: November 23 – December 24, 2017
Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market: November 18, 2017 – January 1, 2018

The German-style Christmas Village 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.

Where: N. 15th Street and Arch Street Philadelphia, PA 19107

Read More
06

Take in the annual holiday show at the Walnut Street Theatre, America's oldest theater

The Walnut Street Theatre's annual production of A Christmas Carol is a popular holiday tradition for Philadelphians. — Walnut Street Theatre

November 25 – December 23, 2017

The historic Walnut Street Theatre invites children to a just-for-them rendition of Charles Dickens’ famed tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future during this one-hour performance.

Where: 825 Walnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19107

Read More
07

Admire the holiday lights in neighborhoods across the city

— Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Ongoing

The holiday season shines bright in Philadelphia as neighborhoods are transformed by spectacular decorations. From the holiday lights at Boathouse Row (one of Philadelphia’s most memorable nighttime vistas) to the must-see elaborate house lights set up on the 1600 block of South 13th Street in South Philadelphia, you could easily spend an entire evening (or more) admiring the holiday light displays throughout the region. Click the button below for our full guide to holiday lights in the Philadelphia region.

Where: 1600 South 13th St. Philadelphia, PA 19148

Read More
08

Oooh and ahh over the brilliant display at A Longwood Christmas

Dazzling lights highlight this incredible holiday celebration

— 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.

Where: 1001 Longwood RoadKennett Square, PA 19348

Read More
Advertisement
Advertisement
09

Light up your winter nights with the Franklin Square Holiday Festival featuring the Electrical Spectacle Light Show

Brilliant bright display inspired by the imagination of Benjamin Franklin

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

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.

Where: 6th and Race Streets Philadelphia, PA 19103

Read More
10

Take in the numerous holiday pop ups at City Hall and Dilworth Park

Three months of ice skating right next to City Hall, November through February

— Photo by Peter Tobia/Center City District

Dates vary by attraction

The heart of Center City is packed with holiday pop ups new and old, including the 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.

Where: 1 S. 15th St Philadelphia, PA 19102

Read More
11

Have "A Very Philly Christmas” at the Historic Houses of Fairmount Park

— Photo courtesy Fairmount Park Conservancy

November 30 – December 15, 2017 (select dates)

Five decked-out 18th- and 19th-century park mansions — Historic Strawberry Mansion, Cedar Grove, Laurel Hill, Lemon Hill and Woodford — open their doors for holiday treats and performances during A Very Philly Christmas, a cooperative program of Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation. Throughout the month-long open house, themed events include “Sounds of the Season,” including a premiere by Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra at Woodford Mansion (December 2), Family Day (December 3), Neighbor’s Day (December 9) and Flavors of the Season (December 10).

Where: 1 Cedar Grove Drive Philadelphia, PA 19131

Read More
12

Ring in the New Year with the SugarHouse New Year's Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront

Ring in the New Year with two fireworks shows on the Delaware River Waterfront

New Year's Eve Fireworks In Philadelphia New Year's Eve Fireworks In Philadelphia
— Photo by M. Stanley for DRWC

SugarHouse Casino New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront features two major pyrotechnics displays over the Delaware River — one at 6 p.m. and another at midnight. The Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest gets in on the action too with entertainment, favors, outdoor seating and great views of the fireworks.

Where: 101 S. Columbus Boulevard Philadelphia, PA 19106

Read More
Advertisement
Advertisement
13

Celebrate New Year's Day with the only-in-Philadelphia Mummers Parade

Mummers strut down Broad Street, leaving behind a trail of glitter, feathers and fun

— Photo by M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphia

This only-in-Philadelphia New Year’s Day tradition dates back to 1901 and today includes thousands of men, women and children wearing feathers and sequins while dancing to music and parading along Broad Street from Philadelphia City Hall, site of competition among the Comic, Comic Wench and String Band divisions, to Washington Avenue. The indoor Fancy Brigade Finale competition at the Pennsylvania Convention Center consists of Broadway-inspired music-and-dance routines for prizes and bragging rights. phillymummers.com. Tickets for bleacher seating at City Hall and for the Fancy Brigades are available at the Independence Visitor Center.

Where: S. Broad St. and S. Penn Square (Starts at City Hall and marches south on Broad Street to Washington Ave.) Philadelphia, PA 19103

Read More
See The Nutcracker at the Academy of Music
Sing along with the classic Macy's Christmas Light Show
See The Comcast Holiday Spectacular on the largest four-millimeter LED screen on Earth
Spend a magical night at the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest
Shop at Christmas Village and the Made In Philadelphia Holiday Market at Dilworth Park
Take in the annual holiday show at the Walnut Street Theatre, America's oldest theater
Admire the holiday lights in neighborhoods across the city
Oooh and ahh over the brilliant display at A Longwood Christmas
Light up your winter nights with the Franklin Square Holiday Festival featuring the Electrical Spectacle Light Show
Take in the numerous holiday pop ups at City Hall and Dilworth Park
Have "A Very Philly Christmas” at the Historic Houses of Fairmount Park
Ring in the New Year with the SugarHouse New Year's Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront
Celebrate New Year's Day with the only-in-Philadelphia Mummers Parade
Hotel Deal

Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package

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.

Book Now

Stay in Touch

We apologize, something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.
Share
Tweet
[disabled]
[disabled]
[disabled]
[disabled]
[disabled]
[disabled]
[disabled]
[disabled]