Celebrating the winter holidays in Philadelphia just feels right. As temperatures drop in the history-rich, tradition-steeped city, a festive spirit spills from shops, theaters, restaurants, parks and stadiums. This year promises the return an abundance of citywide celebrations. The most wonderful way to enjoy Philly in winter: the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package, offering overnight guests free parking and more perks, bookable at visitphilly.com/overnight.
Here are some highlights of the winter holidays in Philadelphia:
- Christmas Village in Philadelphia – The German-style market returns to an under-renovation JFK. Plaza, also known as LOVE Park. For the 10th year, 80 wooden booths of local and international merchants sell Käthe Wohlfahrt ornaments, Hernhut Stars, wintry apparel and all manner of edible and drinkable treats, while entertainment keeps things festive. November 23-December 24 (preview November 18-19). 15th Street & John F. Kennedy Boulevard, (215) 268-7606, philachristmas.com
- Philadelphia City Hall – Dilworth Park’s fountains give way to the twinkling Rothman Institute Ice Rink, the cozy Rothman Institute Cabin, the magical America’s Garden Capital Maze, the local artisan-filled Made In Philadelphia Holiday Market, the city’s official tree and a carousel in the Courtyard. New this year: the Deck the Hall Light Show, a nightly KLIP Collective creation for Dilworth Park and Craft House, a tented beer garden specializing in smoked meats and artisan baked goods. Ice Rink and Garden: November 10-February 25, Market: November 18-January 1, 2018, light show: November 20-January 1, tree lighting: November 24. Between Broad & 15th Streets at Market Street. dilworthpark.org
- Christmas Light Show – The Grand Court of the historic Wanamaker department store—now Macy’s—offers a free show of dancing lights, set to the famed Wanamaker Organ. Performances every two hours during store hours. November 24-December 31. 1300 Market Street, (215) 241-9000, wanamakerorgan.com
- The Comcast Holiday Spectacular – The Comcast lobby’s super high-res LED display combines the Pennsylvania Ballet’s The Nutcracker, a magical sleigh ride over the city—with a bird’s-eye view of the new Comcast Technology Center—and a sing-along in 15 minutes of fun. Daily, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. (except 5 p.m. on weekdays), November 23-January 1. 17th Street & John F. Kennedy Boulevard, comcastcorporation.com
- Latkepalooza – The auditorium of the Gershman Y invites hundreds to partake in the 15th annual celebration of the potato pancake, as created by 10 esteemed restaurants. December 10. 401 S. Broad Street, (215) 545-4400, gershmany.org
- Franklin Square Holiday Festival featuring the Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show – Amid 50,000 lights, park-goers visit Santa, ride a carousel and miniature train, play mini golf, snack, and, if so desired, have a local beer or two. November 9-December 31. 6th & Race Streets, (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org
- A Longwood Christmas – Thousands of poinsettias, Christmas trees and flowers transform a heated four-acre Conservatory; 500,000 lights glitter in trees; and spectacularly restored fountains and fire pit flames dance to winter music, including live carols. November 23-January 7. 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, (610) 388-1000, longwoodgardens.org
- Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest – Winter wonderland along the Delaware River features fire pits, a game room, a chalet-style lodge. confectionery cabin, 12 nights of Christmas movies and Saturday Skates with Santa in December—all centered around a regulation skating rink with a view of the Ben Franklin Bridge. November 24-March 4, tree lighting December 1. Columbus Boulevard at Market Street, (215) 925-7465, riverrink.com
New Year Celebrations:
- Kids’ New Year’s Eve Countdown and Dance Party – Franklin Square, home of the Electrical Spectacle, hosts a family-friendly 6 p.m. celebration—with a “Square Drop” and a view of the first fireworks show (see below). 6th & Race Streets, (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org
- SugarHouse New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront – This annual pyrotechnics extravaganza blasts beautifully over the Delaware River in two shows—one at 6 p.m. and another at midnight. The RiverRink gets in on the action with entertainment, favors, outdoor seating and great views. December 31. Columbus Boulevard at Market Street, (215) 925-7465, delawareriverwaterfront.com
- Mummers Parade – This New Year’s Day procession along Broad Street features feathers and sequins, music and merriment from City Hall to Washington Avenue. Indoors, clubs perform fantastical routines at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in the Fancy Brigade Finale. January 1. phillymummers.com. Tickets for bleacher seating at City Hall and for the Fancy Brigades available at the Independence Visitor Center, 6th & Market Streets, (215) 965-7676, phlvisitorcenter.com
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On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.