Philadelphia is a diverse and exciting city filled with entertainment and activities to suit people with every kind of interest. This is one of the things that makes it such a great city to celebrate in! No matter your culture or religion, The City of Brotherly Love is always ready to party right along with you. Read on to discover some of the best ways to celebrate many of the winter holidays in and around Philadelphia this season!
Franklin Square Holiday Festival
The Holiday Festival begins early, starting on November 9 and continuing through to December 31. This outdoor attraction is sure to bring a smile to your face with 7 weeks of events and attractions for all ages. One of the biggest features is the Electrical Spectacle light show which involves 50,000 lights set to a holiday soundtrack. There are 2 alternating shows that occur every 30 minutes starting at 4:30 pm until 8 pm Sunday through Thursday and until 9 pm Christmas Eve, Fridays, and Saturdays. Do note though, that the show is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. However, the show is open for the Festival of Lights! There will be plenty of opportunities to take in the beautiful light show during Hanukkah all while enjoying latkes or a winter beer offered right in the park!
One of the great things about this attraction is that it is free. Of course, if you are looking to spend a little money that opportunity is available as well. There will be various foods available for purchase as well as a winter beer garden. Some of the proceeds from certain items will even go towards helping those recovering in Puerto Rico after the hurricane, so you can feel good about spending a little money on yourself. There will also be Philly Mini Golf for $9, and the Parx Liberty Carousel will be open for $3 a ride. Other special events are planned including live entertainment and a New Year’s Eve Dance Party.
If you have never been to Christmas Village in Philadelphia, then this is the year to go! This is the 10th year of the annual holiday market which will be making its return to LOVE Park this year after having to be relocated to City Hall during the park’s renovation.
The event has become a Philadelphia tradition and it is modeled after the traditional Christmas Markets in Germany. These markets have an even deeper history though, which can be traced all the way back to the middle ages. In the mid 16th-century farmers began selling their crops in Nuremberg in a farmer’s market during the Advent season. This grew into the oldest and most well-known German Christmas Market called Nuremberg Christkindlsmarket.
You’ll want to remember your wallet when attending this event. With over 80 vendors selling ornaments, jewelry, crafts and more, you’re sure to check one or two people off your gift list. There will also be plenty of traditional German foods and winter treats available for purchase. The Christmas Village opened on November 23 and will remain open until December 24.
Macy’s Holiday Light Show
The Macy’s light show has been dazzling shoppers and visitors for decades and has become a Philadelphia tradition. The Macy’s store is located in the historic Wanamaker Building and the light show that you can view today has been displayed annually since 1956.
The show has a bit of history to it, especially the building its contained in. Wanamaker’s was one of the first department stores in the country and was Philadelphia’s first department store. The building was built between 1904 – 1911 and was an engineering and architectural marvel during that time. The building was restored in 1991 to fit the modern needs of those using the building for retail and office space. The store has been designated as National Historic Landmark and houses the St. Louis World’s Fair pipe organ, the largest playable organ in the world, and a large bronze eagle also from the St. Louis World’s Fair.
In the 1920s the Grand Court at Wanamaker’s would traditionally be decorated in a different theme each year during the Christmas season. The Christmas Tree was added in the 1950s along with the centerpiece of dancing fountains.The idea was to draw in customers and this eventually, in the 1960s, turned into the light show that we know today.
While the history of the building is intriguing, the beauty of the light display cannot be denied. The show runs from the official start of the holiday shopping season, Black Friday, to New Year’s Eve, so there is plenty of time to stop in and enjoy the attraction.
Morris House Hotel
Take a step back into colonial times when you stop into the Morris House Hotel. The National Historic Landmark was built in 1787 and is absolutely stunning at Christmas time. You won’t want to miss the twinkling lights, trees, and garland that adorn the charming little bed and breakfast that is tucked away Washington Square Park, and there are several options to consider enjoying.
If you are looking for a weekend away to prepare yourself for the hectic holidays ahead then Morris House is a delightful option. Take some time for yourself and enjoy a cozy warm drink by their fireplaces. Of course, if staying away is not an option then you can always stop in for a cup of cheer at the Winter Garden where you may be able to catch Santa Claus for a photo opportunity! The hotel also has a restaurant on site, M Restaurant, which is available for hosting holiday parties.
The period-style decor, antiques, and coziness make Morris House Hotel a beautiful yet homey location to stop by for the holidays. It is also conveniently located close to several other spots in Philadelphia that we’ve added to our must-see list!
As you are driving through Philadelphia especially along I-76 in the evening, be sure to take in the view of the iconic Boathouse Row. This beautiful attraction is decorated with lights year round and while you can certainly get up close to the buildings, some of the most stunning views can be witnessed from a distance.
For Hanukkah, beginning on December 12, a different house along Boathouse Row will be lit either blue or white each night of the holiday to turn the attraction into a giant menorah. Nine buildings in total will be lit by December 19 and the lightings will begin with traditional songs and prayers at the Fairmount Fish Ladder on December 12.
Dilworth Park Wintergarden
For a unique urban winter wonderland, situated right in Center City you have to check out the Dilworth Park Wintergarden. This event features 5 fun activities to enjoy which run from November 10 to February 25 so that even after the holidays have concluded the fun can continue! Located right at City Hall the magic happens.
Deck The Hall Light Show
Multiple times each evening a new light show entitled Deck the Hall Light Show will play in tune to holiday music on the west side of City Hall. This show begins on November 20 and will conclude on New Year’s Day.
America’s Garden Capital Maze
Created in partnership with Greater Philadelphia Gardens is America’s Garden Capital Maze. This holiday inspired garden will display seasonal plants, twinkling lights, festive topiaries, a plenty of opportunities for selfies and photos! Along with this festive holiday garden, the Philadelphia Horticultural Society will be offering 10 weeks of free workshops right at Dilworth Park Wintergarden.
Rothman Institute Ice Rink and Cabin
Can you think of a better way to spend a winter day than ice skating with the beautiful Philadelphia City Hall as your backdrop! This is the fourth year for the Rothman Institute Ice Rink which opened on November 10 and will remain open until February 25. You are able to rent skates if you don’t have a pair of your own and can even improve your skills with a skating lesson from a professional offered right at the rink! If skating isn’t your thing, don’t worry! You can head over to the Cabin for a warm snack or seasonal cocktail which is located in a heated tent.
Made In Philadelphia Holiday Market
Support local artisans at the Made In Philadelphia Holiday Market which will feature over 40 local crafters, designers, artisans and more. Get your holiday shopping done at this festive location adorned with Herrnhut Stars atop each vendor’s tent.