Feel The Magic of Philadelphia at Christmas Time
One of the most magical times to visit Philadelphia is during the Christmas season. While the temperatures go down, and the end of the year gets closer and closer, the city is getting dressed in a special glow.
All those shimmering lights, as well as the seasonal atmosphere and festive decorations, make Philly a fairy-tale destination.
Visitors and locals celebrate together and have the chance to watch the dazzling light shows and Christmas markets from the Franklin Square, Macy’s Philadelphia, or Comcast Center.
But the list of Christmas activities doesn’t stop here, so there are lots of other celebration spots to check during your stay here. If you have a shopping list and want to surprise the beloved ones with unique gifts, you need to go to markets like Christmas Village in Philadelphia or the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market.
Of course, there are also seasonal attractions to see, like Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest and many more in Center City. But we will talk about each of them, so you won’t miss anything.
To find more, continue to scroll down through this guide for the most joyful activities in Philadelphia during Christmas.
There is no better way to spend a joyful time during Christmas than visiting the Philadelphia Christmas Village. Right in the northeast of the city, this holiday village will offer adults and children a great time, due to the local vendors, amazing Christmas gifts, as well as pleasant, colorful holiday displays.
You will find more than 80 vendors that are selling holiday themed gifts in their open-air booths at the annual Philadelphia Christmas Village right in the LOVE Park. They are there for the visitors right from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve.
What can you buy from here? Well, from gifts all around the world to jewelry and European ornaments, you can make nice shopping here. Kids will love to meet Santa right next to the huge Christmas trees, while adults will enjoy the flavors of European foods.
If you go to Philadelphia from the end of November until the 1st of January you will have the chance to attend in the ‘Made in Philadelphia’ Christmas Holiday Market. Based in Dilworth Park, this market is like a true winter wonderland.
Here you will find more than 45 local artisans, crafters, designers, and many other confectionaries that are selling some unique gifts to the public. From nice packed holiday foods to handmade toys and fine chocolate, this Christmas Market will send you into a fairytale fantasy.
If you have never been to Philly before and want to feel the local flair, then you should also try the craft beer, the local cheesesteaks, and also the original pretzels. All these are some of the city’s highlights, which create the true Philly Holiday experience.
Each year, the Winterfest happens between November through March. This is one of the most beautiful winter landscapes you will ever see, a winter park that embraces, right in the center, a huge Christmas tree, as well as a winter skating park, with breathtaking lighting.
The outdoor seating area has fire pits, as well as cozy warming cabins where you can warm up after visiting the whole Winterfest.
After ice skating, and getting hungry, don’t forget to go check the Franklin Fountain Cabin, which is actually a very elegant chalet-inspired lodge, with lots of various types of beverages and finger food.
But the main attraction of this Winterfest is the regulation-size rink, where people can go daily for skating sessions, special events, and other lively activities during the winter holidays.
#13 The Longwood Gardens
There is nothing more pleasant and Christmasy than going to the Longwood Gardens, right in the southwest of the city. Named “The Longwood Christmas”, this place features a special seasonal treat for its visitors.
Let yourself admire the illuminated indoor and outdoor displays of fountains, ornaments, or plants, all along the Garden Railway. If you are lucky enough, you can participate in some special events, such as the Breakfast with Santa.
Take your kids to Longwood Gardens too, so they can watch the ice skaters, the beautiful carol choirs, and see the Christmas decorations. The Longwood Gardens are opened from mid-November to January, so going to this Philadelphia at Christmas celebration is mandatory for getting to know Pennsylvania Christmas traditions.
Nobody should miss Franklin Square during their stay in Philly, especially during the Christmas time. The City’s historic center is built around an amazing fountain, and during the winter holidays it hosts Christmas special events, winter beer gardens, and tasty chocolate stands, where you can enjoy a sweet, smooth dessert.
Children can make cookie decorations, play mini-golf, or enjoy the amazing light show. Of course Santa will be there too, as well as Mrs, Claus. Every weekend, between mid-November and December, adults and children can meet and tell their wishes to Old Santa Claus.
You must see the Macy’s Holiday Light Show, as this event is a true tradition since 1956. During the Macy’s Holiday, the visitors will be able to see over 100,000 lights, like in a true fairytale.
Accompanied by music from the largest instrument in the world, the Wanamaker Organ, this Light Show is unforgettable. Don’t worry about missing it, as the Holiday Light Show runs every hour, starting from 10 a.m., right after Thanksgiving until the last day of December.
#10 The Dickens Village
The event happens every year, and it is even more special as Macy’s Philadelphia transforms its third floor into Dickens’ Village. If you want to feel the Christmas vibe, then please go to the 6,000-square-foot village, a version of “Christmas Carol” that you can enjoy by yourself or with your family.
The Dickens Village from Macy’s Philadelphia has a very friendly schedule, so everyone will be able to attend the event. As such, right after Thanksgiving, through the end of December, the village is open for the jolly visitors.
Of course, Santa will be there, and anyone can take pictures with him, or personalize a teddy bear. The Christmas shop is full of seasonal gifts, so don’t forget about the family and friends from home and buy them a nice present.
The Christmas lights are the element that dresses the city in a holiday vibe. The Holiday Light Show comes with more than 3 million lights, in the bright Bucks County, which becomes the annual Holiday Light Show.
Visitors will do lots of holiday themed activities, such as riding in wagons all through the beautifully illuminated tunnels. Kids will be glad to see Santa and do some holiday shopping too.
#8 The Comcast Holiday Spectacular & Market
Have you ever been to a LED holiday show? Even at Christmas? Well, you should do some things first, and go to the Comcast Center’s annual LED holiday show. If you are in love with the iconic events during Christmas, you won’t be disappointed here. You can watch the Pennsylvania Ballet’s The Nutcracker, or take the magical sleigh all over the city.
Since the very first Comcast Holiday Market, there have been more than 2 million people who have seen the show. The Market opens its door from the 3rd of December to the 31st of December, so visitors can pick up the nicest gifts for Christmas right from the local vendors.
Yes, you’ve heard it right. You can celebrate Christmas underwater, by going to the Adventure Aquarium. I promise it will be a totally enchanting for you, once you see the underwater Christmas display inside the Adventure Aquarium.
With eight whimsical Christmas tree displays, you will feel like in a totally different world, as soon as you enter the Aquarium. Moreover, the luckiest visitors will have the chance to see Scuba Santa, as well as his fishy helpers, right beneath the surface of the water.
There will be tens of magical twinkling lights, as well as some sea-lightful illuminations. This magical show will last from November 29 to December 30.
The Holiday Garden Railway takes place at the Morris Arboretum. The purpose of this event was to create a mini winter wonderland, and the organizers succeeded in this.
The Holiday Garden Railway is a true adventure dedicated to the Christmas holidays, so you will see model-train tracks, loops, and tunnels, as well as some replicas of historic monuments and some of the most important landmarks in the city all decorated with twinkling lights.
Philadelphia is celebrating, and you can see this clearly, as even the Cross RiverRink is decorated for the winter feast. Featuring an updated cabin decor, and fire pits, there is also a kid’s lodge arcade, where children can have lots of fun.
Don’t miss the sweets from Franklin Fountain Confectionery Cabin, the heaven of sweets and chocolate. The masterpiece and star of this place is the center of it, with a skating rink, which offers the visitors a spectacular view all over the Ben Franklin Bridge.
#4 Holiday Tree at City Hall
Right at the very beginning of December month, thousands of people are gathering together in one of the most festive nights in the whole year. Right on the north apron City Hall, people will cheer and enjoy live concerts and entertainment.
Last but not least, Christmas lovers will get the chance to picture the Philadelphia Holiday Tree, which is more than 50-foot tall, and it is covered in 4,000 feet with thousands of multi-color LED lights. The tree is also a cultural one, as it features lots of ornaments that refer to the 22 diverse neighborhoods all around the city of Philadelphia.
Don’t worry that you will miss them, as the tree will be shining bright all the rest of the holiday season, so it can join most of the other holiday celebrations which take place around the City Hall.
#3 New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront
One of the most beautiful light shows you can ever see are the ones from the Rivers Casino. Every year, there are two major pyrotechnics displays right over the Delaware River, so the effect of the lights is even more surprising.
These two shows are visible at 6 p.m. and the other one at midnight. You can watch the amazing show from different parts of the city, and also Philly’s attractions. As such, you can be even at the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest and you will be able to see the program of fireworks at night.
#2 Christmas at The Historic Houses of Fairmount Park
For a more historical, yet spectacular celebration of Christmas, the park mansions which date since the 18th and 19 century open their doors for holiday tours. As such, the Historic Strawberry Mansion, Cedar Grove, Lemon Hill, Laurel Hill, and Woodford are the hosts for holiday treats and performances.
The experience for visitors will be unique, as they have the chance to explore the holiday decorations from these houses. They can have the four ticked special events as well, like the Sounds of the Season, Flavors of the Season, and other live music performances in each house. Maybe this is your best chance to explore all the Fairmount Park gems, right?
One of the most extravagant events you will ever see in Philly, the New Year’s Tradition of Mummers Parade dates since 1901, there are thousands of children and adults who celebrate this holiday.
They dance, laugh, and watch the parading along Broad Street right from the Philadelphia City Hall. The season of the parade includes lots of competitions too, among Comic Wench, Comic, and String Band divisions, all to Washington Avenue.
If you want to have much more fun, then don’t miss another important event during the Mummers Parade, which is the Fancy Brigade Finale Competition. Here, the participant will do some Broadway-inspired shows. If you do want to participate in this event, make sure you get the tickets first, via phone, mail, or right from the Independence Visitor Center.
Do you plan to go to Philadelphia during the winter holidays? There are so many things to do and places that keep and enhance the magic of the Christmas days. I hope our guide has helped you, so we wish you a jolly, nice stay in Philly.
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Things to do, Places to go, Fun in Philadelphia
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