20 Fun Ways to Experience Christmas in Philadelphia

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Christmas is one of the most festive times in Philadelphia. From the Christmas village to the Macy’s light show, Center City and beyond are filled with seasonal attractions and events that make the holidays feel even more special. There are ice skating rinks, music performances, and lots of lights to see. Christmas in Philly is not to be missed.

For some of the events, advanced ticketing is recommended (and sometimes required) for popular times. Make sure to check the websites for the seasonal attractions before you head out and look for any updates on social media.

Read on to see some of the top things to do in greater Philadelphia during the Christmas season.

Shop and ice skate at Dilworth Park

Drawings on display at a Christmas market
City-themed artwork for sale at the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market

In recent years, Dilworth Park alongside City Hall has become a hub of activity in the winter.

To complement the nearby Christmas Village, you’ll find the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market. The vendors are from the metro area and often feature gifts and unique offerings with Philadelphia-area themes. From sea glass from the Jersey Shore to homages to Gritty and Jalen Hurts, there are a lot of fun things to see here.

Beyond shopping, visitors love the ice-skating rink, which opens November 4. The nearby Wintergarden on the Greenfield Lawn has space to spread out and ample chances for photo opps with rustic topiary characters. To warm up, head to the Rothman Orthopaedic Cabin for seasonal cocktails and food items in an open-air set up.

The market runs November 19, 2022 through January 1, 2023, and the other activities are on through February 26, 2023.

Location: Dilworth Park at City Hall

See the Macy’s Christmas Light Show

Christmas tree made of blue lights hanging on a wall
Macy’s light show is a Philly tradition

The Macy’s Christmas Light Show has been a tradition in Center City since 1956. Spanning four stories, the massive display dominates the store’s Grand Court.

Nutcrackers, snowmen, and more holiday characters dance to the sounds of Deck the Halls and other favorite Christmas carols. With over 100,000 multicolored LED lights, the light show is something to behold. The Wanamaker organ—the largest pipe organ in the world—provides the soundtrack multiple times a day.

Shows run November 25 through December 31, 2002.

Location: Macy’s Philadelphia, 13th & Market

Visit the Dickens Village

Two animatronic characters in a snowy scene
Scrooge in a scene of A Christmas Carol

There is a certain charm to the relatively low-tech version of A Christmas Carol at Dickens Village. Each year on the third floor of Macy’s, vintage animatronic characters enact the story of redemption and Christmas spirit.

The village is open by advanced reservation from November 25 through December 31, 2022 and online.

Location: Macy’s Philadelphia, 13th & Market (3rd floor)

Browse and eat at the Christmas Village

Wooden vendor huts decorated with lights
The festive Christmas Village stalls in traditional German style

It’s not Christmas in Philadelphia without a visit to the Christmas Village at LOVE Park.

The traditional German Christmas market features nutcrackers, traditional ornaments, and other German-inspired elements and foods. Between the lights, music, and tastes of the market, it’s a great place to enjoy an afternoon or evening. Weeknights tend to be less busy than weekends for those wanting a more manageable crowd. The market is on November 19 through December 24, 2022.

Location: LOVE Park

Try a treat at Shane Confectionery

Two counters full of candy and chocolate running along opposite walls
Inside the old-fashioned candy store

America’s oldest candy shop is a great place to go at Christmas. Shane Confectionery’s drinking chocolates are a must try, and they have lots of seasonal treats.

A particular standout during the holidays reinforces Shane’s commitment to tradition in the form of a Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas gift known as Clear Toy Candy. The colorful sugar candies range from miniature to upwards of 6 inches in size. You’ll find everything from reindeer to Santas and wreaths. Stars of David are also available.

Location: 110 Market Street

Skate at Blue Cross RiverRink

Skaters on an ice rink surrounded by colorful lights
Skaters at Winterfest

There are a variety of wintery activities at Blue Cross RiverRink’s Winterfest. The ice-skating rink is a main draw and one of the best places to skate in the city. Skaters of all ages and abilities take to the rink overlooking the Delaware River for some outdoor fun in the cooler temperatures.

If you don’t feel like lacing up your skates, warm up by one of the fire pits instead or get cozy in one of the cabins strewn with lights. There are also carnival games, amusements, and a Ferris wheel to keep everyone entertained. In the open-air lodge, you’ll find plenty of snacks and warm drinks for purchase.

Winterfest opens November 25, 2022.

Location: 101 S. Christopher Columbus Blvd.

See the lights at Franklin Square

Strings of lights across a city square at night
The nightly light show at Franklin Square

Several different attractions bring visitors back to Franklin Square year after year.

The highlight of the season is the Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show. Multiple times each night, more than 100,000 lights dance across the square in time to the music. It’s one of the best free things to see in the city during the holidays.

Kids will love the carousel rides, and Chilly Philly Mini Golf is appropriate for all ages with a course that includes holiday music and reproductions of famous Philadelphia landmarks.

Activities run November 16, 2022 through February 26, 2023.

Location: Franklin Square

Enjoy the Holiday Garden Railway at Morris Arboretum

Model train going through scenery lit with Christmas lights
The railway is very popular during the holidays

Morris Arboretum is lovely in any season. But, during the holidays, it is even more enchanting thanks to the addition of its Holiday Garden Railway. For one-quarter mile, the train winds its way along a track through the winter garden passing through tunnels and over bridges. Along the way, it snakes by miniature buildings and town scenes lit with twinkling lights for Christmas.

The railway can be viewed during the day November 25-December 30 and weekend evenings November 26-December 30. Evening reservations regularly sell out.

Location: 100 E. Northwestern Ave.

Stroll through Miracle on South 13th Street

Illuminated sign: The Miracle on South 13th St, Merry Christmas
This sign welcomes visitors to the light display on South 13th Street

Miracle on South 13th Street is, hands down, one of my favorite things about Christmas in Philadelphia. For years, this group of neighbors has coordinated to bring the joy of Christmas to those who need it and the thousands of people who visit every season.

Most of the houses pour all their creativity into their decorations. The result is a little bit like Christmas threw up on the street—but only in the very best of ways. You just have to take a stroll or a drive through and see it for yourself.

Location: South 13th Street between Tasker and Morris. Also check out our detailed article about Miracle on 13th Street.

Catch a holiday performance

Favorite Christmas performances are returning to Philadelphia this winter.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker has been a fixture of the holidays in Philadelphia for years. The story of Marie’s fantastic adventures with Sugar Plum Fairies and more told through ballet runs December 9-28. Tickets for opening night are just $10.

The Philly POPS also has a full season of music to enjoy with shows from December 3-17 at the Kimmel Cultural Campus. Traditional carols and holiday favorites will be performed by The Philly POPS Festival Chorus, The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir, and The Philadelphia Boys Choir.

Locations: The Nutcracker at the Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad St.; Philly POPS at the Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St.

Check out the Christmas pop-up bars

Buildings covered in Christmas lights
Taqueria Amor lit up for its Grinch-themed pop up

The holiday season is always full of fun pop-ups to keep things merry.

Tinsel returns in Midtown Village with lots of lights, cocktails served in ornaments and snow globes, and Christmas cookies. A few blocks away, Craftsman Row Saloon is covered in Christmas decorations. They offer a festive holiday cocktail menu, over-the-top milkshakes like the “All I Want for Christmas” shake, and the Christmas dinner burger.

Taqueria Amor in Manayunk always has something fun up its sleeve for the holidays, too. During its Grinch-themed pop-up, you can still get the delicious Mexican food the restaurant is known for, and you can try their Grinchy cocktails, too. If you play your cards right, you may run into the green man himself.

Locations: Tinsel, 116 S. 12th St.; Craftsman Row Saloon, 112 S. 8th St.; Taqueria Amor, 4410 Main St., Manayunk

See the City Hall Light Show

Light show projected onto the exterior of a building
The light show at City Hall is a holiday tradition

The western side of City Hall provides one of the great free attractions of the holidays. From November 21 through New Year’s Day, the Deck the Hall Holiday Lights projection shines brightly across the building.

The lights move in time with sound effects in a show that plays every evening from 5pm-9pm with full shows happening at the top of each hour.

Location: Philadelphia City Hall

Go to Stag & Doe

Storefront decorated with holly, ribbons, and lights
Germantown Avenue lit up for the season

Stag & Doe is a long-standing tradition in Chestnut Hill. November 30 and every Wednesday in December before Christmas, stores stay open late to allow for more shopping and there are special events throughout the neighborhood, including brass quartet performances. Look out for Santa who will be strolling Germantown Avenue.

Location: Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill

Walk under the lights at LumiNature

Rocks with brightly colored designs illuminated by blacklight beside lit up giant jellyfish
Underwater scene at LumiNature

The Philadelphia Zoo’s nighttime exhibit LumiNature combines larger-than-life illuminated animals with light shows and projections to create a dazzling environment that’s fun for the whole family. From giant jellyfish in an underwater seascape to a Christmas tree made entirely of bright flamingos, 14 different zones around the property are packed with things to see.

Live performers and lots of food and warm beverages help make it a fun winter experience. It runs from November 17, 2022 through January 7, 2023.

Location: Philadelphia Zoo, 3400 W. Girard Avenue

Enjoy the season at Peddler’s Village

Christmas tree and building decorated with lights
Some of the festive lights at Peddler’s Village

Peddler’s Village is the perfect destination in Bucks County at Christmastime. It’s a given that the village is a great place for shopping with more than 60 stores and boutiques—many of which are specially decorated for the season. But what we love most are the features that can only be found at the holidays.

Visitors can see the entrants in this year’s gingerbread competition from November 18, 2022 through January 8, 2023. These are no basic gingerbread houses. Instead, you’ll find boats, mansions, advent calendars, and even movie sets expertly produced in miniature, edible style.

Outside, 1 million lights illuminate the trees and buildings of Peddler’s Village beginning November 18. Across the shopping center, there are special displays for the season, including Christmas trees, a light tunnel, and more.

Location: Routes 202 & 263 in Lahaska

See the lights at Shady Brook Farm

Overhead view of a Christmas light trail lit up at night
Some of Shady Brook’s 3 million lights

The 100-year-old Shady Brook Farm has, undoubtedly, one of the top Christmas light displays in the Philadelphia area. The 3 million lights in its drive-thru Holiday Light Show include everything from dancing reindeer and Santa’s workshop to The Grinch. Plan ahead and tune your radio to 90.7FM to enjoy carols and holiday standards along with the lights.

Visitors can drive their own vehicle or take a wagon ride to see the light trail. Visits with Santa, s’mores kits, snacks, and warm drinks (both alcoholic and non) are also available, and you can pick up a Christmas tree while you’re there. The festivities run November 19, 2022 through January 8, 2023.

Location: 931 Stony Hill Road, Yardley

Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular

White Christmas lights in the shape of Christmas trees and a large bell
Tinseltown has Philly-themed elements like the Liberty Bell

During the holidays, giant light-covered sculptures dot the grounds of the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks as part of the Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular. From reindeer to ornaments and even Gritty, there is no shortage of interesting things to see here. Altogether, there are more than 1 million lights.

In addition to the lights, visitors will find an ice-skating rink, an ice slide, a seasonal pub, photos with Santa, and more. The Spectacular is on from November 25 through December 31, 2022.

Location: The Fairground at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, 100 Station Ave. in Oaks

Explore the grounds of Longwood Gardens

The holidays are one of the most popular times to visit Longwood Gardens. The grounds of this 1000-acre garden come alive with displays, lights, and special offerings for Christmas.

Around the property, more than 500,000 lights illuminate the trees and plants alongside unique light sculptures. Inside the Conservatory, there are dozens of Christmas trees decked out for the season—many in unexpected ways.

Other highlights include fire pits, holiday treats, and a visit to the Peirce-du Pont house that dates from 1730. Don’t miss the fountain show where the water and lights move in time with Christmas music. See the displays from November 18, 2022 through January 8, 2023.

Location: 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square

Watch Washington cross the Delaware

Reenators in Revolutionary-era dress row boats across the Delaware River

Every December, hundreds of reenactors and thousands of spectators gather to commemorate General George Washington and his troops crossing the Delaware River on Christmas Day 1776. The troops—in full Revolutionary-era dress—row massive boats across the quick moving river from Pennsylvania to New Jersey, leaving from a spot at Washington Crossing Historic Park.

There are two crossings, if weather the permits. The first crossing reenactment is December 11, and the second occurs on Christmas Day. The first crossing also features additional programming with reenactors, including various demonstrations and presentations.

Location: Washington Crossing Historic Park, 1112 River Road in Washington Crossing

Experience holiday magic at Brandywine Museum of Art

Miniature train circling a carnival scene
The miniature Brandywine Railroad

The Brandywine River Museum of Art features an attraction that has been a holiday staple since 1972—the Brandywine Railroad. Visitors can see the famous O-gauge model train wind its way through miniature scenes like a drive-in movie theater and a welcoming village. Interactive elements let you control a bit of the action.

The museum’s cute Critter ornaments, which are handmade by its volunteers, decorate the trees in the three-story atrium. Take one home during the annual Holiday Critter Sale or order select options online.

The train is operating November 19, 2022 through January 8, 2023.

Location: 1 Hoffmans Mill Road, Chadds Ford

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