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The Christmas Village in Philadelphia is the highlight of the season in the city. Every year, LOVE Park and the area around City Hall fill with food vendors, merchants selling their creations, rides, lights, and more. The whole experience is a spectacle of fun and festivity.
Designed to feel like an authentic German Christmas market, the Christmas Village is full of things straight from Europe—from the shopping to the food. Visitors will find German decorations for sale, wooden vendor stalls topped with Herrnhut (Moravian) stars, bratwurst, and mulled wine. An evening exploring all that the village has to offer is one of the best ways to enjoy Christmas in Philly.
The village runs from November 18 – December 24, 2023. Here’s what to expect from a visit.
Food and drink
The areas of the Christmas market are packed with food options.
There are snacks like French fries and French toast bites and more substantial dishes like flatbread.
One of the most popular items around the village is raclette—a thick sheet of melted cheese spread over crusty bread, with toppings of your choice. If this sounds like your idea of heaven, plan to wait in line for a little while if you’re visiting on the weekend.
Keeping with the German theme, kiosks offer pretzels, spaetzle, and schnitzel, among other treats. Bratwurst and smoked sausage (with or without sauerkraut) are also cooked over an open charcoal grill, just like in the famous markets of Nuremberg and Munich. Everything can be paired with mulled wine from Chaddsford Winery and Mazza Wines, German beer from Mainstay Independent Brewing and Brewery Techne, hot chocolate, and other warm drinks.
If you’re planning on a meal at the market, the two best places to sit are at the small tables between the Christmas tree and the stage or the picnic tables in The Alm–the market’s beer garden. Surrounding The Alm, you’ll find more food vendors like Humpty’s Dumplings (a personal favorite) and Bao & Bun Studio.
The Christmas Village presents lots of opportunities for shopping. Visitors will find toys, jewelry, candles, clothing, and knitted items to keep out the winter cold. There are also lots of decorative items like glassworks, star-shaped lanterns and other unique, artistic pieces.
The largest shopping space at the market belongs to Kathe Wohlfahrt, a German company known for its traditional Nutcrackers, ornaments, and displays. In a large, white tent on the south side of LOVE Park, there are German pyramids, smoker characters, and other items carefully crafted to become family heirlooms. It’s one of the most popular stops at the village and can get crowded at peak times.
Across from LOVE Park at Dilworth Park, there is even more shopping at the Made in Philadelphia artisan market. Vendors here are from Philadelphia and around the tri-state area. They bring their creations ranging from Philly-themed clothes to items made from Jersey Shore sea glass to photos of city icons and lots of things in between.
Festival of Trees
New in 2023 is the Festival of Trees. In the “flying saucer” building at the southwest corner of LOVE Park, you’ll find a group of beautifully decorated trees sponsored by local companies and organizations and designed by professional designers.
For a small donation, you’ll get a snowflake token that you can use to vote for your favorite tree. All the proceeds benefit Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. As a bonus, for a $10 donation, you get a voucher for a free hot chocolate at the market, so you can do good while getting something tasty in return.
The Festival of Trees is also the spot where you’ll find Santa. Friday through Sunday from December 1-24, the big guy will be here available for photos.
The area around City Hall has several different rides to keep visitors of all ages entertained.
The popular Ferris wheel has returned to the north side of City Hall right by the Christmas tree. For just $5, riders can take a spin and see the Christmas Village and surrounding area from above. Immediately next to it is the kiddie train.
A few steps away in the courtyard, the double-decker carousel is popular with market visitors. It is surrounded by several different food stands and holiday vendors. You may also find musicians or even a radio station doing a live broadcast, as we experienced on our most recent visit.
From beer tastings to bratwurst eating contests, there are special events almost every day. Performers and musicians regularly take the stage, there is weekly storytelling time for kids, and there are even pet adoption drives. This year, Thursdays feature spirit tastings from Lansdale’s Boardroom Spirits (tickets required). Check out the full calendar to see what’s happening.
Amidst the activity of the Christmas Village, you’ll also find the Rothman Orthopedics Ice Rink that has become a staple of the holiday season. It’s appropriate for visitors of all skills levels, and there are often kids using supports to help them stay upright on the ice. In 90-minute sessions, you can learn how to skate or show off your talents. For something with a slower pace, pop into the Rothman Orthopedics Cabin for drinks and snacks.
How to get here
The Philadelphia Christmas Village is located across the street from Suburban Station and is about one-half mile from Jefferson Station. Additionally, bus lines 2, 17, 33, 38, 44, 48, 124, and 125 stop near LOVE Park and City Hall.