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The change of seasons brings lots of fun winter activities and festivals to Philadelphia. Light shows dazzle visitors well beyond the holidays, ice-skating rinks pop up around the city, and special events celebrate the colder temperatures. It’s also a great chance to indulge in winter treats like hot chocolate and activities like sledding.
There are lots of fun things to do in Philadelphia in winter. Here’s a look at some of our favorites in the city and beyond.
Shop at Christmas Village
One of the top seasonal attractions is Christmas Village at LOVE Park. Running from November 18 through December 24, 2023, the traditional Christmas market features all things German. You’ll find nutcrackers, ornaments, and lots of German-inspired foods and drinks. From bratwurst to mulled wine, the market offers a little bit of Bavaria in Center City.
There are lots of special events throughout the market’s run, including concerts, spirit tastings, and German cultural events. Take a ride on the carousel or the Ferris wheel, do a bit of shopping, and enjoy the perfect festive setting. Weeknights tend to be less busy than weekends for those wanting a more manageable crowd.
See the Crossing Reenactment
On Christmas Eve 1776, General George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River on their way to fight in Trenton. The important victory there helped re-energize the war effort that was already nearly two years old. Since 1953, reenactors have taken to the cold river on Christmas Day to give spectators a glimpse at what the crossing might have looked like right from the spot where it happened at Washington Crossing Historic Park.
Two weeks before the Christmas Day crossing, you can see the rehearsal, which is an event in and of itself. All day, the park hosts colonial-era activities and demonstrations in addition to the narrated Washington Crossing reenactment. It’s fun to see the boats up close and to talk with the reenactors who take their portrayal seriously and are happy to share their knowledge. This year’s first crossing happens December 10, 2023.
Celebrate at the Mummers Parade
The New Year’s Day Mummers Parade has been a tradition for 120 years. A little bit comical, a little bit Mardi Gras, and a lotta bit Philadelphia combine in this unique display of music and dance routines.
Each New Year’s, more than 10,000 Mummers dressed in sequins, makeup, and fancy costumes march in the parade that goes from City Hall south on Broad Street to Washington Avenue. After the parade, the Fancy Brigades head to the Pennsylvania Convention Center for finale performances.
Show up early to get a good spot for the 9am start or get tickets to ensure you’ll have a seat. Bleacher tickets for seating at City Hall and for the Fancy Brigades are available online.
Walk through Longwood Gardens
Visiting the winter wonderland that is Longwood at Christmas is one of the most popular things to do near Philadelphia in winter. With over 500,000 lights, regular fountain shows, and even fire pits and live music, the transformation at these beautiful gardens is incredible. It’s one of our favorite things to see each season.
Timed tickets are required to visit for the holiday lights and are available through January 7, 2024. Don’t miss the East Conservatory where Christmas trees and other plants almost seem to be made from light. Every year, the horticulturalists incorporate water features and fountains that result in ethereal reflections and pools that make the plants seem to float. It’s remarkable.
Enjoy the holidays at Peddler’s Village
If you haven’t had your fill of holiday cheer, Peddler’s Village keeps shining through early January. Across the shopping center, the trees, gazebo, buildings, and special displays are lit with over 1 million lights through January 14, 2024.
In addition to the holiday lights, guests will find the entrants in the gingerbread competition still on display through January 13. Check out the brilliant creations and find your favorite.
See the latest at the Philadelphia Auto Show
Car enthusiasts flock to the Philadelphia Auto Show every year. Every major car manufacturer brings their newest and best to display at the expo from January 13-21, 2024.
The massive show lets visitors see the innovative technology and updated models. The concept cars and celebrity appearances are always a huge draw, putting Philly at the center of the automotive universe for a week.
Cool off at Chestnut Hill on Ice
Every January, Chestnut Hill comes alive with a festival of ice sculptures, skating, and other winter activities at Chestnut Hill on Ice. The last weekend of January, visitors will find carvings and live demonstrations from Ice Sculpture Philly plus a synthetic skating rink, live music, and food and drink specials throughout the neighborhood.
Make s’mores at Shady Brook Farm
Shady Brook Farm is a Bucks County favorite. Through January 27, 2024, visitors can enjoy its light show packed with 3 million lights. With tunnels and every character imaginable from dancing reindeer to The Grinch depicted in holiday lights, there is a lot to see here. You can drive through the display yourself or join one of Shady Brook’s wagon rides. Fire pits, s’mores kits, snacks, and adult beverages are also available.
Celebrate Lunar New Year
One of the coolest things to see in the city in January and February are the traditional Lion Dances for Lunar New Year. The Philadelphia Suns perform with drums, dragons, and lions in the Midnight Eve and Lunar New Year Day parades. The choreographed dances involve performers both holding a dragon on poles as well as inside exaggerated, elaborate lion costumes. With firecrackers and music, the dances are an incredible experience.
In addition to the parades, the Suns bring their cultural celebration across the city and suburbs around Lunar New Year, so there are multiple chances to see them. Past years have included performances everywhere from Rail Park to King of Prussia Mall. Keep an eye on their social media for the schedule.
Experience Winter at Dilworth Park
The fun at Dilworth Park continues well into the New Year. Rothman Orthopaedics Ice Rink offers 90-minute skating sessions for people of all skating abilities, and the nearby Rothman Orthopaedics Cabin serves seasonal cocktails and food items through February 25. Just a few steps away, visitors can relax in the arbor- and light-filled Wintergarden all the way through March 17, 2024.
See the light show at Franklin Square
The highlight of winter in Franklin Square is the Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show.
Multiple times each night, more than 100,000 lights dance across the square in time to music. In the center of the square, a 12-foot-tall kite lights up in a tribute to the square’s namesake Ben Franklin and his famous kite electricity experiment.
In addition to the light show, you’ll also find carousel rides, Chilly Philly Mini Golf, and a tent offering warm drinks and snacks.
Go skating at Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest
There are lots of wintery activities at Blue Cross RiverRink’s Winterfest. The ice-skating rink is one of the best skating rinks in Philly and is the main draw with its outstanding view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. There are also fire pits to warm up by, carnival games, 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 is on until February 24, 2024, so there is plenty of time to enjoy the events.
Like most years, this winter in Philadelphia is predicted to be cold, which usually means at least a few snowfalls. Luckily, there are lots of places to go sledding in the city and just a short drive away.
If you’re in Philadelphia, the (somewhat bumpy) steps of the Art Museum are always a popular spot, and nearby Lemon Hill offers room to pick up a little speed on its slopes. In the suburbs, there are several different sledding spots at Valley Forge, and locations like the Mercer Museum and Central Park are great options in Bucks County.
Explore the Philly Home and Garden Show
For remodelers, do-it-yourselfers, and dreamers, the Philly Home and Garden Show is always a highlight of Philadelphia in the winter. The marketplace is on this year at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks February 23-25, 2024.
Get inspired by designs and décor, and check out the hands-on workshops throughout the weekend. Plus, there’s a wine garden for when you hit project overload.
Go on a hot chocolate crawl
Philly is full of great places to try hot chocolate. Whether you’re looking for a cinnamon sprinkle, a flambeed flourish, or thick drinking chocolate, you’ll find it here. Check out our recommendations for some of the best hot chocolate in the city.