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The Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular has opened in its new home in FDR Park in South Philadelphia. At over 9 acres, the light display includes tunnels, photo spots, trees, and more, making it one of the most festive places to visit this season.
The Tinseltown Spectacular is a massive, immersive, one-of-a-kind experience. The event is a chance to bask in the illumination of over 2 million lights organized into beautiful, walk-through holiday sculptures. It’s one of the best Christmas light displays in the area.
For the last two years, the lights were showcased at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center fairgrounds in Montgomery County. We had a chance to visit both the previous and current locations and found the new display in FDR Park to be even more festive and light-filled. We also love the natural setting in the park, which makes it one of the most fun things to do at Christmas.
What to see
The focus of the event is all the holiday sculptures lit up for the season. Like a true Philly event, many of the exhibits are themed to Philadelphia. There’s the Liberty Bell, Gritty, and illuminated logos for many of the sports teams (Eagles, 76ers, Flyers, and Phillies…noticeably absent was the Union). And, yes, even a giant illuminated “JAWN” (if you’re up on your Philly slang).
The main areas are the wrapped presents, the light tunnel, and the Christmas tree ornaments. Of course, there are also reindeer, Christmas trees, and a menorah, plus plenty of snowflakes and icicles.
Since the display is now in a park, it incorporates the trees around the grounds. Some have shooting star-like lights, others are dripping in ornaments, and others have trunks and branches wrapped in strings of lights. The whole effect is cozy and invites you to explore. In some ways, it feels like Peddler’s Village in Lahaska or Christmas at Longwood Gardens, only on a much smaller scale and without a drive to the suburbs.
When you get cold, head into the Union Forge Lodge for some food or drink. Or, pull up to one of the fire pits to warm yourself up.
The entire Tinseltown Christmas event is designed to be completely immersive. Unlike other Christmas light shows that offer a drive thru experience, at Tinseltown, you walk through the displays and experience them with all your senses.
There is so much to do here:
Kids can get their photos taken with Santa. He checks the list, and good children can meet him in his mini-workshop.
Listen to Mrs. Claus
Mrs. Claus gets in on the action, too! Children can listen to her as she reads holiday stories in her own reading area not far from her jolly husband. When we stopped in, the tale was The Gingerbread Man.
The entire Tinseltown event has Instagram-friendly sculptures perfect for photos. Climb into a sleigh or an airplane, sit in the arms of giant teddy bear, or stand under the light tunnel or in the middle of a giant ornament. These are great backdrops for your photos.
Try out the ice
Tinseltown has two icy attractions–the ice slide and the ice-skating trail.
If you’re feeling adventurous, don’t miss the four-lane, 160-foot-long ice slide. While we didn’t try it ourselves, the squeals and laughs of everyone coming down left no doubt that it’s a hit. Grab an inner tube and hold on tight!
For a little calmer experience, strap on some skates and spend some time sliding around the ice trail. The rink offers timed and ticketed hour-long skating sessions every night.
Food and drink
There are concessions located throughout the site. Food is served in the Union Forge Lodge, which is also a good place to warm up. It is right inside the entrance and impossible to miss. The North Pole Cafe has an indoor area and lots of outdoor seating around fire pits, which is ideal for enjoying a snack or warm drink. The area also has a light-up dance floor so you can cut a rug while listening to holiday tunes or watch your kids jump excitedly as the floor changes colors.
For a unique experience, head to the Boathouse for even more fire pits where you can have your drink and snack overlooking the lake.
For food, there are Philly favorites like cheesesteaks and crab fries, but also grilled cheese sandwiches, bratwurst, and macaroni and cheese. Other options include tomato soup, a vegetarian mushroom cheesesteak, and snacks like pretzels and popcorn. Drinks run the gamut from soda, hot chocolate, and cider to lots of specialty cocktails.
On Waggin’ Wednesday nights, bring your four-legged furry friend to get their pictures taken with Santa.
Humans will be more interested in Gritty Claus nights. Philadelphia’s beloved Gritty mascot will be rocking his most festive attire and taking photos with fans as part of a special ticket package.
Finally, several evenings have been designated as sensory-friendly evenings. Guests will find smaller crowds and quieter music that are geared to guests on the autism spectrum as well as other sensory sensitivities.
Visitors can get in some last minute holiday shopping in the Mistletoe Marketplace – a village of huts where gifts can be purchased. From artwork to sweet treats, you can find it here. Bring your shopping list and cross off some last minute gifts for your family and friends.
Where is it?
The Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular is located at FDR Park near the Boathouse and American-Swedish Museum.
Event parking is $12 and is in the Novacare Lot on Pattison Avenue. There are plenty of attendants and signage to point the way to the light display. Depending on where you park in the lot, the walk to Tinseltown is about 5 minutes.
Hours and dates
Tinseltown opened on November 17 and runs through January 1, 2024. It is closed some Mondays and Tuesdays in early December, but open nightly as it gets closer to Christmas.
Tinseltown is open from 4:30pm-10:00pm.
How much is It?
Ticket prices vary depending on the night you visit and the timeslot you select. They start at $19.99 for adults and $15.99 for children under 17. Children under the age of three are free. Tickets can be purchased here.
Tickets are limited. Visitors should book ahead, particularly for peak/desirable time periods closer to Christmas.