Hamilton Set Designer is Decorating the City Hall Christmas Tree

David Korins envisioned the Holiday Tree in Dilworth Park as a love letter to Philadelphia.
A rendering of the Philadelphia Holiday Tree at Dilworth Park. Courtesy of David Korins Design

A rendering of the Philadelphia Holiday Tree at Dilworth Park. Courtesy of David Korins Design

Anchoring a 40-foot Christmas tree outside of City Hall is an engineering feat in itself, even before you add the two-foot Liberty Bell ornament.

“We wanted it to be a love letter to Philadelphia, and we wanted the scale of the ornaments to feel different and special,” says designer David Korins of the oversized decorations and iridescent base he created for the Philadelphia Holiday Tree in Dilworth Park.

Korins recently spent some time in Philly for Philadelphia Theatre Company’s production of Found, but he’s better known for his Broadway and TV work: He designed the Tony-nominated set for Hamilton and won an Emmy for Fox’s Grease: Live. He described the Philly Holiday Tree from Los Angeles, where he was creating Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars’ sets for the American Music Awards.

The request to design the ornament and base of the Dilworth Park tree came from his frequent collaborator Steve McEntee, of Proof Productions in South Jersey. McEntee handled the engineering aspect, while Korins focused on the artwork. “Steve told me it’s Philadelphia’s version of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, so I wanted to go with patriotic iconography of the city — something that could be built on for years to come,” Korins says.

The shimmering white base embedded with lights is designed to evoke a snow globe. It’s decorated with the city skyline, with familiar landmarks and nods to “cultural and artistic endeavors” forming a “tapestry of Philadelphia living,” Korins says. Above, carved eagles hold up a banner with the words “The City of Brotherly Love.”

“I’m a storyteller,” Korins says, “I wanted to create a place where people can gather and share the holiday spirit with this big public work at the center. I wanted this tree to tell the story of the city of Philadelphia.”

The tree lighting ceremony is set for Saturday, November 26th, from 4-5:30 p.m., with hot chocolate and live entertainment.

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