20 Things to Do in Philly Thanksgiving Weekend

Celebrate the season at a tree lighting, skate at Winterfest, meet a dinosaur, or get a rare glimpse inside a historic venue.

An American in Paris touring company. Photo by Matthew Murphy

An American in Paris touring company. Photo by Matthew Murphy

An American in Paris @ Academy of Music | Through November 27
This show has some serious musical theater cred. It’s based on a 1951 Best Picture-winning film starring Gene Kelly, with music and lyrics by the Gershwin brothers, which was in turn based on a 1928 composition by George Gershwin. On Broadway, An American in Paris racked up several Tonys, including Best Choreography. After the Wednesday night show there’s a free cast party open to people who bought tickets for the performance at the Logan hotel, the first in a new Late Night at The Logan series.

A Year with Frog and Toad @ Arden Theatre | November 23-January 29
Arden Children’s Theatre is bringing back A Year With Frog and Toad, based on the children’s books by Arnold Lobel. Barrymore Award-winning actors Jeff Coon and Ben Dibble step back into the roles of cheerful Frog and grumpy Toad.

Tree Lighting @ Philadelphia Museum of Art | Wednesday, November 23
6abc meteorologist Adam Joseph will be broadcasting live during the tree lighting celebration on the Art Museum’s East Terrace.

Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia

Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia

A Longwood Christmas @ Longwood Gardens | November 24-January 8
Longwood Gardens gets into the holiday spirit with half a million lights, fountains timed to holiday music, seasonal plants and strolling carolers.

Comcast Holiday Spectacular @ Comcast Center | November 24-January 1
The giant LED wall in the Comcast Center starts playing its holiday-themed show, with Jingle Bell Rock, The Twelve Days of Christmas, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker by the Pennsylvania Ballet and more, on Thanksgiving Day.

 Photo by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Photo by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Thanksgiving Day Parade @ Ben Franklin Parkway | Thursday, November 24
The oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in the country starts off at 20th and Market and makes its way down the Ben Franklin Parkway, with floats, massive balloons, Santa, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Disney princess Elena of Avalor, characters from Broadway Philadelphia shows and the Walnut Street Theatre’s Wizard of Oz. Speaking of Oz…

The Wizard of Oz @ Walnut Street Theatre | Through January 8
…Head to the Walnut to join Dorothy, and Toto too, on their journey to see the wizard. The show is comfort food, with all of the characters and songs you know from the 1939 film.

Photo by Christina Kalff

Photo by Christina Kalff

Christmas Village @ City Hall | November 24-December 24
Browse homemade wares from 80 vendors, listen to live music and snack on strudel at this open-air German Christmas market in its new location at the City Hall courtyard and northern apron. On Sunday, November 27th, the Chirstkind pays a visit for the grand opening ceremony.

Jurassic World: The Exhibition @ Franklin Institute | November 25-April 23
I’m all for an exhibit that boasts it’s “the closest you will ever come to living dinosaurs.” Travel to Isla Nublar with a virtual ranger to get up close and personal with T. Rex and pals and learn about the real science behind dino DNA. The new exhibit also feature props from the film, to go with your new 24-foot-tall animatronic friends.

Holiday Garden Railway @ Morris Arboretum | November 25-December 31
The model trains and miniature village at Morris Arboretum are all decked out for the holidays with thousands of lights. The grand opening celebration, which includes craft-making for the kids, is Saturday, November 26th.

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Santa Claus @ Franklin Square | Friday, November 25
Saint Nick stops in Franklin Square as part of the ongoing Franklin Square Holiday Festival. He’ll be posing for free photos from 5-7:30 p.m. This is one of several visits Santa will be making; consult with your nearest elf or check the website for his schedule.

Wild Wizarding Weekend @ The Academy of Natural Sciences | November 25-27
Meet some “bad beasts,” catch a live owl show, watch a bunny race, learn about potions and make a magic wand at the Academy of Natural Sciences’ wizard-themed weekend.

 Photo by Matt Stanley

Photo by Matt Stanley

Winterfest @ Blue Cross RiverRink | November 25-March 5
The Winterfest ice skating rink opens on Friday, surrounded by twinkling lights, a decorated tree, fire pits, cabins to warm up in, the Franklin Fountain Confectionary Cabin, a lodge with arcade games for the kids and a chalet-style lodge with food and drink.

Spot Your Spot With Santa @ One Liberty Observation Deck | November 25-December 18
Visit with Santa and take in the 360-degree views at Philly From the Top at the One Liberty Observation Deck. Mr. Claus will be there Friday, November 25th, and Saturdays and Sundays from November 26th to December 18th, and he’s running a special: You’ll get a free kid’s ticket when you buy an adult ticket.

Photo from Facebook/Discover Doylestown

Photo from Facebook/Discover Doylestown

102nd Annual Christmas Tree Lighting @ Main and State Streets in Doylestown | Friday, November 25th
Santa will lead a parade before lighting up Doylestown’s Christmas tree. Gilbert & Sullivan Ensemble and the CB West Choir will provide the holiday music, and there will be cookies and cider in front of Siren Records.

Jazz at the Met @ Metropolitan Opera House | Saturday, November 26
The Metropolitan Opera House on North Broad has been closed to the public for years, so this is a rare opportunity for a look inside. Jazz Lives Philadelphia is hosting a concert at the historic venue, with saxophonist Ted Nash and vocalist Candice Hoyes. VIP tickets include a Hidden City tour, plus an artist meet and greet. The building is scheduled for an extensive renovation — it has no heat, so dress warmly, and you’ll have to sign a waiver.

Tree Lighting @ City Hall | Saturday, November 26
The 40-foot Philadelphia Holiday Tree in Dilworth Park outside City Hall will be lit up for the season on Saturday. The ornaments and base of the tree were designed by David Korins, who also did the set for Broadway hit Hamilton and Fox’s Grease: Live.

Courtesy of Walnut Street Theatre

Courtesy of Walnut Street Theatre

A Christmas Carol @ Walnut Street Theatre | November 26-December 23
Hang out with the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future at this family-friendly production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, from Walnut Street Theatre for Kids.

Found @ Suzanne Roberts Theatre | Though December 11
I bet when Davy Rothbart found a note on his windshield meant for someone else in 2001, he didn’t picture it becoming a musical comedy. Rothbart turned the moment into a magazine, with the tagline “We collect stuff people find,” and then a book series, a podcast, an app, and now a Philadelphia Theatre Company production.

A Child’s Christmas in Wales @ Walnut Street Theatre’s Independence Studio on 3 | Through December 23
The Irish Repertory Theatre of New York brings us this music-filled adaptation of Dylan Thomas’ poem, with a blend of traditional holiday songs and original pieces. Philly-based Aaron Cromie, whose work with puppets you need to check out, directs.

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