12 Sites to Find Your Holiday Spirit in Philly
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and Philly does the holidays right. With dozens of holiday attractions all over the city, it’s hard to choose which ones you should hit. To get your holiday spirit in full swing, we’re gifting you with a list of the city’s top 12 holiday hotspots—all conveniently accessible on the PHLASH®.
Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest
Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest is home to an outdoor Olympic-size skating rink right on the Delaware River Waterfront. Guests can skate beneath sparkling holiday lights, or warm up at the outdoor fire-pits, grand lodge and warming cabins with heaters, blankets and fireplaces. Hot foods from Garces, Chickie’s and Pete’s, s’mores kits from the Franklin Fountain, and specialty hot cocktails are also available to make even the coldest guests warm up to the season.
Each year, Franklin Square celebrates the holidays the way its namesake, the founding father famous for his fascination with electricity, Benjamin Franklin, would have wanted–with 75,000 electric lights. The Franklin Square Holiday Festival and Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show offers an outdoor light show choreographed to holiday music, fire-pits, a Winter Beer Garden, and a holiday train and carousel. Free to attend. Shows 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., November 15 to December 31.
Macy’s Christmas Light Show and Dickens Village
The Macy’s Christmas Light Show has taken holiday displays to another level for more than fifty years. Visitors can watch and listen as classic holiday songs like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman are brought to life through 100,000 LED lighting up the multi-story Grand Court atrium wall. Shows, starting at noon, feature the historic Wanamaker Grand Organ, the biggest working pipe organ in the world. The free shows run every two hours, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., November 23 to December 31. While you’re still in the building, head upstairs for a different kind of immersive holiday tale—the life-size recreation of Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol”. Walk amongst your favorite characters, all in intricately detailed animatronic form, as the classic story unfolds. The free showcase is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., November 23 to December 31.
Shops at Liberty Place
If you still haven’t found that perfect holiday gift yet, you’ll find it at the Shops at Liberty Place. Featuring 55 stores and an impressive decorated tree, visitors can browse for gifts in a festive fashion. Shops open 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
One Liberty Observation Deck
Before you leave the building, head up to the top to check out One Liberty Observation Deck’s holiday display. The deck will feature light displays inspired by the houses of the Miracle on South 13th Street, and festive costumes from the Mummer’s Parade and The Nutcracker Ballet, with a giant replica of Ben Franklin’s head serving as the piece de resistance. While you’re there, turn and look out over all the holiday decorations throughout the city. Open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., November 21 to January 1.
City of Philadelphia Official Philly Holiday Tree
If you happen to spot City Hall, you might find it irresistible to go check out the décor for yourself. The giant Philly Holiday tree (tree-lighting November 28) watches over visitors as they explore the delights of Dilworth Park, including a new, nightly musical light show projected onto City Hall, an ice skating rink, the Made in Philadelphia Holiday craft market, plus a pop-up restaurant, hot beverages and snacks. Free to attend.
If you’re looking for an authentic holiday tradition, try one that reaches back to the Middle Ages. The Christmas Village in LOVE Park is a holiday market modeled after traditional German Christmas markets. Over 80 wooden booths offer traditional European holiday gifts, crafts, food and treats. Free to enter, runs from November 22 to December 24.
Comcast Holiday Spectacular
Enjoy a more modernized version of the holidays through the state-of-the-art display at the Comcast Center. In their continuously playing, 15-minute holiday show, take a virtual sleigh ride or delight at the twelve days of Christmas with one of the largest LED displays in the world. Free to attend. Shows from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., November 22 to January 1.
The Franklin Institute Holiday Week
Only at the Franklin Institute will you find a holiday show that somehow includes both tree decoration, caroling and pyrotechnics. From December 26th through December 31st, the Franklin Institute will host its Holiday Week, featuring events all day, every day that bring a little more science into the season. Discover what makes a white Christmas and then some with liquid nitrogen demonstrations, and learn about the engineering behind your Christmas presents with giant Tinker Toys and the opportunity to design a video game.
Philadelphia Museum of Art Tree
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is joining in on the holiday spirit with a masterpiece holiday tree. The 55-foot tall white fir will light up with 12,000 holiday lights on Wednesday, November 21 at 6 p.m. Dash up the Rocky steps to snap at picture beneath its bright lights.
Please Touch Museum Polar Express Family Festival
The Please Touch Museum knows their customers, and they’re pulling out all the stops for the most wonderful time of the year by bringing Santa Claus in on the Polar Express. On Saturday, December 15, attend the Polar Express Family Festival, featuring fun educational events like Staying Warm, where kids travel to the Polar Regions to learn how animals stay warm; Full Steam Ahead!, which gives kids the chance to experiment and learn about the steam that powers the Polar Express; and, of course, the chance to meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
The Philadelphia Zoo’s Breakfast with Santa
If you (or your kids) are Santa Claus fanatics, you can see him again—and again and again—for three weekends at the Philadelphia Zoo. Reserve yourself a spot in the Rare Animal Conservation Center between 8:30 and 10:30 am. and tell Santa all about your Christmas list over a buffet breakfast. Visit philadelphiazoo.org to purchase tickets.
Beginning on Friday, November 23 through December 30, PHLASH® will provide daily daytime service along its regular route, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., as well as FREE special evening service (courtesy of Visit Philadelphia®) every Thursday – Sunday, 6 – 9 p.m., to access Philly Holiday Festival attractions.
This is a paid partnership between Independence Visitor Center Corporation and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio