The Best Christmas Lights In and Around Philadelphia
Shady Brook Farm
You haven’t seen the Statue of Liberty, Leaning Tower of Pisa or Great Wall of China until you’ve seen them made out of Christmas lights. Weave your car (or let a tractor pull you) along the two-mile path past the Seven Wonders of the World and through tunnels made of twinkling lights as you view more bedecked trees, snowmen and toy soldiers than you can possibly imagine. You’ll end up at the farm market for hot chocolate, s’mores by a bonfire, and, if you want, the perfect tree to haul home. $20 per carload during the week with a food donation; $25 on weekends.
Go here for: Family tradition; the Flemings have been running this farm for generations and the holiday show for 20-plus years.
1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square
With topiary swans, fountain shows, strolling carolers, cascading snowflakes and elegantly adorned trees, Longwood is the sophisticated older sister to other, more cartoonish displays. More than half a million lights make the already magnificent grounds glow, but you don’t want to miss the conservatory, which, besides being heated, has thousands of poinsettias and trees dressed with icicles and glass ornaments to go along with the Gardens’ fountain theme.
Go here for: Tree-trimming inspiration on a grand scale.
13th Street between Tasker and Morris streets | 2700 block of Smedley Street
Rowhomes in South Philly are known for getting all dolled up for the holidays. Worthy of its title, the “Miracle on South 13th Street” (0:51 to 1:22 in the video above) is a neighborly effort whereby illuminated reindeer are strung from rooftops across the street, stoop Santas are in constant motion, and a rainbow of colors wink and blink all over the place. Smedley Street (a.k.a. “The Christmas Street”) has Nativity scenes, inflatables and lots of Philly pride.
Go here for: The South Philly holiday lights bike tour, hosted on December 16th by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.
Light Up a Life
When Jack Yoast bought a home right on Butler Pike, he knew it was the perfect canvas for a glowing spectacular. Ten years later, his sprawling front lawn holds a legion of animated LED Santas — playing basketball, in a helicopter, pulling reindeer — that attracts 4,000 visitors on a weekend. Toss a few bucks in the donation bins for the effort (it takes more than 1,000 man-hours, a staff of about 25 and a $2,000 electric bill to run); this year the money goes to the Philly chapter of the ALS Association and the Variety Club Camp & Development Center.
Go here for: The up-close experience; park across the street and walk among the displays.
Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show at Franklin Square
Race Street between 6th and Franklin streets
With inspiration from none other than Benjamin Franklin and his electrical experiments, the show features an impressive number of 50,000 lights that dance and light up all through the square to a score of holiday tunes performed by The Philly POPS. Two shows will alternate every half hour, and at the beginning of every evening one guest will be chosen to kick off the show.
Go here for: The extra Franklin Square amenities, like warm treats and German brews at the beer garden, and gift shopping at the Holiday Market.
Additional reporting by Katiera Sordjan.
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