Your Guide to Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest at Penn’s Landing
Everything to do, see and eat at this Delaware River Waterfront holiday tradition.
Skating at Penn’s Landing’s Blue Cross RiverRink has been a winter tradition for nearly 30 years. The regulation-size outdoor ice-skating rink is a favorite for all ages, but the addition of Winterfest in past years has made it a destination even for those who don’t feel like strapping on a pair of skates. With its cozy lodge, photo ops, fun and games, and river views, it’s definitely a holiday must-do. This year, it’s set to open on November 25th, with lots of fun planned for opening weekend and beyond. Here’s all you can look forward to this season at Winterfest.
Take to the ice while music plays and the Ben Franklin Bridge lights up behind you — you’ll feel like the main character in a Hallmark Christmas movie who just needs to fall in love to discover what the holidays are all about.
Skating sessions are 90 minutes long; reserve your tickets online to select your timeslot in advance. Skating admission is $5, and skate rental is $12 (save money by bringing your own). Independence Blue Cross cardholders, students, first responders and military all get free admission with ID; discounts are in-person only. Tickets are available online or on site.
The rink has skates for adults and kids (from toddler size 8 up to men’s size 14) available to rent. You can also rent a kids’ skate trainer with rails to hold onto for $5. If your own skates could use a little freshening up, they also offer on-site skate-sharpening for $13.
Fun and Games
Skating is only part of what’s happening at Winterfest. There’s also a midway with a 60-foot-tall Ferris wheel offering a bird’s-eye view of the river (bundle up!) and carnival games (win stuffed animals and random inflatable toys). Head inside the indoor arcade for video games, Skee-ball, pinball and more. Don’t worry about having change; you can load up a game card to keep the fun going.
Don’t forget to grab a picture on the giant red Visit Philly chair — then head to a smaller rocking chair on the porch to relax. You can also relax in a private cabin — a 90-minute rental will run you $78 for a single (seats eight) or $125 for a double (seats 12 to 15).
Head inside the cozy Lodge for comfort food, cocktails and warm beverages. Chickie’s and Pete’s will be serving up their Crabfries as well as cheesesteaks, chicken wings, and soup. FCM Hospitality (of Craft Hall, Harper’s Garden, etc.) brings back Black Iron BBQ with sandwiches (pulled pork, burgers, a vegetarian “chopped cheese” cheesesteak), loaded tots, cheese curds and desserts.
The Lodge bar is serving up draft beer, wine, and both cold and hot cocktails. Warm up with spiked apple cider, hot chocolate or La Colombe coffee; or go for a Chai Toddy with Maker’s Mark or a Warm Apple Strudel topped with whipped cream. Of course, you can also get hot chocolate, coffee and cider without alcohol.
More treats can be found outside by the fire pits, including ice cream, waffles and s’mores kits at the Dippers hut. Reserve a 90-minute fire pit sesh in advance online ($30 for five people).
Rinkside, you’ll find carnival-style concessions (think funnel cake, fried Oreos and hot dogs).
Then, on December 2nd from 6 to 9 p.m., the RiverRink lights up one of the city’s largest holiday trees with festive performances. (If you can’t make it, you can watch it live on NBC 10 at 7:30 p.m.)
Winterfest will remain open on Christmas Day and is planning to bring back the New Year’s Eve Parties on Ice — one for each Penn’s Landing fireworks show. The first party begins at 4:30 p.m. (timed to the 6 p.m. fireworks) and is all-ages. The 10 p.m. party is for ages 21 and up and goes till 1 a.m. with fireworks at midnight. Both parties include skating, food and drink, and require special tickets.
Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest is located at Penn’s Landing, 101 South Columbus Boulevard. It will be open every day from November 25, 2022-March 5, 2023, including all holidays. It opens on weekdays at 1 p.m. and weekends at 11 a.m.; and closes at 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 1 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Admission to Winterfest is free, but attractions like skating, games, and food are pay-as-you-go.
Penn’s Landing is accessible via SEPTA bus lines, the PHLASH, and the Market-Frankford line with minimal walking.