The 20 Best Events This Month in Philadelphia

Our highly curated, strongly opinionated guide to this month’s best events.

events this month things to do philadelphia

The SpongeBob Musical is one of the best events this month in Philly. Photograph by Jeremy Daniel

Looking for the best things to do this weekend in Philadelphia? Check here.

New Year’s Eve

Fireworks
Six p.m. if you’ve got the kids, midnight if you don’t (or you do and you’re a masochist). December 31st at Penn’s Landing.

Johnny Showcase
The funkadelic South Philly staple stages his annual spandexed blowout with Balkan brass dance band West Philadelphia Orchestra. Need a snack to soak up all that champagne? Don’t miss Jen Zavala’s new tamale bar at the venue. December 31st at Underground Arts.

The Philadelphia Orchestra
Under the baton of charismatic British maestro Bramwell Tovey. The civilized option for those who want to make it home in time for the ball-drop. December 31st at the Kimmel Center.

events this month things to do philadelphia

Hear Lizzo perform at the Jingle Ball. Photograph by Luke Gilford.

Concerts

Q102 Jingle Ball
Headlined by activist and indie pop star Halsey and the suddenly-super-famous Lizzo. December 11th at Wells Fargo Center.

Pentatonix
The a cappella sensations tour in support of their new Christmas album. (They literally call it a “Christmas” album. No hate mail, please.) December 15th at the Met.

Chris Isaak
Can you believe it’s been 30 years since he was rolling in the sand with Helena Christensen while singing “Wicked Game”? December 3rd at the Keswick.

Cher
Arguably the hottest septuagenarian on the planet. Her April show at the arena sold out. Who knew? December 6th at Wells Fargo Center.

Rick Springfield and Richard Marx
The 1980s greats, in solo acoustic performances, no less. December 13th at the Borgata.

Sports

The Army-Navy Game
The Navy Midshipmen lead the longtime series with 60 wins vs. the Army Black Knights’ 52 victories, but Army has some nice momentum, having won the last three games. Quick Philly trivia: 41 of these battles have been waged at JFK Stadium. December 14th at the Linc.

Ghostface Killah
Binge-watch the critically acclaimed Hulu series Wu-Tang: An American Saga, then go see one of the solo acts the group spawned — considered by many to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. December 13th at Ardmore Music Hall.

events this month things to do philadelphia

Visit Longwood Gardens this month for some holiday cheer. Photograph by Albee Larry

Family

The Snow Queen
The Arden does children’s theater the way it should be done, so don’t miss this interpretation of the classic Hans Christian Andersen tale, directed by Philly veteran Whit McLaughlin. Through January 26th at the Arden.

The SpongeBob Musical
No, really. The New York Times calls it “brilliant” and “exhaustingly imaginative.” December 3rd through 15th at the Forrest.

A Longwood Gardens Christmas
A lot of families have secretly replaced their annual pilgrimages to Macy’s (née Wanamaker’s) cheesy-but-lovely light show with a trip to Kennett Square for this dazzling display. Through January 5th at Longwood Gardens.

LumiNature
Hey, you’ve gotta figure out some way to get people to come see the critters in winter, right? The folks at America’s first zoo are hoping this “glimmerous adventure of beams, gleams and winter dreams” will do just that. Through January 5th at the Philadelphia Zoo.

Speakers

Salman Rushdie
Three decades after that infamous fatwa against him, the British-Indian writer just published his 14th novel, Quichotte, a work of metafiction inspired by Don Quixote. He’ll be in conversation with novelist-musician Wesley Stace, a.k.a. John Wesley Harding. December 10th at the Central Library.

Rupi Kaur
If you haven’t read a poem since high school, you need to drop what you’re doing for this 27-year-old sensation’s 2014 debut collection, Milk and Honey. She even wound up on Jimmy Fallon in 2018, telling the Tonight Show host, “I thought I had to become, like, a pop star or, like, an actress to get here.” December 14th at the Merriam.

“A John Waters Christmas: Filthier and Merrier”
True story: He once autographed my tighty-whiteys … while I was wearing them. Truly one of a kind. December 17th at Union Transfer.

Classic Movies

Die Hard
If you’ve never seen it on the big screen — whether or not you consider it a Christmas movie, which became a silly controversy last year — do yourself a favor. December 12th at Bryn Mawr Film Institute.

Trading Places
Without a doubt the funniest damn movie ever shot in Philadelphia, starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd. December 20th at the Colonial Theater.

A Christmas Story
The only holiday movie that I watch every single year. December 21st at the Colonial Theater.

Published as “The Hit List” in the December 2019 issue of Philadelphia magazine.