The Best Places to See Holiday Lights Around Philadelphia

Get festive with the most magical, twinkly-light-filled spots around town.


holidays macy's Christmas Light Show wanamaker's philadelphia

Holiday lights in their most classic Philly form: the Macy’s Christmas Light Show / Photograph by Laura Swartz

The holidays in Philly bring lots of sparkle, with traditions both old and new. Holiday lights start in November, so you’ve got time to see them all — and you can, with help from our guide.

Macy’s Christmas Light Show

To quote Julie Andrews’s narration of this 100,000-light spectacle, the Macy’s Christmas Light Show is a “grand tradition.” If you’re from Philly, you probably grew up watching it, and not a thing has changed (other than its original Wanamaker name). The bears, the dancing snowmen, the “magic Christmas tree,” the majestic organ finale — it’s all there, and it’s all aglow in colorful nostalgia. After a couple pandemic-era years when they cut down the showtimes, we’re back to the show running roughly every two hours daily (see below for exact showtimes). Pro-tip for Philly parents with small children: It’s much less crowded during the workday. While you’re there, head upstairs to Dickens Village to walk through an animatronic telling of A Christmas Carol. Note that this year, online reservations are required to visit Dickens Village and Santa, so this will take a little more planning than in the past. Worth it.
Free; November 25th-December 31st (Monday-Saturday: 10:30 a.m., noon 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Sunday: noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m), Macy’s, 1300 Market Street.

Franklin Square Electrical Spectacle

Holiday lights at Franklin Square / Photograph by Jeff Fusco

Every night from November 16th through February 26th, more than 200,000 lights will shine throughout Franklin Square for the Electrical Spectacle. Through January 11th, the lights will dance, synchronized to a soundtrack of holiday classics (Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You,” selections from The Nutcracker, etc.). The shows run every 30 minutes beginning at 5 p.m. daily and running throughout the night’s activities until 9 p.m. If you stay a while, you can catch them both. (Beginning on January 12th, the holiday soundtrack will be replaced by Johnny Mathis’s “Winter Wonderland” for each show through February 25th.) While you’re there, take a spin on the carousel, warm up by outdoor fire pits with a boozy hot cocoa, and play Chilly Philly Mini Golf with (even more) lights, holiday music and friendly animal decorations.
Free; November 16th-February 25th (daily, every 30 minutes from 5-9 p.m.), Franklin Square, 6th and Race streets.

Tinseltown

Gritty Claus at Tinseltown / Photograph courtesy of Comcast Spectacor

This dazzling outdoor holiday light experience features light sculptures and displays powered by more than 1.2 million light bulbs. Walk among larger-than-life sculptures, including a 60-foot light tunnel, Santa’s sleigh and some Philly sports-themed light sculptures, too. While you’re there, dine on festive treats and beverages (including cocktails) in heated tents, and shop for gifts in the marketplace. New for this year, the show moves to South Philly’s FDR Park, and they’re really taking advantage of the space by lighting up the boathouse and trees in addition to the installations. Also new for this year, there’s a four-lane ice slide, plus an ice-skating trail that allows you to explore the lights from a new perspective. And perhaps best of all, there’s Gritty Claus. Sure, there are photos with Santa and storytimes with Mrs. Claus the rest of the time, but on Friday nights in December, you can see Gritty dressed in his holiday finest — and what are you even doing with your holidays if not that? Advance timed tickets are required; additional activities like skating and Santa photos are extra.
$16-$41 (free for children under four); November 17th-January 1st, 4:30-10 p.m., FDR Park, 1900 Pattison Avenue.

LumiNature

LumiNature at the Philadelphia Zoo / Photograph by Winnie Chung

The Philadelphia Zoo lights up for the holidays with larger-than-life illuminated zones and installations throughout the zoo. Favorites like the 25-foot-tall pink-flamingo tree and the the “Penguin Prismatic” light show — featuring a glowing 40-foot-tall penguin surrounded by a colony of little light-up penguins on the zoo’s Bird Lake — return. Joining them will be new installations like a 100-foot-long tunnel filled with 4,000 lights called “Shimmer River,” and “LumiNature Lane,” for which local artists are painting three-foot-tall glowing paper lanterns. Seasonal fare, s’more-making at fire pits, strolling performers, hot chocolate (and adult beverages) add to the festiveness. Pre-purchase timed tickets online.
$20-$28 (free for children under two); November 17th-January 6th, Philadelphia Zoo, 3400 West Girard Avenue.

The Comcast Holiday Spectacular

Comcast Holiday Spectacular / Photograph by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

Not quite a light show in the traditional sense, but it’s a “spectacular,” so just go with it! Every year, this 15-minute festive musical fills the Comcast Center lobby with holiday songs, aerial footage of Philly, parts of the Philadelphia Ballet’s Nutcracker, and more on one of the world’s largest LED video walls. The show opens on Thanksgiving Day at 10 a.m. and runs at the top of every hour through New Year’s Day. This year, Comcast is including a sensory-friendly version of the show every day at 2:30 p.m.
Free; November 24th-January 1st (daily at the top of every hour,  from 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; sensory-friendly show daily at 2:30 p.m.), Comcast Center, 1701 JFK Boulevard.

Miracle on South 13th Street

Miracle on South 13th Street / Photograph by Laura Swartz

Every year, the residents of this lovely little South Philly block string up the lights and plug in the bobbing reindeer for a group-effort Christmas display that pleases the eye (and probably raises the PECO bill). It’s colorful and kitschy and pure Philly. Drive or walk through slowly and bask in its homespun glory from Black Friday till New Year’s.
Free; November 25th-January 1st, South 13th Street between Tasker and Morris streets.

Smedley Street Christmas Light Spectacular

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Holiday lights on Smedley Street / Photograph courtesy of Founding Footsteps

An otherwise unassuming block in Southwest Philly becomes a Christmas Street every year around this time, thanks to the many light-up attractions large and small that pop up along the median. Cruise through or bundle up and walk (but keep off the grass).
Free; Smedley Street between 16th and 17th streets, Moyamensing and Oregon avenues.

Greeby Street Christmas

Like the aforementioned Miracle on South 13th Street, this holiday tradition in Tacony is as much a display of neighborly cheer as it is of watts and lumens. You might need to drive through a couple times just to take it all in. (Note: The Facebook page hasn’t been updated but we’ll assume this is still happening unless we hear otherwise.)
Free; through December 31st, 4200 Greeby Street.

Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest

Winterfest lights up the RiverRink / Photograph by Matt Stanley

Eating and drinking costs money — as does ice skating and playing the arcade games — but being merry is free of charge. Put on a scarf and stroll the grounds of this riverside winter wonderland with a sweet view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Plus, they’re having their tree lighting on December 1st for even more lights.
November 24th-early 2024, 101 South Columbus Boulevard.

Grand Illumination at American Credit Union

American Heritage Credit Union’s campus lights up with over 400,000 lights. Stroll the campus, enjoy the lights and decorations, and take lots of photos, all for free every night. It kicks off on Saturday, November 25th at 7 p.m. with the lighting of their two 40-foot trees and appearances by Ben Franklin and Betsy Ross.
Free; November 25th-December 31st, American Heritage Carriage House, 2060 Red Lion Road.

Holiday Garden Railway at Morris Arboretum

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Holiday lights at the Garden Railway / Photograph by Mark Stehl

Morris Arboretum’s beloved Garden Railway gets its annual holiday upgrade. For the season, its quarter-mile of track and miniature replicas of Philadelphia-area landmarks made from natural materials will light up with thousands of twinkling lights. The garden holds special “Nighttime Express” ticketed events on weekends (and select Thursdays) from 4:30 to 8 p.m. where you can really get the full effect of the lights. You can also view the railway during the day for free with general admission.
$10-$22 (free for children under three); weekend nights from November 26th-December 22nd, 4:30-8 p.m., Morris Arboretum, 100 East Northwestern Avenue.

Bonus: Founding Footsteps’ Holiday Light Trolley Tour

All aboard the jolly trolley! / Photograph courtesy of Founding Footsteps

Want to hop on a jolly trolley full of lights and music (and drinks, if you BYOB) and see a bunch of these lights in one night? Then book a ride with Founding Footsteps. Their decked-out holiday trolley features decorations and live music, and passes by festive sites like Miracle on South 13th Street, Smedley Street, Franklin Square, Penn’s Landing’s Winterfest and more. (You’ll also get off the trolley at certain stops to explore on foot.) Advance tickets are required, and weeknight tours are discounted.
$55-$65; select nights from November 25th-December 31st, meets at Craft Hall, 901 North Delaware Avenue.

Holiday Lights Worth the Drive Outside Philly

LuminoCity Holiday Lights Festival

New this year, the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks hosts this “immersive wonderland of lights” promising “state-of-the-art production” under the theme of “Golden Holiday.” Expect light sculptures that resemble the gigantic Chinese lanterns that visit Franklin Square in the summer, as well as structures made of thousands of LED lights — all for your to walk through. Plus, a holiday market and bar.
$20-$32, November 17th-January 15th, Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, 100 Station Avenue, Oaks.

Shady Brook Farm

Every winter, a live working farm in Yardley sets up a two-mile stretch of illuminated holiday attractions. Drive yourself through or hop in the back of an open-air wagon. Then pull over for cocoa and s’mores.
$30-$50 per car; $15-$23 for a wagon ride; November 18th-January 8th, Shady Brook Farm, 931 Stony Hill Road, Yardley.

Herr’s Snack Factory Holiday Lights Display

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Holiday lights at Herr’s / Photograph courtesy of Herr’s

This free, drive-through lights display is far, but a tradition for lots of Philly-area families. So pile into the car and head out to Chester County to travel through 600,000 lights decorating the snack-factory campus. According to Herr’s reps, over 9,000 cars visit the whimsical displays each year. So why not you, too? It runs every day from dusk (5 p.m.) to dawn (7 a.m.) — that’s right, you can head there at 3 a.m. if you can’t sleep and just need some jolly lights! We won’t judge.
Free; November 22nd-January 2nd, 5 p.m.-7 a.m., Herr’s Company Headquarters, 20 Herr Drive, Nottingham.

Wild Lights at Elmwood Park Zoo

This Norristown zoo lights up every year for the holidays with animal-themed displays and live entertainment, plus animal encounters and Santa visits. Tickets available online.
$13-$22 (free for children ages two and under); November 17th-December 30th, Elmwood Park Zoo, 1661 Harding Boulevard, Norristown.

A Longwood Christmas

Longwood Gardens glows up for the season with gorgeous outdoor and indoor light displays inspired by nature. There’s also live holiday music, open-air fountain shows, and the delightful Garden Railway display. Timed tickets are required, and weekends in particular sell out — but they’re one of the few attractions open on Christmas Day, so keep that in mind for next month.
$16-$30 (free for kids ages four and under); November 17th-January 7th, Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square.

West Chester Griswolds

Taking a cue from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, the Plummer family likes to go extra, extra large with their light displays. We’re talking about 103,000 bulbs, many of which are synched up for maximum bedazzlement. They start working on their holiday spectacle each fall, and it runs from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. The Plummers suggest that if you visit, to tune your car radio to 87.9 for Christmas songs and information about the display.
Free; November 24th-January 1st, 304 Dutton Mill Road, West Chester.

Additional reporting by Patrick Rapa.