Philadelphia is a wintertime hotspot for tourists and locals in or around the area. Philly knows exactly how to dish out holiday cheer—from the city’s trolleys that become dressed with festive lights, to the various light shows and displays all throughout the city, there is never a shortage of ways to get even the biggest of Grinches into the holiday spirit.
1. Blue Cross RiverRink
Blue Cross RiverRink is always an essential stop, especially as the temperatures begin to dip. What was once a beloved roller skating rink in the summertime, transforms into a beautiful ice skating rink during the winter months. Families especially, flock toward Harbor Park with their kids in tow, waiting excitedly in line to rent a pair of skates and take in all of the sights. With hot chocolate and snacks available, this is a great family-friendly option if you’re looking to partake in a classic winter pastime. A perfect spot for dates, friends, and family, Blue Cross RiverRink is a place that’ll make even the shabbiest of skaters smile.
2. Macy’s Christmas Light Show
There is nothing more classic during the holiday season than visiting the Macy’s Christmas Light Show, a tradition within the city since 1956. Head to the Wanamaker Building between November 29-December 31, 2019 and witness over 100,000 dazzling lights display holiday images, all set to a holiday soundtrack. An ideal show for families and locals, all ages are sure to enjoy the unique displays of music and decorations throughout the space.
3. New Year’s Eve Fireworks
What is winter without New Year’s Eve, and the firework shows that accompany it? Philadelphia hosts the Rivers Casino’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the waterfront, and it is free for everyone to attend. With the fireworks displayed right along the Delaware River, the spots for the greatest view in the house include, Blue Cross River Rink, Penn’s Landing, and the Battleship New Jersey! With two shows, one starting at 6pm and the other at midnight, bring some blankets and some cash—as Harbor Park offers treats and refreshments for viewer’s and families—and enjoy a stunning 15 minute show right on the river.
4. Christmas Village
Philadelphia hosts their annual Christmas Village at the iconic LOVE Park; running from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve, the park is transformed into a Christmas Wonderland market, selling gifts, ornaments, handmade toys, arts and crafts, apparel, treats and more! With up to 80 vendors, this can be a spot that’ll save you a lot of headache on gifts for friends and family.
5. South Street Headhouse District Winter Wonderland
A festive event, readily equipped with lights, trees, and a visit from the bearded man himself, you’ll be glad to know that this is yet another free event available to the public. With a tree lighting at 5pm, there is much to do and see beforehand, including musical performances, sharing in on some tasty treats, and even some last minute gift-shopping. So grab a friend or two and enjoy South Street’s beautiful winter wonderland.
6. Franklin Square Holiday Festival
Watch this park shine during its annual Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show, with their 75,000 bulbs set to music. Along with the light show, from November 14-December 31, 2019 families can join in on Saturday’s with Santa, rides on the holiday train and carousel, delicious foods and treats at Ben’s Sweets & Treats, mini golf, and more!
7. Holiday Light Show at Fashion District Philadelphia
With the opening of Philadelphia’s brand new Fashion District comes their very first Holiday Light Show! Advertising a 45-foot-tall floating tree and a show timed to music by the Philly POPS, the five minute show is run every 30 minutes from 4pm until closing time.
8. LumiNature at the Philadelphia Zoo
This display is two years in the making and transforms the city’s treasured Philadelphia Zoo into a nighttime holiday light show. All of the lights throughout are decorated into the images of animals and trees come to life—including a flock of plastic flamingos forming a 25-foot-tall tree! Equipped with live performers, hot chocolate and adult beverages, this is a spot everyone can get behind this holiday season.
9. 6ABC Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade
This parade is celebrated as the oldest in the country; it is a true Thanksgiving and Philadelphia tradition to watch the 1.4 mile parade march throughout the city. With gigantic floats featuring kid-favorite characters, even Santa gets in on the action, making a special appearance all the way from the North Pole. The event typically hosts special guests and musical performers as well, including, local choirs, recording artists, dance groups, and more!
10. The Mummers Parade
This is a historic parade, exclusive to Philadelphia only; dating back all the way to 1901, The Mummers Parade features children and adults dressed in colorful feathers and sequins parading along Broad Street from City Hall. With hundreds of floats, costumes, and displays there is much to see and enjoy. Beginning at 9am and ending around 5pm, make sure to arrive early to snag a decent seat, as this is a Philadelphia must-see!
11. The Miracle on South 13th Street Light Show
A South Philly neighborhood tradition, the block features beautifully lit up row houses, each decorated differently, and all adorned with hundreds of bright and colorful lights. You can catch the displays from November 30th-January 1st on South 13th Street between Tasker and Morris streets. Whether you choose to enjoy the lights with family and friends on foot or in your car is completely your call, just be sure not to stop your car or honk, as these are actual homes and neighborhoods of families and locals. Santa is rumored to visit the block from time to time, so be sure to check the schedule and bring your children and little ones so they can get in on all of the fun!