10 Best Things to Do in Philadelphia for Christmas

Christmas Tree at Christmas Village at LOVE park

Gilbert Carrasquillo/Contributor/Getty Images

There are festive and fun holiday and Christmas attractions throughout the season in Philadelphia. From the Adventure Aquarium's annual Christmas celebration to an enchanted colonial village in the Please Touch Museum, Philadelphia has attractions that are fun for all ages. Wander through dazzling lighting displays, take a few laps around the ice skating rinks, and enjoy all the seasonal delights this city has to offer.

These great Christmas celebrations will make your holiday family vacation, so consider some of these options as you plan your travels to Philadelphia for the holiday season.

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Shop the Christmas Village

Christmas Village by City Hall in Center City Philadelphia

aimintang/Getty Images

There's no better way to get in the Christmas spirit in the northeast than to visit a holiday village like the ones found throughout Philadelphia; these villages often offer visits with Santa, colorful holiday displays, and local vendors for Christmas gifts.

More than 80 vendors in open-air booths sell their wares at the annual Philadelphia Christmas Village in LOVE Park (in the heart of Center City), from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve. Shop for European ornaments, gifts from around the world, jewelry more. Enjoy European food and meet Santa near the huge Christmas tree for a chat and a photo. Enjoy special events such as traditional German folk dances and even things to do with your pooch like have their photo taken. If you don't have a dog, look for the days when you can meet adoptable furry friends.

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Visit the Dickens Village

Dickens Village at Macy's Philadelphia opens the Friday after Thanksgiving and runs through the end of December and offers guests the chance to take a picture with Santa, personalize a teddy bear in a design studio, and visit a Christmas gift shop at "Holiday Lane."

Annually, the store transforms its third floor into Dickens’ Village, a 6,000-square-foot version of A Christmas Carol you can walk through.

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Get Enchanted at the Colonial Village

Once a celebrated Christmas exhibit in the old Lit Brothers department store, The Enchanted Colonial Village is now on display seasonally at the Please Touch Children's Museum. Each year portions of this large, multi-room exhibit are displayed in honor of the holiday and offer visitors the chance to experience scenes from a colonial village, including a toymaker, blacksmith shop, and bakery. Check out one of the special pop-up holiday events like the "Chanukah Wonderland" or "Joy of Christmas" celebrations at the museum. 

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Be Dazzled by the Comcast Holiday Spectacular

The Comcast Holiday Spectacular

Jim, the Photographer/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Although much of the downtown area and sections of different neighborhoods are adorned in a plethora of Christmas lights over the holiday season, there are also a few places to go to see dazzling lighting displays in and around the city.

Inside the Comcast Center in Center City, you can watch the free 15-minute Comcast Holiday Spectacular show on Comcast's massive 2,100-square-foot LED video wall every hour on the hour from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day.

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05 of 10

See Macy's Holiday Light Show

Philadelphia Macy's Holiday Light Show

Jim, the Photographer/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

You can also check out the Macy's Holiday Light Show, a Philadelphia holiday tradition since 1956 which features over 100,000 lights and is accompanied by music from the Wanamaker Organ, the largest musical instrument in the world. The Holiday Light Show runs every hour on the hour starting at 10 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving through December 31.

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Have Fun at Franklin Square

Franklin Square Philadelphia at Christmas

 Jeff Fusco for Visit Philadelphia®

Center City's historic Franklin Square, built around a beautiful fountain, comes alive with lights galore and special events including holiday crafts, a winter beer garden, gourmet hot chocolate stands, cookie decorating, Parx Liberty Carousel rides, mini-golf, a light show, and visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus on weekends between mid-November and December 31.

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Get Fishy for Christmas

Christmas decorations in a tank at Adventure Aquarium

Adventure Aquarium

Over in Camden, the ​Adventure Aquarium's Christmas Celebration offers visitors a chance to meet characters like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, take a virtual ride on the polar express, and see a scuba-diving Santa Claus while enjoying all of the usual attractions including sharks, hippos, and penguins from late November through early January. 

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Treat Yourself to a Longwood Christmas

Christmas display in the Mediterranean Gardens at Longwood Gardens

Becca Mathias for Longwood Gardens

Just a little southwest of the city at the Longwood Gardens, "A Longwood Christmas" gives visitors a special seasonal treat that features illuminated indoor and outdoor displays of plants, ornaments, and fountains along with the Garden Railway, special events like Breakfast with Santa, and performances by ice skaters, strolling carolers, and a choir. Open mid-November through early January, the beauty of the holidays at Longwood is a Pennsylvania tradition.

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09 of 10

Skate at Winterfest

Each year, enjoy a winter treat at Winterfest open seasonally from November through March. This seasonal winter park includes a fairytale winter landscape including an immense Christmas tree, world-class ice skating rink, beautiful lighting, outdoor seating area with fire pits, and cozy warming cabins. When you get hungry you can check out the Franklin Fountain Confectionery Cabin and a chalet-inspired lodge with food and beverages.

The regulation-sized rink offers daily public skating sessions, skate rentals, sharpening, and special events and entertainment over the holidays.

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Marvel at the Historic Houses of Fairmount Park

It's a "Very Philly Christmas," during selected dates in December where you can tour the Fairmount Park historic homes and, depending on the scheduled event, hear stories from docents and re-enactors, do some traditional food tasting, or enjoy festive music at each of the houses.

The Historic Houses of Fairmount Park are all located off of Interstate 76 just west of downtown Philadelphia.

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