Guide to Christmas in Philadelphia: Festivals, Events, Things to Do

Christmas Tree at Christmas Village at LOVE park

Gilbert Carrasquillo / Contributor / Getty Images

From the Adventure Aquarium's annual Christmas celebration to an enchanted colonial village at the Please Touch Museum, Philadelphia boasts 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.

Consider some of these options as you plan your travels to Philadelphia. They're sure to be the highlight of your holiday season!

01 of 09

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, 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 and special events such as traditional German folk dances.

02 of 09

Visit the Dickens Village

Macy's Dickens Village

Anthony Ianozi / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Every year, Macy's Philadelphia transforms its third floor into Dickens’ Village, a 6,000-square-foot version of "A Christmas Carol" you can walk through.

Dickens Village at Macy's Philadelphia opens the Friday after Thanksgiving and runs through the end of December. The display 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."

03 of 09

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.

04 of 09

See the Macy's Holiday Light Show

Macy's Holiday Light Show

The West End / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

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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05 of 09

Marvel at the Historic Houses of Fairmount Park

Fairmount Park

 Buyenlarge / Getty Images

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.

06 of 09

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.

07 of 09

Go Underwater at the Aquarium

Christmas decorations in a tank at Adventure Aquarium

Adventure Aquarium

Over in Camden, the ​Adventure Aquarium's Christmas Underwater 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. 

08 of 09

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 09

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, a world-class ice skating rink, beautiful lighting, an outdoor seating area with fire pits, and cozy warming cabins. When you get hungry you can check out the Franklin Fountain Confectionery Cabin, which is a chalet-inspired lodge with food and beverages.

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

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