The holiday season is a wonderful time to visit Philly with kids. Beginning in mid November, the City of Brotherly Love is transformed into a festive holiday destination, including a popular German-style Christmas Market at Love Park and the Reading Terminal Market’s well-loved holiday railroad.
Here's a lineup of don't-miss events and activities in Philly happening during the holiday season in 2017. It's highly recommended to book your hotel and attraction tickets in advance.
Christmas in Philadelphia 2017
- Dilworth Park Wintergarden: The Center City is packed with fun holiday pop ups, including the nightly Deck the Hall Light Show at Dilworth Park. At the outdoor Rothman Institute Ice Rink & Rothman Institute Cabin, you'll find ice skating, twinkling lights and indoor space to warm up and fill up on snacks and beverages, while the adjacent America’s Garden Capital Maze is a festive labyrinth of seasonal plants and lights.
- Christmas Village at Love Park: This German Christmas Village is a favorite tradition for holiday shoppers, who can peruse 80 decorated wooden booths selling international seasonal gifts, traditional German Christmas ornaments, handmade toys, jewelry and high-quality arts and crafts. Hot mulled wine, gingerbread and bratwursts are readily available.
- Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest: This wildly popular event in its 5th year offers ice skating at Penn’s Landing along with fire pits, a kids arcade, chalet-style restaurant and bar, 12 nights of Christmas movies, sweets from Franklin Fountain Confectionery Cabin, and more.
- Franklin Square Holiday Festival: This holiday light show at Franklin Square features a nod to Ben Franklin himself: a 10-foot-tall kite made of lights that "flies" along with tunes recorded by the Philly Pops. The late-afternoon show runs several times every day during the season. Kids can also visit with Santa, ride on the holiday train and carousel, and even play mini-golf with warming stations.
- Neighborhood Lights in South Philly: During the holidays, the 1600 block on South 13th Street is perhaps the most famous one-block stretch of illuminated row houses in the country. Known as Miracle on 13th Street, it has become a social media sensation, as each home features different decorations; lights and signs span the street. Bring your camera.
- Morris Arboretum’s Holiday Garden Railway: Discover a miniature winter wonderland complete with a quarter-mile of model-train track; 15 different rail lines; cable cars, bridges and model trains that chug past scaled replicas of historic monuments; and Philadelphia-area landmarks adorned with thousands of twinkling lights for the holidays.
- Reading Terminal Market Holiday Railroad: Philly’s indoor food market sets up an impressive 500-square-foot holiday railroad in its main court, and this year there is a brand new display featuring five distinct vignettes and 25 individual trains. The new display is completely interactive, with all trains, lights, and devices being controlled by Reading Terminal visitors.
- Comcast Holiday Spectacular: This film experience is shown on one of the largest LED screens in the world, located in the lobby of the Comcast Center in Center City and featuring 15-minute films of dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet and a magical sleigh soaring through Philadelphia’s skyscape.
- Macy’s Christmas Light Show: A Philadelphia tradition since 1956, this Christmas show at Macy’s in Center City illuminates a large wall inside the Wanamaker building, a National Historic Landmark, with almost 100,000 LED lights that dance to the sounds of the free Wanamaker Organ and narration by Julie Andrews.
- Rittenhouse Square Christmas Tree Lighting: Philly's holiday season officially lights up with this annual event, where thousands gather every year for the lighting of the the 35-foot tree, which then shines all holiday season to greet shoppers as they walk through the square. After the lighting, stick around the neighborhood for happy hour, dinner and some holiday shopping.
- Deck The Alley: Elfreth’s Alley, America’s oldest continuously residential street, celebrates the holiday season with its annual holiday event, when residents of the historic homes deck the halls with Christmas trees, holiday lights and decor. In addition to home tours, look forward to seasonal treats, carolers, fireside holiday stories, historical talks, a visit from Benjamin Franklin and much more.
- Washington Crossing the Delaware River: History buffs can witness Washington Crossing the Delaware River, a free, annual reenactment staged at 1 pm on Christmas Day at Washington Crossing Historic Park.