I’ve been to many fabulous holiday light displays in PA, but most of them cost money to see. However, Christmas on the Mountain in Reading isn’t just a fantastic display, but it’s also totally free to visit.
Located just on the eastern edge of town on the slopes of Mount Penn, Christmas on the Moutain has been delighting people for over three decades. Over the years, it has continued to grow and now boasts more than five million lights, which makes it one of the largest walk-through Christmas light displays in Pennsylvania.
However, unlike some of the displays that are much larger in physical size, the smaller size of Christmas on the Moutain creates a compact display that has lights literally covering just about every surface aside from the walkways around the displays. This really gives this show a fun and immersive experience.
Christmas on the Mountain is located in Hillside Playground, just downhill from the popular Reading Pagoda. The entire display is about three acres in size, meaning that’s a lot to see, but it’s not so huge that it’ll take a long time to visit.
Access to the show is via a ramp from street level up to the playground space. As you walk, you can enjoy the music being piped over the loudspeakers and even some fake snow falling from machines set up above.
This snow really added a lot to the entrance during my visit on a relatively warm December evening.
Once inside the show, there is no set route that you have to take through the display, and you are welcome to walk anywhere that you’d like.
In this main part of the show, basically every inch of the buildings and ground are covered in twinkling light. It really is quite impressive how many lights they fit into this space.
Near the entrance/exit for the show, you’ll find a pavilion with patio heaters, a snack bar with quite reasonably priced food and drinks, and inexpensive visits with Santa. I also saw several characters from the movie “Frozen” and The Grinch available for free photos, which is a really neat touch.
Note that I visited on a weekend evening and the availability of some of these extras may vary from night to night.
The main path through the display isn’t overly long but passes between two beautifully decorated fields. Music is pumped through the loudspeakers, which creates a really festive environment while exploring the display.
And the end of the path, a section of lights is timed with the music. I enjoyed stopping at this point for a few minutes and watching the light show.
Given that there’s just one path through the display, once you reach the timed light show, you have to retrace your steps back to the main area to exit the show. However, this gives you a chance to experience everything for a second time.
Overall, Christmas on the Mountain Reading is definitely one of the best free holiday light displays I’ve seen in all of PA, and one of the best displays period in this part of Pennsylvania.
While it’s certainly not as impressive as the nearby Koziar’s Christmas Village, the fact that it’s free and a lot less crowded makes this a spot to definitely add to your list if you’re in the area (And check out the free Holiday Lights at Gring’s Mill, as well.)
Note that while the display is totally free, there is a donation box near the entrance to help pay for the expenses of running the show. Consider dropping a few dollars in this box if you are able.
Christmas on the Mountain in Reading, PA is open nightly in 2023 from November 24 to December 23. The lights are on from 5 pm until 9 pm (10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays). The show can be found at 459 N 14th St, Reading, PA 19604. Free parking is available on the streets around the park.