Home » Christmas

The 21 Most Festive Things to Do During Christmas in Pennsylvania

When it comes time for Christmas in Pennsylvania, many cities and towns across the state go all out in their celebrations. However, with so many places to choose from, how do you know what Christmas attractions in PA you should check out?

To help you, I’ve put together a list of my top 21 recommendations for places in Pennsylvania to get yourself in a festive spirit this holiday season. While I haven’t visited everywhere on this list myself, the ones I haven’t visited have come highly recommended to me, including by readers of this site.

So, before you finalize all your travel plans for the holiday season, check out our list of the top Christmas things to do in Pennsylvania:

(All dates updated in October 2023 for the 2023 holiday season.)

Market Square and PPG Place in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh features many great things to do at Christmas in pennsylvania
Pittsburgh features some amazing holiday attractions.

The heart of Christmas in Pittsburgh can be found at Market Square and PPG Place. The two squares, which are basically right next to each other, make for a great destination for anyone looking for holiday season attractions to do in Pittsburgh.

In Market Square, shop at the authentic German Christmas market. Explore the many shops, taste some German snacks, and even visit Santa all in the confines of a quaint Christmas market.

Once you are done, walk the short distance to PPG Place to see Pittsburgh’s Christmas tree and show off your skills while skating around the rink that encircles it. The ice rink is open from November 17, 2023 through February 25, 2024, but enjoy early to see the giant Christmas tree centerpiece.

Holiday Lights on the Lake in Altoona

Holiday Lights on the Lake in Altoona, PA
Holiday Lights on the Lake is a great drive-through attraction in Altoona.

For more than 20 years, Holiday Lights on the Lake has been bringing Christmastime cheer to Altoona’s Lakemont Park.

Throughout the park’s 50-acre display, you’ll find more than a million twinkling Christmas lights in a variety of festive scenes. Those looking for some holiday cheer can enjoy this great display from the comfort of their vehicle as they drive through the display.

After enjoying the display, stop for a snack, a visit with Santa, and to check out the model train display.

Holiday Lights on the Lake is open from November 17, 2023, through January 7, 2024.

Christmas Village in Philly

The Top Christmas Things to do in Philadelphia
Philly’s Christmas Markets are a great place to do some holiday shopping.

Located in Philly’s Love Park, Christmas Village is an amazingly authentic German-style Christmas Market. Throughout the park, vendors selling everything from art to food offer the chance to do some holiday shopping within a festive environment.

There is also live entertainment throughout the event, a giant present that’s perfect for photos, visits with Santa, and much more.

Across the street, you can also explore the Made in Philadelphia Market, which features items from all local vendors. There is also an ice skating rink, a Ferris wheel, and a light show.

Both of these festive Christmas markets in Philadelphia are open for the 2021 holiday season. The Christmas Village Market is open from November 18, 2023 to December 24, 2023. The Made in Philadelphia Market is open from November 10, 2023 to January 1, 2024.

Mifflinburg Christkindl Market

Things to do at Christmastime in Pennsylvania: Mifflinburg Christkindlmarkt
The Mifflinburg Christkindl Market is one of Pennsylvania’s most authentic Christmas markets.

The Christmas Market in Mifflinburg is an amazing experience that any lover of the season should experience. While I’ve never been to Germany to see their Christmas markets, this is exactly what I’ve always imagined they are like.

Even better, the Christmas market in Mifflinburg claims to be the oldest, authentic German Christkindl Market in the country, and I have no reason not to believe them.

Unlike many of the Christmas markets in larger cities, the one in Mifflinburg is only open three days a year. Because of this, it can get a bit crowded, but it’s worth braving the crowds to experience this great tradition.

The Christkindlemarkt will return December 14-16, 2023.

Dickens of a Christmas in Wellsboro

The Dickens of a Christmas event in Wellsboro is the perfect Christmas event in PA
Dickens of a Christmas turns Wellsboro, PA, into a Victorian-era village. (Photo used courtesy of Visit Potter Tioga)

There are few more famous Christmas books than “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, and, in early December, the community of Wellsboro in northern Pennsylvania typically turns back the clock to Christmas in the Victorian era of Dickens. 

In 2023, the city will be celebrating this annual festival on December 2, but please check the schedule for currently scheduled events. 

To find out more about the great things going on here during Christmas in Pennsylvania, check out the event’s website.

Hersheypark’s Christmas Candylane in Hershey

Hersheypark Christmas Candylane is one of the best things to do during Christmas in Pennsylvania
Christmas Candylane at Hersheypark is a great way to spend the holidays.

Featuring more than two million lights, Christmas Candylane at Hersheypark is a great place to get in the holiday spirit and one of my favorite places to experience Christmas in the Harrisburg area.

Whether you want to ride some of the park’s rides or simply gaze at the beautiful lights, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at the park.

I’m honestly not a huge fan of amusement parks, but I really enjoy visiting Hersheypark at Christmas time for the wonderful displays, sounds, and smells. Christmas Candylane is open November 10, 2023, – January 1, 2024.

It’s a Wonderful Life Festival in Indiana

The Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, PA is a perfect destination at Christmas time.
The Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, PA is a perfect destination at Christmas time.

Of all the Christmas movies ever made, one of the most classic is “It’s a Wonderful Life” starting Indiana, Pennsylvania-native Jimmy Stewart.

Today, Stewart’s hometown is home to The Jimmy Stewart Museum. Located in the heart of downtown Indiana, the museum really ramps up at Christmas time as visitors come to learn about not just Stewart’s famous Christmas movie, but his entire life and career.

Since the museum is located in downtown Indiana, checking out the rest of the area is quite easy. Many of the shops downtown are decorated for the holidays, making Indiana a great Christmas destination.

Each weekend during the holiday season, there are events happening throughout the downtown area.

Christmas in Downtown Bethlehem

Where to spend Christmas in Pennsylvania: Bethlehem
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is known as Christmas City USA

Bethlehem is one of the most heralded Christmas destinations in Pennsylvania and is known as “Christmas City USA.” However, when I first visited a few years ago, I was left quite underwhelmed with their well-known Christkindlmarkt.

Fortunately, after visiting the market, though, I headed into downtown Bethlehem, and I discovered a quaint small town that screamed “Christmas City USA.”

The shops in the downtown area feature a wide variety of items, making it a great place to do your Christmas shopping. Even better, there is a small, traditional Christkindlmarkt called “Christmas City Village” in the downtown area. The village is open from Thursdays-Sundays from November 9 through December 24, 2023.

There are also other events happening downtown throughout the season.

So, while you might want to skip the expensive and inauthentic Christkindlmarkt, check out our top picks for things to do in Bethlehem during the holiday season.

Kraynak’s Christmas Display in Hermitage

Santa at Kraynak's Christmas in PA display
The Christmas displays at Kraynak’s are a Western PA holiday tradition.

Every year since 1949, one of the most popular Christmas attractions in PA has been at Kraynak’s in Hermitage.

Kraynak’s is a home and garden store that goes all out for the holiday season. Each year, they set aside a portion of their store for a grand walk-through display that attracts people from all over the region.

Their Christmas display is located in a 300-foot walkway and features a variety of holiday scenes including a life-size nativity set, whimsical cartoonish displays, and Santa’s workshop.

Kraynak’s Christmas Display is open daily from early September through December and is one of the best free light displays in Pennsylvania.

Wanamaker Organ in Philadelphia

Christmas in PA at the Wanamaker Organ in Philly.
The Christmas Light Show inside the Wanamaker Building is one of Philly’s best Christmas traditions.

Located inside of the Macy’s Department Store across the street from Philadelphia’s City Hall, the Wanamaker Organ is the largest, functional pipe organ in the world. During the year, it puts on daily concerts which are simply beautiful.

However, during the Christmas season, they turn it up a notch with Christmas carols and a wonderful light show, all in the atrium of the department store. Make sure you visit for the noon show Monday-Saturday, as the Wanamaker Organ puts on a live performance after the completion of the light show.

When you visit, it’s also worth heading upstairs to the 3rd floor Dickens Village, where you can walk through some of the most memorable seasons from “A Christmas Carol.” I was really impressed with the effort put into recreating the details of this classic story.

Events in the store run from November 24 through the end of the year. (Note: At this time, it appears there will be live shows in 2023, but please double-check before you head out.)

Christmas Magic in York

Rocky Ridge's Christmas Magic in York PA
Christmas Magic is a walk-through light display in York, PA.

Held every year in York County’s Rocky Ridge Park, Christmas Magic is a holiday experience that shouldn’t be missed as it’s one of the best displays of Christmas lights in PA.

There is a half-mile walking trail around the park that takes visitors past nearly 600,000 Christmas lights showcasing a variety of scenes and themes. There are also visits with Santa, a model train, and a synchronized light show.

Christmas Magic is open November 24 through December 30, 2023.

Christmas at the Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh

Christmas at the Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning is a great spot to visit during the holiday season.

Note: The Cathedral of Learning will host an in-person Holiday Open House on December 3, 2023 from 12-4pm.

The Cathedral of Learning is located on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh. While this is a great year-round attraction, many of the building’s Nationality Rooms are decorated for the holiday season.

These rooms, which are set up throughout the year to highlight different cultures that have sent immigrants to Pittsburgh, are decorated with traditional holiday decorations for each of the countries. This is a great way to explore holiday traditions around the world without having to leave Pennsylvania.

Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square

Christmasy Things to do in Pennsylvania: Longwood Gardens
Christmas is a beautiful time to visit Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens is one of the most beautiful gardens in the entire country, and during the holiday season, it gets all dolled up for Christmas. Outside, 500,000 lights brighten up the gardens, while fountains dance to the sounds of Christmas music. Inside, rooms are set up with a variety of Christmas trees and other holiday displays.

While the crowds might be a bit crazy, a stroll through Longwood Gardens is sure to put you in the Christmas spirit.

“A Longwood Christmas”, as the show is called, runs from November 17, 2023, through January 7, 2024.

Koziar’s Christmas Village Near Reading

Lights at Koziar's Christmas Village in PA
The lights at Koziar’s Christmas Village is always a great way to get some festive cheer this holiday season.

Started in 1948 for the enjoyment of the Koziar family, Koziar’s Christmas Village has grown into one of Pennsylvania’s best Christmas destinations.

The lights and displays at Koziar’s are quite intricate and feature everything from an outdoor model train to scenes from various Christmas stories. Millions of lights are strung up throughout the village, creating a scene that is simply magical.

This is a great Christmas in PA destination for kids because there is always something new and exciting around the next turn to keep them occupied.

Koziar’s Christmas Village will open on November 4, 2023 and runs through January 1, 2024.

Choo Choo Barn in Strasburg

The Choo Choo Barn in Lancaster is one of my favorite things to do during Christmas in Pennsylvania
The Choo Choo Barn in Lancaster is nicely decorated for the holiday season.

The Choo Choo Barn in Lancaster County is one of the largest model train displays in Pennsylvania and one of the few that is open year-round.

Each holiday season, the display takes on a holiday feel as decorations are added to turn the village surrounding the train into a winter wonderland. Walking around this great display is a surefire way to put the entire family in the Christmas spirit.

Winter Flower Show at Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh

Entrance to Phipps Conservatory during Christmas in PA
Phipps Conservatory is home to a beautiful Winter Flower Show.

Phipps Conservatory is a beautiful destination throughout the year, but their holiday season display really kicks things up a notch.

Known as the Winter Flower Show, this event combines the beautiful plants you can expect to see at Phipps year-round with incredible holiday decorations. These decorations are both traditional and whimsical.

Phipps’ Winter Flower Show is open from November 17, 2023, through January 7, 2024.

Winter Light Spectacular in Allentown

Lights at the Winter Light Spectacular at the Lehigh Valley Zoo
Walking through a canopy of lights at the Winter Light Spectacular in the Lehigh Valley.

Each evening during the holiday season, the Lehigh Valley Zoo turns itself into a winter wonderland known as the Winter Light Spectacular. While the animals are sleeping, visitors can walk through the grounds and enjoy over a million twinkling lights set up in a variety of festive displays.

These displays are intricately done and are sure to entertain everyone in the family. There are even princess shows and visits with Santa throughout the event.

The Winter Light Spectacular is open from November 10, 2023 through December 31, 2023.

Christmas at the PA Capitol in Harrisburg

Christmas in Harrisburg: The Pennsylvania Capitol Christmas tree
The Pennsylvania Capitol is especially beautiful during the holiday season.

The Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg is already one of the country’s most stunning state capitol buildings. However, it really comes to life in time for Christmas in PA.

Outside on the Capitol’s steps, there is a beautiful tree, and the lights shining on the building at nighttime are often red and green.

Inside, the main rotunda of the building is incredibly decorated for the season with holiday decorations adorning many of the areas of the building. In the middle of the rotunda, there is a giant Christmas tree.

If you’re lucky, you might even hear a festive performance from one of the many groups that are invited to perform at the Capitol each holiday season. (Note: It is unclear whether performances will occur in 2023 although the Capitol is open for guided touring in limited sized groups.)

Olde Time Christmas in Jim Thorpe

Things to do in Pennsylvania in December - Olde Time Christmas in Jim Thorpe
Christmas is a great time to visit the quaint town of Jim Thorpe.

The Carbon County borough of Jim Thorpe is worth visiting any time of the year because there are so many things to do here. However, at Christmas time the town turns itself into an old-time Christmas village.

For the 2023 season, the town is hosting the village for the first, second, and third weekends in December.  It is one of the most beautiful and festive in all of Pennsylvania. There are also many great local shops you can browse for gifts while visiting.

There are few places in the state that can compete with the quaint Christmas atmosphere of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.

Daffin’s Chocolate Kingdom in Sharon

Daffin's Chocolate Kingdom in Sharon, PA
Daffin’s Chocolate Kingdom is decorated for the holiday season.

Located in Sharon, PA, Daffin’s Chocolate Kingdom is a chocolate lover’s dream come true. Not only does this large store produce their own delicious chocolates, but they also are home to giant sculptures made from this delicious treat.

During the holiday season, the Chocolate Kingdom at Daffin’s takes on a holiday theme with decorations throughout this unique display. There are also many holiday chocolate treats that can be purchased at the store.

Daffin’s is open year-round.

Hershey Sweet Lights

Hershey Sweet Lights Review
Hershey Sweet Lights features more than 2 million lights.

Hershey Sweet Lights is one of the best and one of the largest drive-through Christmas light displays in Pennsylvania.

First opened in 2003, Hershey Sweet Lights is located along a two-mile stretch of roadway behind the Hotel Hershey. Visitors drive through the display and have a chance to see more than 2 million twinkling lights set up in a variety of holiday season displays.

Since there are more than 600 different displays along the route, there’s definitely a bit of something for everyone that loves Christmas in Pennsylvania to enjoy.

For the 2023 holiday season, Hershey Sweet Lights is open nightly from November 10, 2023 through January 1, 2024.

Do you have a favorite thing to do during Christmas in Pennsylvania? Let us know in the comments section below!

Looking for even more holiday cheer? Check out our favorite Christmas towns in PA, the best walk-through holiday light displays, and the best things to do in December in Pennsylvania, and 

(Article updated in October 2023 to reflect 2023 holiday season operating dates)

Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links. We will make a small commission from these links if you order something at no additional cost to you.

Click the map to see more nearby things to do

Map of things to do in Pennsylvania"

More great places to visit in Pennsylvania

Explore the many regions of Pennsylvania

33 thoughts on “The 21 Most Festive Things to Do During Christmas in Pennsylvania”

  1. I love to visit Peddler’s Village in Lahaska, PA and also New Hope – Bucks County has some beautiful spots this time of year.

    • Jim Thorpe has a play at the theater and polar express train ride while you can walk the streets visiting the gift shops. They also have a tour of the mansion decorated for Christmas and the Inn at Jim Thorpe. Neat the browse around.

  2. I haven’t been but I have heard great things (and want to visit) the Dickens of a Christmas event in Wellsboro that is held the first Saturday in December.

  3. The closest place on this list is almost three hours from home. May I suggest Kraynak’s “Santa’s ChristmasLand” for the Western PA folks?

    Found in Sharon, PA, Santa’s Christmasland is open from mid-September until the end of the year and offer multiple themed displays reminiscent of storefronts. Maybe you’ll see how they might celebrate Christmas on Sesame Street or which woodland creatures like to toast marshmallows. There are beautiful ways to use lights to enhance your decorations, both inside and out and new ideas as well. End the tour with a visit with St Nick himself.

    The store contains old-fashioned toys like tractors, models and puzzles, many of the decorations you have just seen, a full greenhouse, a lovely curio shop and model train section. Oh, candy and baked goods too. When you are looking at a place with something for every person in the family – this is a great place to go.

    And, if you miss it this Christmas Season, you can go for Easter, when they do it AGAIN with lovely spring and bunny displays. It also should be pointed out that there is always a display reflecting on the religious meaning of each Holiday.


    MBee – (PS: I have nothing to do with the store, but our family goes twice a year and I just wrote some info down for a scout troop. It is a great field trip idea and place for families to meet to do something Christmas-y together)

    • There are a few western PA things on the list, Marty, but that display does sound very neat. I’ll have to check it out if I’m out that way this time next year. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Five years ago we fell in love with Dickens if a Christmas in Wellsboro Pa. If you have a chance go to it. It’s always the first weekend in December.

  5. What about Holiday Lights on the Lake at Lakmemont Park in Altoona? They transform the entire amusement park into a winter wonderland that you can drive through. It’s definitely worth mentioning!

  6. Dickens Of A Christmas, in Downtown Wellsboro… Trolley Rides, Horse and Carriage Rides, Craft Vendors, Kids Events, and the lighting of the Gas Lights down Main Street. It’s an all out event to see. They close off the entire Main Street and fill it! I recommend the Apple Dumplings they have every year! And there are a ton of local and negional Artesian Crafter of soaps, lotions, Maple Syrup…

  7. Thanks for recognizing the German Christkindl Market in Mifflinburg! we have made that trip an annual trek. Shade Mountain Vineyards are not far south of the town to pick up you winter stockage, and around the corner from there are two Christmas tree farms to cut your own and bring back. I grew up near Philly and now live in Lancaster. While my parents live right behind Peddlers Village in Bucks County and we enjoy visiting there of course, the traditional old country simplicity of Mifflinburg is wonderful.

  8. You should come to Wellsboro the first Saturday in December and check out our Dickens of a Christmas. More fun if you dress like a Dicken’s character! Food Vendors on the street, lots of Arts and Crafts, all with a Dickens’ flair. Plus Dickens players performing on the street. Check it out at http://www.wellsboropa.com

    • A Christmas Carol rendition by Gerald Charles Dickens at the Country Cupboard in Lewisburg, (and other locations) and the all male caroling in Glen Rock.

  9. I visited Market Square in Pittsburgh last November and loved it! Stayed in the cultural district on Penn Ave. and you can walk everywhere! I highly recommend this excursion!

  10. I found National Christmas Center in Lancaster a great disappointment. Indiana and the Wanamaker organ are my faves on your list, and I would also add Wellboro’s Dickens weekend as my never-miss-it experience.

  11. Don’t forget the miniature train display at the Carnegie Science Center, the life size creche Nativity Scene on Grant Street in Pittsburgh or the Christmas display at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Oakland.

  12. The light show at Shadybrook farms in Yardley is outstanding. You can drive through, or better yet ride in a wagon with your friends and family. There are fire pits, s’more packets, many flavors of hot chocolate to buy, and a great ornament shop!!!

  13. The Byers’ Choice factory in Chalfont, PA – They have a Christmas Museum featuring their unique caroler dolls. One weekend in December they also have a Dickens Weekend featuring Gerald Dickens (great-great-grandson of Charles Dickens) performing his one man version of “A Christmas Carol” that someone else mentioned in the comments above.

  14. What about listening to the Glen Rock Carolers in Glen Rock, PA? My one brother has been a part of the group for about 30 or so years now. It doesn’t feel like Christmas to me unless I listen to the group sing at the square in Glen Rock. They don’t sing your typical carols either, it’s old English carols. They have an all-brass band and even wear the traditional attire that was worn back then when it first started in the town. People come from nearby towns and even other states, to hear them or follow through the night with them (they usually are done around 5 or 6am Christmas morning).

    • The Glen Rock Carolers is an excellent suggestion Kelly. This has to be one of the most unique Christmas traditions anywhere in America. The Glen Rock Carolers have been singing Old English Traditional Carols every Christmas morning on the streets of Glen Rock, PA since 1848. This year (2022) marked the 175th consecutive year the group has welcomed Christmas morning in this fashion started by five English immigrant founders of the town so long ago.


Leave a Comment

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!