10 Festive Things to Do During Christmas in Philadelphia

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I love visiting Philadelphia during any season, but one of my favorite times to visit is at Christmastime. During the month of December, the city is filled with Christmas cheer. Lights decorate many of the buildings as shoppers rush by beautifully decorated shop windows while doing their holiday shopping,

For those looking for a bit of Christmas cheer, I recently took to the streets of Philadelphia to uncover some of the best places to visit during this holiday season.

I’ve already shared my favorite places to get Christmas cheer in Pennsylvaniathe best things to do at Christmas in Harrisburg and Hershey, great Christmas lights in downtown Pittsburgh, and the best things to do in Bethlehem during Christmas, but if you are planning on visiting the City of Brotherly Love this holiday season, here are 11 things to do during Christmas in Philadelphia that are sure to leave you humming your favorite holiday jingles.

 

Note: We have done our best to make sure this article is accurate for 2021. However, as things can change during these unprecedented times, please double-check information before heading out to enjoy the holiday season.

Philly’s Christmas Village

The Christmas Village is one of the top Christmas things to do in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The beautiful Christmas Village in downtown Philadelphia.

I’ve been to several different German Christmas markets throughout the state. All claim to be “authentic,” but some struggle to achieve it. However, the Christmas Village in Philly’s Love Park is simply awesome.

Walking amongst the market’s 70+ wooden stalls, I was impressed by the market’s authentic touches. In fact, I really felt like I had been transported to Germany for one of their famous Christkindlmarkt’s.

This, of course, isn’t an accident. Believe it or not, Philly’s Christmas Village is actually run by a group of Germans who base the market on the one in Nuremberg, one of the largest and most famous Christmas markets in the world.

Christmas Village is one of the top Christmas things to do in Philadelphia, PA
The Christmas Village is an authentic German Christmas market.

While walking around, don’t miss the stand from Chaddsford Winery, which sells Gl├╝hwein, a type of mulled red wine that is a must while browsing the grounds of this awesome market. For those that want something different, the hot chocolate sold at the village is also amazingly delicious.

In 2021, the Christmas Village is open daily from 11am – 7pm (8pm on Fridays and Saturdays) from November 25 – December 24 in Love Park. They are open Thanksgiving Day from 9am – 5pm and Christmas Eve from 11am – 5pm.

Dilworth Park

Ice skating in Dilworth Park during Christmas in Philly
Ice skating in Dilworth Park is a great way to enjoy the holiday season.

Located around City Hall, Dilworth Park comes alive during the holiday season and features many great things to do during Christmas in Philly.

The Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market features almost four dozen vendors from the city selling a variety of handmade goods and delicious foods. This sister market to the Christmas Village offers more great shopping during the holiday season.

The Deck the Hall Light Show is shown on the facade of City Hall multiple times every night. This impressive light show combines great holiday music with some amazingly artistic lights to create one of the best shows during the holiday season in Philadelphia. (Note: I have been unable to confirm the status of the Deck the Hall Light Show at this time.)

Philadelphia's Christmas trees at City Hall.
The beautiful Christmas tree adjacent to City Hall.

Also in Dilworth Park is a fantastic ice skating rink, carousel, and winter garden. While there, don’t miss City Hall’s Christmas tree, which is beautifully decorated and is well-worth enjoying for a few minutes.

All attractions in Dilworth Park ran daily through January 1, except for the Ice Rink which was open through late February 2021.  (Note:  Dates have not yet been released for the 2021 holiday season.)

The Miracle on South 13th Street

Miracle on South 13th Street in Philadelphia at Christmas.
The Miracle on South 13th Street is one of the most beautiful light displays in Pennsylvania.

The Miracle on South 13th Street is one of the most impressive displays of Christmas lights in Philadelphia. Occupying the 1600 block of South 13th Street in South Philly, this display features more lights that you’ll find in most neighborhoods.

Drive down the street, or better yet walk, to see the beautiful lights here. There are even occasional visits from Santa and singing groups.

The Miracle on South 13th Street can be seen daily from 5pm to midnight from the Saturday after Thanksgiving through December 31, 2020. (Note: I have been unable to confirm the status of the 2021 light show at this time.)

Christmas at the Wanamaker Building

A Christmas window display outside of Macy's Department Store in Center City Philly.
A Christmas window display outside of Macy’s Department Store in Center City Philly.

The Wanamaker Building in downtown Philadelphia has been running Christmas shows for nearly 100 years, and the Macy’s Department Store that now occupies the lower floors continues that tradition in grand style.

Even before entering the building, you’ll be delighted by the festive window decorations that showcase both well-known Christmas scenes and some local Christmas flair.

Sadly, much of the interior decoration was different for 2020 but the outlook for a return in 2021 is hopeful.

Macy's Dickens' Village is one of the top Christmas things to do in Philadelphia.
Hopefully, the Dickens Village will return in 2021.

Normally, the third floor of the building is home to the fantastic Dicken’s Village. This recreates a Victorian village straight out of “A Christmas Carol” and features visits with Santa Claus. Hopefully, it will return in 2021.

It does appear the Christmas Light Show in the center court will be returning in 2021 but please confirm before visiting.

Started in 1956, over 1,000,000 LED lights combine together with voiceovers by Julie Andrews to create a festive holiday show. While it might be a little outdated, the show still has a festive charm that’s worth seeing.

The Christmas Light Show inside the Wanamaker Building is one of Philly's best Christmas traditions.
The Christmas Light Show inside the Wanamaker Building is one of Philly’s best Christmas traditions.

If shows are indeed held, visit Monday-Saturday for the 12pm show, as you’ll be treated to a live performance on the world’s largest, functional pipe organ at the show’s conclusion. The 6 pm show will also feature live music on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

The Christmas Light Show runs seven days a week on every even hour from 10am-8pm from November 29 until December 31. Christmas concerts on the Wanamaker Organ in the center court occur from Monday-Saturday after the noon show.

Shows will also be available online for the first time ever, along with many other holiday attractions at Macys.com/SantaLand.

RiverRink Winterfest

RiverRink Winterfest is a great Christmas thing to do in Philadelphia, PA
Skating around RiverRink Winterfest along the Delaware Riverfront.

Located along the Delaware Riverfront, RiverRink Winterfest is one of my favorite Christmas things to do in Philadelphia.

The highlight of the RiverRink Winterfest is a large ice skating rink where both experts and newbies can spend time enjoying being on the ice.

In addition to ice skating, Winterfest also features a miniature train for kids, delicious food from local restaurants, a beer garden, an arcade, and beautiful holiday lights.

New Year's Eve fireworks in Philly over Penn's Landing
The area around RiverRink Winterfest is a perfect spot from which to view the fireworks on New Year’s Eve.

For those looking for somewhere to see Philadelphia’s New Year’s Eve fireworks (if they happen in 2021), the area around RiverRink Winterfest is a great choice.

RiverRink Winterfest was open from November 27, 2020, through early March 2021.  (Note: Dates for the 2021 season have not yet been released.)

Winter on Broad Street

New in 2020 was Winter on Broad Street.

Held in South Philly near the Wells Fargo Center, this 160,000-square-foot area will be filled with incredible holiday decorations, including 193 large light sculptures. This is a Christmas light showcase that you won’t want to miss.

In addition to lights, there was also treats to eat, shopping, activities, and, best of all, Gritty Claus.

Winter on Broad Street ran from November 27 through January 3, 2021. (Note: Dates for the 2021 season have not yet been confirmed.)

Find out more on the event’s website.

Reading Terminal Market Holiday Railroad

Model trains at Reading Terminal Market's Holiday Railroad in Philadelphia.
Model trains at Reading Terminal Market’s Holiday Railroad.

Tucked into a corner of the frenzy of Reading Terminal Market is their annual holiday railroad display. As the former terminus for the Reading Railroad, the market is the perfect place for a model train display.

Located in the Piano Court, this 500-square foot display features 14 different model trains running through a beautifully decorated Christmas village. While it might not be the most exciting thing on the list, kids and anyone who loves trains should really enjoy this display.

Plus, since you’re in Reading Terminal Market already, you can take a few minutes to do some holiday shopping or get a fantastic lunch.

Jewelers’ Row Lights

Christmas Lights in Jewelers Row in Philadelphia, PA
Jewelers’ Row is a beautiful spot during the holiday season.

Jewelers’ Row is a single block of jewelry stores located on the 700 block of Sansom Street and was the first Diamond District in the country. In addition to being very historic, there’s a little extra bling on the streets during the holiday season as lights are strung over the street.

While these lights are more understated than some of the others in Philadelphia, Christmastime here is still quite beautiful.

Take an evening stroll down this quiet backstreet, and enjoy how beautiful the lights are with a backdrop of historic jewelry stores.

The Franklin Square Holiday Festival

The Franklin Square Holiday Festival is one of the best things to do in Philly during Christmas
The light show at the Franklin Square Holiday Festival.

While it might not be as exciting as the Christmas Village in Love Park or the Miracle on South 13th Street, the Holiday Festival in Franklin Square is definitely worth checking out.

The highlight of the festival is a light show at the square’s fountain. During the show, 50,000 lights dance as Christmas music is played over the loudspeaker. While the show only lasts about 5-10 minutes, there is a lot more to see in Franklin Square.

Other activities include riding the carousel, playing putt-putt golf through a variety of Philadelphia landmarks, and enjoying some food and beverages at a food tent/beer garden housed in the middle of Franklin Square.

The Franklin Square Holiday Festival is open from 5-9 pm (until 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays) from November 19 through December 31, 2020. (Note: Dates for the 2021 season have not yet been confirmed.)

Franklin Square is also home to great events throughout the year including the Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival in May and June.

Rittenhouse Square

Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia with Christmas decorations
Rittenhouse Square is a beautiful spot for an evening stroll during the holiday season.

Rittenhouse Square is one of Philadelphia’s original squares and is beautiful anytime during the year. However, the square is especially picturesque during the holiday season.

Take a stroll through this historic square and enjoy the lights strung from the trees and the around the impressive sculptures in the park.

Do you have a favorite thing to do during Christmas in Philadelphia that didn’t make my list? Let me know in the comments section below.

Article updated October 2021, to reflect operating dates for the 2021 holiday season. We have done our best to ensure the accuracy of this article, but as the events of this year are unprecedented, it’s best to double-check before leaving home.


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12 thoughts on “10 Festive Things to Do During Christmas in Philadelphia”

  1. I took my girls to Philadelphia last year when we were in the states. It is a really interesting town, and one which looks great at Christmas. I am not a fan of the cold, so glad I could read about it here.

    Reply
    • Well then this is the place for you, Kathleen! There are a ton of things you can read about on the site. You can find the full website archives at UncoveringPA.com/blog, or you can look at the menu at the top of the page under “Places to Go” to find things by area or under the heading “Blog” to find things by interest. Hope that helps.

      Reply
  2. My husband and I love hanging in Philly. We usually spend a couple of nights during the Christmas season, even though we only live 40 minutes away in Trenton, NJ.
    Another cool Christmas-y activity is the River Rink Winterfest at Penns Landing. It is set up like a wintery ski lodge with fire pits, indoor “living rooms”, an ice skating rink, music, a light show, food and drink. Very cool.

    Reply
  3. My family loves to visit the Holiday Garden Railway at the absolutely gorgeous Morris Arboretum. It’s all decorated for the holidays and there’s always a lot to enjoy in this amazing public garden!

    Reply
  4. I want to see all the things you described. They all should great for the kids. Can you suggest what is the best way to see it all. By foot? Where to park? I am not familiar with the area and didn’t know exactly how to enjoy all of this in a day. It seems they all may be close in distance to each other too. Thanks.

    Reply
  5. Thank you so much for posting all these events from Uncovering PA. Hubby and I ride our Harley in PA all the time. I didn’t realize how much stuff there is to see. We are looking forward to making some memories of our own. We did a 5,000 mile ride on the bike all the way to the Dakotas, Wyoming, Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Montana. Beautiful Country here in America and so much to see. We did that trip in June of this year. In 2017 were riding to the coast. Nothing like seeing it off the back of a motorcycle. Please keep up the good work and keep those ideas coming. love it. Just saw your favorite Christmas one. We live in Buffalo, New York so you know how much snow we can get here. Don’t know if we would get to the Christmas part but its something to think about.

    Reply
  6. Flying in on Christmas Day 2018 and know no one. Good location to stay downtown and where to eat on Christmas Day. What’s open

    Reply

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