10 Great Things to Do in Pennsylvania in December

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Without a doubt, December is one of my favorite months of the year. With the holiday season in full swing, there are many fantastic things to do in Pennsylvania in December.

However, just because it’s the holiday season, that doesn’t mean that all of this month’s events are holiday related. This month also offers the chance to see historical reenactments, sample delicious beers, and celebrate the new year.

Check out our list below and start planning your travels around Pennsylvania in December.

(Article updated on November 5, 2018 for events in December 2018.)

The First Commonwealth Bank It’s a Wonderful Life Festival in Indiana, PA – Through December 16 [Sponsored]

Things to do in Pennsylvania in November: Its a Wonderful Life Festival
The First Commonwealth Bank It’s a Wonderful Life Festival continues this December. (Photo used courtesy of the Indiana County Tourist Bureau)

The First Commonwealth Bank It’s a Wonderful Life Festival continues through the month of December in Indiana, Pennsylvania. Each weekend through December 16, downtown Indiana comes alive with visits with Santa Claus, festive music, great gift shopping, and delicious dining. 

During the month, you can also take in holiday movies at the historic Indiana Theater, see a live adaptation “A Christmas Story” at the Indiana Playhouse, and visit a local Christmas tree farm and take home your perfect tree and trimmings.

For more information, visit WonderfulLifeFestival.com.

St. James European Christmas Market in Mansfield – December 7-8 [Sponsored]

Reasons to visit PA in December: St. James European Christmas Market
Visit the first St. James European Christmas Market in Mansfield, PA.

Visit Mansfield in December for the community’s second European-inspired Christmas market. The event is being held in the courtyard of St. James from December 7-8. The St. James-Mansfield European Christmas Market will feature vendors selling hand-crafted goods and delicious food, including Gluhwein, roasted coffees, beef on weck, sausages, chocolates and more.

In addition to a great holiday market, there will also be free live entertainment featuring Callanish in concert on Friday night, a tree & Market lighting, ornament making, balloon artistry and much more. On Saturday evening, the market will end with the annual Lessons & Carols in the church’s sanctuary.

For more information, visit the church’s website or its Facebook page.

Dickens of a Christmas in Wellsboro – November 30-December 2

Wellsboro, one of my favorite small towns in Pennsylvania, comes alive during the first weekend of December. Walk through this quaint downtown as it transforms into a Victorian holiday scene straight from a Dickens novel.

In addition to costumed reenactors, visitors can also browse vendor stands, listen to live music, see a performance of “A Christmas Carol”, experience the community’s tree lighting, and much more.

For more information, visit the event’s website.

Steel City Con in Monroeville – December 7-9

The Steel City Con returns to the Monroeville Convention Center near Pittsburgh this December. One of the largest comic cons in the country, this convention features a plethora of great activities for fans of pop culture.

The event’s 100,000 square feet of space includes autograph opportunities with dozens of celebrities, Q&A sessions with some of your favorite actors, and much more.

For more information, visit the convention’s website.

Firebird Festival in Phoenixville – December 8

The Firebird Festival in Phoenixville is one of the most unique annual festivals held in the Philadelphia suburbs. 

The event features an afternoon pub crawl, street performers and other live entertainment, and many great vendors. In the evening, the highlight of the festival takes place when the giant wooden phoenix is lit on fire and burns in front of revelers.

For more information, check out the event’s website.

Crossing Reenactment in Washington Crossing – December 9 and December 25

Reasons to visit PA in December: Washington's Crossing of the Delaware
See a reenactment of Washington’s crossing of the Delaware this December.

One of the most well-known events of the Revolutionary War was Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas day in 1776. Each year on the anniversary of the event, Washington Crossing Historic Park hosts a reenactment of this legendary event with reenactors crossing the cold river towards New Jersey.

If you don’t want to head out on Christmas Day, they host a dress rehearsal on December 9 that is open to the public.

For more information, visit WashingtonCrossingPark.com.

Mifflinburg Christkindl Market in Mifflinburg – December 13-15

Reasons to visit PA in December: Mifflinburg Christkindl Market
The Mifflinburg Christkindlmarkt is one of Pennsylvania’s most authentic Christmas markets.

Every year, the small central PA borough of Mifflinburg hosts their annual Christkindl Market. Based on the markets held every year in Germany, the Mifflinburg Christkindl Market is one of the most authentic German Christmas markets in Pennsylvania. The event features live music, dozens of vendors selling authentic German food and many handmade goods, and much more.

Unfortunately, the market is only held one weekend a year, which can make it kind of busy, but it’s well worth braving the crowds to experience.

Find out more at OldChristkindl.com.

Winter Light Spectacular at the Lehigh Valley Zoo – All December

The Winter Light Spectacular is a great thing to do in PA in December.
The Winter Light Spectacular will be returning to the Lehigh Valley Zoo in 2018.

Every December, the Lehigh Valley Zoo turns into a winter wonderland during the Winter Light Spectacular.

Featuring more than a million lights along a half-mile path through the park, the Winter Light Spectacular is one of the most festive places in and around Christmas City USA. Along the trail, you might spot the Grinch or even a favorite character from the movies.

For more information, check out our full article on the festive Winter Light Spectacular.

Holiday Train Display at the Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum in Gibsonia – All December

There are many railroad events and activities around the holiday season, but one of the best is the Holiday Train Display at the Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum near Pittsburgh. While the display itself isn’t holiday related, it is only open to the public from early November through mid-January, making December the perfect month to visit.

The main display is a recreation of the railroad journey during the 1950s from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Cumberland, Maryland. This is the route that the Great Allegheny Passage travels today, making this a must-see display for those that have spent time on this fantastic rail trail.

For more information, visit the museum’s website or check out this review from Discover the Burgh.

New Year’s Eve Celebrations in PA – December 31

Things to do in December in PA: New Year's Eve Fireworks
Celebrate the new year at one of the many New Year’s Eve celebrations in Pennsylvania.

Ring in 2018 at one of the many New Year’s Eve celebrations throughout Pennsylvania. Communities both big and small get in on the fun with fireworks, live music, and much much more.

Pennsylvania also leads the world is weird things dropped on New Year’s Eve, making our celebrations here all the more unique. There are also great celebrations all around the state, but one of my personal favorite is to spend New Year’s Eve in Philly.

Looking for other things to do in Pennsylvania? Check out our list of things to do in Pennsylvania in November and our list of things to do in PA in January. Also check out our list of the most Christmasy things to do in PA and the most festive towns in Pennsylvania.

Do you know of any great things to do in Pennsylvania in December? Let us know in the comments section below!

Do you have an upcoming event you think should be included in a future monthly edition? Click here for more information and to submit your event.

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2 thoughts on “10 Great Things to Do in Pennsylvania in December”

  1. We visited Indiana today (12/03/17) for the It’s a wonderful Life Festival. Unfortunately, it wasn’t at all as you described. We arrived at 3:30pm to find 4 booths with cookies to sell and nothing more. Only 12 people were there. No Santa. some stores were open but most were closed. We walked to the Jimmy Stewart Museum to find that it was closed. It was to close at 4pm. One might have thought that they would consider extending the hours to accommodate visitors. Very disappointing. It has the potential to be so much more.

    • Sorry to hear that, Beth. I’ve personally only visited on the festival’s parade day, which was really great, but have generally heard good things about the other weekends of the festival.

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