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 during Christmas in PA.

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, enjoy the outdoors, and celebrate the new year.

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

(Article updated on November 8, 2020, for events in December 2020. I recommend double-checking event details before leaving home as things can change this year.)

The First Commonwealth Bank It’s a Wonderful Life Festival in Indiana, PA – Throughout December [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)

While things have been a little different in 2020, there are still a lot of great reasons to visit Indiana County, PA during the holidays! 

Enjoy their annual First Commonwealth Bank It’s a Wonderful Life Festival, held in the hometown of movie-legend Jimmy Stewart. This event takes over downtown Indiana and features a beautiful 37-foot LIVE Christmas tree, visits with Santa (behind plexiglass), great shopping, dining, and visits to the Jimmy Stewart Museum.

 You can even visit a nearby Christmas tree farm and get your tree in the Christmas Tree Capital of the World!

 For more information and a full list of events, go to visitindianacountypa.org/holiday-season or facebook.com/wonderfullifefestival.

Frozen Waterfall Tours at Ricketts Glen – Starting December 19

Winter hiking at Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania
Winter hiking along the Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen.

I’m not a huge fan of cold weather, but one of my favorite wintertime experiences has to be seeing the frozen waterfalls at Ricketts Glen State Park.

Valley to Summit runs guided ice hiking trips along the Falls Trail every weekend from mid-December through mid-March (conditions dependent). While you can hike the Falls Trail by yourself if you have the proper equipment, Valley to Summit provides both all the needed equipment (crampons, ice axes, and ropes), as well as a knowledgable guide.

Find out more about their treks in my full article about hiking Ricketts Glen in the winter.

Christmas Village in Philadelphia – Through December 24

The Christmas Village in Philadelphia, PA
The Christmas Village in Philly is an amazing place to visit in December.

I’ve been to many Christmas markets in PA, but few have been as fun or authentic as the Christmas Village in Philly, which is one of my favorite things to do during Christmas in Philadelphia.

Held each year in Love Park, this Christmas Village features dozens of vendors, live performances, a giant present you can walk through, tons of local food, and much more. Things will look a bit different in 2020, but many of the great festive events will continue in some capacity.

This event can get very busy on weekends, so, if possible, visit on a weekday.

For more information, check out our full review of the Christmas Village in Philadelphia or check out the market’s website.

Virtual Crossing Reenactment in Washington Crossing – 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.

Sadly, the event has been canceled in 2020, but they are offering a virtual crossing experience on Christmas Day that you’ll be able to watch on their website and social media channels.

For more information, visit WashingtonCrossingPark.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 2019.

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.

Winter Flower Show at Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh – All December

The Broderie Room during the Winter Flower Show at Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh
The Winter Flower Show at Phipps Conservatory is a must-visit holiday attraction.

Every holiday season, Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh hosts its annual Winter Flower Show.

Running from mid-November through the end of December, this show features holiday decorations around many beautiful plants, both indoors and outdoors.

The show changes a bit every year, and in 2020, the theme is “Home for the Holidays”. Make sure to visit as you won’t be able to see the highlights of this show in 2021.

Find out more about visiting Phipps Conservatory for Christmas on our site or on their website.

Train Display at the Lehigh and Keystone Valley Model Railroad Museum in Bethlehem – All December

Inside the Lehigh and Keystone Valley Model Railroad Museum in Bethlehem, PA
Displays the Lehigh and Keystone Valley Model Railroad Museum.

There are many railroad events and activities around the holiday season, but one of the best is the holiday train display at the Lehigh and Keystone Valley Model Railroad Museum in Bethlehem. While the display itself isn’t holiday related, it is only regularly open to the public from late November through mid-January, making December the perfect month to visit.

The main display is a recreation of the railroad journey during the mid-20th century for the Lehigh and Keystone Valley Railroad. This display includes a focus on the Lehigh Valley but also shows scenes from other nearby areas that the railroad serviced including Harrisburg and New Jersey.

Find out more about the display in our full article on the museum.

Miracle on South 13th Street in Philly – All December

Miracle on South 13th Street in Philly
The Miracle on South 13th Street is one of the best free light shows in Pennsylvania.

Many places go all out during the holiday season, but few decorate as much as the 1600 block of South 13th Street in Philly.

Known as the Miracle on South 13th Street, this free light show features incredible displays on nearly every house. In addition to lights, there are projected displays, dancing characters, and more.

Find out more about this great holiday tradition in our full article on the Miracle on South 13th Street.

Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland in Butler – All December

If you’re looking for drive-through lights in northwestern PA, Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland is a perfect choice.

Visitors can drive through a two-mile path past thousands upon thousands of incredible lights. Along the way, enjoy many great displays, including a 300-foot tunnel of light!

Sadly, Santa’s Village will not be open in 2020, but this is still a great spot to check out this season.

Find out more on the event’s website.

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 2021 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.

Keep in mind that some New Year’s Eve festivities might be canceled throughout the state, so make sure to double-check the event, dropping, or fireworks display you are planning to visit is still being held.

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 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. This topic is great. You may want to check out the Christmas Magic – Festival of Lights at Rocky Ridge County Park Near York, PA. We walked through the light display last year and loved it.

    Reply

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