Dazzling Christmas lights highlight the holiday season in Philadelphia, as twinkling trees decorate iconic locations from Longwood Gardens to Love Park. (Top photo L. Albee courtesy Longwood Gardens, bottom right J. Smith for GPTMC, bottom left courtesy Christmas Village)
The holiday season doesn’t truly start until resplendent Christmas trees are erected and bedecked all around the city.
Luckily, this week sees the beginning of Christmas tree lighting celebrations at many of Philadelphia’s iconic outdoor locations, including Rittenhouse Square and Love Park.
The festivities all involve more than just the flick of a switch. Hot chocolate will be flowing, Christmas carols will be sung and plenty of holiday cheer will keep you toasty warm.
For those looking to rock around the Christmas tree this holiday season, look no further. Here’s our roundup of the major tree lighting celebrations in Philadelphia this season:
• Philadelphia Museum of Art – Wednesday, November 28 at 10 a.m.: Indulge in treats galore at the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s tree lighting ceremony on Wednesday, November 28 at 10 a.m. The museum’s Great Stair Hall will be illuminated with holiday decor and twinkling evergreen trees. Taste the museum’s seasonal snacks, cookies, hot chocolate, coffee and cider to get into the holiday spirit as t Philadelphia Gay Men Chorus serenades guests with seasonal favorites.
• Rittenhouse Square – Wednesday, November 28 at 5 p.m.: Rittenhouse Square will be lit up on Wednesday, November 28 at 5 p.m. as its majestic Christmas tree is illuminated with 5,000 twinkling lights. None other than Santa himself will light the tree up for the 2012 season. Enjoy toasty hot chocolate, Christmas carols, candy canes, antler headbands and holiday cheer in Rittenhouse Square, then stick around the neighborhood for dinner or shopping.
• Love Park / City Hall – Wednesday, December 5 at 5 p.m.: Due to ongoing construction at Dilworth Plaza, City Hall’s Christmas tree will once again be located across the street at the Christmas Village in Love park. The 38-foot LED tree will be turned on by Mayor Nutter’s wife, Lisa Nutter, on Wednesday, December 5 at 5 p.m. While you’re there, be sure to browse through the booths of ornaments, handmade Christmas gifts, snacks and seasonal drinks at the perennial favorite Christmas Village.
• East Passyunk Avenue – Thursday, November 29 at 5 p.m. Back and bigger than ever is East Passyunk’s annual Christmas tree lighting at the iconic fountain at Passyunk Avenue and Tasker Street. On Thursday, November 29 at 5 p.m., usher in the season in South Philadelphia. The event will treat guests to free food and drinks (yes, including booze) from some of East Passyunk’s best restaurants and cafes, like Le Virtu, Black N Brew and Stateside. Listen to Christmas carols from the children at Alphabet Academy and music by students from Andrew Jackson School, and then at 5:30 p.m. welcome Santa as he arrives in splendor.
• Main Street Manayunk – Saturday, December 1 at 6 p.m.: On Saturday, December 1, Manayunk will be ringing in the holiday season with Santa Claus, holiday carols, hot cocoa and a Christmas tree lighting. The ceremony will run from 6-8 p.m. at Canal View Park, with the yuletide festivities beginning at 1 p.m.
• South Street Headhouse District – Sunday, December 2 at 4 p.m.: On Sunday, December 2, from 4-7 p.m. South Street Headhouse District will be hosting a Winter Wonderland event that will end with a celebratory tree lighting ceremony at the Headhouse Square Shambles. The event will also include a holiday market with 20 of South Street Headhouse District’s shops and restaurant. Enjoy music from carolers, a dance performance, free horse-drawn carriage rides and more.
• Phillies / Citizens Bank Park – Saturday, December 15 at 5 p.m.: Charlie Manuel himself will light up the Christmas tree at the Phillies home’ Citizens Bank Park on Saturday, December 15 at 5 p.m. The event is planned in conjunction with the Phillies Holiday Sale, so head down to South Philly early to shop for the latest Phillies gear. While getting into the spirit, spread the holiday cheer by donating to a holiday food drive for We Feed the Homeless Philly and Philabundance.