Throughout the year, Philadelphia’s neighborhoods offer fun and exciting events for all.
From Chestnut Hill to East Passyunk, there’s never a shortage of ways to take part in neighborhood activities. And the holiday season is a particularly festive time to explore Philadelphia neighborhoods both familiar and new.
Below, we’ve selected some great holiday events — from pub crawls and shopping excursions to Santa appearances and tree lightings — in neighborhoods in and around Philadelphia.
Check out our guide to 2012 neighborhood holiday happenings in Philadelphia, below:
• Rittenhouse Square: On Wednesday, November 28 at 5 p.m. head over to Rittenhouse Square for their annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Make a night of it and grab a bite or drinks at Parc, Rouge or Devon, all of which overlook Rittenhouse Square and can warm you up with their cozy heat lamps as you nosh outside. Be sure to also stop by the shops and businesses along Rittenhouse Row for a truly wonderful holiday evening. Also don’t miss Rittenhouse Row Holiday Celebration Saturdays on December 1, 8 and 15, when you can enjoy school choirs on the streets, visits with Santa at TD Bank at 18th and Walnut, and special shopping incentives from Rittenhouse Row member businesses.
• Chestnut Hill’s Stag & Doe Nights: On the Wednesdays leading up to Christmas, December 5, 12 and 19, Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill will transform into a Winter Wonderland for their annual Stag & Doe nights. From 6-9 p.m. on those nights, Chestnut Hill shops will be full of holiday spirit. Shopkeepers will help you figure out what to get picky gift receivers with gift suggestions, all while you’re enjoying treats from each shop. As you travel from shop to shop, carolers will serenade you with favorite Christmas carols. For sustenance, be sure to stop by Bredenbeck’s Bakery for delicious homemade gingerbread (and special Wednesday night classes!), the revamped Cafette for tasty vegetarian bites, Tavern on the Hill for a cold one, and Mica for award-winning cuisine from Chef Chip Roman.
• East Passyunk: Our favorite bustling street in South Philadelphia has a number of holiday events to choose from this season. First, on November 29, attend the fountain tree lighting event to kick off the season, then from December 1-22 on Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m. and Saturdays from 1-3 p.m., you can get your photo taken with Santa at the Alphabet Garden. Photo packages are $10-$25, but bring your own camera and you can take your own picture for free! Lastly, on Wednesday, December 12 the favorite Spirits and Suds with Santa bar crawl is back. Head out for drinks with Santa from 5:30-10 p.m.
• NoLibs Holiday Shopping Spree: For the fifth year in a row, enjoy holiday discounts and refreshments at 13 local, independent boutiques in Northern Liberties. Many shops will also be offering free, adorable gift wrap. The Holiday Shopping Spree is Saturday, December 1, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sunday, December 2, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. For the list of participating shops, click here.
• Old City Tippler’s Tour: Yuletide Cheers & Beers: Sing, toast and drink to the early years of our nation with The Once Upon a Nation storytellers at seven-block, four-stop Thursday night pub crawls around Old City through December. Tickets include food, drink, gratuity and of course your entertaining and educational guide. After your tour, be sure to check out 3rd Street shopping — Three Sirens, Third Street Habit, Sugarcube and Art in the Age are a few of our favorites.
• Fairmount Reindeer Romp: The Fairmount favorite pub crawl is back! The Reindeer Romp churned out more than 1,000 guests last year, and this year is supposed to be bigger than ever. The event is presented by Sam Adams which means $3 Sam Adams drafts and bottles at all 10 participating bars. The event is a benefit for the Feel The Warmth charity. Bring $10 and a toy or a new or gently used coat to support the cause.
• Historic Germantown: The historic attractions of Germantown are hosting a variety of holiday events this year. A holiday charity drive called Germantown Gives! running November 24-December 14 asks you to donate travel size, personal care items to benefit Face to Face, a local non-profit dedicated to the health and well-being of Germantown. Drop off items at at the sites of Historic Germantown and the Chelten Plaza Citibank. On Saturday, December 1 from 2-4 p.m., participate in a Christmas Tea at Stenton Mansion. The Grumblethorpe Holiday Open House & Party is on December 8, as is the Dickens’s Christmas Party at Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion. Later in the season, on December 27, there’s a Kwanzaa Family Celebration at Johnson House.
• Fairmount Park Historic Houses Holiday Tours: The Historic Houses of Fairmount Park, or the “Charms of Fairmount Park,” will be decked out for the holidays and open for tours December 1-9. The tours, a cherished Philadelphia tradition, will feature five of the park’s treasured charms — Laurel Hill, Lemon Hill, Mount Pleasant, Ormiston, and Woodford mansions — festively decorated to create a stunning holiday experience. Reservations are required; call (215) 235-SHOW(7469) or visit www.philamuseum.org/parkhouses.
• Peddler’s Village Gingerbread Competition and Display: See some of the most impressive gingerbread houses ever crafted at the Peddler’s Village annual gingerbread house competition. The event runs all winter long, from November 16 to January 5. With classic gingerbread house building and categories such as authentic reproduction of a significant building and unusual 3-D creation, this is an event you don’t want to miss. Also on November 6 is the Grand Illumination Celebration when Santa will illuminate the entire village with one million jewel-colored lights and glistening reindeer at 6:15 p.m.
• Haddonfield Candlelight Shopping: On Friday nights from November 23-December 21, Haddonfield will offer carriage rides, Christmas carols and visits with Santa, all from 6-9 p.m. for their annual Candlelight Shopping event.
• South Street Headhouse District’s Winter Wonderland: From 4-7 p.m. on Sunday, December 2, head over to Headhouse Square Shambles at 2nd Street between Pine and Lombard for a Winter Wonderland event with something for everyone. Twenty of South Street Headhouse’s shops and restaurants will be participating in a holiday market underneath the shambles so you can find local gifts for everyone on your list. Enjoy ornament-making, holiday tunes, a dance performance, Santa Claus and more! The night will end with a tree lighting at 6:30 p.m.