Philadelphia is truly the place to be during the holidays, with some of the world's most admired attractions including the stunning Longwood Gardens Christmas, historic Macy's Christmas Light Show and iconic trees at Love Park and Rittenhouse Square. (Photo credits clockwise from top left: courtesy Longwood Gardens, credit: GPTMC, J. Smith for GPTMC, G. Widman for GPTMC)
‘Tis the season to enjoy the holiday spirit in Philadelphia, as our stomachs are sated with turkey and the fervor of Christmas starts to stir up.
From some of the nation’s longest-running holiday events (Macy’s Christmas Light Show) to some of its most unique (Comcast Holiday Spectacular), Philadelphia is truly the place to be during the holidays.
Below, we’ve rounded up the marquee holiday attractions you’d do best to experience this holiday season whether it’s as a family outing, on a romantic date or with a big group of friends.
Make 2012 a holiday season to remember!
• Macy’s Christmas Light Show: November 23–December 31, shows begin on the top of each hour, beginning at 10 a.m., 1300 Market Street. The epitome of Christmas in Philadelphia, the Macy’s Christmas Light Show never fails to put a smile on your face and a skip in your step. The event boasts a display of 100,000 LED lights and sounds from the historic Wanamaker Grand Organ. The famous Julie Andrews provides narration.
• Comcast Holiday Spectacular: November 22-January 1, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. (except 5 p.m. on weekdays) every hour on the hour, 1701 JFK Boulevard. Prepare to be impressed by the Comcast Holiday Spectacular, a festive film experience screened on the largest four-millimeter LED screen in the world featuring enchanting scenes from The Nutcracker performed by the renowned Pennsylvania Ballet, a magical sleigh ride through the snow-covered Pennsylvania countryside and performances by some of Broadway’s best-known dancers.
• Blue Cross RiverRink: Open seven days a week, November 23-March 3, Columbus Boulevard at Market Street. Ice skating is synonymous with the winter holiday season. Join the Blue Cross RiverRink during its 19th season. Located right on the Delaware River, the rink affords beautiful views as you skate into the holiday season.
• Christmas Village in Love Park: Everyone’s favorite Christmas Village is back from November 22-December 24. The village hosts more than 50 international vendors, so all of your shopping needs will be met. Look out for live music and other special events; the village has programming almost every day. Plus, while Dilworth Plaza is being renovated, the City Hall Christmas Tree will once again be on display in Love Park this holiday season. Photo opp, anyone?
• Rittenhouse Square Christmas Tree: On Wednesday, November 28 at 5 p.m. head over to Rittenhouse Square for the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Watch the tree light up for the season, after which it will be standing all holiday season to greet shoppers as they trek through the square. After the lighting, stick around the neighborhood for happy hour, dinner and some holiday shopping.
• Longwood Gardens Christmas: November 22-January 6, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square. To instantly feel the holiday spirit, look no further than Longwood Gardens. Half a million twinkling lights and tons of festive plants like poinsettias and Christmas trees decorate the grounds for this annual extravaganza.
• Pennsylvania Ballet’s The Nutcracker: December 8-30, Academy of Music, 1420 Locust Street. The classic Christmas performance is once again coming to the Academy of Music performed by the ever-talented Pennsylvania Ballet. The ballet orchestra and the Philadelphia Boy’s Choir pair up to bring us Tschaikovsky’s classic score.
• Franklin Square: November 27-December 24, Franklin Square, 6th & Race Streets. From November 27 to Christmas Eve, Franklin Sqaure is the place to be for holiday fun. On November 27, welcome the season with Santa Claus as he rides the carousel for the first time this year. Also, partake in holiday-themed crafts to deck your own halls. On Saturdays and Sundays in December, get your picture taken with Santa as he tells holiday stories. Both the carousel and mini-golf will also be open at this time.
Find more information on even more holiday attractions, below.
• Peddler’s Village: December 1-23, Peddler’s Village, 5800 Upper York Road, Lahaska. Peddler’s Village is already aglow with thousands of twinkling lights and holiday displays. The Christmas Festival on December 1 and 2 features a holiday parade where Santa Claus arrives by horse-drawn carriage to the sounds of the Central Bucks East marching band. This festival marks the beginning of Santa Claus’ presence at the village on weekends to visit with eager children.
• Morris Arboretum’s Holiday Garden Railway Display: November 23-December 31 (excluding December 24-25), 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 100 E. Northwestern Avenue, Chestnut Hill. The quarter of a mile Christmas train track is here again for another holiday season. The impressive display with loops, tunnels and bridges is set in the holiday-decorated garden at the arboretum. Replicas of some of Philadelphia’s most famous buildings can be seen along the tracks as well. Bring a camera!
• A Brandywine Christmas: November 23-January 6, Brandywine River Museum, 100 Creek Road, Chadds Ford. The Brandywine Christmas celebration at the Brandywine River Museum includes impressive decorations including an 18-foot-wide wreath, parties and festivities all holiday season long and the highly anticipated critter sale, a three-decade-long tradition where volunteers create animal-themed ornaments out of natural materials like plants and pine cones.
• East Fairmount Park Mansions: December 1-2 and December 8-9, various locations. Laurel Hill, Lemon Hill, Mount Pleasant, Strawberry Mansion, Sweetbriar and Woodford Mansion will be open for tours for the first two weekends of December. The Fairmount Park mansions will be open for visitors to enjoy the impressive holiday decorations at each location.
• Linvilla Orchards: December 1-24, Linvilla Orchards, 137 West Knowlton Road, Media. Christmasland at Linvilla Orchards will have you wondering if you’ve actually been transported to the North Pole. The Christmas shop and garden center will be stocked will everything to meet your Christmas needs. Pick up Christmas trees, wreaths, decorations, gifts and more. Santa will be at Linvilla every Saturday and Sunday in December. Bring your camera to snap shots of the kids with Santa. Also photo-worthy is the orchard’s petting zoo at the Winter Wonderland.
• Please Touch Museum’s Enchanted Colonial Village: November 16-January 2, Please Touch Museum, 4231 Avenue of the Republic Visit the Please Touch Museum for the Enchanted Colonial Village supported by the Philadelphia Foundation. The colonial village restoration presents a number of intricate colonial scenes, including a blacksmith shop, toymaker, watchmaker and others.
• Byers’ Choice in Chalfont: now-December 31, Byers’ Choice, 4355 County Line Road, Chalfont. Discover the German Christmas market at Byers’ Choice this holiday season. Browse through advent calendars, gingerbread house and handmade toys. Enjoy live animals and a nativity scene, plus a one-man performance of A Christmas Carol, performed by Charles Dickens’ great-great grandson, Gerald Charles Dickens.