[This holiday season, let Uwishunu be your merry guide. From brilliant lights and must-see attractions to festive events and jolly good times, check out our daily updates on holiday happenings in Philadelphia right here.]
All across Philadelphia, city neighborhoods are full to the brim with holiday cheer — think Santa-themed bar crawls, tree lighting celebrations, festive holiday markets and ice skating followed by dinner at a cozy neighborhood restaurant.
Get your Christmas shopping done at small businesses along neighborhood corridors from South Philly to Northwest Philadelphia. Neighborhood businesses all over promise shoppers holiday discounts, free gift wrapping and present suggestions all season long.
The next month is full of Yuletide events, read on for our picks for holiday festivities by neighborhood, below.
• Rittenhouse Square Tree Lighting: Tuesday, December 3, 5 p.m., 18th and Walnut streets. On Tuesday, December 3 at 5 p.m. head to Rittenhouse Square for its annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Watch the 35-foot tree light up for the first time of season, after which it will shine all holiday season to greet shoppers as they walk through the square. Make a night of it and grab a bite or drink at Parc, Rouge or Devon, all of which overlook Rittenhouse Square and offer diners fiery heat lamps for potential alfresco dining.
• Rittenhouse Square Giant Menorah Lighting: Wednesday, December 4, 18th and Walnut streets, 5:30 p.m.; Ethical Society, 1906 Rittenhouse Square, 4 p.m. The annual lighting of the menorah in Rittenhouse Square is set for Wednesday, December 4 at 5:30 p.m. As dusk settles over the park, prayers will be sung and the first candle will be lit on one of the city’s largest menorahs. Before the lighting, join in the Community Chanukah Party at the Ethical Society at 4 p.m. Families can enjoy latkes, donuts and dreidels, as well as a magic show for $5 donation.
• Rittenhouse Row Holiday Celebration Saturdays: Saturdays, December 7, 14, 21, Throughout Rittenhouse Row. Rittenhouse Row’s Holiday Celebration Saturdays return for the season with shopping discounts, visits from Santa, holiday gift wrapping, seasonal concerts and more. Head to Rittenhouse Row on December 7, 14 or 21 to take part in the Yuletide celebration. The full list of shopping discounts, concerts and holiday offerings is available here.
• East Passyunk Tree Lighting Ceremony: Thursday, December 5, 5-7 p.m., 11th Street and East Passyunk Avenue. Back and bigger than ever is East Passyunk’s annual Christmas tree lighting at the neighborhood’s iconic fountain. On Thursday, December 5 at 5 p.m., usher in the season in South Philadelphia. The event treats guests to free food and drinks from some of the avenue’s most loved restaurants and cafes. Listen to Christmas carols performed by area children and welcome Santa as he arrives in splendor.
• East Passyunk’s Deck The Avenue: Thursday, December 5, 7-9 p.m., Along East Passyunk Avenue. Coinciding with the Christmas tree lighting at the Singing Fountain, East Passyunk rings in the holidays with extended hours at shops along the avenue. Peruse businesses as they open their doors for sales, food and drink specials, free seasonal treats and more starting at 7 p.m.
• Spirits and Suds With Santa: Wednesday, December 11, 5:30-9:30 p.m., Registration takes place at South Philly Bar & Grill, 9th and Wharton streets. 14 bars and restaurants throughout East Passyunk invite you to get your festive drink on this holiday season as the neighborhood presents its Spirits and Suds with Santa Bar Crawl. Five bucks gets you in and $3 seasonal craft beers, $4 festive cocktails and $5 discounted snacks (at select locations), a Santa or elf hat and a Santa’s Sipping Stamp Card (for prizes at the end of the night). Registration for the crawl takes place at South Philly Bar & Grill from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tickets are available online.
• Photos With Santa: Wednesdays in December, 6-8 p.m.; Saturdays in December, 1-3 p.m., Alphabet Garden, 1631 East Passyunk Avenue. From December 4 to 21 on Wednesdays, from 6-8 p.m., and Saturdays, from 1-3 p.m., get your photo taken with Santa at the Alphabet Garden on East Passyunk Avenue. Photo packages start at $10, but for guests who bring their own camera, pictures are completely free!
• Skate at The Piazza: November 30-February 23, 1001 N. 2nd Street. For the first time ever, The Piazza at Schmidt’s welcomes a 5,000-square-foot pop-up ice-skating rink to its Northern Liberties grounds for winter revelers. Every day from November 30 through February 23, bring your own ice skates (or rent a pair for $1) and show off your finest twirl at the pop-up rink. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children.
• Northern Liberties’ First Friday: Friday, December 6, 5-8 p.m., 2nd Street in Northern Liberties. Get some holiday shopping done at Northern Liberties’ December First Friday. Every first Friday of the month, Northern Liberties provides shoppers with a 10 percent discount at participating businesses, making for a merry way to shop this holiday season. Be sure to check out the brand-new ice skating rink at The Piazza at Schmidt’s after this month’s First Friday, too.
• NoLibs Holiday Shopping Spree: Saturday, December 7, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, December 8, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., participating Northern Liberties shops.: For the sixth year, enjoy holiday discounts and refreshments at 13 local, independent boutiques in Northern Liberties. The more you shop, the bigger shopping discounts you get thanks to the spree card which gets stamped at each store you visit. This year’s Holiday Shopping Spree is slated for Saturday, December 7 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, December 2, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For the list of participating shops, click here. Bonus: Some shops will even be offering free present wrapping for shoppers. Christmas shopping, check!
• Electrical Spectacle: A Holiday Light Show at Franklin Square: Through December 31, 6th and Race streets. This year, Ben Franklin’s namesake park unveiled a brand-new holiday light show, Electrical Spectacle: A Holiday Light Show. The show features a 10-foot-tall kite made of lights that sparkle and spread the glow to lights throughout the square and tunes recorded by the Philly Pops, and runs every 30 minutes between 4:30 and 8 p.m., weather permitting. Other festivities include visits from Santa, rides on the holiday train and carousel, seasonal treats at SquareBurger and even mini-golf with warming stations to keep even the littlest players cozy. Activities and special events celebrate everything from Hannukah to Christmas to Kwanzaa. Take note, Franklin Square is closed on Christmas day.
• Tippler’s Tour Yuletide Cheers & Beers: Thursdays Through January 2, 5:30 p.m., Leaves from the Historic Philadelphia Center, 6th and Chestnut streets. Sing, toast and drink to the early years of our nation with the Once Upon a Nation storytellers at the seven-block, four-stop Thursday night Tippler’s Tour pub crawl around Old City. Tickets are $40 for general admission and $35 for students, military and senior citizens. Tickets include food, drink, gratuity and of course your entertaining and educational guide.
• Deck The Alley: Saturday, December 7, 3-7 p.m., Elfreth’s Alley Museum, 126 Elfreth’s Alley. America’s oldest continuously residential street, celebrates the holiday season with its annual Deck The Alley holiday event. Explore the meticulously maintained architectural details of the historic homes as residents deck the halls with Christmas trees, holiday lights and decor. In addition to home tours, look forward to seasonal refreshments, carolers, fireside holiday stories, a talk on Philadelphia’s holiday history, a visit from Benjamin Franklin and much more. Following the party, stick around Old City for drinks and dinner. Our picks? High Street on Market, Continental Old City, Han Dynasty and Amada.
More holiday happenings, below.
• Reindeer Romp: Thursday, December 19, 6 p.m., Participating Bars in the Fairmount Neighborhood. The favorite neighborhood pub crawl is back for another holiday season! The Reindeer Romp churned out more than 1,000 guests last year, and this year is expected to be bigger than ever. Presented by Samuel Adams Brewing Company, the bar crawl promises crawlers $3 Sam Adams brews at all 12 participating bars. Every year, the event serves as a benefit for the Feel The Warmth charity. Bring $10 and a toy or a new or gently used coat to support the cause.
• Fairmount Park Holiday Mansions: December 4-15, Various locations throughout Fairmount Park. The long-anticipated restorations of the elegant Strawberry Mansion and Cedar Grove are complete, and visitors can see the results during the annual Fairmount Park Holiday Tours. For much of the month of December, visitors can embark on tours of Cedar Grove, Mount Pleasant, Laurel Hill, Lemon Hill, Strawberry Mansion and Woodford Mansion. Those who prefer a self-guided or a trolley tour can do just that from December 5 through 8 and December 12 through 15. The trolley tours show off three houses in the morning and three different houses in the afternoon.
• Philadelphia Museum of Art: Through January 1, 2014, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The Philadelphia Museum of Art presents museum-goers with tons of festive happenings all season long. From a holiday film series to an ugly sweater party to Christmas card making stations, the art museum has something for everyone this holiday season. For the complete rundown, click here.
• Sister Cities Park Winterfest: Saturdays, December 7, 14, 21, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 18th Street and Logan Square. On Saturday December 7, 14 and 21, Sister Cities Park transforms into a family-friendly winter wonderland for its Winterfest event. Every Saturday afternoon brings varied events to the Logan Square park. Look forward to arts and crafts, hot chocolate, holiday shopping, time with Santa, visitors from The Franklin Institute, Academy of Natural Sciences and much more. The events run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. each week.
South Street/Society Hill
• South Street Headhouse District: Sunday, December 8, 4-7 p.m., 200 Pine Street. On Sunday, December 8, from 4 to 7 p.m. South Street Headhouse District hosts its annual Winter Wonderland event that is set to end with a celebratory tree lighting ceremony at 6:30 p.m. at the Headhouse Square Shambles at 2nd and Pine streets. Before the tree lighting, beginning at 4 p.m., shop items from a holiday market featuring items from some of South Street Headhouse District’s most popular shops and restaurants and vendors from the summertime pop-up market, PHAIR. Throughout the evening, also enjoy Christmas carols, a dance performance, a visit from Santa Claus and more.
University City/Spruce Hill
• Caroling in Clark Park: Sunday, December 15, 5 p.m., Clark Park, 45 and Regent streets. Belt your favorite holiday tunes at Clark Park’s evening of Christmas caroling on Sunday, December 15. Sing with friends, family and neighbors by candlelight around the park’s festive Christmas tree, and end the evening with refreshments and holiday cheer.
• Go West! Holiday Craft Fest at The Rotunda: Sunday, December 15, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., 4014 Walnut Street. Wrap up your holiday shopping at the Go West! Holiday Craft Fest at The Rotunda. Support local craftspeople as they put out their finest items for your holiday shopping needs. Look forward to handmade jewelry, prints, knit accessories, terrariums, organic tea blends and much, much more.
• Manayunk First Friday: Friday, December 6, 5-9 p.m., Along Main Street Manayunk Shop, dine, drink and stroll among Main Street Manayunk’s holiday lights and decor at its December First Friday. Fro 5 to 9 p.m., head to the bustling downtown street for discounted bites, drink specials, gallery events, free refreshments and much more.
• Christmas Tree Lighting: Saturday, December 7, 6 p.m., 4430 Main Street. On Saturday, December 7, Manayunk rings in the holiday season with Santa Claus, holiday carols, hot cocoa and its marquee Christmas tree lighting. The celebration runs from 6 to 8 p.m. in Canal View Park.
• Santa on Ice: Saturday, December 7, 3 p.m., 4430 Main Street. Prior to the Christmas tree lighting, additional festivities take place in Canal View Park. Beginning at 3 p.m., watch residents carve a special ice sleigh for Santa Claus as he arrives for holiday photos at 4 p.m. Also groove to live music provided by B101.
• Manayunk Solstice Fire: Saturday, December 21, 3-6 p.m., 4430 Main Street. On the evening of the Winter Solstice, Manayunk presents its Manayunk Solstice Fire, a celebration of the shortest day of the year and the first day of winter. From 3 to 6 p.m., join the celebration of the return of evening light in Canal View Park. Learn about area birds and how they prepare for winter, enjoy a drum circle and end the evening with the lighting of torches and fires to acknowledge the coming of longer days.
• Stag and Doe Nights: Wednesdays, December 4, 11, 18, until 9 p.m., Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill. Over the course of the month, look forward to the return of Stag and Doe shopping nights, which offer opportunities to escape the chaos of mall shopping and support the small businesses of Chestnut Hill. On Wednesdays, December 4, 11 and 18, shop to your heart’s content as businesses along Germantown Avenue remain open for holiday shoppers until 9 p.m. Carolers, seasonal refreshments and helpful gift ideas from shop owners complete the recurring event.
• Gingerbread House Workshops at Bredenbeck’s Bakery: Wednesdays, December 4, 11, 18, 7-9 p.m.; Saturdays, December 7 & 14, Sundays, December 8 & 15, 1-3 p.m., 8126 Germantown Avenue. Learn to make impressive gingerbread houses at Bredenbeck’s Bakery’s Gingerbread House Workshops. On Wednesday evenings, December 4, 11 and 18, adults are invited to BYOB and create their masterpiece, and on Saturdays and Sundays, December 7, 8, 14 and 15, a parent and child are invited in for an afternoon of creativity and plenty of sweet treats. Admission is $45 for the adult BYOB class and $65 for the parent and child class.
• Morris Arboretum’s Holiday Garden Railway: November 22-January 5, 100 E. Northwestern Avenue. Set amid the evergreens, Morris Arboretum’s Holiday Garden Railway showcases a miniature winter wonderland complete with a quarter-mile of model-train track; seven loops and tunnels; 15 different rail lines; cable cars, bridges and model trains that cruise past scaled replicas of historic monuments; and Philadelphia-area landmarks adorned with thousands of twinkling lights for the holidays. New this year: Friday Night Lights, providing evening viewings on select nights.
• The Holidays at Woodmere Art Museum: Through early January, 9201 Germantown Avenue. While the Christmas trees of Woodmere Art Museum greets the season with the Circle of Trees, numerous illuminated Christmas trees, shining bright for all to see through early January. In addition to the Christmas trees, the Chestnut Hill museum also provides visitors with holiday films, a holiday concert and open house throughout December. The full event listing is available here.
• Holiday Parade: Saturday, December 14, 9-10 a.m., Rex Avenue to Hartwell Lane on Germantown Avenue. For the first time in three decades, downtown Chestnut Hill celebrates Christmas with a holiday parade complete with local marching bands, fire trucks, Santa Claus, the Phillie Phanatic, impressive cars and more. The parade makes its way down Germantown Avenue from Rex Avenue to Hartwell Lane on Saturday, December 14.
• Dickens Christmas Party at the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion: Saturday, December 14, 200 W. Tulpehocken Street. Bask in the glory of the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion as it is decked for the holiday season and the annual Dickens Christmas Party. Listen to famous Christmas readings, make holiday cards, tour the holiday decor and much more. Admission is $18 for members and $20 for non-members.
• Holiday Open House and Craft Fair at Grumblethorpe: Saturday, December 14, 1-4 p.m., 5267 Germantown Avenue. Explore the historic Grumblethorpe house as it welcomes visitors to its annual holiday open house and craft fair. Sip hot cider, tour the historic site, make crafts to take home and browse craft offerings from local vendors. Admission is $5 per person and $12 per family.
• Kwanzaa Family Celebration at the Johnson House: Friday, December 27, 6-8 p.m., 6306 Germantown Avenue. Towards the end of the holiday season, the historic Johnson House celebrates Kwanzaa with African drumming, storytelling, arts and crafts and authentic eats. Admission to the party is completely free.