It's no secret that the holiday season is an expensive time, keep your wallet full as you pay a visit to some of the many free holiday attractions in Philadelphia. (Photo credits clockwise from top left: by Joseph Kaczmarek courtesy Comcast Center, J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia, G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia, J. Fusco for Historic Philadelphia)
[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.]
Save your pennies this season for holiday shopping and dining and pay a visit to some of Philadelphia’s numerous holiday attractions that open their doors to guests for free. That’s right, free.
From the perennial Macy’s Christmas Light Show to the brand-new Yuletide light show at Franklin Square, sites across the city and countryside usher guests in for holiday entertainment at no cost at all.
During a season when wallets are light and credit cards are tired, free fun could not come at a better time.
Our picks for free holiday fun, below.
• Comcast Holiday Spectacular: Through January 1, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on the hour, 1701 John F. Kennedy Boulevard. From November 28 through January 1, experience high-definition visions of sugarplums during the sixth year of the Comcast Holiday Spectacular. Shown on one of the world’s highest-resolution 4-mm LED video wall, the Holiday Spectacular has been updated with new holiday scenes and computer generated animations for the 2013 season. Shows are 15 minutes long and run every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (no shows at 5 p.m. during the week). Best of all? All shows are completely free.
• Macy’s Christmas Light Show: Through December 31, 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m., 1300 Market Street. Inside of the giant Macy’s store in Center City, an annual Philadelphia tradition illuminates the walls and spreads holiday cheer. Since 1956, the Macy’s Christmas Light Show dazzles visitors daily with more than 100,000 LED lights and the sounds of the legendary Wanamaker organ through December 31, on the hour every two hours from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. for no cost at all. Just sit in the atrium and enjoy the show while surrounded by bunches of winter revelers and all of the shopping that Macy’s has to offer. Be sure to check out the free Dickens Village on the third floor, too.
• Electrical Spectacle: A Holiday Light Show at Franklin Square: Through December 31, every 30 minutes between 4:30-8 p.m., 6th and Race streets. Take in the sights of the season for free at Franklin Square’s new Electrical Spectacle holiday light show, a festive show complete with 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. The show runs every 30 minutes between 4:30 and 8 p.m.
• Waterfront Winterfest: Through January 5, Columbus Boulevard and Market Street. Waterfront Winterfest, the newest addition to the Blue Cross RiverRink invites deal-seeking guests in for free to warm by the fire, take in the views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, ice skaters and check out the Bright Lights, Big Santa holiday light show and video display.
• Reading Terminal Market Holiday Railroad: November 29-December 31, 51 N. 12th Street. Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia’s indoor haven for all things food, sets up a super impressive 500-square-foot holiday railroad in its main court beginning for visitors to view for free. Every holiday season, guests ooh and aah over the 12 working train lines and miniature scenery of Center City and the countryside.
• Neighborhood Christmas Lights & Displays in South Philadelphia: Locals have long known that the place to go for a boost of holiday spirit is South Philadelphia, a traditionally Italian enclave where the combination of civic pride and neighborhood camaraderie come together to create eye-popping homegrown lighting displays. Stroll the neighborhood streets without making a dent in your wallet — Colorado and Smedley Streets are particular favorites for an instant jolt of seasonal spirit.
• Photos With Santa on East Passyunk Avenue: Wednesdays in December, 6-8 p.m.; Saturdays in December, 1-3 p.m., Alphabet Garden, 1631 East Passyunk Avenue. Bring your own camera and take a photo with Santa for free at East Passyunk Avenue’s weekly Photo With Santa event. 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.
• Annual Gingerbread House Competition and Display at Peddler’s Village: Through January 4, Routes 202 & 263, Lahaska. Peddler’s Village, Bucks County’s site for all things shopping, invites visitors to check out the Annual Gingerbread House Competition and Display for free. Participants compete in a variety of categories, including traditional, authentic reproduction of a significant building and unusual 3-D creations. During the season, visitors can also stroll the grounds and enjoy one million jewel-colored holiday lights, weekend visits with Santa at Giggleberry Fair and other special events.
• New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront: December 31, 6 p.m. & midnight. Penn’s Landing is the place to ring in the New Year with two displays of SugarHouse Casino’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront, running at 6 p.m. and again at midnight. Watch the fireworks for free at spots along the Delaware River in Philadelphia and Camden.
• The Mummer’s Parade: January 1, 10 a.m., Throughout Philadelphia. The Mummer’s Parade is a Philadelphia New Year’s Day experience that’s as traditional as cheesesteaks. Dating back to 1901, the only-in-Philly celebration is a lively and colorful parade of costumed men, women and children who practice all year to strut, dance and play music up Broad Street. The parade begins at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Broad Street and Oregon Avenue for the string bands and Broad Street and Washington Avenue for the comics, wench brigades and fancies, and everyone proceeds to City Hall. Arrive early for the best views along the parade route, but to catch the action from the judge’s stand, it’s best to purchase tickets ahead of time.