It’s the time of year to start checking names off holiday shopping lists, folks.
Fortunately, Philadelphia is packed with awesome shopping experiences including brand-new retail destinations in Center City, charming craft bazaars and pop-up shops, independent boutique shops and top-rated shopping malls.
The season is ripe with pending sales and deals, and we’re looking forward to making a list (and checking it twice) and heading out to embrace the holiday shopping spirit.
The best time to begin? Thanksgiving weekend, of course. Not only do tons of stores offer once-a-year sales, but many Philadelphia holiday attractions also start the season the weekend following Turkey Day.
It’s the perfect time to make a weekend out of a visit to Philadelphia, or a mini staycation, so be sure to check out deals on hotel rooms, too.
Read on for our top 10 reasons to kick off your holiday shopping in Philadelphia this Thanksgiving weekend, and beyond.
1. Tax-Free Shopping
In Philadelphia (and all of Pennsylvania!), there is no sales tax on necessities like clothing and shoes. During the holiday season, that can translate to major savings on gifts, too. There are a few exemptions (like formal apparel, fur and some sporting goods), but generally shoppers will find most wearable goods are sold tax-free. MORE INFO
2. Holiday Pop-Up Shops
Holiday shoppers looking to purchase creative and sure-to-be-coveted gifts this season have plenty of special markets, bazaars and pop-up shops to choose from in Philadelphia.Pop-up holiday markets and events are cropping up all over town for a single day, a weekend, for several weekends or even for an entire month. Gift givers can shop ’til they drop at such holiday-only destinations as the Franklin Flea Holiday Market, the PHS Pop-Up Shop in Chestnut Hill, the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest’s Art Star Holiday Shop, the Franklin Square PHAIR Holiday Market, the Pennsylvania Ballet’s Nutcracker Market at the Kimmel Center and more. MORE INFO
3. Christmas Village Opening Weekend
Holiday shopping gets even more festive when Christmas Village at Love Park, an open-air shopping destination modeled after an open-air German market, returns for the season on Thanksgiving Day, November 27 and continues through Sunday, December 28. Christmas Village will be open for two previews before the official opening day — the market will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Black Friday, November 28 — and then opens with a grand opening celebration on Saturday, November 29 from 4 to 5 p.m. MORE INFO
For more reasons to shop in Philadelphia this Thanksgiving weekend, see below.
4. New Center City Retail on Black Friday
A swell of retail activity in Philadelphia over the past few months has given way to a new era of awesome shopping in Center City with the opening of major national stores like Century 21, Nordstrom Rack, Uniqlo, Timberland, Vans, Vince, Goorin Bros. and more. Come Black Friday, November 28, these shops and their neighbors will throw open their doors and welcome crowds of holiday shoppers. We’re betting on major deals. MORE INFO
5. Support Independent Shops on Small Business Saturday
For those who prefer to keep it local, Small Business Saturday is a national initiative spearheaded by American Express that devotes the Saturday after Thanksgiving Day to supporting the local small businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods around the country. Last year, more than 100 million people across the country came together to “Shop Small.” This year, do so right here in Philadelphia on business corridors in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods like Midtown Village, Queen Village, East Passyunk, Old City and Northern Liberties. MORE INFO
6. RiverRink Winterfest Opening Weekend
This winter, Penn’s Landing’s longstanding Blue Cross RiverRink amps up the ice skating experience on the Delaware River waterfront by once again transforming the annual rink into a bona fide winter wonderland. Opening to the public on Friday, November 28, Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest takes the perennial good times of the rink to a whole new level, transforming Penn’s Landing into a winterized riverfront park for the entire season with a winter beer garden, ice rink and — you guessed it — holiday shopping. The crafty folks behind the Art Star Gallery & Boutique are curating a winter-themed retail experience with goods housed inside a repurposed shipping container. MORE INFO
7. Holiday Light Shows Opening Weekend
Philadelphia lights up around the holidays, and Thanksgiving weekend brings the debut of two major holiday light shows, both of which are free to see and make a perfect accompaniment to a day of shopping. The Comcast Holiday Spectacular opens on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, with its free, 15-minute show screened on the Comcast Center’s Comcast Experience video wall, with its incredible resolution that’s five times that of an HDTV. The Macy’s Christmas Light Show returns for the merry season on Black Friday, November 28, and continues through Wednesday, December 31 with its show of more than 100,000 bright LED lights on the wall of the Grand Court atrium. MORE INFO
8. Free Meter Parking on Saturdays (and Wednesday evenings, too)
Philadelphia, one of the country’s most walkable cities, is incredibly easy to navigate either by foot or by public transportation. That just leaves the question: Where to park the car? During the holiday season, no meter parking limits will be enforced on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day. Plus, meter parking is free every Saturdays after 11 a.m. from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day. And remember, meter parking is also free in Center City after 5 p.m. on Wednesday evenings, except for rush-hour zones, which are free after 6:30 p.m. Check here for the rush hour zones and free parking boundaries. MORE INFO
9. PHLASH Winter Service and Holiday Loop Launch
The Philly PHLASH, a key seasonal transportation amenity for visitors and locals, makes travel throughout the city super-quick by way of purple bus. Instead of shutting down service for the chilly months this year, the PHLASH returns for daily rides and a new holiday evening loop from Friday, November 28 through Wednesday, December 31. After running on a weekend-only schedule in the fall, the shuttle will operate seven-days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., leaving every 15 minutes and making 20 stops throughout city. At night, the holiday evening loop continues service after dark with shuttles running from 6 to 10 p.m. to 15 stops near key holiday attractions throughout the city. MORE INFO
10. First Chance to Visit with Santa
For those waiting to hear what’s on a little one’s wish list before hitting the shops, a visit with Santa Claus is in order. Thanksgiving weekend presents the first chance to leave a wish list with Old Saint Nick in person, and multiple Philadelphia sites welcome the jolly old elf. On Friday, November 28, join in the SEPTA Santa Express to see Santa on ice at the new Rothman Ice Rink or head to Macy’s Center City to visit with Santa at Macy’s Dickens Village after seeing the Christmas Light Show. On Saturday, Santa arrives to the Franklin Square Holiday Festival to pose for photos, collect wish lists and send kids along to ohh and ahh over the Electrical Spectacle Light Show. MORE INFO
BONUS! The Enormous King of Prussia Mall
Just a 20-minute drive from Philadelphia, the King of Prussia Mall is the largest shopping mall in the United States of America in terms of leasable retail space. And around the holidays, the mall is packed with festivities, deals and thousands of shoppers. Boasting seven world class department stores and more than 400 stores, boutiques, and restaurants, King of Prussia has more pure retail shopping space than any other attraction in America and it features stores that cannot be found elsewhere in the region. Just be sure you allot enough time in your schedule — once you get started at King of Prussia, it’s hard to stop. MORE INFO