It isn’t the truly the holiday season before thousands of twinkling lights illuminate attractions, streets and Christmas trees throughout the Philadelphia area.
Tried-and-true holiday light displays continue to shine throughout the city — like the Macy’s Christmas Light Show and the twinkling lights of South Philadelphia — while newer holiday light displays up-the-ante with food and drink offerings in addition to twinkling lights — think Blue Cross Riverrink Winterfest and Franklin Square Holiday Festival and Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show.
Viewing holiday lights is a free way to get in the Christmas spirit and spread holiday cheer. Read on for our guide to the top 11 holiday light sights in Philadelphia.
1. Macy’s Christmas Light Show
Through December 31. A Philadelphia tradition since 1956, the Christmas Light Show at Macy’s in Center City illuminates a large wall inside the Wanamaker building, a National Historic Landmark, with almost 100,000 LED lights and finishes with sounds from the renowned Wanamaker Organ. While you’re there, be sure to visit Dickens’ Village featuring scenes from “Scrooge” and pose for a picture with Santa. MORE INFO
2. The Comcast Holiday Spectacular
Through January 1. Shown on the state-of-the-art Comcast Experience video wall at 58-story-tall Comcast Center, The Comcast Holiday Spectacular is family-friendly event filled with sights and sounds of the season. Now an annual holiday tradition, the 15-minute holiday experience takes visitors on a festive, musical journey featuring classic family favorites like Jingle Bell Rock, The Twelve Days of Christmas and a moment from The Nutcracker performed by the Philadelphia Ballet. Shows begin at the top of the hour, every hour from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (except 5 p.m. on weekdays). MORE INFO
3. Franklin Square Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show
Through December 31. Winter nights are joyfully brighter this holiday season with Electrical Spectacle: A Holiday Light Show at Franklin Square, a free holiday nighttime light show that’s bigger than ever in 2014. The dazzling spectacle features a 10-foot-tall kite made of lights that sparkle and spread the glow to more than 50,000 lights throughout the square. The show runs every 30 minutes between 4:30 and 8 p.m., weather permitting. MORE INFO
4. Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest
Through March 1. The Delaware River Waterfront is getting into the holiday spirit with the opening of the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest. Expanding on the annual Blue Cross RiverRink and last year’s holiday pop-up winter garden, the Waterfront Winterfest, the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest is one of Philadelphia’s must-see holiday experiences. MORE INFO
5. Holiday Lights in Philadelphia’s Neighborhoods
Stroll down Jewelers’ Row to find a light display rivaled only by the gems that adorn the shops’ windows. the 1600 block of South 13th Street for the Miracle on South 13th Street, an elaborate (and annual!) display of lights that are hung on neighborhood homes along the stretch. Venture to South Philly, the 2700 Block of Smedley Street between 16th and 17th Streets and Moyamensing and Oregon Avenues, for a peak at a hidden holiday gem — find trees covered from head to toe in glowing color-shifting lights, blow-up Santas and more. Along Kelly Drive, the Boathouses along the Boathouse Row illuminate for the holiday season for a festive jolt of energy for those driving down I-76 or walking along the Schuylkill.
6. Holiday Lights at Rittenhouse Square
During the holidays, Rittenhouse Square boasts one of the largest Christmas trees in the city. Every year, locals and visitors pack the popular park for the ceremonial lighting of the Rittenhouse Square Christmas Tree, which is typically more than 30-feet-tall. Throughout the season, Rittenhouse Square is aglow with 5,000 colorful globes making a cheerful sight for holiday shoppers amongst the popular stores along Rittenhouse Row. In addition to the tree, Rittenhouse Square also illuminates a giant Menora to celebrate Hanukkah. MORE INFO
7. The Christmas Village in Love Park
Inspired by traditional outdoor markets found throughout Europe, the Christmas Village in LOVE Park captures the spirit of the season. Charming wooden booths offer a wide selection of holiday gifts along with delicious food and drink. Enjoy live entertainment throughout the season and pose for a photo in front of the City of Philadelphia’s official holiday tree. MORE INFO
8. A Longwood Christmas
No holiday is complete without a visit to Longwood Gardens, where more than 500,000 twinkling lights and spectacular fountain shows compose a brilliant wonderland your family is sure to love. Gaze upon the large, starry snowflakes and icicles that sparkle throughout the gardens before warming up in heated conservatory with twenty “rooms” featuring festive displays of floral garlands, sparkling trees and more. Timed advance tickets are required and sell out quickly. MORE INFO
9. A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place
Through December 31. A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place is a festive, family-friendly celebration with everyone’s favorite Sesame Street friends. The park is transformed into a one-of-a-kind Christmas wonderland with millions of twinkling lights, festive decorations and whirling rides. Get into the holiday spirit with special Christmas shows, savory Christmas menus, super holiday shopping and a visit with Santa in his Furry Workshop. MORE INFO
10. Holiday Lights in the Countryside
For the holidays, Linvilla Orchards transforms into the North Pole — farm style. Enjoy holiday lights aplenty while cutting down your Christmas tree, sipping hot mulled cider and singing along to holiday favorites along a Caroling Hayride. Peddler’s Village will light up your holiday season with a fantastic display of nearly one million holiday lights. While you’re in a festive mood, explore more than 70 specialty shops — perfect for your holiday shopping — and eight restaurants.
11. Holiday Light Show at Shady Brook Farm
Through January 4, 2015. Millions of lights sparkle at Shady Brook Farm during the incredible Holiday Light Show. Experience the magical drive in your own car or hop on a moonlit hayride or horse and buggy. Monday through Thursday is when the real tractor hayrides will happen, but then Thursdays through Sundays, you’ll ride around the display in a horse-drawn carriage. Also, don’t forget to stop and get your picture taken with Santa at Santa’s Village. Reservations are recommended. MORE INFO