Philadelphia’s Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest Kicks Off Its 2015-2016 Season On The Waterfront Thanksgiving Weekend

The popular Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest is back for its 2015-2016 with ice skating, a winter beer garden, a chalet-style Lodge, games and much more.
Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest, shown here in 2014, returns to the Delaware River waterfront this season with ice skating, a winter beer garden, chalet-style warming tent and much more. (Photo by Matt Stanley for DRWC)

Old Man Winter doesn’t keep Philadelphia indoors — this city’s chilly season marks the return of awesome waterfront winter garden Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest.

Opening to the public right after Thanksgiving Day on Friday, November 27, Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest transforms Penn’s Landing into a winterized riverfront park for the entire season with an Olympic-size ice rink, sprawling winter garden, mountain chalet-style Lodge, holiday trees, fire pits and plenty of cozy seating — plus, excellent food and drink from local culinary stars Garces Group and Franklin Fountain.

For more than 20 years, the has popped up each winter along Delaware River Waterfront at Penn’s Landing. A few years ago, Waterfront Winterfest takes the perennial good times of Blue Cross RiverRink to a whole new level

Open seven days a week from November 27 through February 28, 2016 — including holidays! — this season’s Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest will include tons more seating both indoors and out, a 360-degree deck around the skating rink, expanded food options from Garces Group and others (think hot chocolates, holiday treats and more), more twinkling lights and awesome new themed events.

Read on for a rundown of the wonderful wintertime happenings on Penn’s Landing.

Fast Facts

  • Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest opens Friday, Nov. 27, 11 a.m.
  • The full season runs Friday, Nov. 27 through Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016
  • Admission to Winterfest is free; RiverRink skating is $3 and skate rental is $10
RiverRink Winterfest hosts a variety of events all season long — like themed ice skating, s’more roasting and more. (Photo by Matt Stanley for DRWC)

Opening Weekend

To celebrate the public opening of Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest on Thanksgiving weekend, the park hosts free festivities all weekend long. From Friday, November 27 through Sunday, November 29, the park will be open all day long starting at 11 a.m. each day.

Throughout the weekend, family-friendly happenings will keep the site super lively. Opening day, Friday, November 27, brings on a Star Wars tribute, featuring the costumed characters of the 501st Legion Garrison Carida, live ice sculpting, winter crown making and more. In addition, the weekend includes visits from Arden Theatre Company, Philly Circus, Little Chair Printing, Franklin the Sixers mascot, a live DJ and so much more.

For a complete schedule of opening weekend events and activities, check right here.

Much more on Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest, below.

Skate your way through the winter at Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest! (Photo by Matt Stanley for DRWC)

The Blue Cross RiverRink and Winter Garden

The centerpiece of the waterfront experience remains the Blue Cross RiverRink, a regulation-sized ice skating rink at Penn’s Landing. A holiday tradition for more than 20 years, the RiverRink is a family-friendly outdoor activity with spectacular views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and Delaware River.

Open to the public through February 2016, the ice skating rink features on-site skate rentals, special events and is a fantastic spot for holiday parties.

To extend the diversions beyond the skating rink, a winter garden and Lodge surrounding the rink welcomes those just looking to hang out in a winter beer garden-style setup. New this year, the site will include tons more seating both indoors and out, a 360-degree deck around the skating rink.

The Lodge employs repurposed shipping containers with comfy seating options like rocking chairs, couches, indoor fireplaces, charming decorations and a wraparound porch complete with heat lamps.

This year, the winter garden will offer the added bonus of brand-new winter warming cottages situated around some of the firepits. These cozy shelters, outfitted with seating and heat elements, will make for a perfect base camp for an all-day hangout at Winterfest.

Warm up by a heat lamp or fire pit — and with a warm drink in-hand — at Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest. (Photo by Matt Stanley for DRWC)

Dining at The Lodge and Fireside Cafe

Warming treats abound at Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest, thanks to an excellent onsite restaurant and bar from Garces Group, as well as seasonal sweets from Franklin Fountain.

Inside the super-cozy ski chalet-style tent, The Lodge will serve family-friendly food and drink daily — think burgers, fries and snacks. The Lodge bar will pour a selection of cocktails, wine and plenty of local craft beer. Plus, look for sweet treats from Franklin Fountain. Check back soon for more on the food and drinks.

Philly, here’s your winter hangout.

For more information and menus, check right here.

The Lodge at Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest evokes a ski chalet-style atmosphere with twinkly lights and cozy seating. (Photo by Matt Stanley for DRWC)

Free Entertainment and Special Events

The Winterfest season kicks off Thanksgiving weekend, and continues for more than three months with a full calendar of free entertainment and special events.

Daily, attendees can take advantage of free oversized board games and numerous arcade games, which are available to play for a minimal fee.

For one weekend this December, December 19-20, the Punk Rock Flea Market takes up residency at Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest for a pop-up shopping extravaganza with a carefully curated selection of goods for everyone on your Christmas list.

Save the date for the Winterfest tree lighting ceremony on Friday, December 4 at 6 p.m. with live music and performances, make and take crafts, giveaways and more.

Of course, expect more fun around the holidays (remember, Winterfest is open seven days a week, even holidays) and one heck of a bash for New Year’s Eve in conjunction with the 6 p.m. and midnight fireworks, the SugarHouse New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront.

For a complete schedule of waterfront events, check here.

With free admission and family-friendly activities, Winterfest is a go-to hangout for the entire season. (Photo by Matt Stanley for DRWC)

Getting There and Admission

General admission to the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest is free and open to the public. Admission to ice skate the Blue Cross RiverRink is $3 with skate rental available for $10. Convenient on-site parking is available, too.

Insider tip: Independence Blue Cross cardholders and employees get free skating admission.

Opening weekend, Winterfest will be open November 27-28, 11 a.m.-12:30 a.m., and November 29, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Regular operating hours of Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest are Monday-Thursday, 1 p.m.-10:30 p.m.; Friday, 1 p.m.-12:30 a.m.; Saturday 11 a.m.-12:30 a.m.; and Sunday 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.

The park will be open with extended and special hours around holidays, too. Check here for complete operating hour information.

Winterfest is located on the Delaware River Waterfront at Penn’s Landing at Market Street. For directions to Winterfest, check right here. For anyone staying over in Philadelphia to skate, check out for super deals on hotel stays and the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package.

Get ready to practice your double axel and sip craft brews beside the fire, Philadelphia.

See you on the ice!

Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest

When: Daily, November 27-February 28, 2016, including holidays
Where: Penn’s Landing, 101 S. Columbus Boulevard
Cost: General admission, free; skating admission, $3; skate rental, $10
RiverRink Winterfest hosts a variety of special events throughout the season, including a huge opening weekend celebration. See you on the ice! (Photo by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)

Philadelphia’s Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest Kicks Off Its 2015-2016 Season On The Waterfront Thanksgiving Weekend

Where:Blue Cross RiverRink, 101 S. Columbus Boulevard



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