Top Five Ways to Get in the Holiday Spirit
Ready or not, the holidays are here! If you need some inspiration to get into the spirit this season, look no further than this list of fun holiday happenings in Philly.
Immerse yourself in a European-inspired shopping experience.
If you read our Thanksgiving article last month, you’ll remember the kickoff of Christmas Village. By now, things are in full swing! Located in iconic LOVE Park, the village is open for business through 5:00 P.M. on Christmas Eve. If this place doesn’t put you in a celebratory mood, we don’t know what will! Stroll through the impressive line-up of vendors to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. From ultra-specialized items like Turkish mosaic lanterns, to classic gifts like handmade sweaters, you’ll have plenty of choices. The market boasts an incredible variety of food options: Belgium fries, French macarons, strudels, grilled cheese, and…bacon preserve? You’ll have to see that one for yourself!
Bonus: Don’t think about leaving until you’ve checked out Made in Philadelphia, a holiday market located across the street in Dilworth Park. Through January 1, you’ll find over 40 local artists and retailers selling their wares. Yes, there’s also more food!
Both locations are close to public transportation – City Hall Station serves all subway lines, and multiple bus routes stop in the area. You can also score parking in advance with Spot Hero.
Revisit your childhood at a holiday light show.
Take in the splendor of Macy’s Christmas Light Show. A Philadelphia tradition dating back to the 1950’s, the Market Street store has decked the halls since it was a Wanamaker’s. Light shows occur daily in the Grand Court through December, where you’ll hear the Wanamaker Grand Organ pipe out holiday classics. You’ll also find holiday window displays, and the famed “Dickens Village” on the third floor. The best part? You’ll have some festive entertainment if you need to get some last-minute shopping done!
Feel the excitement in the air at the Franklin Square Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show. Head to 6th and Race Streets now through December 31 to experience a holiday light show inspired by Philly’s own Benjamin Franklin. More than 50,000 lights twinkle away to a soundtrack that includes selections from The Philly Pops. If you’re lucky, you might be the audience member chosen to kick off the 4:30 show!
Bonus: Visit the Independence Seaport Museum on December 9 and catch the Parade of Lights. Local boats sail down the Delaware all lit up for the holidays, beginning at 5:30 P.M.
Walk in a winter wonderland.
Break out your ice skates! Blue Cross Riverrink Winterfest is open every day (including holidays) until March 4. While the outdoor skating rink is certainly the center of the action, that’s not all there is to do at Winterfest. Two lodges – one for kids and one for adults – provide cozy entertainment for all ages. The Lodge Restaurant and Bar features heated outdoor seating on a wrap-around porch, plus couches, tables, and warm fireplaces inside. The menu is populated with Philly staples like Chickie’s and Pete’s, as well as craft beers and other libations to keep away the cold. Stop in for a spiked hot chocolate once you hang up your skates!
For the little ones, The Kids Lodge will provide hours of fun. Arcade games and rides offer a break from the rink, but that doesn’t mean kids will have to take off their skates! The rubber floor makes for an easy transition from the ice to the lodge and back again. The Kids Lodge even hosts birthday parties for winter babies. More info on booking a party here.
Bonus: Leave room for dessert at the Franklin Fountain Confectionary Cabin. Aside from the requisite hot chocolate and other goodies, this sweet spot has s’more kits! Perfect for melding a summer classic with winter fun at the outdoor fire pits.
Ring in the New Year with a bang.
Welcome 2018 with fireworks on New Year’s Eve at Penn’s Landing. This year, there are not one, but two shows! The first begins at 6:00 P.M. for anyone who wants to call it an early night. The second starts right at midnight for a traditional start to the new year.
Getting around town on New Year’s Eve can be tricky, and parking is a challenge, to say the least. Arrive early to get a spot – both for your car and for the show! Plan ahead by visiting the Delaware River Waterfront site for parking lot information. You can also access the waterfront via the subway and several bus routes.
Pro tip: Head over to Camden and view the early fireworks from the Adventure Aquarium. Not only will you get to hang out with some friendly sea creatures, but you’ll get a stunning view of the fireworks with the Philly skyline in the background.
Dance the day away with the Mummers.
New Year’s Day in Philadelphia is synonymous with the Mummers. For over 100 years, this one-of-a-kind parade has been the city’s signature holiday celebration. Over 10,000 mummers (!) in five divisions march and perform beginning at 9:00 A.M on January 1. A new, shorter parade route starts at City Hall, winds down Broad Street, and ends at Washington Avenue. The Fancy Division kicks off the show, and wows the crowd with elaborate costumes and performances. Other divisions include the Comic and Wench Brigades, which are known for satire and parasols, respectively. These are not to be confused with the String Bands, who focus on unique musical performances. Finally the Fancy Brigades – different from the Fancy Division – march in the parade, and host their finale at the PA Convention Center.
As you can see, the Mummers Parade is not your average holiday march. This is a competition, complete with a judging area at 15th and Market. It’s hard to give a complete picture of the Mummers Parade, so you should get out and see it for yourself!
Bonus: Can’t make the parade, or want even more Mummers fun? Check out Mummersfest, a four-day event at the PA Convention Center. From December 28 through December 31, get a sneak peek at performances, watch final float preparations, and even try on a costume. Tickets are $4.00 and available at the door.
Just making this list put us in the holiday spirit! Get out and enjoy all Philly has to offer this season. It will be over before you know it!