Get out. Seriously. Go. Outside. We’ve got about 30 seconds until winter weather forces us indoors for months. Time to mask up, bundle up, and look at some lights!
The big, sparkly new item on this week’s list takes place in the Wells Fargo Center parking lot, which, after the concrete expanse’s giant, drive-through dinosaur show and various car concerts, is suddenly the place to be. There are light shows at Longwood Gardens and Franklin Square, too — and also a DIY Thanksgiving parade on Zoom (from PopUpPlay), and in Northern Liberties, an outdoor princess brunch in bubble-looking igloos.
Longwood Gardens Christmas
10 a.m.–11 p.m. through Jan. 10, timed tickets required at longwoodgardens.org, $30 adults, $16 ages 5-18, free 4 & under (all ages)
Longwood isn’t a destination you buy a bunch of tickets to, to explore for an hour. It’s a place where you invest in a family membership, so you can go as much as you want, and not worry that your one-time splurge won’t pay off. The half-million holiday lights here are always spectacular, turning 100 already-beautiful trees into nighttime marvels. Also fun: the 140-foot light tunnel in the Meadow Garden, a tree decorated with foods for native species to eat, model trains, and the fountain show.
Winter in Franklin Square
5–9 p.m. through Dec. 31 (until 10 p.m. Fri. & Sat.), info at historicphiladelphia.org/franklin-square, free (ages 2 & up)
Aglow from the Seventh Street entrance to I-95 to the Eighth Street exit off the Vine Street Expressway, Franklin Square after dark deserves more than a backseat glance. Roll or stroll through. Take in the on-the-half-hour light show atop the fountain. Ride the carousel. Play some mini golf. Have a cake shake.
Winter on Broad Street
5 p.m.–10 p.m. Fri. through Jan. 3 (until 11 p.m. Fri. and Sat.), reservations recommended at wellsfargocenterphilly.com, ages 12 & under $15–$27.50, adults $20–$32.50 (ages 3 & up)
The Wells Fargo Center’s parking lot transforms from a place to lose your car and then get stuck getting out, into a … magical wonderland? It’s true. They’ve set up a one-way pedestrian path of 193 light sculptures, with spots to stop for gingerbread-spiced sliders and spiked cider, try your broom at curling, buy ornaments, and, should you hop on the opportunity ASAP, snag a $15 booking to get a photo with Gritty Claus.
PopUpPlay’s Zoom-in Thanksgiving Parade & Family Time Capsule
Parade noon–1 p.m. Thurs., reservations required at popupplay.net/upcoming-events, $10 per family, scholarships available; time capsule 3–4 p.m. Fri., $14 per family, scholarships available (all ages)
Since March, interactive pop-up play maker Jen Brevoort has been #winning at virtual playtime. This week, she’s planned a pair of sessions to coincide with the family togetherness of the holiday break. Register in advance to take part in her virtual Thanksgiving parade, and you’ll receive advice and tutorials on how to build a float with stuff floating around the house, then bring your creation to a Zoomed parade that takes place right after Philly’s virtual parade and Macy’s crowd-free live one. Friday, there’s a chance to collaborate with the kids on a family time capsule, because there’s no forgetting 2020.
Snow Queen Brunch at the Igloos
11 a.m. & 1 p.m. Sat. and Dec. 5, reserve seating at germantowngarden.com, $15 per person entry fee for igloo seating, $10 per person for outdoor seating, food and drink extra and pay as you go (ages 3 & up)
The deck of Northern Liberties’ former Vesper Club and Pool, now called Germantown Garden, becomes the purview of wee Elsas, Annas, and their entourages for two Saturdays. Ticketed brunches take place within nine heated, transparent, wide-open plastic bubble igloos and at less regal outdoor tables. Gowned guests can enjoy socially distanced photo opps, a private audience with Snow Queen-organizer Aisha Maria Loeks, and Frozen-inspired activities. The meal itself, like the batteries for your kid’s light-up icicle tiara, is sold separately. Food and drink are pay as you go.