The holiday season has arrived, and if you’re looking to celebrate with social distancing and mask-wearing in mind, a drive- or walk-through outdoor holiday light show could be a good option.
You could crack open your wallet for any of the great, ticketed light shows in the Philly area, including Winter on Broad Street at the Wells Fargo Center, Shady Brook Farms’ Holiday Light Show, or A Longwood Christmas at Longwood Gardens.
But if you’re looking for less expensive options, this list is for you. From neighborhood blocks to offerings from corporate entities, we’ve rounded up a list of local holiday light shows that you can see without spending a cent.
Most run daily starting at dusk, but to avoid crowds, weeknights can be better. And remember: Some of these are on small blocks or at private homes, so be respectful. It is the holidays, after all.
The Miracle on South 13th Street
COVID-19 can’t keep down a good holiday light display like the Miracle on South 13th Street. While smaller than in previous years, the 2020 version of this South Philly tradition is up and running with many houses on the block in their best holiday regalia. If you go, remember: This is a residential area, so follow all pandemic precautions.
Runs through Jan. 1., 1600 block of South 13th Street, facebook.com/themiracleonsouth13thstreet
Smedley Street Christmas Light Spectacular
Go deeper into South Philly to find a favorite local tradition just off Oregon Avenue. There, you’ll experience all the holiday lights that you can handle — including a median in the center of the block that’s fully populated with Christmas-themed decor and blowups. Again, this one is a community display, so be respectful and follow all the usual COVID-19 precautions.
Runs through Jan. 1, 2700 block of Smedley Street, facebook.com/smedley-street-christmas-light-spectacular
Christmas on Kimball
Just off Passyunk Avenue near Carpenter Street is a budding favorite neighborhood light show. Marking its third year in 2020, this display features dozens of inflatables and plenty of lights and projections, and adds another stop on your South Philly Christmas light tour. Feel free to take a walk or a drive through, but be sure to respect residents’ peace and privacy.
Runs through the holidays, 800 block of Kimball Street
Boathouse Row Festival of Lights
Boathouse Row’s iconic houses are known for their light displays, but they change things up around the holidays. Depending on when you go, you’ll see colorful themed displays marking Hanukkah (Dec. 10-17), Christmas (Dec. 19-25), and Kwanzaa (Dec. 26-Jan. 1). Take it all in on Martin Luther King Drive.
Runs through Jan. 1, 1 Boathouse Row, facebook.com/engagingphl
The Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show
Winter in Franklin Square includes all kinds of yuletide activities, but for folks looking for a show, there’s the Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show. Running every 30 minutes, it features more than 100,000 holiday lights synchronized to holiday classics performed by the Philly POPS starting at 5 p.m. daily, weather permitting.
Runs through Dec. 31, 200 N. 6th St., 215-629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org
Get thee to City Hall for a couple holiday spectacles. First, check out the Deck the Hall Holiday Lights, which features colorful projections timed to sound effects on display on the western side of City Hall. Then, head around the corner to Philly’s official Holiday Tree — a 50-foot white fir that’s been decked out with about 5,000 feet of LED lights.
Runs through Jan. 1, 1 S. 15th St., 215-440-5500, centercityphila.org
American Heritage’s Drive-Through Grand Illumination
Credit unions know how to celebrate the holidays, too. This year’s Grand Illumination is a drive-through event at the main campus of American Heritage in Northeast Philly, where you’ll glimpse holiday displays made from more than 400,000 lights. You can get out of your car for photos, provided you follow social-distancing guidelines.
Runs through Jan. 3, 2060 Red Lion Rd., 800-342-0008, americanheritagecu.org
Holidays In the Village
Peddler’s Village usually has plenty to do thanks to its more than 60 specialty stores, but around this time of year, it adds about a million dazzling lights as part of its Holidays in the Village event. There’s a light tunnel to grab the perfect Instagram photo, and some 125 gingerbread creations on display.
Runs through Jan. 10, 2400 Street Rd., New Hope, 215-794-4000, peddlersvillage.com
The West Chester Griswolds
The Plummer family’s holiday light show get its name from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. They have been doing displays since 1998 — starting in in Aston with just 2,000 lights. They’ve moved since then and added a lot more lights to their annual display — more than 128,000 this year. Plus, the kiddos can drop off a letter to Santa.
Colonial Drive Lights
Like the West Chester Griswolds, this Langhorne-based attraction is a holiday light show at a private home. For this one, you can tune your car radio to 92.1 FM to hear the half-hour music playlist to which the light show is synced. While it’s free, you can make a donation, which this year will go to the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
Runs through early January, 155 Colonial Dr., Langhorne, facebook.com/coloniallights
Herr’s Holiday Lights Display
Herr’s makes some pretty good snacks, but it’s also been serving up some crisp light displays every holiday season for more than 30 years. Head up to Nottingham to drive through its corporate headquarters, where you’ll take in more than 600,000 holiday lights through Jan. 2. Just remember to stay in your car.
Runs through Jan. 2, 20 Herr Dr., Nottingham, 1-800-344-3777, herrs.com
Festival of Lights at Rose Tree Park
In Delaware County, Rose Tree Park is celebrating the holidays with its annual light show — just like it has been doing for decades. This year, attractions include dozens of decorated, lighted trees, and figures that include everything from Santa and his reindeer to toy soldiers and gingerbread men. COVID-19 precautions, like masks and social distancing, are required.
Runs through Jan. 3, 1671 N. Providence Rd., Media, 610-891-4663, delcopa.gov.