After going virtual in 2020 due to the pandemic, some time-honored winter holiday traditions will return for in-person viewing at the Macy’s Center City store this year.
Macy’s Dickens’ Village, Christmas Light Show, and annual holiday window displays will all return in late November to the company’s location at 1300 Market St., the retailer announced on Tuesday. Visits with Santa Claus, though, will remain virtual for Philly kids via Macy’s online Santaland at Home experience.
Set in the landmark Wanamaker Building, Macy’s Center City has hosted these Philly holiday traditions for well over a decade — but they’re much older than that. The Christmas Light Show, for example, launched in 1956, while Dickens’ Village has been running since 1985. Macy’s took them both over when the Center City store opened in the building in 2006.
Now, after going digital last year, they’re back with some added safety. Precautions include mandatory masks for staff, ramped-up cleaning procedures, a limited number of showtimes, and required reservations to help keep crowds to a minimum. But admission is still free.
So, when are these classic holiday activities running, and how will it work this year? Here is what you need to know:
Macy’s Dickens’ Village
(Nov. 26-Dec. 31) At 6,000 square feet, this 26-scene walk-through experience of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is massive, and a main holiday attraction for Center City visitors. This year, it will be available to visit by reservation only. Reservations must be made on Macy’s Santaland website five days ahead of your visit. Reservations go live at 5:30 a.m. each day and are available five days ahead of time.
Macy’s Christmas Light Show
(Dec. 1-31) Held in the Grand Court, this annual holiday light show attracts more than 175,000 visitors each season. The show features musical accompaniment from the famed Wanamaker Organ, as well as narration by actress Dame Julie Andrews. For 2021, the light show will run once a day at 10:30 a.m. from Dec. 1-24, and moves to 11:30 a.m. from Dec. 26-31. No reservations, but times may change as the holidays approach, so check the Santaland website — where you can also watch it on demand — before heading out.
Macy’s Annual Holiday Windows
(Nov. 26-Dec. 31) These street-level window displays will be themed around the story of “a very special reindeer [who] takes to the sky to help Santa Claus bring joy to millions of children.” While this may seem like the lowest-key holiday tradition of the bunch, it’s actually among the longest-running for Macy’s: The tradition started in 1874 in New York, making it the first department store in the U.S. to have Christmas window displays.
Visits with Santa Claus
(Nov. 26-Dec. 24) In-person visits with Santa will be available at locations in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, but Philly folks will need to do so online at Macy’s Santaland at Home. The digital version includes an interactive element that allows kids to travel through holiday scenes and play games virtually — plus meet Santa Claus through an interactive video that ends with a Santa selfie.