On the to-do list this week: Fill your weekend with events from our holiday events calendar — visit Franklin Square for its free light show, head to Roxborough for its holiday kickoff party, or do some shopping at Christmas Village.
On my personal to-do list: I’m doing some Christmas shopping along East Passyunk Avenue and also stopping at Milk Jawn’s pop-up ice cream shop in its new space this Sunday. (Milk Jawn made our list of the city’s best ice cream.)
We’ve collected our best Philly tips all in one place here. Stay healthy, stay safe, and get vaccinated.
2021 Philadelphia holiday events calendar by Amber Burns and Lauren McCutcheon
The best bottle shops in Philadelphia by Maddy Sweitzer-Lamme
18+ holiday markets in the Philly area by Michelle Reese
The best holiday light shows in Philly by Nick Vadala
20+ places to get Christmas cookies in Philadelphia by Michelle Reese
The best bars and restaurants with fireplaces in Philly by Nick Vadala
Full list of places in the Philly region where you need to show proof of vaccination by Jillian Wilson, Ellie Rushing, Dan DeLuca, and Michael Klein
Where to find Christmas tree farms and cut trees near Philadelphia by Jillian Wilson and Grace Dickinson
» Ask us a question through Curious Philly: Inquirer.com/askus
Holiday weekend planner
Here is one highlight from our weekly events calendar:
🎄SEPTA Holiday Bus Display (Seasonal / in-person / kid-friendly / free) ‘Tis the season for decked out SEPTA buses. Take a tour of these festive rides and snap some only in Philly holiday photos at West Philly’s Trolley Portal Gardens, which will host two festively decorated buses on Saturday. Keep an eye out for the “Jolly Trolley,” running on the 34 line, stopping between 40th and 61st streets on Baltimore Ave. starting at 11 a.m. Jolly Trolley passengers ride free from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Free, Dec. 11, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. universitycity.org)
There are many, many holiday activities and events happening in the Philadelphia region throughout the remainder of the year. In reality, there aren’t enough days to visit all of the holiday markets, try all of the Christmas cookies, attend all of the holiday events, or see all of the free light shows in the region.
Since you likely can’t fill the final two weeks ‘til Christmas with multiple holiday activities every day, we’ve come up with a 10-item bucket list that’s sure to get you into the festive spirit.
🎄❄️✨Here’s your holiday to-do list:
1️⃣ Wander through the Miracle on South 13th Street, a free entire-block-long holiday light show.
2️⃣ Explore A Longwood Christmas, Longwood Garden’s dazzling holiday display.
3️⃣ Check out one of the many pop-up holiday markets happening this season. Tip: West Craft Fest and Fleisher’s Handmade Art Market are both happening this weekend.
4️⃣ Have a hot mulled cider by a roaring fire at a bar or restaurant.
5️⃣ Take in the free Deck the Hall light show at City Hall.
6️⃣ Feast on steamy raclette at Christmas Village.
7️⃣ Go ice skating at one of the city’s seasonal outdoor rinks.
8️⃣ Get some holiday cookies from our best cookie list, like the ugly sweater cookies from Whipped Bakeshop.
9️⃣ Check out The Nutcracker at the Academy of Music.
🔟 Pick out a Christmas tree from one of the region’s Christmas tree farms. And bonus: some even have farm stores for fresh baked goods.
Keep warm fireside
‘Tis the season for dining fireside at a fireplace or fire pit. And since most Philly apartments and homes don’t have fireplaces of their own, it’s also the season to seek out a restaurant or bar that has a fireplace or fire pit to warm you up. There are many in the Philadelphia region, some with indoor fireplaces ideal for a glass of wine during dinner, and others with outdoor fire pits where s’more-roasting is a very real option. Here’s our guide to the best restaurants with fireplaces in the region, and here are a few of our picks, below.
Jansen. Out in Mount Airy, chef-owner David Jansen cooks up elevated contemporary American fare in the historic Cresheim Cottage, which dates back to the 1700s. Beyond offerings like citrus-forward yellowtail ceviche and braised short ribs with tomato risotto, you’ll also find a pleasantly toasty gas fireplace in the dining room, and a fire pit to warm you up if you’re dining outdoors.📍 7402 Germantown Ave., 📞 267-335-5041, 📷 @JansenMtAiry, 🌐 jansenmtairy.com
Martha Kensington. It doesn’t get much warmer than hearthside at Martha, where a wood-burning fireplace sits just feet from the bar. Pair that with one of their awesome hoagies, a meat or cheese board, some snacks like the gin and tonic olives, and maybe a sour beer, glass of natural wine, or a fancy cocktail (or two), and you’re golden.📍 2113 E. York St., 📞 215-867-8881, 📷 @MarthaKensington, 🌐 marthakensington.com
The Twisted Tail. Head to Society Hill for Twisted Tail’s Southern-inspired classics like fried chicken and shrimp and grits, 120-plus-deep whiskey menu, and regularly scheduled live music. But if a fire is what you’re after — and you are — head upstairs to their second-floor lounge to bask in the warmth of their two fireplaces, drink in hand.📍 509 S. 2nd St., 📞 215-558-2471, 📷 @TwistedTailPHL, 🌐 thetwistedtail.com
» READ MORE: Where to relax by a fireplace or fire pit in Philly
A number of Philly-area community fridges are collecting money, new or gently used coats, and cold-weather accessories (like scarves and hats) for a citywide coat drive, which runs through Sun., Dec. 12. You can donate money via Venmo or Cash App and can either drop off items at participating local fridges or arrange to have your cold-weather gear picked up. There are lots of community fridges across the region, so you can also find one near you in our guide, whether you need to use it or want to stock it.
Thanks for reading! We’ve got lots more great holiday tips coming at you this month. But in the meantime, here’s a little fact that will help you socialize this season: