Light shows, ice skating, outdoor shopping markets, and holiday performances make up the events on offer this holiday season in the Philadelphia region.
There are many, many ways to celebrate the holiday season with festive music, fun food and drinks, and tradition that date back generations — and many of which are free or low-cost.
Here are some ways to fill your day-to-day calendar this holiday season, and it isn’t a hard task with events happening every day through the New Year. Here’s how to make the most of the festive season in Philly.
We’ll update this calendar as more holiday events are announced.
(Seasonal / in-person / kid-friendly / multiday) It’s time to lace up your skates and welcome winter back at Dilworth Park. Skaters of all ages can enjoy sessions on the ice rink, and cozy up in the cabin for warm drinks and food. Reservations and masks are encouraged. ($5-$17, through Feb. 27, 1 S. 15th St., centercityphila.org)
(Seasonal / in-person / kid-friendly / multiday) Delco isn’t the only place with a new skating rink this winter. South Jersey’s rink (bigger than last year’s) popped up in a winery with a slew of 90-minute sessions every day. Add-ons include: Firepits to reserve, dining, horse-drawn carriage rides, shopping, live music (select dates), and wine for those over 21. Ages 3+. (Admission $12, skate rental $10, rink open through Feb. 27, 72 Bremen Ave., Egg Harbor City, NJ, renaultwinery.com)
(Seasonal / in-person / outdoors / kid-friendly / free) You can explore an all-outdoor festive wonderland as part of Dilworth Park’s holiday offerings, though this free garden is open way beyond just the holiday season — you can visit into the spring. Here, make your way through light installations, plant displays, a giant dome-shaped arbor, and more all within the backdrop of City Hall. (Free, through April 3, centercityphila.org, 1 S. 15th St.)
(Seasonal / in-person / kid-friendly / multiday) When the animals go to bed, one million lights go on throughout the zoo. Ticketholders discover trees made of butterflies, flamingos, and an octopus, walk through an aquarium-like tunnel, meet 200 electric penguins, and encounter loads more bulbs made into ethereal spaces and larger-than-life creatures. ($25 ages 12 and up, $20 ages 2-11, free under 2, through Jan. 9, timed entrance from 5:30-8:30 p.m., 3400 W. Girard Ave., philadelphiazoo.org)
(Seasonal / in-person / kid-friendly / multiday / free) Visibly glimmery from the Vine Street Expressway, Franklin Square lights up to on-the-half-hour holiday music (daily from 5 p.m.). Plan to put aside a few dollars for a carousel ride, mini golf ($8-$15), and cocoa, spiked or not. All ages. (Free, through Feb. 27, Sun.-Thu. 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 10 a.m.-10 p.m., 200 N. 6th St., historicphiladelphia.org)
(Seasonal / in-person / kid-friendly) Stunning trees, fire pits, and dazzling lights bring Christmas to life at Longwood Gardens. Indoors, take a walk among the decorated Christmas trees, winter-themed waterways, and more. Outdoors, cozy up next to a blazing fire pit or take a walk under thousands of decorative lights hung throughout the gardens. Timed tickets are required. (Free-$30, through Jan. 9, 10 a.m.-11 p.m., 1001 Longwood Rd., Kennett Square, longwoodgardens.org)
(Seasonal / in-person / kid-friendly / multiday) Trees and cuddly characters that sing and sway draw kids into the holiday magic at the home of Elmo, Big Bird — you know the rest of them. A family zone offers a warm spot by firepits, hot chocolate, cookie decorating, and more Sesame friends. Rides, shops, and snack spots are open. Water park is not. Ages 0-7. ($90 with discounts available, free 23 months & under, through Jan. 2, 100 Sesame Rd., Langhorne, sesameplace.com)
(Seasonal / in-person / kid-friendly / free / multiday) After dark, multicolor projections metamorphose the western façade of City Hall, adding to the magic of the skating rink and winter garden. All ages. (Free, through Jan. 1, 5-9 p.m. on weekdays, until 10 p.m. on weekends, 15th and Market Sts., centercityphila.org)
(Seasonal / in-person / outdoors / mutiday) ‘Tis the season for your favorite vendors from around the world to make their return to LOVE Park at Christmas Village. Find the perfect, unique gift for everyone on your list and enjoy rides, family friendly activities and your favorite seasonal food and drink items, from hot chocolate to raclette. (Free, through Dec. 24, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., 15th St. and JFK Blvd., philachristmas.com)
(Seasonal / in-person / free / kid-friendly) The free Comcast Holiday Spectacular takes place in the Comcast Center plaza on an outdoor video wall. The show, which features scenes of snow-covered hills, festive dance performances, and images of favorite holiday traditions, runs daily through Jan. 1. The show runs on the hour, every hour from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Free, through Jan. 1, 1701 JFK Blvd., comcastcentercampus.com)
(Seasonal / in-person / kid-friendly / multiday / free) The Wanamaker building resumes holiday operations, partly by asking Dickens Village fans to reserve spots to navigate dimly lit hallways where animatronic dolls play out A Christmas Carol. Santa is available by virtual arrangement only. Come December, the favorite Macy’s light show will take place once daily (Dec. 1-31). Ages 5+. (Free, through Dec. 31, 1300 Market St., macys.com)
(Seasonal / in-person / kid-friendly / multiday) Winterfest reopens for gliding (and wobbling) around the outdoor ice skating rink, playing carnival games, and spending time fireside. Ages 4+. (RiverRink: $5 admission, $10 skate rental, through March 6, 101 S. Columbus Blvd., delawareriverwaterfront.com)
Starting the weekend of Nov. 26 and continuing through the weekend of Jan. 1 (with the exception of Christmas weekend), the borough of West Chester celebrates the season with themed holiday weekends complete with thousands of lights, festive displays, shopping, seasonal performances, Santa visits, food and drink specials, and more. Each weekend has a different theme, and the event kicks off with a Small Business Saturday theme (Nov. 26-28), promising a gingerbread house competition, carolers, and menorah lighting — in addition to sales and events at downtown shops. The following weekends themes include Old Fashioned Christmas (Dec. 3-5), First Responders and Healthcare Heroes weekend (Dec. 10-12), ‘Twas The Weekend Before Christmas (Dec. 17-19), and New Year’s Weekend (Dec. 31-Jan. 1). (Free, weekends through Jan. 1, except Dec. 24-26, throughout downtown West Chester, greaterwestchester.com)
(Seasonal / in-person / kid-friendly / multiday / free) Through December, the Wanamaker building hosts a once-daily showing of its iconic, Julie Andrews-narrated, live organ-accompanied, dancing lights show. Masks required, social distancing rules in effect. Times subject to change. Ages 2+. (Free, Dec. 1-24, 10:30 a.m., Dec. 26-31, 11:30 a.m., 1300 Market St., macys.com)
(Food / in-person) Buy a gingerbread house or sugar cookie house kit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art cafe, and you’ll get admission for two to learn to build it ($50-$55 per kit), along with cocoa and warm apple cider. Museum admission not included. Ages 5+. ($25 ages 19+, $23 ages 65+, $14 students with i.d., free ages 18 & under, Dec. 10, 5-7 p.m., 2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., philamuseum.org)
(Dance / in-person / multiday) Same tradition, different protocol. All who visit the Balanchine-by-way-of-Philadelphia-Ballet tradition will be required to show proof of full vaccination (guests 12 and older) or a negative COVID lab test (guests 11 and under). Opening night sold out. Ages 4+. ($25-$220, Dec. 10-31, 240 S. Broad St., philadelphiaballet.org)
(Shopping / in-person / seasonal / multiday) More than 25 local artists and makers come together to help you wrap up (or start — no judgment) your holiday shopping at this two weekend shopping event at Philadelphia Brewing Company’s beer garden. Snap photos with the Grinch and make your own wooden Christmas ornament while enjoying beer and grooving to music by local bands. (Dec. 10-12 and 17-19, 2440 Frankford Ave., eventcreate.com)
(Seasonal / in-person / free) Every neighborhood should have a holiday kickoff party as fun as Ridge Avenue’s festive event. The afternoon brings visits from Santa and snow queen Elsa, live dance performances, Rudolph ornament-making, wish list mailing, and lots of sweets. Ages 2+. (Free, Dec. 11, 2-6 p.m., 6170 Ridge Ave., roxboroughpa.com)
(Seasonal / in-person / kid-friendly / free) Old Saint Nick stops by the avenue a few times this month to pose for DIY photos with humans and pets alike. Kids can drop Christmas wish lists into a mailbox at the Singing Fountain, which has a direct line from South Philly to the North Pole. All ages. (Free, Dec. 8, 5-7 p.m., Dec. 18, 3-5 p.m., Dec. 19, noon-2 p.m., Tasker St. and E. Passyunk Ave., visiteastpassyunk.com)
(Dance / in-person / multiday / kid-friendly) The Lady Hoofers reprise their lively, tap shoe rendition of The Nutcracker, set in Paris and with a score inclusive of Tchaikovsky and Ellington. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative PCR test within 72 hours of entry required. Ages 4+. (Dec. 11, 3-4:30 p.m., 7-8:30 p.m. & Dec. 12, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 480 S. Broad St., ladyhoofers.org)
(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 11am. Jolly Trolley passengers ride free from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Free, Dec. 11, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. universitycity.org)
(Music / in-person / seasonal / free) More than 100 tuba players perform favorite holiday songs at Cherry Street Pier at a free, no-ticket-required concert that’s sure to get you into the festive spirit. (Free, Dec. 12, 1:30 p.m., 121 N. Columbus Blvd., kimmelculturalcampus.org)
(Movies / in-person / seasonal / kid-friendly) ‘Tis the season to watch your favorite holiday movies. Pack some snacks and bring the whole family to enjoy fan-favorite films like “Home Alone” and “Bad Santa.” Tickets must be purchased in advance. Screenings take place at Charlann Farm in Yardley or Falls Township Community Park in Levittown. ($45 per vehicle, through Dec. 19, 586 Stony Hill Rd., Yardley, and 9050 Mill Creek Rd., Levittown, midatlanticeventgroup.com)