Photograph by Kory Aversa Christmas Village in Philadelphia
Photograph by Kory Aversa

Philadelphia transforms between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Here are some festive events you can find in the city during the holiday season.

Philadelphia positively shines during the holidays. The city can’t do anything but, as shimmering lights illuminate the night sky, creating a magical winter wonderland for young and old alike. 

If you have family coming to visit, show them how Philadelphia transforms between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Take them to these festive events you can find in Philadelphia only during the holidays.

The Nutcracker

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker performed by Philadelphia Ballet (formerly the Pennsylvania Ballet) has been a family favorite event in the city since 1968. There’s no better place to see the seasonal classic ballet than the Academy of Music—which is housed in a building that first opened in 1857 and modeled after Miland’s famous la Scala opera house—from December 9 through December 28. 

If you’re taking kids to see the ballet and want to go for a bite to eat before the show, Max Brenner—with its chocolate-heavy menu—is always a hit.

Location: 240 S Broad Street

Christmas Village in Philadelphia and Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market

During the holidays, Philadelphia’s famous Love Park and City Hall’s Dilworth Park—just steps away from each other—transform into an authentic German Christmas market and a local artisan market. The Christmas Village in Philadelphia runs from November 19 through December 24. It’s free to enter the village, where visitors will find vendors selling holiday gifts, authentic German and European-style eateries, spiked hot beverages, wines from nearby Chaddsford Winery, and the Beer Alm featuring Philly craft beer. 

To delight kids young and old, Philly also brings out a double-decker Christmas Village Carousel, Ferris Wheel, and a Kids Train. Santa is there, too, with opportunities to tell him wishes and take pictures. A special Family Day at Christmas Village takes place on December 10th, when kids can take a picture with their favorite princesses, superheroes, and Christmas Village’s very own mascot, Phil the Reindeer.

Photograph courtesy of Kory Aversa

The Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market sets up shop in Dilworth Park, transforming the west side of historic City Hall into a shopping village with a variety of local artisans, designers, crafters, and jewelers offering their unique, holiday-inspired handmade goods and gifts. 

Location: Love Park – 16th Street and JFK Boulevard Philadelphia; Dilworth Park – 1 S 15th Street

Macy’s Light Show and Dickens Village 

The building that is now Macy’s was built in 1910 by John Wannamaker, and for decades, Wannamaker’s hosted a holiday light show. Macy’s continues Wannamker’s grand tradition of the Christmas Light Show several times a day from November 25 through December 31. At the noon and 6 p.m. showings (except on Sundays), the 28,575-pipe Wanamaker Organ, the world’s largest playing pipe organ, accompanies the light show. At all other shows, a recording of the organ accompanies the show that tells the story of The Nutcracker, Rudolph, and Santa’s Workshop.

On the third floor of the historic building, you’ll find the reservation-only, walk-through Dickens Village that tells the story of “A Christmas Carol.” At the end of the village, Santa awaits for photos. 

Location: 1300 Market Street

Photo by G. Widman for GPTMC GEORGE WIDMAN PHOTOGRAPHY L.L.C. / EDITORIAL AND ADVERTISING USE APPROVED George Widman Photography LLC

Miracle on South 13th Street

During the month of December, South Philly’s 1600 block of South 13th Street hosts an elaborate community light display that’s become known as Miracle on South 13th Street. It’s free for anyone to stroll down the street and enjoy the sparkle. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for announcements about special evenings for food drives, Toys for Tots collections, and when Santa will appear on the block.

Location: 1600 block of South 13th Street (between Tasker & Morris) 

Old City Menorah Lighting

On December 18 at 4:30 p.m., the Old City Jewish Arts Center and the Betsy Ross House host a Community Menorah Lighting on the first night of Hanukkah. Enjoy traditional foods like latke and doughnuts during the event.

Location: Betsy Ross House –  239 Arch St

Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest

On the Delaware River Waterfront, Winterfest is one of the city’s favorite winter traditions. Ice skate under thousands of sparkling lights, cozy up in warming cabins or by firepits, enjoy boardwalk rides, and enjoy delicious food and drinks. Winterfest is free to enter, but you’ll need to reserve ice skating and warming cabins in advance. The magic happens from November 25 through March 5. 

On New Year’s Eve, Winterfest hosts two special parties on ice. One from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and one from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Party guests will have a front-row view of the fireworks at either 6 p.m. or at midnight, and also have access to firepits, food & drink, games, and more. 

Location: 101 S Christopher Columbus Blvd

Photo by M. Stanley for DRWC / EDITORIAL AND ADVERTISING USE APPROVED

New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront

Free fireworks fill the sky on the Delaware River Waterfront on New Year’s Eve at 6 p.m. and midnight. The Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing is one of the most popular spots to watch the fireworks. The display is also visible from other locations on both the Philadelphia side of the river and the Camden, New Jersey side. Visit Philadelphia has a list of 18 locations—some free and others that come with a price tag—that have great views of the fireworks.

Location: Various locations along the Delaware River in Philadelphia and Camden, NJ

Mummers Parade

Start the New Year Philly-style with the Mummer’s Parade on January 1. This family-friendly, time-honored tradition brings together more than 10,000 costumed adults and children who strut their way down Broad Street. When finished, the Fancy Brigades (Mummers troops known for their elaborate props, precision drilling, and broadway-style choreography) head to the Pennsylvania Convention Center for two elaborate Broadway-style performances.

The parade is free, but tickets are needed for those who want to sit at City Hall’s bleacher seats or attend the Fancy Brigade Shows. 

Location: Parade begins at City Hall and proceeds south on Broad Street to Washington Avenue. 

Photo by R. Rabena for VISIT PHILADELPHIA® / EDITORIAL USE APPROVED; ©VISIT PHILADELPHIA®