Explore Philadelphia

Festive Holiday Happenings in Philadelphia

Get into the holiday spirit in Philadelphia!

‘Tis the season for Christmas lights, caroling, Santa sightings and more! Make time in your schedule to head out and explore some of the special events in and around Philadelphia for the holidays. The city is full of pop-up artisanal markets for gift shopping, festive food stalls with baked goods and hot cider and ceremonies to celebrate all the cultural traditions of the season.

Philadelphia’s Holiday Events

Christmas Village

The annual Christmas Village sets up at Love Park each year from late November til Christmas Eve. The family-friendly event includes a German holiday market, Santa’s House, cultural demonstrations and rides for all ages. The park is decorated for the holiday season with millions of twinkling lights and even a massive Christmas tree. Visitors can wind their way through the artisan market, enjoy delicious European food and sweets and take photos with Santa. The park carousel is open, and a nearby ice rink is available, too. Check their online schedule for special events like the Christkind opening ceremony and wine tastings throughout the holiday season. 

Christmas Village Philadelphia | WHERE Traveler®
Christmas Village (Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®) 

Winter in Franklin Square

Bundle up and brave the weather for Winter in Franklin Square, a magical annual event in the festive historic neighborhood. This free event is best known for the seasonal nightly Electrical Spectacle light show. More than just a holiday display, this show features seasonal music and has an educational component and is based on Benjamin Franklin’s discovery of electricity. The festival also includes fire pits and seating throughout the square, food and drink vendors and a winter-themed mini golf course. Check the online schedule for special events for Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, as well as live music. 

Electrical Spectacle at Winter in Franklin Square Philadelphia | WHERE Traveler®
Electrical Spectacle at Winter in Franklin Square (Photos by Jeff Fusco for Historic Philadelphia, Inc.)

Philly POPS Christmas

Get your groove on at the Philly POPS Christmas, a ticketed seasonal show with the American Pop Orchestra and guest vocalists featuring seasonal music. The show runs December 7-13 at the Verizon Hall, with classic holiday jams, including Silent Night and Frosty the Snowman, interspersed with contemporary hits like that catchy seasonal song by Mariah Carey. The hall is decked out for the holidays with festive decor, and the show even includes a sing-along portion to engage younger visitors. Keep an eye out for Santa, who may make an appearance, too. 

Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest

Head out to the Delaware River riverfront for the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest! As the name implies, the main draw is a seasonal ice skating rink. The surrounding area has been festively decorated as a winter wonderland, complete with rides, games and seasonal food and beverages. The NHL-sized rink is a low $5 admission fee, and you can rent skates for an extra charge or bring your own. For a more intimate experience, decorated cabins are available to rent for friends and family to gather and enjoy the event. Fire pits are also available for reservation and should be booked in advance to ensure access. Note that Independence Blue Cross cardholders have ice skating discounts, so bring it with you! 

Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest Philadelphia | WHERE Traveler®
Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest (Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®)

The Nutcracker

For a classic holiday experience, book your tickets to watch The Nutcracker, as performed by the Philadelphia Ballet. Matinee and evening performances are available throughout the month of December, including sensory-friendly showings. The classic story comes to life with animated toys, larger-than-life nutcrackers and more in a winter wonderland. The show will run for an estimated two hours and is located at the Kimmel Cultural Center. Adult guests can also add on a three-course pre-theater dinner at Chef Jose Garces’ nearby restaurant, Volver. 

"The Nutcracker" at the Philadelphia Ballet | WHERE Traveler®
"The Nutcracker" at the Philadelphia Ballet (Photo by B. Krist for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®)