Top Philadelphia Holiday Traditions

Philadelphia is filled with old traditions and for the holidays this city will not disappoint! Old and new, there are a few stops that you must visit to get into the holiday spirit. The fact that most of these events are FREE make this the ideal family outing no matter your budget. Also since these events are indoors, it also makes it a great outing! Whenever anyone asks me where to go in Philly for the holidays here where I always tell them to go.

Macy’s Christmas Light Show
Grand Court
1300 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

A perfect family outing, the Christmas Light Show and Wanamaker Organ Concert at Macy’s is a Philadelphia holiday tradition that dates back half a century.

During the light show, more than 100,000 bright, energy-efficient LED lights combine to create fantastic holiday images. The lighting display is accompanied by festive music from the world-renowned Wanamaker Grand Organ.

Shows begin every hour on the hour.

  • Friday, November 23 – Sunday, December 23: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Monday, December 24 – Christmas Eve: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Christmas Day: Closed
  • Wednesday, December 26 – Saturday, December 29: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 30: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 31 – New Year’s Eve: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Call store directly for more information: (215) 241-9000.

Macy’s Dickens Village
3rd Floor Holiday Lane
1300 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

A Philadelphia tradition for more than 20 years, the third floor of Macy’s is transformed into “Dickens Village” for the holiday season. The 6,000-square-foot Village on the 3rd floor of Macy’s Center City brings Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol to life with more than 100 fully animated figures reenacting 26 of the story’s most memorable moments.


  • Friday, November 23 – Sunday, December 23: 10 a.m. -7 p.m.
  • Monday, December 24 (Christmas Eve): 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, December 25 (Christmas Day): Closed
  • Wednesday, December 26 – Saturday, December 29: 10a.m. -7 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 30: 11 a.m. -6 p.m.
  • Monday, December 31 (New Year’s Eve): 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Macy’s Holiday Windows Displays
1300 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Macy’s has been wowing crowds with their elaborate holiday window displays and celebrations since the early 1870s. The first store to feature holiday windows in the spirit of the holiday season, Macy’s continues this joyful tradition today.

The Comcast Holiday Spectacular
1701 John F Kennedy Boulevard Philadelphia, PA 19103

A holiday spectacle unlike any other returns for its fifth year. Shown on the state-of-the-art Comcast Experience Video Wall at The Comcast Center, the Holiday Spectacular is filled with sights and sounds of the season. Since its debut in 2008, more than 500,000 people have experienced the joyful holiday show in the Comcast Center lobby.

From Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, the Spectacular will run from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. (except 5 p.m. on weekdays) every hour on the hour, seven days per week, through New Year’s Day. The show lasts approximately 15 minutes.

The Christmas Village at Dilworth Plaza
Love Park 1500 Arch Street Philadelphia, PA 19102

Philadelphia will once again transform into European wonderland for the annual Christmas Village at Love Park. The Christmas Village sponsored by OneMain Financial opens to the public Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 22) and runs until Christmas Eve (Monday, December 24).

Love Park will be aglow for the holiday season as the Village’s cozy atmosphere is decorated with thousands of lights and the city of Philadelphia’s official Christmas Tree (to be lit on December 5). Get into the Christmas spirit as you wander through the outdoor market with the smell of waffles and gingerbread wafting through the air.

November 23 – December 23:

  • Sunday-Thursday: 11am – 7pm
  • Friday-Saturday: 11am – 8pm

December 24 (Christmas Eve): 11am – 5pm

Reading Terminal Holiday Railroad
Piano Court in the Market
51 North 12th Street Philadelphia, PA 19107

Now – Monday, December 31, Open Daily at 10am. Closed Christmas Day.
Kids and adults alike will delight in this 500 sq.f. model railroad display with almost a third of a mile of track! Twelve working train lines rumble through a multitude of miniature scenery including Center City Philly, a Christmas Village, and snow-covered countryside.

Garden Railway at Morris Arboretum
100 East Northwestern Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19118

From now through Dec. 31st, celebrate the holiday season at Morris Arboretum’s Holiday Garden Railway. The spectacular model railroad features a quarter-mile of track and elaborate buildings meticulously made of natural materials. The display has fifteen different rail lines, two cable cars and nine bridges in the arboretum’s winter garden.

The Nutcracker
The Academy of Music
240 South Broad Street Philadelphia, PA 19102

A long-lasting holiday tradition, the Pennsylvania Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ is celebrating its 43rd year. Set to Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky’s iconic score and backed by the Philadelphia Boys Choir, the Pennsylvania Ballet – one of the premier ballet companies in the nation – once again prove why The Nutcracker is the perfect performance for the holidays.

Holiday Events at Please Touch Museum
4231 Avenue of the Republic Philadelphia, PA 19131

Enchanted Colonial Village, Supported by The Philadelphia Foundation Monday-Saturday 9:00am-4:00pm and Sundays 11:00am- 4:00pm Please Touch Museum shares the magic and motion of the holidays with the return of the Lit Brother’s Enchanted Colonial Village. Visit this representation of an 18th century village, featuring a Bakery, Village Store, Blacksmith and Toymaker shops. Together, these scenes make for a wonderful intergenerational learning and memory making experience.

And don’t miss Please Touch’s special New Year’s celebration for the wee set! Bring your kids to the Museum on December 31 for a countdown party that celebrates the “noon” year before moms and dads go to their grown-ups festivities. Countdowns will take place at 12 noon and 1 p.m. — take your pick!

Adventure Aquarium’s Christmas Celebration
1 Riverside Drive Camden, NJ 08103

From now through Jan 1st, enjoy the magic of the holiday season during Adventure Aquarium’s Christmas Celebration! Get into the yuletide spirit with Scuba Santa and his elves, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer — and, of course, plenty of sharks, fish and sea turtles! Santa will practice his scuba diving in the Aquarium’s 760,000-gallon Ocean Realm exhibit, swimming with sea turtles, hammerhead and tiger sharks and plenty of fish.

A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place
100 Sesame Rd Langhorne,PA 19047

It’s A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place! Open select dates November 17th – December 31st. Join us for a one-of-a-kind family-friendly celebration with everyone’s favorite furry friends. The fun starts with 3 special Christmas shows, dry rides (weather permitting), awesome music and twinkling lights all around. Our street will glow with festivities and come to life at night with our illuminated Neighborhood Street Party Parade. And the fun continues with a special Christmas menu, super holiday shopping and, of course, a visit with Santa.

New this year, is the Sesame Place Furry Express, a brand new trackless train ride, which takes guests on a tour through the Twiddlebugs’ Gingerbread Cookie Factory and ends the journey with samples of their famous gingerbread treats.

Shady Brook Farm Holiday Light Show
931 Stony Hill Road, Yardley, PA 19067

Experience the magic of millions of lights illuminating acres of farmland at the Shady Brook Farm 2012 Holiday Light Show! Enjoy whimsical light displays and familiar characters. Drive through the Holiday Light Show in the comfort of your own car or enjoy the show on a horse-drawn hayride. Open November 21, 2012 through January 6, 2013 dusk to 10 pm.

2012 Pricing:

  • $20/carload (Mon. – Thurs.)
  • $25/carload (Fri., Sat. & Sun.)
  • Horse-drawn Wagon Ride – Thurs. through Sun. only; $12/person (no reservations – first come, first served)
  • Tractor-drawn Wagon Ride – Mon. through Wed.; $12/person
  • $50/Bus, $30/Mini-Bus

Longwood Gardens Christmas
1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348

No holiday is complete without a visit to Longwood Gardens, where more than 400,000 twinkling lights and spectacular fountain shows compose a brilliant wonderland your family is sure to love. From now through Jan 3rd, gaze upon the large, starry snowflakes and icicles that sparkle throughout the Gardens before warming up in heated conservatory with twenty “rooms” featuring festive displays of floral garlands, sparkling trees and more.

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