City guides

Holiday Traditions: Light Shows, Celebrations and Things To Do in Philadelphia

This is the season when Philly turns on the bright lights and there are exciting holiday events all over town! From City Hall to South Philly, from the Zoo to the Delaware River, you’ll find day and nighttime magic in the city this month. Whatever your usual holiday traditions and celebrations are, we hope you will add some new ones this year and take advantage of all Philadelphia has to offer. 

Smedley Street Spectacular

Not to be outdone, for 50 years the 2700 block of South Smedley Street has been known for its Christmas Lights Spectacular. From blow-up decorations to trees covered in lights, these neighbors do festive nights right. New for 2022: candy cane lane archways, teardrop lights, and Olaf from Frozen in the trees. Don’t miss the chance for big bear hugs in the white-picket-fence-enclosed Santa’s Workshop. Again, after the light show, keep the party going by heading up to East Passyunk for drinks, dinner, and even Santa sightings.

Macy’s Christmas Light Show, Image: J Fusco, Visit Philadelphia

Macy’s Christmas Light Show

Generations have attended this annual holiday display of lights and music in the Grand Court of Macy’s going back decades since it was known as Wanamaker’s. Characters from the Nutcracker and Frosty the Snowman dance to a soundtrack from the famous Wanamaker Organ narrated by Julie Andrews. 13Th & Market St.

Dilworth Park & City Hall Celebrations

Don’t miss the Deck The Hall Light Show on the western facade of City Hall every hour from 5-9 pm each night as stunning technicolor projections are synchronized to sound effects.  While there, lace up your skates and take a spin on the Rothman Orthopaedics Ice Rink in Dilworth Park and visit the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market, locally made arts and crafts, Friday-Sunday on the west side of City Hall. For kids, there is a double-decker Christmas Carousel, Ferris Wheel, and a train.

Christmas Village in LOVE Park

This open-air European wonderland returns for 2022 with more than 110 different vendors set up in brand-new wooden huts. Modeled after an open-air German Christmas market, here you’ll find local and international gifts such as ornaments, accessories, and wintry apparel, along with sandwiches, spiced wine, apple cider, strudels, and more seasonal treats. LOVE Park, 15th & Arch Streets

Comcast Center

The Comcast Holiday Spectacular is a free 15-minute seasonal show on one of the world’s largest continuous LED video walls. It features impressive visuals, sing-along holiday tunes, and performances from the Philadelphia Ballet. The show kicks off at the top of every hour from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day. Want a bite? Visit the Food Court on the lower level featuring Philly’s favorite eateries. Also back from 2022 is The Universal Sphere, a free cinematic experience (advanced reservations encouraged) created by Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks Animation, 1701 John F. Kennedy Boulevard. 

Franklin Square Light Show

PECO presents a free show featuring more than 200,000 twinkling lights, running every 30 minutes from 5 p.m. until closing. Food, local brews, and hot beverages at Ben’s Sweets and Treats plus, outdoor fire pits and an indoor heated tent; Chilly Philly Mini Golf; and the Liberty Carousel. 200 N. 6th St.

Menorah lighting at the Betsy Ross House in Old City. Image: Betsy Ross House
Menorah lighting at the Betsy Ross House in Old City. Image: Betsy Ross House

Betsy Ross House Menorah Lighting

On December 18 at 4:30 pm head to Old City for a community menorah lighting celebrating the first night of Hanukkah. The Old City Jewish Arts Center and Betsy Ross House will join together to light the menorah and will offer traditional Jewish foods like latkes and doughnuts. 239 Arch St.

Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest. Image: Delaware River Waterfront
Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest. Image: Delaware River Waterfront

Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest

Visit Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest, the City’s largest outdoor ice skating rink and you’ll encounter lots of twinkling lights, a holiday tree, warming cabins, and fire-pit stations — all while overlooking the Delaware River. Plus, there are carnival games and holiday markets on select dates. 101 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard 

LumiNature at the Philadelphia Zoo.Photo: Georgi Anastasov Photography
LumiNature at the Philadelphia Zoo.Photo: Georgi Anastasov Photography

LumiNature: Philadelphia Zoo Multimedia Spectacle

The Zoo lights up at night with more than 1 million holiday lights in 14 distinct zones. New displays include a 15-foot-tall glowing blue gorilla and an under-the-sea-inspired holiday tree, plus familiar favorites like a 100-foot-long aquarium tunnel and a 21-foot-tall brilliantly bright snake. Timed tickets are required. 3400 W. Girard Ave.

Chanukah on the Avenue

Starting at 3pm on December 18, East Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia will host their annual Chanukah extravaganza at The Singing Fountain. This family-friendly event will have activities for kids and adults of all ages. At 4:30pm they will have a “make-your-own” chanukah lantern and story time for kids. At 5pm, the festivities will kick off with live music, chanukah games, a menorah lighting and more. Passyunk Ave And 11th St.

Boat House Row Holiday Lights

The historic rowing clubs of Boathouse Row constantly change their colored lights, celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. Two great spots to catch the colors: Fairmount Water Works or driving along West River Drive.

Miracle on South 13th St. Image: Guide to Philly
Miracle on South 13th St. Image: Guide to Philly

Miracle on South 13th Street

Starting Thanksgiving weekend, the 1600 block of South 13th Street, between Morris and Tasker, goes all out with holiday lights, garlands, inflatable snowmen, and other fun decorations. For more than 20 years, this annual display outshines every other neighborhood earning the name: The Miracle on South 13th Street. Located within walking distance from popular East Passyunk Avenue restaurants like Barcelona Wine Bar and Cantina Los Caballitos.

One of our personal favorites, Miracle on 13th street is a true community-run holiday display put on by a group of neighbors for the neighborhood to enjoy. A true testament to the holiday spirit in Philadelphia and a lovely way to bring people together. Solo Real Estate wishes you a happy holiday with your family and loved ones.

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