Although the weather outside may be frightful, there are plenty of reasons not to stay hunkered down inside this December and beyond. A lot of hot spots in Philly become hubs of activity in the winter. You’ll find lots of places to stroll, gawk at the sights, be inspired, and take pictures. And most of the ones listed below are free and accessible.
Christmas Light Show and Wanamaker Organ Concert
Now through Dec. 24 (Closed Christmas Day), Dec. 26-31
Enjoy a longtime Philadelphia tradition. Since 1956, locals have flocked to the Christmas Light Show and Wanamaker Organ Concert, which is wheelchair accessible. Now at Macy’s Center City store in the historic Wanamaker Building, you can watch snowflakes, ballerinas, and reindeer float by against a blue velvet curtain. During the light show, 100,000 bright LED lights create fantastic holiday images. The shows run every two hours from 10 am to 8 pm. At the end of the light show, you’ll hear live festive music from the world-famous Wanamaker Grand Organ. Good, less crowded times for viewing the show are Monday through Thursday.
While you’re there, check out the third floor of Macy’s, which became a “Dickens Village” for the holidays. The 6,000 sq. ft. village brings Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to life with a free self-guided tour of an animatronic display that ends with a one-on-one with Santa.
Where: Macy’s is located in The Wanamaker Building at 13th & Market Streets. More details.
Christmas Village at LOVE Park
Now until Dec. 24
Get into the holiday spirit at Christmas Village at LOVE Park in Philadelphia. Inspired by traditional European open-air Christmas markets, this shopper’s destination offers gifts and festive treats like warm waffles, gingerbread, and mulled wine. About 80 local and international vendors have set up shop here. Each day, street-side performances and special events will be held. For the brave, there are daily Ferris wheel and carousel rides. See the full Christmas Village calendar for upcoming events. The complete festival is wheelchair-accessible.
Where: N. 15th Street and Arch Street
More details about the Christmas Village
LumiNature at the Philadelphia Zoo
Now until January 7, 2023
In the evening the zoo lights up with more than 1 million holiday lights in 14 distinct zones. Displays include a 21-foot tall bright snake, a 100-foot-long aquarium tunnel, and a 15-foot tall glowing blue gorilla!
A Longwood Christmas at Longwood Gardens
Now until January 8, 2023
Longwood Gardens transforms into a winter wonderland each holiday season. Dozens of holiday trees, luminous outdoor displays, and magical treehouses are on display.
Winter in Franklin Square
Now until February 26, 2023
Visit Franklin Square for free nightly light shows inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s legendary kite and key experiment.
Dilworth Park (multiple attractions)
Now – March 26, 2023 (dates vary by attraction)
Head to Center City’s Dilworth Park to see seasonal attractions that have popped up for the holidays and beyond. Like ice skating? Then glide on over to Rothman Orthopaedics Ice Rink. Even if you prefer not to skate yourself, it’s always fun watching others zipping around. Relax with a hot cocoa at the Rothman Orthopaedics Cabin. And take a stroll through the seasonal plant arrangements and holiday topiary in the Wintergarden. On one side of City Hall, through Jan. 1 you can see a free Deck the Hall light show.
Something new this season is “Play the Lights,” an interactive instrument that works like a normal keyboard, only with technicolor visual effects that are projected onto the façade of City Hall when you play each note. While local professional pianists and organists will be around to showcase what’s possible with synchronized holiday music, you may also get a chance to try your hand at this. Every Tuesday and Wednesday night from 8:45 pm to 9:30 pm, visitors of all ages are welcome to try “playing the lights.”
Look for gifts like handcrafted trinkets, jewelry, and yummies like French toast bites and pretzels at the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market through Dec. 24. Elevators between the transit concourse and surface streets make Dilworth Park wheelchair-accessible.
Where: Dilworth Park, 1 S. 15th Street Details