18 Actually Cool Things to Do in Philly This Winter

Art festivals, top-tier theater performances, and so much more.

There’s a chill in the air, the nights are long, and all the trees are bare—but that’s never stopped Philly from having a good time. Sure, this season may not be known for its beer gardens or block parties, but winter in Philly means outdoor ice skating, thousands of twinkly string lights, and big-ticket theater shows. And after a year without performing arts and festivals, this year’s winter events feel even more festive. So bundle up and take advantage of all the season has to offer by checking out these actually cool things to do in Philadelphia this winter.

Franklin Square christmas lights
Franklin Square

Through Friday, December 31
Franklin Square
Every year one of William Penn’s original open-space squares is outfitted with thousands of lights for the holiday season. Synched with music, the lights shimmy and dance for the Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show every night. The park is also outfitted with a beer garden (complete with warm beverages and comfort food), a festive mini-golf course, and a carousel.
Cost: Free light show, food and drink pay-as-you-go

Longwood Gardens philly
Longwood Gardens

Through Sunday, January 9
Longwood Gardens
What’s a holiday season without a trip to Longwood Gardens? Bundle up as you meander through rows of illuminated trees, glowing fountains, glowing orbs, and more. Head inside to see suspended icicles, a 21-foot fir tree covered in icy garland and silver bay laurel, and other creative horticultural spins on this year’s theme of fire and ice.
Cost: $16-30

Delaware River Waterfront ice skating
Delaware River Waterfront

Go ice skating

Ongoing
Dilworth Park and Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest
The city boasts two particularly picturesque outdoor ice rinks—one by City Hall, and the other at Penn’s Landing on the Delaware River Waterfront. The Rothman Orthopaedics Ice Rink is open until February 27 and offers skate rentals and 90-minute skating sessions, as well as a ski chalet-inspired cabin with food and drinks to warm up. The Blue Cross RiverRink operates through March 6 and boasts fire pits, festive lighting, cabins, food and drink options, skate rentals, arcade games, and more.
Cost: Pay-as-you-go

Give a standing ovation

Through Sunday, March 20
Various locations
When it’s too cold outside to do anything but sit inside a theater, head to any one of the city’s performing arts centers, like the Academy of Music, Merriam Theater, Forrest Theater, and Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, for a world-class production within city limits. This winter, big-ticket shows include “Pretty Woman: The Musical” (January 4-16), “Hadestown” (February 9-20), “Oklahoma!” (March 8-20), and more.
Cost: $25-349

Friday, November 20 – Monday, May 30
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The art museum’s latest exhibit “Circus: Bouroullec Designs” features work from brothers and industrial designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. “Circus” contains work mainly from the past decade, including furniture, lighting, textiles, glass, ceramics, and architecture, in a gallery designed by the duo.
Cost: Included in museum admission; $14-25

Camelback Lodge & Indoor Waterpark
Camelback Lodge & Indoor Waterpark

Ongoing
Poconos
In need of a new winter hobby? Take a road trip to the Poconos and take part in this year’s ski season, running from December until March or early April. A number of nearby mountain resorts like Jack Frost Big Boulder, Blue Mountain, Camelback Mountain, and Shawnee Mountain offer dozens of trails in varying levels of difficulty, plus snow tubing and ski-in and -out restaurants.
Cost: Varies per resort

Christmas Village in Philadelphia
Christmas Village in Philadelphia

Thursday, November 25 – Friday, December 24
LOVE Park
Christmas Village turns LOVE Park into an outdoor German market with cutesy little vendor booths selling everything from handmade art and jewelry to ornaments and apparel. Plus, fill up on German fare like bratwurst, raclette cheese sandwiches, and Belgian fries, and finish it off with hot chocolate, cider, and hot mulled wine. Don’t forget to take a walk across the street to the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market in Dilworth Park featuring a lineup of local vendors.
Cost: Pay-as-you-go

Saturday, December 4
Independence Seaport Museum
Like a fashion show, but for boats, the Parade of Lights features local boats decked in string lights and other holiday decor. The museum offers warm beverages to keep you toasty as you peep the procession from the terrace.
Cost: TBA

Xfinity Live
Xfinity Live

Saturday, December 4
Xfinity Live!
Xfinity Live!’s annual winter beer festival, Winterfest, returns with more than 75 breweries bringing their best cold-weather beers to the entertainment complex. Grab a custom stein, sample any of the more than 100 brews, and explore the multiple venues within Xfinity, enjoying live music, games, and contests.
Cost: $35-65

Saturday, January 1
Broad Street from City Hall to Washington Avenue
There is no other way to celebrate New Year’s Day in Philly than the Mummers Parade. Head to Broad Street to see the feathered, sequined, and costumed string bands, fancy brigades, wenches, comics, and more strut and cajole the crowds during the country’s oldest folk parade. Afterward, head to Second Street for more revelry and ring in the new year with extra cheer.
Cost: Free

Friday, February 18
Franklin Institute
Fans of the Harry Potter books and films can delight in an immersive exhibition dedicated to the characters, settings, and iconic moments of the franchise—in its world premiere here in Philly. Costumes and props will be on display as will interactive installations inside the Hogwarts Castle and other magical activities.
Cost: TBA

Philly Chocolate, Wine & Whiskey Festival
Philly Chocolate, Wine & Whiskey Festival

Sunday, January 30 and Monday, January 31
23rd Street Armory
Three of life’s delicacies—chocolate, wine, and whiskey—are on display over the course of this two-day festival. The chocolate will come in various forms (fondue, truffles, etc.) as will the wines with sparkling and rose options and bourbon and rye whiskey. Plus, other treats like cupcakes, cookies, donuts, cheese, beer, and cider will also be available. Bon appetit, indeed.
Cost: $45-70

Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention
Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention

Friday, February 25 – Sunday, February 27
Pennsylvania Convention Center
A number of local tattoo artists, as well as some big names (think Ink Master alums) will be taking appointments at the Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention. In addition to ink and accessories, there’ll be tattoo contests, live entertainment, and seminars.
Cost: $22-45

Kennett Brewfest
Kennett Brewfest

Saturday, February 26
600 S. Broad St., Kennett Square, Pa.
After pivoting to an at-home tasting event last year, Kennett Winterfest is back in person (and al fresco) this year, featuring samples from dozens of craft breweries, live music, and food trucks. Dress for the weather or just let the beer warm you up.
Cost: TBA

Throughout February
Main Street between Fountain Street and Shurs Lane
Each winter, Founders Brewing Company turns Main Street Manayunk into a brew-y winter wonderland during the Founders Philly Freeze-Out. For one day, the corridor is home to ice carving demonstrations and ice sculptures, while bars and restaurants offer Founders and food specials, and boutiques host sales and promotions.
Cost: Pay-as-you-go

The Barnes Foundation
The Barnes Foundation

Sunday, February 20 – Sunday, May 15
Barnes Foundation
“Water, Wind, Breath: Southwest Native Art in Community” opens this winter at the Barnes, featuring nearly 100 works of Pueblo and Navajo pottery, textiles, and jewelry. The exhibition focuses on the pieces “as living traditions that promote individual and community well-being through their making and use.”
Cost: Included in museum admission; $5-25

Philadelphia Auto Show
Philadelphia Auto Show

Saturday, March 5 – Sunday, March 13
Pennsylvania Convention Center
Between new vehicles, exotic cars, antiques, and super high-end models, the Philadelphia Auto Show is the car enthusiast’s (or even those in the market for a new ride) dream. A different kind of art appreciation, the show will at least give you something to do on those cold March days.
Cost: TBA

Friday, March 18 – Sunday, March 20 and Friday, March 25 – Sunday, March 27
Pennsylvania Convention Center
One second in the Philly Home Show and you’ll feel inspired to flip a house—or maybe just plant a garden. Between presentations from HGTV A-listers and appliances, home entertainment, and kitchen vendors, the convention is a one-stop-shop for home-betterment.
Cost: $3-13

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Allie Volpe is a writer based in Philadelphia. She hasn't slept in days. Follow her on Twitter: @allieevolpe.