Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest
Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest | Delaware River Waterfront
Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest | Delaware River Waterfront

Everything You Must Do in Philly This Holiday Season

It’s that time of year again when Rittenhouse Square reaches its optimal form -- a forest of sparkling white globes surrounding a massive Christmas tree. This year, the Christmas Village at LOVE Park will be expanding with a 65-foot Ferris wheel, which is all well and extra, but it can also mean more crowds. The good news is, when there’s no more ice left to skate on at City Hall, there are plenty of alternatives -- like a rooftop Christmas bar, some Hanukkah-themed improv, and a holiday drag show. Here’s everything you need to celebrate the holiday season in Philadelphia.

Franklin Square Holiday Festival
Holiday Festival | Franklin Square

Catch the Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show at Franklin Square 

November 14 - December 31
Franklin Square 
Franklin Square’s outdoor holiday festival features nearly seven weeks of special events and activities, like a Winter Beer Garden. But the crème de la crème is the Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show, which illuminates the park with more than 80,000 lights that twinkle to the tune of a holiday soundtrack. Benjamin Franklin would be proud. 
Cost: Free

Go on a sky-high holiday tour at One Liberty Observation Deck 

November 15 - December 29
One Liberty Place 
Ascend to the 57th floor of One Liberty Place for a birds-eye view of Philly and get educated on the city’s holiday history. The seasonal skyline tour, which lasts about 45 minutes, will provide you with everything from a rundown of the famous Philadelphia Mummers to tips on where to see the best light shows. 
Cost: Tickets start at $10

A Longwood Christmas
A Longwood Christmas | Longwood Gardens

Experience A Longwood Christmas  

November 22 - January 5 
Longwood Gardens 
Longwood Gardens, a botanical garden located in Chester County, ushers in the holiday cheer with glistening Christmas trees, thousands of seasonal plants, organ sing-alongs, and more. 
Cost: Tickets are $30; free for members after 2pm

Watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade 

November 28
20th and Market Streets 
Philadelphia did it first. The country’s oldest Thanksgiving parade returns for its 100th event. This year’s special guests include Grammy-Award winner Macy Gray, Queer Eye star Carson Kressley, and, of course, Santa himself. For the best views, watch the parade’s finish on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 
Cost: Free
MORE: Everything you need to know about Philly’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

Enjoy seasonal drinks at a rooftop Christmas bar 

November 29 - December 25
Center City
As part of its 12 Days of Christmas celebration, restaurant Farmer’s Keep will be turning their patio into a festive hotspot every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Sip some seasonal cocktails in a space replete with Christmas trees, decorative blow-ups, and space heaters. 
Cost: Drink prices vary 

Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest | Delaware River Waterfront

Ice Skate on the Waterfront at Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest

November 29 - March 8
Old City
Here you’ll find Philly’s largest outdoor ice rink, which could, theoretically, lessen the chances of human on human collision. Enter the ski chalet-inspired lodge for seasonal fare by Chickie’s and Pete’s (the crab fries are a must) and Jose Garces’ Village Burger. Or cozy up by the fire pits with a hot chocolate from the Franklin Fountain Confectionary Cabin. And, if you plan on going in a larger group, specially themed warming cabins can be rented online. 
Cost: Free to attend; admission to the ice rink is $4

Marvel at the Miracle on South 13th Street

November 30 - January 1
South Philly 
The residents of the 1600 Block of South 13th Street take Christmas very seriously. Neighbors living on this stretch of South Philly come together to adorn their homes extravagantly, creating a tunnel of light. This hard-to-miss holiday display can be enjoyed on foot, perfect if you’re passing by. 
Cost: Free

Cross off your holiday shopping list at a local boutique 

All season long
Various locations
While the German markets in LOVE Park are a one-stop shop for Christmas paraphernalia, Philly is teeming with local boutiques containing gifts your loved ones will actually use. For the hypebeasts in your life, check out P’s & Q’s, and for the notebook lovers, Omoi Zakka. If you’re feeling spendy, there’s Joan Shepp for one-of-a-kind luxury fashions. 
Cost: Prices vary

A Philly POPS Uptown Christmas
Mandy Gonzalez | The Philly POPS

Get uplifted with A Philly Pops Uptown Christmas 

December 1
The Philly Pops will be making their Christmas debut at the Met Philadelphia with performances by Tituss Burgess of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Hamilton star Mandy Gonzalez, and Philly’s very own Luis Figueroa. The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir will also be making an appearance. 
Cost: Tickets starting at $49.95

Join a local tree-lighting celebration

December 5
South Philly
While tree-lighting ceremonies at City Hall and the PMA are wonderfully grand, why not attend a more low-key event that’s conveniently located in one of the best areas to eat and drink in Philadelphia? East Passyunk kicks off the holidays with a tree lighting ceremony at the famous Singing Fountain. Afterward, visit the neighborhood’s independent shops and restaurants for the inauguration of Deck the Avenue, a series of holiday sales and special events running until the end of December. 
Cost: Free

Attend a holiday drag show 

December 6
Join RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni BenDeLaCreme and Jinkx Monsoon for Union Transfer’s holiday extravaganza, All I Want for Christmas is Attention. The show is a follow-up to last year’s successful To Jesus, Thanks for Everything and is sure to spark lots of laughter. 
Cost: Tickets start at $35

Watch a performance of The Nutcracker at the Academy of Music

December 6 - December 31 
Center City
It’s a classic. The Pennsylvania Ballet stages an impressive rendition set to Tchaikovsky’s original score. The extravagant sets, colorful costumes, and live orchestra sounds will take you back to your childhood. And a visit to the venue alone is enough to feel festive. 
Cost: Tickets start at $35

Take a look inside other people’s homes 

December 7
Chestnut Hill 
Get some interior inspiration at Chestnut Hill’s Holiday House Tour, featuring five of the swanky neighborhood’s private homes, decorated for the holidays. This year’s tour will offer a special exhibition on Princess Grace of Monaco, who was born 90 years ago in Philadelphia. Bonus: Restaurants and shops in the area will be offering discounts for attendees. 
Cost: Tickets are $45 for Chestnut Hill Community Association members; $50 for non-members 

Watch a Christmas movie at midnight 

December 20
Old City
As part of its Midnight Madness series, Ritz at the Bourse will be showing a special screening of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation at midnight. 
Cost: Tickets are $10.25

Celebrate Kwanzaa with the 5th Annual Buy Black Marketplace

December 21
North Philly
Support vendors specializing in African products at this Pre-Kwanzaa Celebration hosted by the Afrakan Independence Day Organizing Committee. The Church of the Advocate marketplace, which will also feature guest speakers and performances, represents the third principle of Kwanzaa -- cooperative economics. 
Cost: $5 for admission 

Taste some Swedish Glögg

December 26
South Philly
Glögg is the Swedish version of mulled wine, and only a handful of wine makers in the U.S. actually create it. Stop by the American Swedish Historical Museum in FDR Park for a gallery tour, which will feature a few notes on Scandinavian drinking traditions and a glögg tasting. Skål! 
Cost: Tickets are $5 for museum members; $15 for non-members 

Celebrate Hanukkah with the Marvelous Maccababes 

December 28
Rittenhouse Square
Take part in Philly’s ever-expanding comedy scene with a night at Philly Improv Theatre. Improvisers will re-enact the Hanukkah miracle, and each performance will offer a  different angle, depending on the audience’s dreidel spin. 
Cost: Tickets are $12 in advance; $15 at the door 

 Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest fireworks
Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest | Delaware River Waterfront

Ring in the New Year with River Casino’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront

December 31
Old City 
River Casino will offer not one, but two fireworks shows along the Delaware River at 6pm and midnight.  You can get a front-row view from the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest, Penn’s Landing, and the Battleship New Jersey.  
Cost: Free

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Jessica Sulima is an editorial assistant at Thrillist. She believes the best way to spread Christmas cheer is playing TikToks aloud for all to hear.