Everything You Can Do in Philadelphia This Holiday Season

Consider this our gift to you.

We’ve never needed a holiday pick-me-up as badly as we do this year. As 2020 comes to a close and locals are looking for a way to infuse some merriment into their days, Philly delivers with a slate of socially distanced holiday celebrations that are bound to put some pep in your step. While we won’t be gathering in-person for tree lightings or the Mummers parade, there are other festive ways to celebrate the holiday season sans crowds. Bundle up, Philly—and don’t forget your mask!

Support local small businesses with a holiday pop-up

December 3-6
North 2nd Street
This holiday season, Northern Liberties hosts a pop-up shopping extravaganza featuring a lineup of vendors who don’t have brick and mortar locations taking over new and vacant storefronts along 2nd Street in NoLibs. Score jewelry from Adorned by Aisha, breads and other baked goods from Gluten Lab, and natural soaps and lotions from SBC Naturals—you’ll be the best gift-giver out there.
Cost: Pay-as-you-go

Tune in from afar as the powers that be flip the switch on a holiday tree

December 3
While you won’t be able to see the Old City tree lighting in person, you can witness the whole ordeal in real time online. Tune into Old City District’s Facebook page, where the ceremony will be broadcast starting at 6:15 pm to see the evergreen designed by Old City’s Petit Jardin en Ville. If you want to check it out in person at a later date, the tree will be stationed at the Betsy Ross House.
Cost: Free

Celebrate the first night of Hanukkah with a menorah lighting livestream

December 10
On the first night of Hanukkah, log onto the Old City District’s Facebook page for a live stream of the neighborhood’s menorah lighting, starting at 4:30 pm, hosted by the Old City Jewish Arts Center. Just like the Old City tree, the menorah will also be located at the Betsy Ross house if you wanted to take a peek another day.
Cost: Free

Shop for one-of-a-kind presents

December 24
LOVE Park and City Hall
Christmas Village, the German-style open-air holiday market returns for another year of unique shopping in LOVE Park. Shop for art, handmade soaps, clothing, jewelry, and yummy German foods (bratwurst, anyone?) daily through Christmas Eve. Vendor booths will be spaced out this year to mitigate crowds and foot traffic will be limited to one way. Just across the street at Dilworth Park is the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market where you can scour gifts made by local artisans. Masks are required at both markets and weekday visits are strongly encouraged.
Cost: Free entry

Keep the family engaged while staying inside this holiday

December 25
Usually held in-person at the National Museum of American Jewish History, this year’s Being ___ at Christmas event moves to the digital sphere. Starting at 10 am on the museum’s website and Facebook page, the day’s activities begin with a performance from Alex Mitnick of Alex & the Kaleidoscope. The day continues with virtual on-demand art, music, and meditation lessons to enjoy at your leisure.
Cost: Free, $10 suggested donation

Celebrate first fruits of the harvest with a local Kwanzaa gathering

December 26-27
Franklin Square
The African American Museum in Philadelphia celebrates Kwanzaa, and the holiday’s seven principles—unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith—during two days of activities in the park. Expect storytelling, music, art, and lighting of the kinara. 
Cost: Free

Feast your eyes on a dancing lights show

December 31
Franklin Square
One of the city’s original urban parks, Franklin Square will once again be decorated with thousands of lights for the holiday season. The highlight of the park’s celebrations is the Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show, where the lights shimmer and dance to a soundtrack of holiday music multiple times an evening. You can also get in a festive game of mini golf or ride on the Parx Liberty Carousel. Food and drink are available in the Winter Beer Garden and SquareBurger.
Cost: Free entry, $8-10 mini golf, $3 carousel ride, pay-as-you-go food and drink

Raise a toast to the holiday season 

Through December 31
116 S. 12th St.
After popping up for Christmas in July and again for Halloween, Tinsel returns for seasonal drinking in Midtown Village. In addition to Instagram-worthy decorations—lights, bows, stockings!—and outdoor parklet seating, expect seasonal cocktails (including to-go), warm beverages, and tasty bites from Sueño and Finn McCools. Don’t forget to make your reservation and don’t forget your mask.
Cost: Pay-as-you-go

Check out decorated window displays in Old City

Through January 1
Old City
Over a dozen Old City businesses—from 2nd Story Brewing to Old City Jewish Arts Center—deck out their front window displays with holiday decorations as a part of the Old City Window Decorating Contest. Stroll through the neighborhood and peep the decor and don’t forget to vote for your favorite!
Cost: Free

Walk through a winter wonderland

Through January 1
1600 block of St. 13th St.
After Thanksgiving hits, the 1600 block of South 13th Street transforms into a blissed out splendor, dubbed the Miracle on South 13th Street. The coordinated decoration effort features illuminated garlands and trees, wreaths, reindeer, and twinkling lights and is open for anyone to peruse at their leisure. 
Cost: Free

Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty
Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty | Chris Szagola/CSM/Shutterstock

Have a very merry Gritmas

Through January 3
Wells Fargo Center
The parking lots of the Wells Fargo Center will be transformed into a walkthrough winter village. Complete with 193 light sculptures and displays (including a 25-foot reindeer and a forest of over 45 illuminated trees), photos with Gritty Claus, and a marketplace of local goods and food, Winter on Broad Street will be a festive way to get into the holiday spirit while social distancing. The open-air extravaganza requires timed ticketing and mask-wearing.
Cost: $15-32.50

Bundle up and stroll through the grounds at Longwood Gardens
Through January 10
Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
A holiday tradition at Longwood Gardens is their annual holiday display, consisting of more than half-a-million lights decorating the outdoor grounds. As the sun sets, marvel at the extravagant lighting displays, watch an illuminated fountain show, and warm up at an outdoor fire pit. Head inside the conservatory to see ornately decorated Christmas trees, living wreaths, and seasonal floral arrangements. You must buy your tickets ahead of time and wear a mask at all times indoors and outdoors.
Cost: $2-30

Take a lap or two around the city’s ice skating rinks

Through February 2021
Dilworth Park and Blue Cross RiverRink
If you found yourself leaning into skate culture this summer and want to pivot to a seasonal version, hit the ice at either the Rothman Orthopaedics Ice Rink at Dilworth Park or the Blue Cross RiverRink at Penn’s Landing. Both outdoor rinks are limiting capacity this year and you’ll need to reserve tickets to skate. At Dilworth Park, cozy up in a holiday-inspired garden (with mulled wine!) or an open-air cabin serving food and drinks. On the waterfront, grab some Chickie’s & Pete’s in the Lodge and play boardwalk games when you’re not skating. It goes without saying, you must wear a mask at all times except while eating and drinking.
Cost: $5-7 skating admission, $10 skate rental, pay-as-you-go food and drink

Sign up here for our daily Philly email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

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