Sprinkle Some Holiday Magic Into Your Season at Philadelphia’s Most Festive Events

An events guide to the best Philadelphia Christmas market and more seasonal fun.

Philadelphia Christmas Market
Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular | Photo courtesy of Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular
Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular | Photo courtesy of Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular

While Philly always bustles with a packed line-up of fun weekend events, it’s time to deck the halls and be jolly. The holiday season is once again upon us—and Philly has it on lock. From outdoor light displays to a cozy ski-lodge-inspired rooftop bar, the lead-up to the winter holidays comes straight out of a Hallmark movie. And if you’d rather just watch the game and nurse a beer, the city has an excellent selection of sports bars ready to fill a pint glass and flip on the game.

Philadelphia Christmas Market
A Very Retro Christmas | Photo credit: Laurie Carrozzino, photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens

Where to Celebrate the Holidays Outdoors in Philly

Stadium Complex, Starting at $15
This year, Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular is moving from the suburbs to FDR Park–and the change of venue means that visitors can now ice skate along a 13,000-square-foot ice trail while experiencing giant light displays (including quintessentially Philly figures built out of lights). There’s more ice where that came from: The four-lane ice slide might just be the coolest ride in town. Defrost in the lodge with spiked hot cider.

Fairmount Park, Prices vary
Deck the… zoo? You heard that right: The Philadelphia Zoo’s holiday display, LumiNature, kicks off for the season November 17 with a 40-foot-tall penguin twinkling with 40,000 lights, a 25-foot-tall tree made entirely of 1,500 illuminated flamingo lawn ornaments, and more. More animal- and zoo-themed features include a sea-inspired tree, floating jellyfish, and a huge gorilla.

Kennett Square, Starting at $16
The annual, fan-favorite holiday display at Longwood Gardens goes retro this year with throwback lights and vintage-style tinsel. Indoor highlights harken back to an earlier time with a mid-century party scene and a vintage Christmas street display, while the outdoor grounds promise a 200-foot-long tunnel of lights that changes and morphs into different colors and patterns and a red 1969 Longwood Farms pickup truck carrying freshly-cut Christmas trees.

Chinatown, Free entry
Can you hear that? It’s Mariah Carey’s signature whistle tone coming from Franklin Square. The park’s annual holiday display goes up in mid-November for visitors to enjoy the glow of hundreds of thousands of lights during the Electrical Spectacle Light Show, which features plenty of popular holiday tunes. Elsewhere in Franklin Square, find street curling (a modified version of the Olympic sport), winter-themed mini golf, and a beer garden that serves, among many tasty treats, spiked hot chocolate.

Until December 24
Center City, Prices vary
Follow the scent of raclette cheese to LOVE Park for the 16th annual Christmas Village. The German-inspired outdoor market features 120 vendors—selling everything from ornaments and toys to apparel and artwork—housed in cute little wooden booths located within LOVE Park and around City Hall. Come hungry and fill up on German delicacies like bratwurst, schnitzel, käsespätzle (the German take on mac and cheese), and sip on mulled wine and the exclusive, locally-made Christmas Bock beer from Brewery Techne and Mainstay Brewing.

Philadelphia Christmas Market
Craftsman Row Saloon | Photo courtesy of Craftsman Row Saloon

Holiday Drinks in Philly

Washington Square West, Free entry
Try not to hit your head on the 55,000 ornaments hanging from the ceiling at Craftsman Row Saloon this holiday season. Slip into a cozy booth surrounded by wreaths, garlands, stockings, and string lights and get into the spirit with a Gingerbread Espresso Martini, 100% That Grinch (house-made coquito), or a mouth-watering milkshake with a full piece of pumpkin pie in it, dubbed Pumpkin’ To Talk About. Don’t miss a moment of the magic and make a reservation.

Logan Square, Free entry
Assembly Rooftop Bar gets a winter makeover, becoming a ski lodge dubbed Alpine Heights. Cozy up next to a fire pit and sip on a boozy hot chocolate or an Alpine Floral Toddy (Evan Williams Bourbon and fall spiced mulled apple cider). The food menu includes freshly baked flatbreads, Gruyere and Onion Dip, Short Rib Rosti, and Dark Chocolate Fondue. Reservations are recommended.

Starting November 24
Devon, $23-35
About half an hour outside the city at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fairgrounds, this brand new event features a European-style outdoor market, live musical performances every weekend, hearty winter fare like grilled raclette on sourdough, pizza, and short ribs, and holiday libations like gluhwein (mulled wine) and hot chocolate. Elsewhere on the grounds is a Ferris wheel, carousel, fun house, and forest of over 900 real and artificial trees.

Starting November 24
Midtown Village, Free entry
Everyone had that one neighbor growing up that went hard at the Christmas decorations. Tinsel is that neighbor—but in bar form. Every inch of the pop-up is covered with decorations inspired by holiday movie classics like Elf, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, and A Christmas Story. As for the tipples, taste the season with a Cotton Headed Ninny Muggin (Absolut vanilla, hot chocolate, whipped cream, graham cracker dust).

December 2, 9, and 16, 3 pm
Various locations, Starting at $15
The ugly sweater events only come once a year, so now’s your time to pull yours out of the back of the closet and show everyone how weird clothing truly can be. Held on three dates, this bar crawl takes tipplers from Woody’s to Voyeur and to Concourse and beyond. Your ticket includes free entry to every bar, discounts on drinks and food, and a menu of holiday-themed bevs.

December 6, 8 pm
Old City, $15
Watch the Adam Sandler classic Eight Crazy Nights in the best way possible—with a drink in one hand and a latke in the other. Philadelphia Jewish Film and Media hosts a screening of the flick at Khyber Pass Pub with cocktails and potato pancakes aplenty.

December 14, 7 pm
Rittenhouse Square, Starting at $10
One Crazy Night looks to bring a little light into the world. Hosted by The Chevra young Jewish professionals group, the evening promises live music, sufganiyot (Hanukkah’s sweet, jelly-filled fritters), chocolate gelt, an ugly Hanukkah sweater and onesie contest, a menorah lighting, and plenty “L’chaim!” to go around.

Philadelphia Christmas Market
Independence Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest | Photo credit: Matt Stanley, photo courtesy of Independence Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest

Festive Holiday Sports in Philly

Center City, Starting at $6
Nothing says whimsical seasonal exercise like al fresco ice skating. The Rothman Orthopaedics Ice Rink returns to Dilworth Park for another season of 90-minute skating sessions in the shadow of City Hall. Warm up over a glass of mulled wine in the Wintergarden surrounding the rink.

Starting November 24
Delaware River Waterfront, Starting at $5
Lace up those roller skates: It’s time to live a Hallmark movie holiday fantasy. The waterfront winter wonderland that is Independence Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest opens for the season on Thanksgiving weekend, offering cozy cabins and fire pits, boardwalk games, spiked hot chocolate, and—of course—ice skating. Come see the copious amounts of string lights decorating the space and glide on the NHL-sized ice rink for 90-minute skating sessions. (Free skating on opening day.)

December 21, 7 pm
Stadium Complex, Starting at $39
Bundle up and see the Flyers take on the Nashville Predators during the team’s holiday theme night. The halls of Wells Fargo Center will be decked and the mood will (hopefully) be merry.

December 22, 7 pm
Stadium Complex, Starting at $35
Just a few days after Hanukkah ends and only a few days before Christmas and Kwanzaa, the Philadelphia 76ers celebrate the holidays at Wells Fargo Center. During the game, against the Toronto Raptors, expect holiday music and other festive cheer.

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