Taylor-Philly-Christmas

Philadelphia City Hall.

Christmas in Philadelphia is magical! From its holiday markets to festive-themed bars and restaurants and magical light displays to ice skating rinks, there are many fun things to do in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during Christmas.

Philadelphia, also known as “The City of Brotherly Love,” is considered the Birthplace of America because it’s where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed. It’s situated in Southeastern Pennsylvania along the Delaware River. In fact, it’s Pennsylvania’s largest city!

Even though Philadelphia thrives during the warmer months, Christmas time is when the city comes alive, when locals and visitors come together to enjoy the magic of the season! In this article, discover the best things to do in Philadelphia during Christmas.

**Please note that this blog post uses affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase via my affiliate link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only promote and talk about products and services that I have used and like.


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Things to do in Philadelphia during Christmas.

Traveling to Experience Christmas Events in Philadelphia:

Visiting the Philadelphia Christmas Village - one of the most festive things to do in Philadelphia during Christmas.

The best way to get to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the Christmas season is by taking a flight into Philadelphia International Airport. If you’re flying locally or within the country, there are two smaller domestic airports: North Philadelphia Airport and Philadelphia Trenton-Mercer Airport. You can find affordable flights through Skyscanner.

The SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) provides public transport within the Greater Philadelphia Area. It’s the nation’s sixth-largest public transportation system with a train, subway, bus and trolley.

Other ways to get around Philadelphia are through rideshare (Uber and Lyft), city taxis, biking and walking. A great way to get from the airport to Philadelphia Center City is through Go Airport Shuttle!

If you travel from any of the larger cities like New York City, Boston, Washington D.C., etc., you can take the Amtrak train to the William H. Gray III 30th Street Station. Many buses also go to Philadelphia like Greyhound, Peter Pan and Flixbus.

Renting a car is best for those planning to adventure beyond the city and explore more of Pennsylvania.

Additionally, Philadelphia makes for a great stop on a USA or Northeastern road trip! Click here if you are planning to road trip around the United States and want to rent an RV.

Where to Stay during Christmas Time in Philadelphia:

Philadelphia City Hall at Christmas.

When visiting Philadelphia to experience all the fun holiday attractions, there are plenty of hotel options to suit all budgets. You can also choose from a variety of rental properties to book! Below are the best places to stay during a Philly Christmas:

Luxury Accommodation: Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center

Boutique Accommodation: Lokal Hotel Old City

Mid-Budget Accommodation: Motto by Hilton Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square

Budget Accommodation: Best Western Plus Philadelphia Convention Center Hotel

Fun Things to Do in Philadelphia during Christmas:

Visit a Philadelphia Christmas Market:

Gluhwein in a cute boot mug at the Philadelphia Christmas village.

Even though Christmas markets are famous in Europe, a handful of cities in the United States have their own traditional holiday markets to shop for the perfect gift, eat delicious food and drinks and make countless memories.

To name a few, the top three USA cities with holiday markets are New York City, Denver and Philadelphia. Below is where you must visit in Philly:

Philadelphia Christmas Village in Love Park:

A Philadelphia Christmas village.

If you can’t make it to Germany this holiday season, Philadelphia’s Christmas Village in Love Park will transport you to magical cities like Cologne, Nuremberg and Munich. Love Park is where the famous “Love” sign is in front of Philadelphia City Hall.

These festive wooden stalls boast a variety of local and international vendors that sell arts and crafts, jewelry, ornaments, etc. There’s also a Käthe Wolhfahrt pop-up, a Christmas store you’ll find throughout Germany!

In addition to holiday trinkets, you can warm up to glühwein (German mulled wine), and savor gingerbread, waffles and crêpes, grilled bratwurst and additional delicious Christmas market staples.

While the adults enjoy their mulled wine, the kids can ride the Ferris wheel and carousel and enjoy hot chocolate! There are many great things for all ages.

The Philadelphia Christmas Village in Love Park runs from November 23, 2023, through Christmas Eve, December 24, 2023.

Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market and Dilworth Park Wintergarden:

Rothman Ice Rink at Dilworth Park.

Around the corner from the Philadelphia Christmas Village is the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market at Dilworth Park. This festive market runs from November 10, 2023, through January 1, 2024. At the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market, you can shop from 40 local artisans, jewelers, designers and food vendors.

Enjoy new illuminated vendor huts at the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market that resemble what you’d experience at the European Christmas markets, Vegan Wurst Wednesdays and a new beer garden with cozy open-air seating.

From November 3, 2023, through March 17, 2024, visitors to Philadelphia can enjoy The Wintergarden on the Greenfield Lawn at Dilworth Park. It’s a stunning sanctuary where you can relax and admire dazzling Christmas lights, warm up to mulled wine and catch up with friends.

Also located at Dilworth Park is the Rothman Orthopedics Ice Rink. For $8 USD per adult and $5 USD per child, with a $10 rental, you can go ice skating in front of the beautiful Philadelphia City Hall through February 26, 2024. (If you show your SEPTA Pass or Key, you’ll get $1 off your skating admission.)

What’s great about visiting the ice rink at Dilworth Park, especially during the Christmas season, is that you can appreciate the holiday markets, late-night skate hours, outdoor fire pits and more. It’s one of the most memorable things to do in Philadelphia during Christmas.

Check Out the Macy’s Christmas Light Show:

The Wanamaker Organ that plays during the Macy's Light Show.

One of the best things to do to get into the holiday spirit during Christmas in Philadelphia is to see the Macy’s Christmas Light Show and walk through Dickens Village!

The Macy’s Center City department store in Philadelphia is located across from City Hall. It’s situated in the Wanamaker Building, considered a National Historic Landmark.

When you enter The Grand Court of Macy’s, there is a giant Christmas tree, a stunning holiday display and a free light show featuring live music from the Wanamaker Organ. This Philly icon is one of the world’s largest and most famous pipe organs!

Through a scheduled reservation, you can also experience the immersive Dickens Village – A Christmas Carol at Macy’s, featuring Scrooge. Even though you must book a visit to Dickens Village in advance, it’s still free. Guests can also visit when Santa Claus is there!

You can see the Macy’s Christmas Light Show and Dickens Village from November 24 through December 31, 2023.

Additionally, you can also admire the incredible animated window displays at Macy’s. This tradition has been a fun holiday event that locals and visitors have enjoyed since the late 19th Century.

Not only is visiting Macy’s Center City great for seeing the Christmas Light Show, Dickens Village and festive window displays, but it’s also a wonderful place to get your holiday shopping done!

Walk Down the Historic Elfreth’s Alley:

Walking down Elfreth's Alley - one of the best things to do in Philadelphia during Christmas.

One of the most beautiful sites in Philadelphia and also one of the oldest continuously inhabited residential streets in the country is Elfreth’s Alley. From its cobbled streets to Colonial architecture, it’s a picturesque location that dates back to the early 1700s.

During the most wonderful time of year, you can walk down Elfreth’s Alley and marvel at all the beautiful Christmas decorations, from wreaths, garlands, candles and lights. Try not to miss out on seeing Elfreth’s Alley Holiday Elves that peak from windows and around doors!

A festive holiday tradition and one of the best things to do in Philadelphia during Christmas is to attend Deck the Alley at Elfreth’s Alley Museum. It occurs on December 9, 2023, from 2 pm to 6 pm. During this jolly fundraising experience, you can walk through the historic homes of Elfreth’s Alley and enjoy all the beautiful decorations.

Elfreth’s Alley is similar to Boston’s Acorn Street!

Check Out the Holiday Display at Reading Terminal Market:

If you’re a foodie, a must-visit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is Reading Terminal Market in the Center City. Like Pike’s Place in Seattle, Reading Terminal is an indoor farmer’s market offering different cuisines, flowers and plants, a bakery, ice cream shops and more.

Just like the rest of Philadelphia during the holidays, Reading Terminal has a lot of fun Christmas events! You can see Gingerbread Lane, a display of mini gingerbread houses, from November 22, 2023, through January 2, 2024; visit Santa Claus on December 2, 9, 16 and 23, 2023, from 10 am to 2 pm; and enjoy an overall holiday market to shop from festive treats and drinks.

Enjoy A Christmas-Themed Restaurant or Bar:

A woman visiting the holiday bars in Philadelphia. One of the most fun things to do in Philadelphia during Christmas.

Just like New York City’s themed restaurants and pop-up bars, Philadelphia also has a lot of great holiday venues to book reservations for, with festive decorations and fun Christmas cocktails. Below is an excellent Christmas-themed restaurant and pop-up bar I visited during my day in Philadelphia at Christmas:

A gingerbread espresso martini from Craftsman Row Saloon.

Craftsman Row Saloon: This cozy tavern is decked out with Christmas décor and one of the best places to visit during the festive season. Craftsman Row Saloon, near Washington Square, features typical American fare, over-the-top milkshakes and a great selection of holiday cocktails. I loved the Gingerbread Espresso Martini!

Tinsel: This seasonal pop-up bar in Center City cannot be excluded from a Philly Christmas itinerary. During the holiday season at Tinsel, you can enjoy fun-themed drinks, bright lights, and fun Christmas movie displays from Home Alone, featuring Macaulay Culkin, to The Santa Claus, featuring Tim Allen, to Elf, featuring Will Ferrel. (Please note that Tinsel does not have seating or food.) I sipped the Yippee-Ki-Yay, which was a spiked cider.

Tinsel pop-up bar in Philadelphia.

Below are other Christmas-themed restaurants and bars to enjoy during Philadelphia’s holiday season. They are all awesome places to have a great time and will provide that holiday cheer you’re looking for!

Uptown Beer Garden: Located by Love Park, this seasonal beer garden has a holiday movie theme. You can enjoy fun décor and cocktails inspired by Christmas classics like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Elf, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Christmas Carol and The Year Without a Santa Claus.

Señor Grinch Pop-Up at Taqueria Amor: Situated in Philadelphia’s Manayunk neighborhood on Main Street, you can enjoy a fun Grinch-themed pop-up at Taqueria Amor, a great Mexican restaurant!

McGillin’s Olde Ale House: Recognized as the oldest Irish pub and the original Christmas pop-up bar in Philadelphia, McGillin’s Olde Ale House in the Center City is a cozy space with cheerful decorations, tasty comfort food and fun Christmas activities and events like Caroling, Irish Dancing and Santa; Philadelphia Phillies Yule Log; Christmas Carols & Cocktails; Ugly Christmas Sweater Karaoke, as well as New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day celebrations.

Evil Genius Beer Company: Known as the most Christmasy brewery in Philadelphia, Evil Genius Beer Company has a fun tree lighting party called Twas an Evil Christmas, which takes place on November 30, 2023. This fun venue has over-the-top decorations and you can enjoy many festive craft beers. Evil Genius Beer Company is located in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philly.

Admire the Christmas Lights on Miracle on 13th Street:

Driving down Miracle on 13th Street

If you love Christmas lights, one of the best free things to do in Philadelphia during Christmas is to drive or walk down the 1600 block of 13th Street in South Philadelphia.

Residents come together to create dazzling displays for locals and visitors to enjoy during the Christmas season. This annual holiday tradition has been going on for more than 20 years and you can enjoy it from Thanksgiving weekend through New Year’s Day.

There are around 50 houses that participate in Miracle on 13th Street and each home tries to outshine the next. You can admire white and colorful lights, blown-up holiday characters, window displays, fake snow and more. You can also jam out to holiday music as you navigate the neighborhood.

Experience the Comcast Holiday Spectacular:

Also located in the heart of the city is the iconic Comcast Center. From November 23, 2023, to January 1, 2024, one of the best things to do for the holidays in Philly is to experience the Comcast Holiday Spectacular.

This incredible digital holiday show is free and showcased on the planet’s largest LED video walls, which boast 27 million pixels. It features 15 minutes of musical and dance performances and a sleigh-riding journey across the world. You can enjoy the show daily at every hour from 10 am to 8 pm.  

The Comcast Holiday Spectacular has been celebrating this tradition for over 15 years.

See LumiNature at the Philadelphia Zoo:

Luminature at the Philadelphia Zoo.

Another one of the top holiday festivities in Philly is seeing LumiNature at the Philadelphia Zoo. Presented by PNC, this magical winter light show has more than a million twinkling lights that take guests on a journey through the wildlife and beauty of Earth.

LumiNature is happening between November 17, 2023 and January 6, 2024. Tickets start at $25 USD per adult and teen ages 12 and over and $20 USD per child ages 2-11. Children under two years old can enter for free and zoo members get a discount. Each timed entrance ticket is available every half hour starting at 5 pm.

Overall, there are 16 illuminated zones at LumiNature. The top things to see are the Shimmer River, the paper lanterns, the Penguin Prismatic show, Flamingo Fancy, the floating jellyfish, the lit-up jungle tunnel and more. Santa also visits on December 1, 8 & 15 in 2023.

Get into the Christmas Spirit at Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular:

Experiencing the magic at the Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular is one of the most fun things to do in Philadelphia during Christmas! It takes place at FDR Park, between the American Swedish Museum and the Boathouse, in South Philadelphia.

From November 17, 2023, through January 1, 2024, you and your family can experience an illuminated ice skating trail, a fun ice slide, Mistletoe Marketplace for great holiday shopping, and Union Forge Lodge to cozy up with warm drinks and delicious treats.

You can also say hi to Santa Claus and take photos with him at Tinseltown. On certain nights, you may also come across Gritty Claus, the mascot for the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team! It’s a fun event for all ages.

The pricing for Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular is $30 USD for adults 18 years and older and $24 USD for children and teens 4-17. The event is free for young children under four.

Fun Day Trips from Philadelphia during the Holiday Season:

Suppose you live in the Greater Philadelphia area or are visiting for an extended period. In that case, I recommend renting a car and doing day or half-day trips to experience the magic up and down Eastern Pennsylvania.

Below are the most festive destinations to visit from Philly during the Christmas season:

See the Magical Light Show and Décor at Longwood Gardens:
Longwood Gardens - best day trip from Philadelphia during Christmas.

One of the most magical holiday light shows in the United States takes place at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. It’s between a half-hour and 40-minute drive southwest of Philadelphia!

You can experience A Longwood Christmas from November 17, 2023, through January 7, 2024. It’s a romantic experience and makes for a great proposal location! Trees are dazzled with lights, there’s a vintage Christmas street scene, stunning Christmas trees are all around and there is a festive holiday party scene decked out in mid-century décor.

Prices start at $30 USD for adults 19 years and older, $27 USD for seniors 62 and over and college students, $23 USD for active military and veterans, $16 USD for kids and teens ages 5-18 and it’s free for children four and under.  

With a ticket purchase to Longwood Gardens during the holiday season, you can also catch fountain shows, stroll through a 200-foot tunnel decked in Christmas lights, listen to live Christmas music, visit the onsite café and beer garden where you can enjoy hot cocoa and holiday treats and warm up in front of one of the many fire pits.

Go Holiday Shopping at Peddler’s Village:
Peddler's Village in Bucks County, Pennsylvania during Christmas.

Located an hour north of Philadelphia is the beautiful Peddler’s Village in the charming Bucks County. This lit-up Christmas village is in Lahaska, but it’s an easy visit from New Hope and Doylestown, PA. It’s also a close drive from the cozy Woolverton Inn near the charming town of Lambertville if you want to extend your trip into rural New Jersey.

Peddler’s Village has existed for over 60 years, and features winding brick roads that lead to incredible restaurants, boutiques, events and more. It’s one of the best places to conquer Christmas shopping!

From November 17, 2023, through January 14, 2024, you can admire 1 million Christmas lights, gingerbread art and festive décor around Peddler’s Village. As you sip hot cocoa, treat yourself to a baked good and make memories with loved ones, you’ll also come across Santa in a holiday parade, Christmas carolers and charm all around.

If you want to take the festive cheer into the later evening, make reservations to the Whiskey Lounge at Logan Inn. It’s one of the pop-up Miracle bars with over-the-top holiday décor and Christmas-themed drinks.

Do a Day Trip to Bethlehem:
Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania during Christmas.

Known as Christmas City USA, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in Lehigh Valley is one of the best day trips from Philadelphia. Driving from Philadelphia Center City to Bethlehem takes around an hour and 15 minutes.

There are many things to do in Bethlehem at Christmas time, but one of the most iconic is strolling through the Christkindlmarkt, the Christmas City Village. It’s a German-inspired Christmas market where you can cozy up with glühwein and have smoked wursts, as well as shop for handcrafted trinkets from the wooden chalet stalls. You can enjoy the Christmas market from November 17 through December 17, 2023.

Other great things to do in Bethlehem during the Christmas season are to take a horse-drawn carriage ride in the downtown area, participate in a holiday pub crawl, go ice skating and do a historic Christmas City Stroll.

Another fun thing to do from Bethlehem, or Philly, is to head out to Jim Thorpe in the Poconos to experience the Olde Time Christmas Festival, which runs from December 2 through December 17, 2023 and ride the jolly Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway with Santa Claus from November 24 through Christmas Eve 2023. The Santa Claus Special prices start at $20 USD for adults and teens over 12 years old, $9 USD per child ages 3-12 and free for young children two and under.

Jim Thorpe, PA is an hour and a half drive northwest of the heart of Philadelphia.


Love Philadelphia? Check out these other amazing Christmas destinations around the USA:

Cape May, New Jersey

Denver, Colorado

Natchitoches, Louisiana

I hope you all enjoyed learning about the most fun things to do in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during Christmas. If you have any questions, please email me at info@browneyedflowerchild.com.

Basic Facts of the United States:

Currency: United States Dollar, Capital: Washington D.C., PA State Capital: Harrisburg, Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time

*Anything could happen during your travels. Always make sure you are insured in case there are unforeseen circumstances such as lost luggage/theft, natural disasters, personal liabilities and more. Click here to get insured for your next trip.

Shop my Philly Christmas Look:

Click here to shop my Poshmark closet!

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2 Comments

  1. Kim Deer on December 18, 2023 at 5:56 pm

    Wow, Philadelphia looks like such a fun festive place during the Christmas season. I really want to visit these markets since it is close to home and it has a lot of the same attractions and food staples that the European Christmas markets have. Great guide to some fabulous places to visit in the dynamic city of Philadelphia. Loved all your beautiful photos ~ it brought the markets to life! Merriest of Christmases ~ love you mom 👩🏻 xoxo 🥰

    • Taylor Deer on December 19, 2023 at 9:32 am

      We’ll have to go to Philly for the holidays next year! It really is a magical experience! Love you too!

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Taylor-Philly-Christmas

Philadelphia City Hall.

Christmas in Philadelphia is magical! From its holiday markets to festive-themed bars and restaurants and magical light displays to ice skating rinks, there are many fun things to do in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during Christmas.

Philadelphia, also known as “The City of Brotherly Love,” is considered the Birthplace of America because it’s where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed. It’s situated in Southeastern Pennsylvania along the Delaware River. In fact, it’s Pennsylvania’s largest city!

Even though Philadelphia thrives during the warmer months, Christmas time is when the city comes alive, when locals and visitors come together to enjoy the magic of the season! In this article, discover the best things to do in Philadelphia during Christmas.

**Please note that this blog post uses affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase via my affiliate link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only promote and talk about products and services that I have used and like.


Pin the Below Image to Keep Handy

Things to do in Philadelphia during Christmas.

Traveling to Experience Christmas Events in Philadelphia:

Visiting the Philadelphia Christmas Village - one of the most festive things to do in Philadelphia during Christmas.

The best way to get to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the Christmas season is by taking a flight into Philadelphia International Airport. If you’re flying locally or within the country, there are two smaller domestic airports: North Philadelphia Airport and Philadelphia Trenton-Mercer Airport. You can find affordable flights through Skyscanner.

The SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) provides public transport within the Greater Philadelphia Area. It’s the nation’s sixth-largest public transportation system with a train, subway, bus and trolley.

Other ways to get around Philadelphia are through rideshare (Uber and Lyft), city taxis, biking and walking. A great way to get from the airport to Philadelphia Center City is through Go Airport Shuttle!

If you travel from any of the larger cities like New York City, Boston, Washington D.C., etc., you can take the Amtrak train to the William H. Gray III 30th Street Station. Many buses also go to Philadelphia like Greyhound, Peter Pan and Flixbus.

Renting a car is best for those planning to adventure beyond the city and explore more of Pennsylvania.

Additionally, Philadelphia makes for a great stop on a USA or Northeastern road trip! Click here if you are planning to road trip around the United States and want to rent an RV.

Where to Stay during Christmas Time in Philadelphia:

Philadelphia City Hall at Christmas.

When visiting Philadelphia to experience all the fun holiday attractions, there are plenty of hotel options to suit all budgets. You can also choose from a variety of rental properties to book! Below are the best places to stay during a Philly Christmas:

Luxury Accommodation: Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center

Boutique Accommodation: Lokal Hotel Old City

Mid-Budget Accommodation: Motto by Hilton Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square

Budget Accommodation: Best Western Plus Philadelphia Convention Center Hotel

Fun Things to Do in Philadelphia during Christmas:

Visit a Philadelphia Christmas Market:

Gluhwein in a cute boot mug at the Philadelphia Christmas village.

Even though Christmas markets are famous in Europe, a handful of cities in the United States have their own traditional holiday markets to shop for the perfect gift, eat delicious food and drinks and make countless memories.

To name a few, the top three USA cities with holiday markets are New York City, Denver and Philadelphia. Below is where you must visit in Philly:

Philadelphia Christmas Village in Love Park:

A Philadelphia Christmas village.

If you can’t make it to Germany this holiday season, Philadelphia’s Christmas Village in Love Park will transport you to magical cities like Cologne, Nuremberg and Munich. Love Park is where the famous “Love” sign is in front of Philadelphia City Hall.

These festive wooden stalls boast a variety of local and international vendors that sell arts and crafts, jewelry, ornaments, etc. There’s also a Käthe Wolhfahrt pop-up, a Christmas store you’ll find throughout Germany!

In addition to holiday trinkets, you can warm up to glühwein (German mulled wine), and savor gingerbread, waffles and crêpes, grilled bratwurst and additional delicious Christmas market staples.

While the adults enjoy their mulled wine, the kids can ride the Ferris wheel and carousel and enjoy hot chocolate! There are many great things for all ages.

The Philadelphia Christmas Village in Love Park runs from November 23, 2023, through Christmas Eve, December 24, 2023.

Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market and Dilworth Park Wintergarden:

Rothman Ice Rink at Dilworth Park.

Around the corner from the Philadelphia Christmas Village is the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market at Dilworth Park. This festive market runs from November 10, 2023, through January 1, 2024. At the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market, you can shop from 40 local artisans, jewelers, designers and food vendors.

Enjoy new illuminated vendor huts at the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market that resemble what you’d experience at the European Christmas markets, Vegan Wurst Wednesdays and a new beer garden with cozy open-air seating.

From November 3, 2023, through March 17, 2024, visitors to Philadelphia can enjoy The Wintergarden on the Greenfield Lawn at Dilworth Park. It’s a stunning sanctuary where you can relax and admire dazzling Christmas lights, warm up to mulled wine and catch up with friends.

Also located at Dilworth Park is the Rothman Orthopedics Ice Rink. For $8 USD per adult and $5 USD per child, with a $10 rental, you can go ice skating in front of the beautiful Philadelphia City Hall through February 26, 2024. (If you show your SEPTA Pass or Key, you’ll get $1 off your skating admission.)

What’s great about visiting the ice rink at Dilworth Park, especially during the Christmas season, is that you can appreciate the holiday markets, late-night skate hours, outdoor fire pits and more. It’s one of the most memorable things to do in Philadelphia during Christmas.

Check Out the Macy’s Christmas Light Show:

The Wanamaker Organ that plays during the Macy's Light Show.

One of the best things to do to get into the holiday spirit during Christmas in Philadelphia is to see the Macy’s Christmas Light Show and walk through Dickens Village!

The Macy’s Center City department store in Philadelphia is located across from City Hall. It’s situated in the Wanamaker Building, considered a National Historic Landmark.

When you enter The Grand Court of Macy’s, there is a giant Christmas tree, a stunning holiday display and a free light show featuring live music from the Wanamaker Organ. This Philly icon is one of the world’s largest and most famous pipe organs!

Through a scheduled reservation, you can also experience the immersive Dickens Village – A Christmas Carol at Macy’s, featuring Scrooge. Even though you must book a visit to Dickens Village in advance, it’s still free. Guests can also visit when Santa Claus is there!

You can see the Macy’s Christmas Light Show and Dickens Village from November 24 through December 31, 2023.

Additionally, you can also admire the incredible animated window displays at Macy’s. This tradition has been a fun holiday event that locals and visitors have enjoyed since the late 19th Century.

Not only is visiting Macy’s Center City great for seeing the Christmas Light Show, Dickens Village and festive window displays, but it’s also a wonderful place to get your holiday shopping done!

Walk Down the Historic Elfreth’s Alley:

Walking down Elfreth's Alley - one of the best things to do in Philadelphia during Christmas.

One of the most beautiful sites in Philadelphia and also one of the oldest continuously inhabited residential streets in the country is Elfreth’s Alley. From its cobbled streets to Colonial architecture, it’s a picturesque location that dates back to the early 1700s.

During the most wonderful time of year, you can walk down Elfreth’s Alley and marvel at all the beautiful Christmas decorations, from wreaths, garlands, candles and lights. Try not to miss out on seeing Elfreth’s Alley Holiday Elves that peak from windows and around doors!

A festive holiday tradition and one of the best things to do in Philadelphia during Christmas is to attend Deck the Alley at Elfreth’s Alley Museum. It occurs on December 9, 2023, from 2 pm to 6 pm. During this jolly fundraising experience, you can walk through the historic homes of Elfreth’s Alley and enjoy all the beautiful decorations.

Elfreth’s Alley is similar to Boston’s Acorn Street!

Check Out the Holiday Display at Reading Terminal Market:

If you’re a foodie, a must-visit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is Reading Terminal Market in the Center City. Like Pike’s Place in Seattle, Reading Terminal is an indoor farmer’s market offering different cuisines, flowers and plants, a bakery, ice cream shops and more.

Just like the rest of Philadelphia during the holidays, Reading Terminal has a lot of fun Christmas events! You can see Gingerbread Lane, a display of mini gingerbread houses, from November 22, 2023, through January 2, 2024; visit Santa Claus on December 2, 9, 16 and 23, 2023, from 10 am to 2 pm; and enjoy an overall holiday market to shop from festive treats and drinks.

Enjoy A Christmas-Themed Restaurant or Bar:

A woman visiting the holiday bars in Philadelphia. One of the most fun things to do in Philadelphia during Christmas.

Just like New York City’s themed restaurants and pop-up bars, Philadelphia also has a lot of great holiday venues to book reservations for, with festive decorations and fun Christmas cocktails. Below is an excellent Christmas-themed restaurant and pop-up bar I visited during my day in Philadelphia at Christmas:

A gingerbread espresso martini from Craftsman Row Saloon.

Craftsman Row Saloon: This cozy tavern is decked out with Christmas décor and one of the best places to visit during the festive season. Craftsman Row Saloon, near Washington Square, features typical American fare, over-the-top milkshakes and a great selection of holiday cocktails. I loved the Gingerbread Espresso Martini!

Tinsel: This seasonal pop-up bar in Center City cannot be excluded from a Philly Christmas itinerary. During the holiday season at Tinsel, you can enjoy fun-themed drinks, bright lights, and fun Christmas movie displays from Home Alone, featuring Macaulay Culkin, to The Santa Claus, featuring Tim Allen, to Elf, featuring Will Ferrel. (Please note that Tinsel does not have seating or food.) I sipped the Yippee-Ki-Yay, which was a spiked cider.

Tinsel pop-up bar in Philadelphia.

Below are other Christmas-themed restaurants and bars to enjoy during Philadelphia’s holiday season. They are all awesome places to have a great time and will provide that holiday cheer you’re looking for!

Uptown Beer Garden: Located by Love Park, this seasonal beer garden has a holiday movie theme. You can enjoy fun décor and cocktails inspired by Christmas classics like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Elf, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Christmas Carol and The Year Without a Santa Claus.

Señor Grinch Pop-Up at Taqueria Amor: Situated in Philadelphia’s Manayunk neighborhood on Main Street, you can enjoy a fun Grinch-themed pop-up at Taqueria Amor, a great Mexican restaurant!

McGillin’s Olde Ale House: Recognized as the oldest Irish pub and the original Christmas pop-up bar in Philadelphia, McGillin’s Olde Ale House in the Center City is a cozy space with cheerful decorations, tasty comfort food and fun Christmas activities and events like Caroling, Irish Dancing and Santa; Philadelphia Phillies Yule Log; Christmas Carols & Cocktails; Ugly Christmas Sweater Karaoke, as well as New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day celebrations.

Evil Genius Beer Company: Known as the most Christmasy brewery in Philadelphia, Evil Genius Beer Company has a fun tree lighting party called Twas an Evil Christmas, which takes place on November 30, 2023. This fun venue has over-the-top decorations and you can enjoy many festive craft beers. Evil Genius Beer Company is located in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philly.

Admire the Christmas Lights on Miracle on 13th Street:

Driving down Miracle on 13th Street

If you love Christmas lights, one of the best free things to do in Philadelphia during Christmas is to drive or walk down the 1600 block of 13th Street in South Philadelphia.

Residents come together to create dazzling displays for locals and visitors to enjoy during the Christmas season. This annual holiday tradition has been going on for more than 20 years and you can enjoy it from Thanksgiving weekend through New Year’s Day.

There are around 50 houses that participate in Miracle on 13th Street and each home tries to outshine the next. You can admire white and colorful lights, blown-up holiday characters, window displays, fake snow and more. You can also jam out to holiday music as you navigate the neighborhood.

Experience the Comcast Holiday Spectacular:

Also located in the heart of the city is the iconic Comcast Center. From November 23, 2023, to January 1, 2024, one of the best things to do for the holidays in Philly is to experience the Comcast Holiday Spectacular.

This incredible digital holiday show is free and showcased on the planet’s largest LED video walls, which boast 27 million pixels. It features 15 minutes of musical and dance performances and a sleigh-riding journey across the world. You can enjoy the show daily at every hour from 10 am to 8 pm.  

The Comcast Holiday Spectacular has been celebrating this tradition for over 15 years.

See LumiNature at the Philadelphia Zoo:

Luminature at the Philadelphia Zoo.

Another one of the top holiday festivities in Philly is seeing LumiNature at the Philadelphia Zoo. Presented by PNC, this magical winter light show has more than a million twinkling lights that take guests on a journey through the wildlife and beauty of Earth.

LumiNature is happening between November 17, 2023 and January 6, 2024. Tickets start at $25 USD per adult and teen ages 12 and over and $20 USD per child ages 2-11. Children under two years old can enter for free and zoo members get a discount. Each timed entrance ticket is available every half hour starting at 5 pm.

Overall, there are 16 illuminated zones at LumiNature. The top things to see are the Shimmer River, the paper lanterns, the Penguin Prismatic show, Flamingo Fancy, the floating jellyfish, the lit-up jungle tunnel and more. Santa also visits on December 1, 8 & 15 in 2023.

Get into the Christmas Spirit at Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular:

Experiencing the magic at the Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular is one of the most fun things to do in Philadelphia during Christmas! It takes place at FDR Park, between the American Swedish Museum and the Boathouse, in South Philadelphia.

From November 17, 2023, through January 1, 2024, you and your family can experience an illuminated ice skating trail, a fun ice slide, Mistletoe Marketplace for great holiday shopping, and Union Forge Lodge to cozy up with warm drinks and delicious treats.

You can also say hi to Santa Claus and take photos with him at Tinseltown. On certain nights, you may also come across Gritty Claus, the mascot for the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team! It’s a fun event for all ages.

The pricing for Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular is $30 USD for adults 18 years and older and $24 USD for children and teens 4-17. The event is free for young children under four.

Fun Day Trips from Philadelphia during the Holiday Season:

Suppose you live in the Greater Philadelphia area or are visiting for an extended period. In that case, I recommend renting a car and doing day or half-day trips to experience the magic up and down Eastern Pennsylvania.

Below are the most festive destinations to visit from Philly during the Christmas season:

See the Magical Light Show and Décor at Longwood Gardens:
Longwood Gardens - best day trip from Philadelphia during Christmas.

One of the most magical holiday light shows in the United States takes place at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. It’s between a half-hour and 40-minute drive southwest of Philadelphia!

You can experience A Longwood Christmas from November 17, 2023, through January 7, 2024. It’s a romantic experience and makes for a great proposal location! Trees are dazzled with lights, there’s a vintage Christmas street scene, stunning Christmas trees are all around and there is a festive holiday party scene decked out in mid-century décor.

Prices start at $30 USD for adults 19 years and older, $27 USD for seniors 62 and over and college students, $23 USD for active military and veterans, $16 USD for kids and teens ages 5-18 and it’s free for children four and under.  

With a ticket purchase to Longwood Gardens during the holiday season, you can also catch fountain shows, stroll through a 200-foot tunnel decked in Christmas lights, listen to live Christmas music, visit the onsite café and beer garden where you can enjoy hot cocoa and holiday treats and warm up in front of one of the many fire pits.

Go Holiday Shopping at Peddler’s Village:
Peddler's Village in Bucks County, Pennsylvania during Christmas.

Located an hour north of Philadelphia is the beautiful Peddler’s Village in the charming Bucks County. This lit-up Christmas village is in Lahaska, but it’s an easy visit from New Hope and Doylestown, PA. It’s also a close drive from the cozy Woolverton Inn near the charming town of Lambertville if you want to extend your trip into rural New Jersey.

Peddler’s Village has existed for over 60 years, and features winding brick roads that lead to incredible restaurants, boutiques, events and more. It’s one of the best places to conquer Christmas shopping!

From November 17, 2023, through January 14, 2024, you can admire 1 million Christmas lights, gingerbread art and festive décor around Peddler’s Village. As you sip hot cocoa, treat yourself to a baked good and make memories with loved ones, you’ll also come across Santa in a holiday parade, Christmas carolers and charm all around.

If you want to take the festive cheer into the later evening, make reservations to the Whiskey Lounge at Logan Inn. It’s one of the pop-up Miracle bars with over-the-top holiday décor and Christmas-themed drinks.

Do a Day Trip to Bethlehem:
Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania during Christmas.

Known as Christmas City USA, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in Lehigh Valley is one of the best day trips from Philadelphia. Driving from Philadelphia Center City to Bethlehem takes around an hour and 15 minutes.

There are many things to do in Bethlehem at Christmas time, but one of the most iconic is strolling through the Christkindlmarkt, the Christmas City Village. It’s a German-inspired Christmas market where you can cozy up with glühwein and have smoked wursts, as well as shop for handcrafted trinkets from the wooden chalet stalls. You can enjoy the Christmas market from November 17 through December 17, 2023.

Other great things to do in Bethlehem during the Christmas season are to take a horse-drawn carriage ride in the downtown area, participate in a holiday pub crawl, go ice skating and do a historic Christmas City Stroll.

Another fun thing to do from Bethlehem, or Philly, is to head out to Jim Thorpe in the Poconos to experience the Olde Time Christmas Festival, which runs from December 2 through December 17, 2023 and ride the jolly Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway with Santa Claus from November 24 through Christmas Eve 2023. The Santa Claus Special prices start at $20 USD for adults and teens over 12 years old, $9 USD per child ages 3-12 and free for young children two and under.

Jim Thorpe, PA is an hour and a half drive northwest of the heart of Philadelphia.


Love Philadelphia? Check out these other amazing Christmas destinations around the USA:

Cape May, New Jersey

Denver, Colorado

Natchitoches, Louisiana

I hope you all enjoyed learning about the most fun things to do in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during Christmas. If you have any questions, please email me at info@browneyedflowerchild.com.

Basic Facts of the United States:

Currency: United States Dollar, Capital: Washington D.C., PA State Capital: Harrisburg, Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time

*Anything could happen during your travels. Always make sure you are insured in case there are unforeseen circumstances such as lost luggage/theft, natural disasters, personal liabilities and more. Click here to get insured for your next trip.

Shop my Philly Christmas Look:

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2 Comments

  1. Kim Deer on December 18, 2023 at 5:56 pm

    Wow, Philadelphia looks like such a fun festive place during the Christmas season. I really want to visit these markets since it is close to home and it has a lot of the same attractions and food staples that the European Christmas markets have. Great guide to some fabulous places to visit in the dynamic city of Philadelphia. Loved all your beautiful photos ~ it brought the markets to life! Merriest of Christmases ~ love you mom 👩🏻 xoxo 🥰

    • Taylor Deer on December 19, 2023 at 9:32 am

      We’ll have to go to Philly for the holidays next year! It really is a magical experience! Love you too!

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