Philadelphia Magical Holiday Traditions You Will Want To Make Your Own

Dated: December 10 2017

Views: 781

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From classic light shows to timeless theatrical productions, holiday traditions abound in Philadelphia year after year.

Look no further than the Macy’s Christmas Light Show, which has dazzled generations of visitors and residents since 1956. Or the Pennsylvania Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, now celebrating its 49th year.

Throw in sparkling holiday lights, ice skating and a few newer attractions and experiences that could become traditions in the not-so-distant future, and you have the makings of a wonderful holiday season to be celebrated with friends and family.

Whether they’ve been around for 50 years or just a few, these are the biggest holiday traditions in Philadelphia.

See The Nutcracker at The Academy of Music.  (December 8-31, 2017 select dates) 

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240 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

The Pennsylvania Ballet returns to the grand Academy of Music for an elegant (yet kid-friendly) Philadelphia dance tradition. Tchaikovsky’s iconic score pairs with lavish sets, lavish costumes and enchanting performances—by the dancers, members of the Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra and Philadelphia Boys Choir. This year’s sensory-friendly performance takes place December 27.


Sing along with the classic Macy's Christmas Light Show. (November 24 - December 31, 2017)

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1300 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

The Grand Court in the National Historic Landmark Wanamaker Building has hosted a Christmas Light Show since 1956. The department store revives the tradition of sugarplum fairies, dancing snowmen and more with a 100,000-light show narrated by Julie Andrews and accompanied by the famed Wanamaker Organ. Free performances take place every two hours during store hours. Between shows, visitors often tour the second floor’s vintage Dickens Village, setup of animated dolls retelling A Christmas Carol; each free walkthrough ends in a chance to meet and get photos with the real Santa.


See The Comcast Holiday Spectacular on the largest four-millimeter LED screen on Earth.(November 23, 2017 – January 1, 2018)

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1701 John F Kennedy Blvd., Philadlephia, PA 19103

A massive, street-level, high-resolution LED display shows The Comcast Holiday Spectacular, 15-minute features of dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet and a magical sleigh soaring through Philadelphia’s skyscape.  


Spend a magical night at the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest. (November 24, 2017 - March 4, 2018)

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101 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19106

The popular Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest returns for year five with fire pits; a Kids Lodge arcade; a cozy, chalet-style Lodge Restaurant and Bar; 12 nights of Christmas movies; sweets from Franklin Fountain Confectionery Cabin; and hearty fare from Garces Group and Chickie’s & Pete’s — all centered around a regulation skating rink with a spectacular view of the Ben Franklin Bridge.


Shop at Christmas Village and the Made In Philadelphia Holiday Market at Dilworth Park.

Christmas Village: November 23 – December 24, 2017

Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market: November 18, 2017 - January 1, 2018

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N. 15th Street and Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

The German-style Christmas Village returns to a restored JFK Plaza, also known as LOVE Park. For the 10th year, 80 wooden booths of local and international merchants display and sell Käthe Wohlfahrt trimmings, wintry apparel, handmade toys and all manner of edible and drinkable treats, while entertainment keeps things festive. The LOVE statue makes its triumphant return in February 2018.


Take in the annual holiday show at the Walnut Street Theatre, America's oldest theater. (November 25 - December 23, 2017)

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825 Walnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19107

The historic Walnut Street Theatre invites children to a just-for-them rendition of Charles Dickens’ famed tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future during this one-hour performance.


Admire the holiday lights in neighborhoods across the city.(Ongoing)

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1600 South 13th St., Philadelphia, PA 19148

The holiday season shines bright in Philadelphia as neighborhoods are transformed by spectacular decorations. From the holiday lights at Boathouse Row (one of Philadelphia’s most memorable nighttime vistas) to the must-see elaborate house lights set up on the 1600 block of South 13th Street in South Philadelphia, you could easily spend an entire evening (or more) admiring the holiday light displays throughout the region. Click the button below for our full guide to holiday lights in the Philadelphia region.


Oooh and ahh over the brilliant display at A Longwood Christmas. (November 23, 2017 – January 7, 2018)

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1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348

Thousands of topiaries, wreaths, mirrors and floating cranberries, apples and gilded walnuts transform Longwood Gardens’ heated, four-acre, Versailles-inspired Conservatory, site of free and ticketed holiday performances, during A Longwood Christmas. Outside, 500,000 lights glitter in the trees, and gloriously renovated fountains dance to seasonal music. Fridays through Sundays, Terrace hosts by-reservation breakfasts with Santa.



Light up your winter nights with the Franklin Square Holiday Festival featuring the Electrical Spectacle Light Show.

(November 9 - December 31, 2017 - except Thanksgiving and Christmas)

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6th and Race Streets, Philadelphia, PA 19103

The Franklin Square Holiday Festival featuring the Electrical Spectacle Light Show makes this park twinkle, with free shows every 30 minutes between 4 and 8 p.m. on weeknights and 4 and 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Among the 50,000 lights set to music are a giant, illuminated kite and key. Festivities include #FranklinSquareFridays; Saturdays with Santa; Seasonal Sounds on Sundays; rides on the holiday train and carousel; treats such as make-you-own s'mores, hot doughnuts, local beer and hot beverages — served in a warming tent or around fire pits in a beer garden; and mini-golf.


Take in the numerous holiday pop ups at City Hall and Dilworth Park. (Dates vary by attraction)

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1 S. 15th St., Philadelphia, PA 19102

The heart of Center City is packed with holiday pop ups new and old, including the nightly KLIP Collective creation, Deck the Hall Light Show at Dilworth Park. The outdoor Rothman Institute Ice Rink & Rothman Institute Cabin offer ice skating, skate rentals, twinkling lights and indoor space to warm up and fill up on snacks, cocktails, beer and hot drinks, while America’s Garden Capital Maze is a living labyrinth of seasonal plants and lights. Philly’s official tree overlooks North Broad Street, as does Craft Hall, an indoor beer garden, bakery and barbecue featuring Lost Breads and smoked meats. Within the open-air courtyard, the carousel returns, along with the Hernhut stars-topped stalls of the Made In Philadelphia Holiday Market of independent local vendors.


Have "A Very Philly Christmas” at the Historic Houses of Fairmount Park(November 30 - December 15, 2017 /select dates)

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1 Cedar Grove Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19131

Five decked-out 18th- and 19th-century park mansions — Historic Strawberry Mansion, Cedar Grove, Laurel Hill, Lemon Hill and Woodford — open their doors for holiday treats and performances during A Very Philly Christmas, a cooperative program of Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation. Throughout the month-long open house, themed events include “Sounds of the Season,” including a premiere by Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra at Woodford Mansion (December 2), Family Day (December 3), Neighbor’s Day (December 9) and Flavors of the Season (December 10).


Ring in the New Year with the SugarHouse New Year's Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront. (December 31, 2017)

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101 S. Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19106

SugarHouse Casino New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront features two major pyrotechnics displays over the Delaware River — one at 6 p.m. and another at midnight. The Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest gets in on the action too with entertainment, favors, outdoor seating and great views of the fireworks.


Celebrate New Year's Day with the only-in-Philadelphia Mummers Parade. (January 1, 2018)

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S. Broad St. and S. Penn Square, Philadelphia, PA 19103

(Starts at City Hall and marches south on Broad Street to Washington Ave.)

This only-in-Philadelphia New Year’s Day tradition dates back to 1901 and today includes thousands of men, women and children wearing feathers and sequins while dancing to music and parading along Broad Street from Philadelphia City Hall, site of competition among the Comic, Comic Wench and String Band divisions, to Washington Avenue. The indoor Fancy Brigade Finale competition at the Pennsylvania Convention Center consists of Broadway-inspired music-and-dance routines for prizes and bragging rights. Tickets for bleacher seating at City Hall and for the Fancy Brigades are available at the Independence Visitor Center.


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Dawn Secreto

Dawn Secreto is a PA Realtor® with 8 years of Real Estate Marketing experience, having worked for top developers as a Regional Marketing Director for Crescent Heights as well as Dranoff Properties, S....

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