Winter Philly Fun!
Winter is an exciting time here in Philly. Whether you’re looking for a unique date idea, a one-of-a-kind holiday gift, or some family fun; this top ten list of winter activities has you covered.
The RiverRink Winterfest is home to Philadelphia’s largest outdoor ice skating rink and Winter Wonderland. Here visitors can skate right along the Delaware River, giving them a different vantage point of the Ben Franklin Bridge. When it’s time to warm up, head over to the fire pits or stop inside cozy warming cabins for a drink. While there are a variety of exciting events and activities happening here all winter long, we recommend checking out the free Fireside Sessions taking place every other Thursday in January and February. These concerts feature live acoustic music by some of Philly’s most popular local bands and take place by the cozy fire pits.
Philly’s Authentic German Christmas Village is back at the recently renovated and reopened LOVE Park until December 24th. Here visitors will find a holiday market, in its 10th year, bustling with over 80 vendors offering unique food and drink. Insider tip: the mulled wine comes with a souvenir mug! Before visiting, check out the event calendar for more specific details on concerts, competitions, wine tastings, and pictures with Santa. The Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show at Franklin Square
Over at Franklin Square, The Electrical Spectacle pays homage to Philly’s favorite son, Benjamin Franklin, and his famous kite and key experiment. The light show includes more than 50,000 lights dancing their way through the park while synced with holiday classics. You’ll also find Philly themed miniature golf, the famous Parx Liberty Carousel, the Lightning Bolt Holiday Express, a hot chocolate bar, delicious burgers, and even a Winter Beer Garden and fire pits.
The Dilworth Park Winter Garden, set against the backdrop of Philadelphia’s iconic City Hall, is open through February and is the perfect place for a family day out or a romantic date night. Here you will find an ice rink; a heated tent with cocktails, beer, and food; a choreographed light show taking place every half hour; free gardening workshops; and a holiday garden themed maze, perfect for photos.
The Mummers Parade is legendary in Philadelphia. Considered the oldest folk festival in the United States, the Mummers date back to the late 17th century. The parade, which begins bright and early on New Year’s Day, travels down Broad Street from City Hall to Washington Avenue and concludes in the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
For those not from the area, mummers are groups of entertainers dressed in extravagant and thematic costume. Some groups are musical and similar to marching bands, while others have a more folksy sound. Other groups are all about fancy dress and others are comical and reminiscent of court jesters.
If you’re visiting Philadelphia on New Year’s Day, the parade is not to be missed.
While you’re in Philly, do not miss your chance to see what Travel and Leisure calls “the best Christmas lights in Pennsylvania.” What began about 20 years ago with some neighbors deciding to hang decorations across the street (from home to home) has led to the entire 1600 block of South 13th becoming known as The Miracle on 13th Street and one of the top places to go to see Christmas lights. Make a night out of it by grabbing dinner at one of the restaurants on nearby East Passyunk Avenue and then walking over to 13th afterwards.
Get a little history with your holiday celebrations by visiting the Macy’s Wanamaker Building. Wanamaker’s was the first department store in America and within this historic building sits a National Historic Landmark, the world’s largest playable organ. The organ is played at least twice per day throughout the year but everyday in December it is incorporated into a light show featuring over 100,000 LED lights creating holiday images across the four story high Grand Court atrium. Beware that while this is really something cool to see, Macy’s can become insanely crowded. We recommend arriving early to find a comfortable spot to stand (try going upstairs so you don’t have to crane your neck) and not trying to take the stairs as soon as the show ends.
New this year to Philadelphia is “Illuminating Liberty,” a window display at the brand new Museum of American Revolution.
Inspired by the work of Philadelphia artist and Revolutionary War soldier Charles Willson Peale, the museum is displaying window paintings each night that “mark the holiday season and express gratitude to the generations of Americans who have struggled to secure and defend our Liberty.”
Check out the oldest residential street in British North America while it is all decked out for the holidays then stop in to the Museum House for the Making Christmas pop-up. This temporary exhibit highlights the role of German immigrant influences on the neighborhood and explores how Santa Claus, cookies, toys, and Christmas trees all became part of the American Christmas celebration.
The Museum House is open on Thursday nights from 5-8pm and on Saturdays and Sundays from 12-4pm. Admission is $5.
On the corner of 17th and JFK Boulevard, stands the tallest building in Philly, the Comcast Center. If you enter the lobby, just a little before the top of each hour, you will likely find a crowd of people gathering and staring at what seem like ordinary walls but as the Holiday Spectacular begins you will discover these walls are actually 2,100 square feet of the world’s largest and highest resolution LED displays. The 15 minute interactive video takes you on a journey through the sights and sounds of the holiday season; including a magical sleigh ride, a holiday sing-along, and a trip to the Pennsylvania Ballet’s Nutcracker.