Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is a great city to visit during the holiday season. Although the weather may be cold, the city heats things up with plenty of light shows, special events, and fun activities to enjoy related to the winter holiday season. Best of all, many of these Christmas-themed activities can be enjoyed for free! So if you’ve visiting the Philadelphia area between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, be sure to check out some of the following events, geared for both the young and the young at heart.
5. The Christmas Video Show at the Comcast Center
The Comcast Center at 1701 John F. Kennedy Boulevard is the city’s tallest building, full of architectural wonders and open to the public. But one of the most wondrous of all features is the “The Comcast Experience,” a 2,000 square-foot LED screen with a resolution 500% greater than that of an HD television. For the holidays, Comcast has put together a stunning 15-minute video show, played hourly between 10am – 8pm, Thanksgiving until January 2. Singers, dancers, and dizzying computer animation all combine to make for a thrilling holiday experience.
4. The Reading Terminal Holiday Railroad
Reading Terminal Market is a wonderful place to shop in Philadelphia for delicious food and gifts during the holiday season. From the Friday after Thanksgiving to January 3, visitors can marvel over their 500 square foot model railroad display with over a third of a mile of track. This winter-themed display features twelve running train lines chugging through miniature scenery including a Christmas Village, snow-covered countryside, and Center City Philadelphia. It’s a treat for children as well as model train enthusiasts of any age. Enter the market on the 1100 block of Market Street, or Filbert Street, to see the display, which is only closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
3. The Macy’s Christmas Light Show
The Christmas Light Show has been a Philadelphia tradition since 1956, taking place in the historic Wanamaker department store at 1300 Market Street. John Wanamaker hired a Yale University theater-lighting graduate to devise what was, for the time, a state-of-the-art light show for the holidays accompanied by music from the historic Wanamaker organ – the largest operational pipe organ in the world. There are now close to 100,000 led lights involved in the updated production, which is narrated by Julie Andrews and often concluded with live organ music. For 2010, the Christmas Light Show runs from the Friday after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, daily and hourly between 10am to 8pm. Daily organ concerts take place Monday – Saturday at noon, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 5:30pm, and Wednesday and Friday at 7pm.
2. Christmas Village
Christmas Village is one of the best places to shop in Philadelphia during the holidays. If one is looking for unique gifts in a festive atmosphere, this outdoor holiday market is definitely the place to go. Open from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve, the market features more than 80 wooden booths at Dilworth Plaza on the west side of City Hall. Everything from ornaments, beautiful arts and crafts, and European food and drink are sold here. Daily performances enliven the atmosphere while you shop and explore the market.
1. The Mummers Parade
Holiday festivities in Philadelphia end with a bang on New Year’s Day. The Mummers Parade traces its roots back to the mid-17th century, when European immigrants brought their Christmas and New Year traditions to the area. Today, thousands enjoy watching local Mummers clubs “strut” and perform along Broad Street in an explosion of color, costume, music and comedy. The clubs compete in four categories: Comics, Fancies, String Bands and Fancy Brigades and fans claim their view points in the middle of the night to enjoy this all-day parade. The Mummers Parade is a sight to be seen and uniquely a Philadelphia experience. There’s no better way to end the holiday season. If you can’t bear to spend all day out in the cold to watch it, you can catch the parade broadcast live on WPHL 17.
* Comcast Experience Video Wall – visitphilly.com
* “Christmas show debuts” – Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/26/2008.
* Reading Terminal Market – Events.
* Christmas Light Show – Friends of the Wannamaker Organ.
* Christmas Village in Philadelphia.
* Mummers Parade – Wikipedia.