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8 Philly traditions that will get you in the holiday mood

8 Philly traditions that will get you in the holiday mood

Have you come down with a case of the bah humbugs or are you just seeking some seasonal cheer? Look no further than our hometown to fill your calendar with events sure to bring you wonder and joy.

1. Have a Dilly of a Time at Dilworth Park

Located in the heart of Center City (1400 John F. Kennedy Boulevard) Dilworth Park is bursting with holiday pop-up shops as part of the “Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market.” Support local businesses while crossing a few items off your gift-giving list. There is something magical about outdoor skating in the middle of a metropolis. The outdoor Rothman Orthopaedics Ice Rink & Cabin opens again this year on November 9 and will tempt passers by with twinkling lights and a cozy indoor space to take the chill off with snacks, hot drinks and beer. Admission to the rink is $3 for kids 10 and under, $5 for adults and skate rental is $10. If you or your kin could use a lesson before hitting the ice, there is a learn-to-skate program for tots through adults. Nearby, the Wintergarden is decked with festive plants, holiday topiaries and lights. After sundown, City Hall comes to life as the backdrop for the Deck the Hall Light Show, the immersive lights and sounds event produced by the local creative studio KLIP Collective creation. Shows run nightly as of November 19.

2. It’s Electric!

Inspired by the brilliant mind of founding father Benjamin Franklin, the Franklin Square Holiday Festival & Electrical Spectacle Holiday Show (Franklin Square, 200 N. 6th Street) runs from November 15 to December 31. The historic square comes alive in a twinkling display of more than 50,000 lights—including a giant illuminated kite—with free shows every night from 4:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Other highlights include: Saturdays with Santa, holiday train rides, snacks, hot beverages and local beer.

3. Fields of Lights

Be dazzled by the more than three million lights that make Shady Brook Farm’s annual Holiday Light Show (Shady Brook Farm, 931 Stony Hill Road, Yardley) a visual spectacle. Running on select dates from November 17, 2018 to January 6, 2019, this must-see holiday attraction lets visitors drive or, if weather allows, ride in tractor-pulled wagons through magical illuminated tunnels and past wondrous nighttime displays. The once you’re done oohing and aahing over the light show, enjoy a visit with Santa, some delicious cocoa and s’mores by the bonfire and holiday shopping.

4. “Is the House on Fire, Clark?”

No, Aunt Bethany, it’s the Miracle on South 13th Street! Residents on this block really know how to put on a great light fight. The neighbors on this South Philly stretch of row houses vie to outdo each other with their grandest festive finery—decorations, lights, signs and other holiday displays. The block welcomes visitors from all parts of the city—and nation—between November 28, 2018 and January 2, 2019. 

5. Hometown Homage

When it comes to offering holiday thrills, the sky’s the limit with A Very Philadelphia Holiday. Running from November 20, 2018 to January 1, 2019, the event transforms the 360-degree One Liberty Observation Deck into a festive celebration of some of the city’s unique traditions—the annual performance of The Nutcracker by the Pennsylvania Ballet, the Miracle on 13th Street and the New Year’s Mummers Parade. Be sure to check out special events like “Pay What You Wish Day” (November 28), a Candy Cane Hunt (December 2), an Ugly Sweater Party at Bar 57 (December 9) and a Meet and Greet with the Grinch (December 16).

6. Come All Ye Techies

More than 2 million visitors have come from far and wide to the Comcast Holiday Spectacular, an annual super high-res LED holiday show in the lobby of the Comcast Center (The Market and Shops at Comcast Center, 1701 John F. Kennedy Boulevard). Running this year from November 22, 2018 to January 1, 2019, the popular 15-minute spectacular features classic seasonal tunes like Carol of the BellsJingle Bell Rock and The Twelve Days of Christmas as well as birds-eye view from the Comcast Center’s much hyped new neighbor, the Comcast Technology Center, Philly’s tallest skyscraper and the 9th tallest building in the United States.

7. A Winterland of Wonder

Thousands of topiaries, wreaths, mirrors and floating cranberries, apples and gilded walnuts lend a touch of enchantment to A Longwood Gardens’ Christmas at the locale’s four-acre, Versailles-inspired conservatory (Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square), which plays host to free and ticketed holiday performances from November 22, 2018 to January 6, 2019. Step outside and be awed by 500,000 lights glittering in the snow-topped trees and fountains dancing to seasonal music. A special treat for the young and the young at heart: The Terrace hosts by-reservation only breakfasts with Santa on Fridays through Sundays.

8. Visit Auld Lang Syne

Five decked-out 18th- and 19th-century park mansions—Historic Strawberry Mansion, Cedar Grove, Laurel Hill, Lemon Hill and Woodford—fling open their doors for holiday treats and performances during A Very Philly Christmas, a cooperative program of Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation. Held at various locations (including Laurel Hill Mansion, 7201 Randolph Drive) the month-long open house holds themed events.