With the holiday season now firmly in full swing, I thought I’d put together a new post that summarizes why December is my favorite non-summer time of year in Philadelphia. For the holidays, the City of Brotherly Love pulls out all the stops and is a really great destination for everyone in the northeast corridor. From Rittenhouse to LOVE Park and beyond, there are lots of great, exciting things in my city this time of year.
1. The Christmas Village
The Christmas Village, now located in LOVE Park, originated a few years ago on Dilworth Plaza, just outside City Hall. Its location has moved due to construction, but its size has only grown since its inception. The village is modeled after the Christkindlmarkt that spring up throughout Germany during the month of December, and it features German-themed foods, handcrafted ornaments, and goods from around the world.
The most unique gifts in the city surely originate here, as do many pictures with the giant macaroni noodle, the LOVE statue, the giant Philadelphia Christmas tree, and even Santa Claus.
2. The Macy’s Holiday Light Show
It made its debut midway through the 20th century and remains the most iconic Philadelphia holiday celebration today. The Macy’s light show features the narration of Julie Andrews and the musical stylings of the world’s largest pipe organ in Philly’s center city Macy’s store. It’s one of the classiest retail experiences in the world, and the unique characters and shapes illuminated during the show are a fun, retro, and cheesy way to celebrate the season.
3. The Comcast Holiday Spectacular
First shown in 2009, the Comcast Holiday Spectacular takes place on the world’s largest LED-illuminated high definition television screen in the Comcast Center’s lobby. The show features the Pennsylvania Ballet performing the nutcracker, as well as a computer-generated flight through the countryside and through the Philadelphia streets amid the skyline. It’s full of music, quirky humor, and high-def goodness, and it’s a stunning tribute to the Macy’s display.
4. The Holidays at Franklin Square
When I first moved to Philadelphia, Franklin Square was a run-down dump full of homeless people. It has since been remodeled into the premier tourist destination for visitors from around the world in all seasons. During Christmas, the park takes on a more local flair and features holiday-themed mini golf, free hot chocolate, visits from Santa, and rides on the grand carousel located in the park. Visitors can even make their own ornaments! It’s a great way to regress back to being 12 and celebrate Christmas with friends and family.
5. The Little Things
Of course, some of the attractions are much less significant. South Broad Street is illuminated in a colorful LED light show that gives the 200-year-old facades along the street a dash of holiday cheer. The Philadelphia Museum of Art puts its own Christmas tree up, with a dazzling view of the skyline in the distance. 30th Street Station unveils its huge Christmas tree and garland. Corner coffee shops start selling peppermint mochas. People bundle up in peacoats and scarves. The shopping bags of Walnut street are red, white, green, and holiday-themed. Rittenhouse has a tree-lighting with free cookies, beverages, and carols. A giant parade welcomes Santa to town.
If you’re going to celebrate the holidays, make sure Philadelphia is near the top of your list of destinations. It’s always at the top of mine, even with New York just a short distance away. Philadelphia, please!