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18 Things to do in Philadelphia During the Holiday Season

Christmas Mini Sessions

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – and Philadelphia is ready to celebrate!

If you live here, you know how many great attractions there are this time of year. There’s truly something for everyone. But if you’re visiting or coming home for the holidays, here’s a handy list of celebrations that’s sure to put you in the holiday spirit!

In winter 2022, there are plenty of iconic seasonal events planned, like the Macy’s Christmas Light Show and the Visit Philadelphia Holiday Parade in Center City. Don’t forget the Philadelphia Ballet’s The Nutcracker for a truly classic and memorable experience. Or try a newer tradition like the Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center.

If you love outdoor activities, you won’t want to miss the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest and Winter in Dilworth Park.

Visiting a light show during the holiday season is a favorite activity for many families, especially those with young children. Wild Lights at Norristown’s Elmwood Park Zoo is a great option. During the holiday season, the 16-acre Montco attraction comes alive with Wild Lights, when millions of LED lights illuminate the area. The walk-through experience features brilliant light displays and live entertainment during the evening hours. Tickets are required.

Shady Brook Farm’s three-million-light Holiday Light Show kicks off with a two-mile family-friendly run called “Dashin’ Thru the Lights.” After dark, visitors can drive or, if the weather permits, ride in wagons past the main attraction, the illuminated tunnels, and nearly every Christmas icon imaginable rendered in tiny bulbs. This attraction requires timed tickets. Admission includes the walk-through Candy Cane Lane light show. 

You can shop the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market, where you can see handmade trinkets, treats, and crafts created by over 40 local vendors.

If you like ice skating, check out the Rothman Orthopaedics Ice Rink, which offers timed, 90-minute sessions (reservations are encouraged).

Winter in Franklin Square has free light shows, inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s famous kite and key experiment, every 30 minutes from 5 p.m. until close. The lights are set to a soundtrack of holiday music. Before or after the show, you can go for a round of Chilly Philly Mini Golf or jump on the classic Parx Liberty Carousel for even more fun.

LumiNature at the Philadelphia Zoo is a unique experience you don’t want to miss. More than a million holiday lights transform the zoo into a multimedia spectacle. In 2022 there are new additions, including an under-the-sea inspired tree, and a 15-foot tall glowing blue gorilla. While you watch the lights and live performers, you can enjoy hot chocolate and adult beverages. Timed tickets are required for this event.

Longwood Gardens is turned into a beautiful winter wonderland for the holiday event A Longwood Christmas. This year’s theme is “The Art of Christmas,” and it’s reflected in the dozens of stunning Christmas trees and spectacular light shows that line the streets. Intriguing floral arrangements in the air, holiday trees covered in dozens of strands of lights and garland, charming tree houses, and stunning illuminations of the night sky are just some of the highlights. Tickets are required for this event.

The Reading Terminal Market’s annual holiday train display can be found tucked away in a quiet corner among all the hustle and bustle. The market’s location as the Reading Railroad’s former destination makes it an ideal spot for a train exhibit. 14 different model trains run through a festively decorated village in this 500 square foot display in the Piano Court. Kids and train enthusiasts should particularly enjoy this exhibit. And since you’re already in Reading Terminal Market, you might as well take advantage of the location by doing some last-minute Christmas shopping or grabbing a delicious meal.

Two spectacular events will cap off the holiday season in the city. Celebrations in Philadelphia for New Year’s Eve include two spectacular fireworks displays, fun events for the whole family, and lots more. The Mummers Parade, held on New Year’s Day, is an incredible spectacle of art, pageantry, and mayhem. Philly’s Mummers take to the streets with skits, music, and general good times as they parade through the city.

Believe it or not, there are even MORE things to do in the Philadelphia area around the holiday season. This list should get you started! And while you are at it, don’t forget to reach out to your local Philadelphia photographer to schedule a portrait session! I’d love to chat with you about documenting your maternity, newborn, baby, and family memories this holiday season!

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