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All is Bright: Holiday Lights in Philly

From daily lightshows to spectacular displays, here’s where to get some holiday sparkle around town.

It’s time for Philly to glow! The holidays bring lots of sparkle, with traditions both old and new. What would Christmas be without the light show at the Wanamaker Building? A lot less magical, that’s for sure! Check out our roundup of holiday lights—they start in November, so you’ve got time to see them all!

Looking for tree lightings? Look no further!

Franklin Square Electrical Spectacle

November 15—December 31

Showtimes: Every half-hour from 4:30—8 pm (Sunday—Thursday), 4:30—9 pm (Friday—Saturday)

200 N. Sixth St.

 

More than 75,000 lights illuminate Franklin Square, timed to a soundtrack of holiday classics, some of which are performed by The Philly POPS. There are two alternating shows every 30 minutes beginning at 4:30 pm daily, so if you stay a while for the Holiday Festival activities, you can catch them both. And you’ll definitely want to do that because they have fun events planned like Santa visits, holiday parties, winter beer garden with fire pits, gourmet hot chocolate station, and much more! Be sure to check our weekly events posts so you don’t miss a visit from Elsa or the Grinch!

Deck the Hall Light Show at Dilworth Park

November 19—January 1

Showtimes: Begins at 5:30 pm nightly, and repeats as follows:

November 20 – December 20: Sunday–Thursday: every 60 minutes, Friday and Saturday: every 30 minutes. December 21 – January 1: every 30 minutes

 

This light show premiered last year, and returns to light up the west side of City Hall with projected large-scale animation and music. It’s a perfect addition to the Rothman Rink and holiday markets on either side of the street. Grab some hot cocoa from the Cabin, and watch the magic unfold.

Comcast Holiday Spectacular

November 22—January 1

Showtimes: Every hour from 10 am—8 pm (excluding 5 pm on weekdays)

Comcast Center, 1701 JFK Boulevard

 

Now entering its tenth year, the Comcast Holiday Spectacular is a 15-minute festive musical on one of the world’s largest highest-resolution LED displays. Running at the top of the hour (except 5 pm on weekdays), the show includes holiday songs, expansive aerial footage of Philadelphia, parts of the Pennsylvania Ballet’s The Nutcracker, and more. At the end, marvel as it begins to snow in the lobby of the Comcast Center!

Photograph by Laura Swartz.

Macy’s Christmas Light Show

November 23—December 31 (Closed Christmas Day)

Showtimes: 10 am, noon, 2 pm, 4 pm, 6 pm and 8 pm

1300 Market St.

 

To quote Julie Andrews’s narration of this 100,000-light spectacle, it the Macy’s Christmas Light Show is a “grand tradition.” If you’re from Philly, you probably grew up watching it, and not a thing has changed. The bears, the dancing snowmen, the “magic Christmas tree,” the Wanamaker Organ finale—it’s all there, and it’s all aglow in colorful nostalgia. After the show, head upstairs to Dickens Village to walk through an animatronic telling of A Christmas Carol, then meet Santa!

More: Special Lights Displays

Miracle on South 13th Street

13th Street between Tasker and Morris

 

The stretch of 13th Street between Tasker and Morris in South Philly has been named home to the best Christmas lights in all of Pennsylvania. The neighbors on this block go all out, from dazzling lights to toddler-sized illuminated lawn decorations. It’s colorful and kitschy and pure Philly.

Smedley Street Christmas Light Spectacular

Smedley Street between 16th and 17th Streets and Moyamensing and Oregon Avenues

Begins November 24

 

Another extravagant South Philly display, the “Christmas Street,” as it is known, has giant light-up candy canes, inflatables, and lots of lights!

Holiday Garden Railway

Morris Arboretum, 100 E. Northwestern Avenue

Opens November 23; ticketed nights on select Fridays and Saturdays

 

Morris Arboretum’s beloved Garden Railway gets a holiday upgrade, lighting up this quarter-mile of track and miniature replicas of Philadelphia-area landmarks made from natural materials with thousands of twinkling lights. The garden holds special ticketed night events on select Fridays and Saturdays from 4:30—7:30 pm where you can really get the full effect of the lights.

Parade of Lights at Independence Seaport Museum

December 8, 1—6:30 pm (Santa arrive at 2 pm)

211 S. Columbus Blvd.

 

A parade of local working boats will be illuminated in holiday lights for all to see on the Delaware River at 5:30 pm, and you can watch from the museum’s terrace with warm beverages and food for sale at Holiday Hut. Santa’s Workshop on the Water will be merry and bright with tons of activities and handmade crafts (for an extra $5, make a gingerbread boat!). Santa and Jingle Jack will be spreading holiday cheer around the museum throughout the day—be on the lookout to snap a photo when Santa arrives at 2 pm. Tickets available online.

Main Line and Beyond

If you feel like making the drive, head over to Main Line Parent to see some noteworthy light display picks in the suburbs.

 

Lead photograph by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Assistant Editor | Email tips to laura@familyfocus.org

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