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. Check out our roundup of holiday lights—they start in November, so you’ve got time to see them all!
Franklin Square Electrical Spectacle
November 16-February 26
Showtimes: Every half-hour from 5 p.m.-closing
200 N. Sixth St.
More than 100,000 lights illuminate Franklin Square’s updated fountain show, timed to a soundtrack of holiday classics. There are two alternating shows every 30 minutes beginning at 5 p.m. daily, so if you stay a while for the square’s holiday activities, you can catch them both. Take a spin on the carousel, warm up with adult and hot beverages and seasonal food, and play Chilly Philly Mini Golf, a holiday spin on their beloved golf course complete with lights, holiday music, and larger-than-life wintertime friends!
Deck the Hall Light Show at Dilworth Park
November 21-January 1, 5-9 p.m.
1 S. 15th St.
This light show returns to light up the west side of City Hall with large-scale projections created by Philadelphia-based art and design studio Klip Collective. Grab some hot cocoa or mulled cider in the Wintergarden, and watch the magic unfold.
Comcast Holiday Spectacular
November 24-January 1; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. (hourly, at the top of the hour)
Comcast Center, 1701 JFK Boulevard
The Comcast Holiday Spectacular returns! Every year, this 15-minute festive musical fills the Comcast Center lobby with holiday songs, expansive aerial footage of Philadelphia, parts of the Pennsylvania Ballet’s The Nutcracker, and more on one of the world’s largest highest-resolution LED displays. A sensory-friendly version of The Comcast Holiday Spectacular will again be offered for the 2022 season.
Macy’s Christmas Light Show
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.
More: Special Lights Displays and Events
Philadelphia Zoo’s LumiNature
November 17-January 7
3400 W. Girard Avenue
Back this year, the Philadelphia Zoo presents its magical nighttime holiday spectacle. Featuring 14 illuminated zones throughout the zoo, LumiNature will take guests on a journey of lights, sounds and surprises, offering lively displays and newly-enhanced installations. Seasonal fare, strolling performers, hot chocolate (and adult beverages) add to the festiveness. All guests should pre-purchase timed-tickets online.
1455 Franklin Mills Circle
November 25-December 31
This festive holiday drive-through at Philadelphia Mills Mall lets you stay in your car while you experience the sparkle of light tunnels, light-up displays, and more.
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. The displays generally go up after Thanksgiving and stick around til the New Year.
Smedley Street Christmas Light Spectacular
Smedley Street between 16th and 17th Streets and Moyamensing and Oregon Avenues
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 at Morris Arboretum
Opens November 25-December 30
Morris Arboretum, 100 E. Northwestern Avenue
Morris Arboretum’s beloved Garden Railway is celebrating 20 years of holiday cheer this year, lighting up a 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 weekends from 4:30-8 p.m. where you can really get the full effect of the lights.
Grand Illumination hosted by American Credit Union
November 26-December 31
American Heritage Carriage House, 2060 Red Lion Road
American Heritage Credit Union’s campus lights up with over 400,000 lights. Stroll the campus, enjoy the lights and decorations, and take family photos; or, you can remain in your car and drive around to enjoy the lights as well. It kicks off on Saturday, November 26 at 7 p.m. with a concert featuring the Ukrainian Children’s Choir Soloveiky and the New Jersey Fifes and Drums, Ben Franklin and Betsy Ross!
Visit Philadelphia Holiday Parade
December 3, 5 p.m.
Begins at 2nd and Market streets, ends at City Hall
This inclusive light parade will feature floats representing Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year, and Christmas, with performances by local multicultural groups.
Lead photograph courtesy of the Philadelphia Zoo.
Eleanor Linafelt contributed to this article.
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