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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.  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 18—February 27

Showtimes: Every half-hour from 5—9 pm (Sunday—Thursday), 5—10 pm (Friday—Saturday)

200 N. Sixth St.

 

More than 100,000 lights illuminate Franklin Square’s updated fountain show, 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 5 pm 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 at Franklin’s Winter View with outdoor fire pits and beautiful indoor heated tent featuring 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! Stay tuned for more details, including dates for Santa Saturdays, Hanukkah Dreidel Giveaway, and Kwanzaa Celebration.

Deck the Hall Light Show at Dilworth Park

November 22—January 1,  5—9 pm

1 S. 15th St.

 

This light show returns to light up the west side of City Hall with projected large-scale animation. As with last year, the show will play continuously throughout the evening on a 30-minute loop without musical accompaniment, allowing guests to enjoy the lights at their leisure without drawing crowds. 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 25–January 1; 10 am—8 pm (hourly, at the top of the hour)

Comcast Center, 1701 JFK Boulevard

 

The Comcast Holiday Spectacular returns, this time outdoors! 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. This year, it moves to on an outdoor video wall in the Comcast Center plaza. The show opens on Thanksgiving Day and runs at the top of every hour, through New Year’s Day.

 

Photograph by Laura Swartz.

Macy’s Christmas Light Show

December 1—31 (Closed Christmas Day)

Showtimes: December 1-24: 10:30 am; December 26-31: 11:30 am

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. Additionally, guests may also enjoy it on demand online at macys.com/Santaland. After the show, head upstairs to Dickens Village to walk through an animatronic telling of A Christmas Carol– this year online reservations are required to visit Dickens Village.

Holiday Light Show at Fashion District Philadelphia 

Through January 1

Showtimes: Five-minute show runs every half-hour from 4 pm to closing, daily

901 Market St.

 

Fashion District’s holiday light show features a 45-foot-tall floating tree and music by the Philly POPS. The display is located in the center of Fashion District through the Ninth Street entrance. The five-minute show will run every half hour starting at 4 pm.

More: Special Lights Displays and Events

Philadelphia Zoo’s LumiNature

November 18–January 9

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.

Dasher’s Lightshow

1455 Franklin Mills Circle

November 5–January 2

 

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. Scan your ticket, and be sure to turn your radio to 103.1 FM, which will play music that syncs up with the light patterns. Even the little light-up penguin and snowman faces “sing” along to the songs!

Use Promo Code PHILLYFAMMAG for a $10 discount for any November dates, and head over to our Instagram for a giveaway!

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 26; ticketed nights on weekends

Morris Arboretum, 100 E. Northwestern Avenue

 

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 weekends from 4:30—7:30 pm where you can really get the full effect of the lights.

 Grand Illumination hosted by American Credit Union

November 28—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 27 at 7 pm with a concert featuring the Philadelphia Boys Choir and the New Jersey Fifes and Drums, Ben Franklin and Betsy Ross, and fireworks!

Visit Philadelphia Holiday Parade

December 4, 5 pm

Begins at Second and Market streets, ends at City Hall

 

New for this year, this inclusive light parade will feature floats representing Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year, and Christmas, with performances by local marching bands, cold air balloons of your favorite holiday characters, and much more.

Parade of Lights at Independence Seaport Museum

December 4, 5 pm (festive activies before)

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 roughly 5:15 pm, and you can watch from the museum’s terrace. Make a day of it along the waterfront, with crafts, activities, fun, and exploration before the main event. Tickets available online.

 

 

 

Lead photograph courtesy of the Philadelphia Zoo.

Contributing Writer

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