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Thanksgiving Who? Center City Plans Winter Magic Early

Dilworth Park begins its holiday joy this week, and Christmas Village is on the way!

2020, am I right, everyone? What more is there to say, except this has been a year. We need some magic, some cheer, and some (masked) fun to close it out, and luckily Philly is going to come through. If you thought the city got creative planning fall festivals and Halloween, that was just a preview of what’s coming. Soon, we’ll be rolling out our Shop Local Guide and all the holiday content—don’t worry, the holidays are definitely not canceled—from lights to skating to more. But Center City just couldn’t wait.


Beginning October 30 (that’s right, before Halloween, and way before Thanksgiving), Dilworth Park will begin its transformation into a winter wonderland. On that day, Dilworth will open its annual Wintergarden. This open-air labyrinth of lights, topiaries, and rustic décor is perfect for photo ops and fun. And this year, a Chaddsford Winery station in the garden will offer warm mulled wine for purchase to guests 21 and older, complete with a souvenir mug. As with all city spaces and events, masks are mandatory for all guests over age 2.



The following week, beginning on November 6, the rest of Dilworth gets activated with the opening of Rothman Ice Rink and Cabin. In response to COVID-19 restrictions, a new online reservation system and limited rink capacity will be put in place for skating, and an open-air layout in the Cabin will support safe social distancing while eating and drinking. The new online reservations system will provide safe contactless purchasing opportunities with scheduled timed, 90-minute skating sessions in order to control the rink capacity for skaters. Guests will be able to make an online reservation for their desired skate session and can print their tickets at home or use a QR code on their mobile device when they arrive at the rink.



The Cabin will feature a new, open-air layout and warm heat lamps—and as always a seasonal menu including a kids’ menu for little ones and cocktails for their grownups.


Next, comes holiday shopping. On November 21, the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market arrives in Dilworth, along with Christmas Village’s preview weekend.


At the Made in Philadelphia Market, support local small businesses by browsing and buying handmade trinkets, treats, and crafts galore. This market was designed to complement Christmas Village—but only focuses on Philly-made gifts. Meanwhile, Christmas Village, the authentic open-air German-style Christmas Market at LOVE Park and City Hall features more than 60 vendors offering seasonal decorations and unique gifts for the holidays from around the world.



“After a very challenging year, we are excited to bring back a safe and socially distanced version of Christmas Village in Philadelphia without losing the charm of a traditional European Christmas market,” says Christmas Village President Thomas Bauer. “We are extremely thankful to the City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and the Philadelphia Health Department for their support and guidance to give Philadelphians something positive to look forward to during the holiday season and to bring back a piece of normalcy in 2020.”


This year’s outdoor shopping area will be set up with a one-way system around the outer limits of LOVE Park for a linear and spaced walking concept allowing proper social distancing. All vendors will be ten feet apart from each other at a minimum. Vendors around the outer permitter will also all face outward toward the street. Waiting areas for access to the food court and shopping will all be socially distanced. Masks will be required at all times, except when seated and eating in the food court area.


Guests are advised to keep “at least one Christmas tree length apart” from fellow shoppers and vendors, and to sanitize their hands frequently at one of the installed sanitizing stations throughout the park.


While Santa will not be visiting the village this year, you can still enjoy shopping, traditional European food (including raclette cheese, schnitzel, and bratwurst), warm drinks (hot cocoa and mulled wine), treats, a beer garden, the City Hall Holiday Tree, the Holiday Carousel (located in City Hall Courtyard), and more surprises. Also, since the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market and Christmas Village are open seven days a week, come on weekdays for fewer crowds!



Things will be a little different for sure, but after this year we will take all the joy, light, and mulled wine we can get! Made in Philadelphia runs from November 21—January 1, while Christmas Village runs from Thanksgiving—Christmas Eve (with a preview weekend on November 21). Rothman Rink and Wintergarden Maze will be open past the holidays, daily through February 28, 2021.



Photographs by Laura Swartz. Note: photos were taken pre-2020 (and pre-pandemic) and do not reflect the social-distancing guidelines that will be in place at all events this year.

Editor | Email tips to laura@familyfocus.org


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