Where to Find (Socially Distanced) Holiday Lights in Philly
From daily lightshows to spectacular displays, here’s where to get some holiday sparkle around town.
Even with all of this year’s challenges, it’s once again time for Philly to glow! Even with Covid, the holidays bring lots of sparkle, with traditions old, new, and reimagined. Some crowded events like tree lightings have moved to virtual this year (though the trees will remain lit up for you to see in person at your own pace), but new and creative ways of getting merry and bright have popped up this year, as well!
So bundle up, mask up, and check out our roundup of holiday lights—they start in November, so you’ve got time to see them all!
November 19—December 31
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. And you’ll definitely want to because this year in addition to the carousel, Franklin Square is debuting Chilly Philly Mini Golf, a holiday spin on their beloved golf course complete with lights, holiday music, and larger-than-life wintertime friends!
November 23—January 1, 5—9 pm
1 S. 15th St.
From skating to Christmas Village, winter traditions continue safely at Dilworth Park with the addition of Deck the Hall Holiday Lights. The newly redesigned illumination will feature festive projections on the west façade of City Hall. Unlike previous years which featured timed shows set to music, the show will play continuously throughout the evening on a 30-minute loop and without musical accompaniment, allowing guests to enjoy the lights at their leisure without drawing crowds.
November 27—January 3
Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St.
Brand new for this year, the parking lot of Wells Fargo Center is transformed into a socially-distanced, dazzling outdoor holiday light wonderland. “We are absolutely thrilled to bring all things ‘merry and bright’ to South Philadelphia this year,” said Wells Fargo Center’s Chief Business Officer, Mike Shane. “We pulled out all the stops to make this experience immersive and magical for adults and children alike – from meandering through each of the half-million twinkling lights to enjoying a warm mug of spiked hot cocoa, the spirit of the season will come to life for everyone.” Walk through 193 larger-than-life light sculptures and displays powered by more than a half-million light bulbs, plus visit the marketplace, grab some treats, and maybe even snap a holiday photo with Gritty! Due to Covid restrictions, tickets are extremely limited and sold in timeslots so be sure to plan ahead for this one.
November 30—December 31
American Heritage Carriage House, 2060 Red Lion Road
This event usually features a tree lighting, performers, and even fireworks; but this year it’s pivoting to a free drive-thru experience featuring more than 400,000 lights from the comfort and safety of your car, at no cost to you! Families are invited to drive through, enjoy, and take family photos in a socially-distanced manner after dusk.
Begins Thanksgiving Day
Comcast Center, 1701 JFK Boulevard
This year, Holiday Spectacular guests will enjoy the show from the outdoor Comcast Center plaza. Visitors will be requested to social distance while on the plaza to facilitate a safe experience. Stay tuned for more details!
Begins November 28; Events on Saturdays from November 28—December 19, 1—5 pm
1118 Market St.
Filled with festive décor and lights, featuring their annual 20-foot holiday tree, East Market will host live entertainment, outdoor programming, and a light-up window mural display by Mural Arts throughout the season. Visit East Market’s outdoor walk every Saturday afternoon (1—5 pm) from November 28—December 19 to enjoy a rotating lineup of live entertainment alongside a hot cocktail truck.
November 14—January 4
Showtimes: Five-minute show runs top of every hour from 4 pm to closing, daily
901 Market St.
Philly’s shopping district brings a new indoor holiday light show featuring a 45-foot-tall “floating tree” and music by the Philly POPS. The five-minute show will run at the top of every hour starting at 4 pm.
November 28–January 1
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.
November 28—December 31; ticketed nights on select Saturdays and Sundays
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 select Saturdays and Sundays from 4:30—7:30 pm where you can really get the full effect of the lights. Due to Covid restrictions, timed tickets are also required to visit the Arboretum during regular hours, so while you can view the Railway anytime they’re open, you’ll need to plan ahead for that too.
December 5, 4—6 pm
29 E. Allen St.
This one-day-only festive drive-thru in front of the Fillmore includes holiday lights, falling snow, music, and maybe even socially-distanced Santa! Kids can also get candy and hot chocolate, and can drop off their letters to Santa. Toys for Tots donations (new, unwrapped toys) can also be dropped off at this event.
November 21, 6 pm
Join Santa virtually for a special reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas, a performance by NFA’s Note-ables, and a countdown to the Woodmere Museum tree lighting. Pre-register online for access to the virtual event.
November 23—December 24
To quote Julie Andrews’s narration of this 100,000-light spectacle, the Macy’s Christmas Light Show is a “grand tradition.” In order to prevent large crowds, the Light Show will not continue in person this year, but the light display will stay powered on through the season and the narrated story experience will be available online. If seeing the light show and then going upstairs to see Dickens Village and Santa is a part of your holiday tradition, Macy’s is also moving Dickens Village online, and is planning a new virtual experience for kids to meet Santa starting November 27.
November 23, 6:30 pm
Celebrate the annual tree lighting virtually, followed by live performances and maybe even a visit from Santa! And beginning November 28, Manayunk businesses are decking the street with their holiday decorating contest, so be sure to visit in person and vote for your favorite– winners will be announced on December 17.
December 2, 7:30 pm
While you can visit the tree as part of your Dilworth Park and Christmas Village magic (the tree has already arrived at City Hall!), the city is also planning a virtual tree lighting ceremony to kick off the season. Featuring an exciting lineup of special guests and holiday-inspired musical performances, you can watch the celebration exclusively on 6abc.
December 3, 6:15 pm (Holiday Tree); and December 10, 4:30 pm (Menorah)
Old City’s festivities move online this year with the fourth annual Historic Holidays Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 3 and the Menorah Lighting on December 10. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, both events will be closed to the public and will be streamed live via Old City District’s Facebook page from the Betsy Ross House
December 12, 5:30 pm
While it won’t exactly be what you are used to, this virtual presentation will be sure to put you and your family in the holiday spirit. Join on any of Seaport Museum’s social media platforms for fun holiday activities that can be done at home, cocktail (and mocktail!) recipes for everyone in your household, and, of course, a pre-recorded parade of boats decked out in their holiday finest parading along the Delaware River.
Looking for more? Hop in your car for these spots in the Main Line and beyond!
Lead photograph courtesy of Historic Philadelphia.