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Where to Get Merry and Shop Local Neighborhoods This Season

Support Philly businesses and get all the special gifts on your list!

This year it’s more important than ever to invest in our communities by supporting local businesses. This holiday season, beginning with Small Business Saturday on November 28, neighborhoods throughout the city are getting festive and highlighting their unique businesses with pop-up events, markets, and more events that balance social distancing with shopping. Here’s where to go for all the special gifts on your list.

Northern Liberties

Northern Liberties Business Improvement District kicks off the holiday season with the debut of Northern Liberties Holiday Pop-up, starting on Black Friday for two weekends: November 27—29 and December 3—6, from 1—6 pm. This brand-new socially-distanced holiday shopping event will feature more than 15 small local businesses and makers from around Philly—those that don’t currently have a brick-and-mortar retail space and could use a home during the holidays and the pandemic. They’ll be popping up with gifts, decor, fashions, treats, and more in eight retail locations along N. 2nd Street, and the District’s existing favorite retail shops will also be ready with gifts for all ages. For participating Holiday Pop-up Shop locations, look for the festive framed signs and posters. Social distancing and masks are required.


Courtesy of Aversa PR


For extra pop-up magic, A Dash of Magic Events will pop-up both Saturdays for “Enchanted in Northern Liberties: Snow Queen Brunch” at the Igloos at Germantown Garden Grill with music, song, food, drink, and holiday magic for kids of all ages. Advanced reservations are required for this special seating with a (socially distant) visit from Queen Elsa.


Shop small and shop local at over 50 small businesses to find something for everyone on your list as the neighborhood kicks off the holiday season with Small Business Saturday on November 28. Plus, 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.

Old City

Historic Holidays in Old City kick-off on Small Business Saturday (November 28) with the debut of a brand-new holiday tradition, a festive window decorating contest at over 15 small businesses located around the historic streets of Old City—be sure to vote for your favorite design through December 13. Plus, look for Small Business Saturday deals at retailers and boutiques throughout the neighborhood, and virtual deals from Old City businesses on Cyber Monday. Businesses are offering in-store and online shopping, as well as curbside pick and delivery.


Photograph by Kory Aversa.


If you’re looking for some tasty ways to bring the holidays home (or send them to a loved one), some Old City Businesses are offering DIY kits, from Campo’s cheesesteaks to a build-your-own-cake kit from Oui Pastries!


Old City’s holiday lighting 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.

Chestnut Hill

The season kicks off with Small Business Saturday, where shoppers can enjoy strolling Santa from 11 am-2 pm, carriage rides, a performance by a Mummers trio, special deals in local Chestnut Hill shops, and more festiveness.


Expanded to all-day as opposed to the usual evening-only hours (to decrease crowding), Chestnut Hill’s beloved annual Stag & Doe Nights will take place every Wednesday in December and feature extended store hours, holiday specials, live music, and horse-drawn carriage rides. You may even catch a glimpse of Santa strutting down the Avenue!


Photograph by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia


New for kids this year, the Chestnut Hill Holiday Hunt will take place the weekend of December 5—6. Find the small, hidden snowmen in participating stores, who will provide stickers to complete your map. Kids will need to collect a total of nine stickers, and can then head up to Busy Bee Toys to receive their special holiday treat.


Finally, you’re trying to plan more of your gift-giving from home, Tune into the Chestnut Hill Facebook page every Tuesday in December leading up to Christmas to see featured items, seasonal specials, and great holiday gift ideas from some of Chestnut Hill’s most popular shops. Many stores in Chestnut Hill are also offering the opportunity to schedule a private shopping time when you can view inventory, make purchases, and enjoy the individualized attention of sales associates in a safe environment.

East Passyunk Avenue

Kick off the season on Small Business Saturday (November 28) with specials at boutiques up and down the Avenue. Plus, grab a Punch Card and from November 25—January 3, receive a punch for each $10 spent at participating businesses. Once you get 10 punches, submit the completed card to one of the Avenue’s independently-owned businesses to be entered to win a weekly gift card.


You can also win gift cards with the new holiday scavenger hunt along East Passyunk Avenue. This socially distanced digital scavenger hunt can be filled out on mobile devices; just look for specific holiday decorations in business windows and doors and enter to win $100 worth of gift certificates.


Aside from the shopping experiences, East Passyunk will be a festive location all season long. Don’t miss stopping by the annual holiday display inside Urban Jungle, who also will again have live Christmas trees for sale. Kids can also drop off letters to Santa at the North Pole Mailbox located at the Singing Fountain starting on November 25.


Holiday lightings on East Passyunk Avenue move online this year, with the tree lighting on December 3 and the menorah lighting on December 10. Both events will be closed to the public, but will be streamed on Facebook Live and Instagram Live. Both displays will remain up for the season for photo ops as you visit.

Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market and Christmas Village


Photograph by Laura Swartz


Now through New Year’s Day, Dilworth Park is home to dozens of local vendors—from art to socks to Gritty masks! The Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market is a complementary market to the larger, more eclectic Christmas Village in LOVE Park and City Hall’s courtyard (that will only last through Christmas Eve, though). To ensure social distancing, both markets are reduced in size this year, and Christmas Village follows a one-way walking path. Masks are required at all times while visiting the markets.


Along with great gifts sure to check off everyone on your shopping list, this is truly the epicenter of Philly’s holiday season, so stick around for the festivities. Take a spin on the Christmas Village Carousel, make a reservation and skate on the Rothman Rink at Dilworth Park, delight in the picturesque Wintergarden full of twinkling lights and reindeer topiaries, and catch the Deck the Hall light show projected on to City Hall nightly. And if you’re hungry, be sure to visit the Christmas Village food court for some authentic German cuisine, mulled wine, French toast bites, and more.



Lead photograph by Josh Pellegrini, courtesy of Aversa PR.

Contributing Writer